Evangelical/ Orthodox Dialogue Open Thread

I just finished listening to this hour and a half long “dialogue” between the Evangelical theologian Dr. George Kalantzis and Orthodox scholar Dr. Bradley Nassif.  The discussion – which they continually emphasized was not a debate – recently took place at Wheaton College.    There’s a great deal to be said about the discussion; not only the merits of the arguments, but also about the style of the discussion and the way Evangelical and Orthodox dialogue should be undertaken.  I want to hear from you (if you have time to listen to the discussion) and hear what you think about how the discussion should go, and how this one fits into that criteria.  What should be the primary topics?  What should be conceded, or consigned to scholarly disagreement?

I will make one comment up front however: I think Dr. Kalantzis explanation of the essence/ energies distinction is suspect.  It strikes me that this is another example of the problems that East/West distinction is prone to, and consequently his attempt to explain the difference between conceptions of salvation falls short.  However, this just yields another question: how should the distinction be approached?  To what extent is the distinction Eastern vs. Western?

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4 thoughts on “Evangelical/ Orthodox Dialogue Open Thread

  1. I thought the dialogue proceeded in a very pleasant way.
    As an Orthodox christian student of theology I didn’t think Dr. George Kalantzis really understood the concept of the uncreated energies of God.–However, I must admit, I am not very well aquinted with classical western refutations of the seperation between essence and energies.

  2. I too think that it was very pleasant, and probably helpful for everyone who was there. Yet I am curious as to what Dr. Nassif was silent about, and the wealth of things Dr. Kalantzis conceded. Would most Protestants agree with that?

    On the Essence/ Energies: The topic was Salvation, and how the two perspectives differ. I don’t see how Dr. Kalantzis’ rendition of essence/energies helped to show the distinction, particularly since he was replying to Dr. Nassif’s presentation of Theosis. He likens it to the Western distinction of the Immanent/ Economic Trinity, to explain that is may sound like Theosis is confusion of the person with the Divine Essence, which he points out is NOT the Orthodox perspective.

    Perhaps I am being unduly hard on a man who is navigating difficult terrain under difficult public circumstances, but I don’t see how that “close enough” depiction of Essence/ Energies as being a Trinitarian theology is helpful. Also, doesn’t he get St. Gregory of Nyssa totally wrong when he quotes him as saying nothing not the essence of God is created?

    He’s right, I think, when he says that the Orthodox understanding is that salvation is centered in “participating in the Divine life”. But then he says that for the “East” God is fundamentally foreign to us? (1:02) That seems to be the opposite of the truth.

    I didn’t get what he was talking about with the “Death leads to sin” vs. the “Sin leads to death” distinction. Can you help?

    I’ll have to tackle the Western objection to Essence/ Energies later – suffice it to say that I think the objection proves Dr. Kalantzis’ point of foreignness to be wrong.

    1. I’m not sure I understand “objective” and “subjective” in the way that you use them. Additionally, I fail to see why religious dialog should be treated separately (in these considerations) from other kinds of arguments, say about politics, sports, or food.

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