Was Gregory Palamas a Buddhist Monk?

An acquaintance of mine remarked per essence and energies that it is simply a form of Buddishm and Zoroastrianism.   Let’s look at this to see how absurd it is.  Further, I would advance the argument to the contrary:    as a Western Christian he no doubt accepts the doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity (in fact, if he accepts the later formulation of the Filioque, as he likely does given later Protestant confessions), and as such he is closer to Buddhist reality than I am.

Essence/energies actually implies a metaphysical plurality in God:  God is fully God in himself and fully God as “he comes down to us” (cf. Basil, Letter 234).  This is in stark contrast with Eastern religions, which believe “all is one.”   Now, with the doctrine of absolute divine simplicity, all is indeed one.  If there is no difference between the essence of God and his attributes, and we indeed partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4; ultimately Protestants have to do something with this verse), and there are no distinctions in the divine nature, then we actually become God’s nature.  Of course, Eastern theology teaches we become God by grace by participating in him via his energies.    If you deny the energies, you have to say that we become God by his nature.  Ultimately, you have pantheism.

On the other hand, one could simply deny we participate in God at all.   Indeed, given the stricter views of imputation theology, one doesn’t need to have the doctrine of union with Christ.  In this case, how do we ever “know” God?  How do we have any communion with God?  Roman Catholicism actually has an answer to this question.  I don’t agree with it but I do appreciate the fact they see the problem and try to answer it.  RCC says we know God via created intermediaries (cf Augustine, De Trinitate, books 2 and 7).  Ultimately, they know God through various created media and are always “one step away” from knowing God.   Presumably, given the similar Western views of divine simplicity, whatever answer Protestant guys come up with will be similar, if less clear.


One comment on “Was Gregory Palamas a Buddhist Monk?

  1. Here is the fundamental difference. In buddhism the person is intrinsically connected with suffering so the goal i the obliteration of the person.Second, powers there are fundamentally impersonal and so anhypostatic, something Gregory and the church condemn.

    As to Zorastianism, the system is built on a fundamental opposition. The similarity between these and Orthodox teaching is superficial. Similarity doesn’t imply correlation.

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