Essence, Energy, and Uncreated and Created Grace

Originally posted 8/22/2009.

Defining the Terms
1. ES-1 (oὐσία in Byzantine sense): God as what He necessarily is irrespective of what He does ad extra, according to the definition of the erudite Dr. Mike Liccione. No creature can see ES-1 for the simple reason that we cannot know God except as He acts on us. This is the sense in which the Eastern Fathers like St. Gregory the Theologian (Doctor) [Oration 28:3] and St. Maximos the Confessor deny that the beatific vision is of the divine essence, for such vision would entail comprehension and our existence as a divine hypostasis, which blasphemous doctrines must be shunned.

2. ES-2 (essentia in Latin sense): God as what He eternally and unalterably is in se, given His creation and redemption of us, as explained by Dr. Mike Liccione. ES-2 becomes the form whereby our intellect understands once we get to Heaven, by the grace of God [St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica III-S, q. 92, art. 1, corp.].
3. Energy (ένέργεία = operatio): God as what He eternally does ad extra.
4. ADS (Absolute Divine Simplicity): God is pure act, so that in Him there is no composition between act and passive potency.
5. UG (Uncreated Grace): God Himself as He gives Himself to creatures: e.g., the Trinity indwelling in righteous persons. The uncreated God is the objective last end of men and angels [Summa Theologica I, q. 26, art. 3, ad 2].
6. CG (Created Grace): the created effects of God’s communicating Himself, e.g., the beatific vision. The created beatific vision is the subjective last end of men and angels [Summa Theologica I, q. 26, art. 3, ad 2], because God is not divided into degrees of goodness, whereas the beatific vision differs [1 Cor 15:41] according to the degree of charity [Summa Theologica III-S, q. 93, art. 3, corp.].

Notional Essence-Energies Distinction in Latin Theology
7. Dr. Mike Liccione says the following: ES-2 is notionally distinct from the Energy that realizes ES-2 in a complete and unalterable manner. ES-2 and energy are not really distinct because given the eternal manner in which the Energy realizes ES-2, there is only a logical, not a real, possibility that the Energy would have realized ES-2 in a different way. Since the Energies are not the only logically possible manifestations of ES-2, ADS is compatible with the fact that God freely created.

Real Essence-Energies Distinction in Eastern Theology
8. On the other hand, ES-1 is clearly really distinct from the Energy. This, however, is no prejudice to ADS, because the distinction does not involve composition between act and potential; ES-1 is God as active ad intra irrespective of His ad extra activity, and Energy, God as He is active ad extra, is active but not acted upon, and does not change or begin to exist, since an essence cannot exist without a natural energy, and the essence of God is eternal [St. Gregory Palamas: Physical, Theological, Moral, and Practical Chapters 128 in PG 150:1212A]. ES-1 is God, ES-2 is God, and Energy is God.


2 Responses to Essence, Energy, and Uncreated and Created Grace

  1. […] Notes & References {1} Tonight (10/8/2009) I read conclusive proof of this in the relevant section of George C. Papademetriou’s Introduction to St. Gregory Palamas. {2} Huysman, Will R. “Filioque.” Catholic Patristics. 4 Aug. 2009. 8 Oct. 2009 <;. {3} Huysman, Will. “Cardinal Josyf Slipyj of Blessed Memory on the Appropriateness of Catholic Veneration of St. Gregory Palamas.” The Banana Republican. 26 Sept. 2009. 7 Oct. 2009 <;. {4} Huysman, Will R. “Filioque.” The Banana Republican. 4 Aug. 2009. 7 Oct. 2009 <;. {5} Huysman, Will R. “Vladimir Lossky On the Patristic Understanding of the Light of Tabor.” The Banana Republican. 1 Oct. 2009. 7 Oct. 2009 <;. {6} Huysman, Will. “Essence, Energy, and Uncreated and Created Grace.” The Banana Republican. 22 Aug. 2009. 7 Oct. 2009 <;. […]

  2. […] Flesh: Christian… on Church Fathers: DivorceThe Orthodoxy of St.… on Essence, Energy, and Uncreated…The Orthodoxy of St.… on Vladimir Lossky On the Patrist…The Orthodoxy of St.… […]

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