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5 One Person, Many Persons: Adding Up the Personality Disorder in CD I/1 §§8–9 John C. McDowell In a typically elegant but distinctly condensed work translated as Orthodox Theology, the Russian émigré Vladimir Lossky1 provides a description of the theological task in faith as a sophianic one that involves two elements of a necessarily singular work: gnosis and apohasis.2 He opens the book with the contention that “Authentic 1. This essay involves a substantial expansion and reworking of the argument of “Prayer, Particularity and the Subject of Divine Personhood: Who Are Brümmer and Barth Invoking When They Pray?,” in Myk Habets and Phillip Tolliday, eds., Trinitarian Theology after Barth, Princeton Theological Monograph Series (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011), 255–83. 2. Cf. Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1957), 39: the negative and cataphatic ways “may even be said to be one and the same way which can be followed in two different directions.” 135 gnosis is inseparable from a charisma, an illumination by grace which transforms our intelligence.”3 Construing human knowing and divine illuminating as inseparable possesses some radical implications for the very notion of subjectivity itself: “It is a matter of a new mode of thought where thought does not include, does not seize, but finds itself included and seized, mortified and vivified by contemplative faith.”4 The process of critical unknowing of, or the proper failure of theological speech about, the infinite is no less the product of an act of divine revealing, since it is the unknowing of the incomprehensibly plenitudinous God who gives God’s self through “the incarnation of the Word . . . in the Spirit.”5 Consequently Lossky comes to make a claim about the apophatic nature of talk of creation itself, what he describes when speaking of the creatio ex nihilo as “a sort of apophaticism in reverse.”6 Sergius Bulgakov, for instance, argues that the “the createdness of the world can only be an object of faith,” and in turn one finds in Lossky the confession that these very “affirmations of faith [regarding creation] open onto a mystery as unfathomable as that of the divine being: the mystery of the created being, . . . the irreducible ontological density of the other.”7 Accordingly, “I know as I am known.”8 In fact, I am as I am given to be, and in that “participatory adherence to the presence of Him Who reveals Himself” comes the thinking of faith that “gives us true intelligence.” “It is a matter of the internal reconstruction of our 3. Vladimir Lossky, Orthodox Theology: An Introduction, trans. Ian Kesarcodi-Watson and Ihita Kesarcodi-Watson (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1978), 13. 4. Ibid., 14. 5. Ibid., 13. See 21: “in this immanence itself [given in revelation], God reveals Himself as transcendent.” Cf. Lossky, Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 34. 6. Lossky, Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 91. 7. Sergius Bulgakov, The Bride of the Lamb, trans. Boris Jakim (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2002), 8; Lossky, Orthodox Theology, 51. 8. Lossky, Orthodox Theology, 16. CORRELATING SOBORNOST 136 faculties of knowing, conditioned by the presence in us of the Holy Spirit.”9 It is in this conceptual context that one can appreciate the development of a critical polarity (even if it tends to be too neatly projected), drawing on Pascalian terms, between the God of the philosophers and “the God of revelation,” and therefore between “two monotheisms.”10 The “philosophers” do not think through a properly mortified and vivified intellect, while the faithful in contemplation think in accordance within the ontological givenness of their being participants in divinely creative re[vea]lationship of God and world. This critical claim then comes to take several forms, one of which is worth noting here: that “The God of Descartes is a mathematician’s God,” the distorted product of human calculation and the expression of De deo uno.11 Lossky’s judgment is damning: “The point of departure and the point of arrival . . . remain human,” and by human he means the faithless or unreconfigured human.12 That means that even in their appeal to the mystery of God these “philosophers,” Lossky concludes, do not even refer to “The God of the Christians,” who “is more transcendent than that of the philosophers.”13 After all, “Unknowability does not mean agnosticism or refusal to know God” but is rather “a criterion: a sure sign of an attitude of mind conformed to truth...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781506401935
Related ISBN
9781506410753
MARC Record
OCLC
946725265
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2016-05-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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