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   The History of Theological Christian Thought Section Two

 Historical survey of people and movements which have shaped the faith of the Christian church from post-biblical times to today's modern thought

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Lecture 11 Monarchianism. Sabellius. The Arian Controversy. Nicaea.

.What is the nature of Jesus? Is he God or man or something in between? How did the theologians explain the Trinity and sustain monotheism?


We finished yesterday with a special type of reaction against the Logos Christology, namely what is called dynamic monarchianism. I know that these lectures are the most difficult in the whole course, and so I will not shy away from repetition.

The Logos Christology, as invented by the Apologists and carried through to a full victory by Clement and Origen, is a method of making the universality and uniqueness of the event Jesus understandable to the Greek mind. The only way in which this could be done at that time was to establish a Divine power within God Himself which appears in the historical Jesus. We find this early in the Fourth Gospel, we find it in all Gnostic literature, and we find it in a most philosophical form in the Apologetic attempt to defend Christianity. Then we find it in the context of a universal philosophical system derived from the Alexandrian scheme of emanation and return of the soul, by Origen.

This was one line of thought in the early Christian Church It was a line of thought which, as many Christians believed, is more "Athens" than "Jerusalem." For this reason they resisted it, and they did so in the name of what is called the Divine monarchy: God alone rules and God alone must be seen in Christ. This is the meaning of the Monarchianistic reaction against the Logos Christology. It is in some way a reaction in which Old Testament feelings react against Greek ideas. But this is too simple, as the subject of the Forum is too simple in its formulation, and perhaps for this very reason most interesting.

The Monarchianistic movement itself was split. There was one (movement) which followed the adoptionistic Christology, which says that God, or the Logos, or the Spirit, has adopted a fully human being and made him into the Christ, and gave him the possibility of becoming fully deified in his resurrection. But this adoptionist Christology, which we find especially in the West – Theodotus of Rome – and which influenced the basic Roman feeling to a great extent, also had a representative in the East, Paul of Samosata. This Christology started with human existence, tried to understand humanity and to emphasize the Biblical words in which the humanity is emphasized, and then to show that this man was driven by the Divine Spirit and was finally elevated into the Divine sphere.

But there was another type of this Monarchianistic thinking which became more and more influential because it was much more in the line of the basic feeling of the masses of the Christians. This is modalistic Monarchianism. Modalism means God Himself appears in different modes, different ways. It was also called patripassionism a word you must learn – the Father Himself has suffered. It was also called Sabellianism, from its main representative Sabellius. This was a very widespread movement in the East as well as in the West. It was a real danger for the Logos Christology.

The fight between these two types was going on in the East and West In the West there was a man, Praxeas, with whom Tertullian was fighting. The idea was that God the Father Himself was born through the Virgin Mary; that God the Father Himself, who is the only God, has suffered and died. To be God means to be the universal Father of everything. If we say that God was in Jesus, this means the Father was in him. Therefore these people attacked the so-called ditheoi ,those who believed in two Gods, and the tritheoi , those who believed in three Gods, and they fought for the monarchy of God and or the full Divinity of Christ in whom God the Father Himself has appeared. Both ideas had very large popular support because what the popular mind wanted – and what the popular mind perhaps still wants today – was to have God Himself present on earth, a walking God, a God who is with us, who participates in our fate, whom we can see and hear when we see and hear Jesus.

The main representative of this whole development. was Sabellius. This name plays a tremendous role in all Christian theology, and I know of Christian theologians who even today accuse other Christian theologians of Sabellianism. So you see this is not a dated issue but is something very important.

Sabellius says: "The same is the Father, the same is the Son, the same is the Holy Spirit. They are three names, but names for the same reality.. Do we have one or three Gods?" (meaning, of course, that we have only one God, the Divine monarchy). Father, Son, and Spirit are names, they are prosopa (countenances, faces), but they are not independent beings. They cannot be applied in the same way; they are effective in consecutive energies. One follows the other, but they are always the same in different faces. It is God in three countenances, acting in history in different faces and in different acts. The prosopon (countenance) of the Father appears in His work as creator and law-giver. The prosopon of the Son appears from the birth to the ascension of Jesus. The countenance of the Spirit appears, since the ascension of Jesus, as the life-giver. But it is always the same monarchic Father-God. Therefore it is not adequate to speak of a trius in Heaven. There is no transcendent, no heavenly Trinity. The Father is equal with the two others. But it is always the same. And something else happens in this way of thinking: the Trinity is historical, instead of being transcendent; it is "economical," in the sense of oikumene , building a house – the Trinity is "built up" in history. It is a very important idea for the future, where we often have the idea of a historical Trinity.

If Sabellius says that the same God is essentially in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, and that there are only differences of faces, of appearances, of manifestations, then of course he means to say, with this, that they are all homo-ousios, they have the same essence, the same Divine power of being, as one could call it. They are not three beings, but they have the same power of being, and three manifestations. This trend was strong, although it was finally condemned, but it never disappeared. And it reappears as a strong monotheistic trend, even in Augustine, and through him in the whole of Western theology. This was the opposition to the Logos Christology. If you are able to distinguish these two basic trends, then you have an insight into what was going on in these seemingly incomprehensible and sophisticated fights about an iota in homoousios.and homoiousios. There was much more than abstract concepts behind it There was a monotheistic trend against a trend to establish Divine hierarchies between God and man. The East, very much dependent on Plato, Plotinus, and Origen, was interested all the time in hierarchical essences between God and man. (This of course would make Christ a half-God, as we shall see,) The West, and some groups in the East, were interested in the Divine monarchy on the one side, and the humanity of Jesus on the other. These two tendencies fought – the .Trinitarian struggle and the Christological struggle. We, as bearers of the Western attitude, feel immediately nearer to the Western type of thinking, and the whole difficulty for you in these lectures on the history of Christian thought in understanding what is really going on, is largely based on the fact that we are Westerners and not Easterners, in this sense; that for us the problem of hierarchies is an abstract one, and not a problem of living realities. But in order to understand what was going on in these fights, we must understand first of all the Eastern world-view, the hierarchical world-view.

Now I come to the Trinitarian struggle itself. First we must see how the Trinitarian problem developed after Origen in the sphere of Origenistic thinking. Origen was so great in his constructive power that he conquered all competitors, also the Monarchianistic and Sabellian theologians. But more than this, his Christology was so much impregnated with mystical piety that his formulas could become formulas of a creed. This is very important to understand. Don't forget that when the Greek thinkers produced a confession, a creed, this seems to us abstract philosophy, but for them it was the mystical intuition of essences, of powers of being. For instance, in Caesarea in Asia Minor a creed was already used which added to the symbol used in baptism Origenistic mystical formulas This confession stated: "We believe in Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, first-born of all creatures, generated out of the Father before all generations." Now this is philosophy and at the same time mysticism. It is that way of philosophy which was ruling at the end of the ancient period. It is Hellenistic and not classical Greek philosophy. And Hellenistic philosophy is united with the mystical traditions of the East. Therefore such seemingly abstract philosophical concepts could become mystical confessions.

This combination was endangered when the emanation system of Origen became questioned from the point of view of Christian conformism. For instance, the eternity and the pre-existence of all spirits, or the idea of the transcendent fall, or the idea of the spiritual bodyless resurrection and of the spiritualized eschatology. In this moment the whole Logos Christology, especially the place of the Logos, became questioned. Common sense and conformism, supported by the Monarchianistic reaction, demanded nothing less than God on earth. The theory of emanation in degrees, in hierarchies of powers of being, demanded something less than that which is ultimately transcendent and the One beyond everything given.

Out of this conflict a division occurred in the school of Origen, and everybody was in the school of Origen in these decades. It was a division into what one has called the Origenistic "right" and the Origenistic "left," the right-wingers and the left-wingers of the Origenistic school. The right wing said: Nothing is created or subjected in the trius; nothing has been added which had not been in it before; there is no inferiority in the Son to the Father, and in the Spirit to the Son. – These were words of representatives of a kind of ecclesiastical traditionalism who wanted what is today called a "high" Christology: nothing shall be less in God, so that Jesus is not less than the Father Himself. It is the same trend we saw in the Monarchianistic movement.

The left wing was against the traditionalism of the right wing; it was scientific and modernistic. They said the Son is essentially strange to the Father, and being something that is made He had no being before He was generated. This means the Logos Christology in terms of hierarchies – there is God the Father, the highest hierarchy, the eternal One beyond everything; there is the Logos, the second hierarchy, but as the second, lower than the first; and the Spirit is the third hierarchy, and lower than the second. The immortal spirits are the fourth hierarchy, lower than the three others. These were the two wings in the great struggle which almost ruined the Christian Church.

But besides the theological differences, there was politics and the attempt to find a practical way to solve a problem without going into its theoretical depths. This is not only American pragmatism but also Roman eclecticism. This was Rome. Rome, following its eclectic tradition, gave the directive for a solution which avoided the depths of Greek thinking and tried to find a way out of this conflict. There was a Pope, Dionysius, in Rome, who declared: "Two things must be preserved: the Divine trius and the holy message of monarchy." These are the two main terms of the two wings, The holy message of the monarchy, which stood against the Logos Christology; the Divine trius, which expressed the Logos Christology. So what Pope Dionysius in Rome did was to take the main formulas of both groups and said that they must both be preserved. But he didn't say how! This was practical Church politics. And this finally prevailed, as we shall see But it prevailed only after a tremendous fight of almost 80 years, a fight in which the whole situation of the Church changed, as we shall see, and in which finally something was decided which is valid for all periods of Christianity. The event of which I am speaking now is the so-called Arian controversy

This controversy is a unique and classical struggle, and caused by many motives. In it is involved the politics of the emperors, who needed unity in the Church which in just these years had become the state religion of the Roman Empire, and now the Church itself threatened to split the whole Empire into pieces. There were involved personal feuds of bishops and theologians. There were in conflict narrow traditionalism and unrestrained speculation. There was included an overemphasis on theoretical solution and popular monastic fanaticism.

But this is not the whole story. Besides all these motives, the really decisive issue, its meaning and permanent significance, is the answer to the question, "How is salvation possible, in a world of darkness and mortality?" This alone was the question. This was the question, as we have seen already in the Apostolic Fathers. It was the question ever since, and it was the question in the period of the great Trinitarian and Christological struggles.

Athanasius, the great foe of Arius, formulates that it is possible only under one condition, namely Jesus "was made man that we :might become God." But this was possible only if the Logos is eternal, if it is really God who has appeared to us, as God is Father only because He is the Father of the Son. Therefore He is without beginning. Eternally the Father has the Son. The Son is Son eternally, as the Son of the Father. And the Father is Father eternally, because He is the Father of the Son. Only if they are co-eternal can Jesus, in whom the Logos is present, give us eternity. He can make us like God, which always means, make us immortal, and give us eternal knowledge, the knowledge of eternal life. Not even the highest of all created spirits can give us a real salvation. He is less than God, but we are separated from God, we are dependent on God and must return to him So God Himself must save us.

Now this is the religious motive behind the Alexandrian trend in theology. Therefore the West and their allies in the East could not accept the theology of the Alexandrian presbyter Arius. According to him, only God the Father is by Himself and without beginning. The Logos, i. e. , the pre-existent Christ, is a creature. He is one of the creatures He is created out of nothing, and there was a time when He was not. You remember the famous saying of Origen: there was no time in which He was not Against this, the left -wing Origenistic theology says there was a time in which He was not. This time was before our temporal existence, but it was not eternity; the Logos is not eternal. The power of God who works in Jesus is not the eternal Divine power itself but a limited reduced hierarchy. This Logos is strange to the Divine nature, unsimilar in every respect to the Father's essence. This Logos can neither see nor know the Father completely and exactly. He becomes God only in the way in which every saint can become deified. This deification happened as it happens in every saint, through his freedom. He had the freedom to turn away from God, but he didn't. This Logos, therefore, is a half-Divine power. This half-Divine power is the soul of Jesus, and it becomes the anxiety and suffering of Jesus. . . This means Jesus is not fully man, with a natural human soul. Mary gives birth to this half-God, who is neither God nor man. This was the solution of Arius, a solution which is very well in line with the hero cult of the ancient world; the world is full of half-gods, of deteriorized gods, of gods who even in Heaven (Olympus) are not fully gods but derived forms of God, and one of them is Jesus – but it is not God Himself.

Now this Christology has been rejected in the first and most important of all Christian councils, that of Nicaea, in June, 325. The text of the decision of Nicaea: "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible." – let me stop here for a moment, because all these words are very important. "Invisible" means the Platonic "ideas." God is the creator not only of the things on earth, but also the creator of the "essences," as they appear in Plato's philosophy. "And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only begotten of the essence of the Father, God of God, and Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father, by Whom all things were made in Heaven and on earth, who for us men and our salvation came down and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, ascended into Heaven. From thence He comes to judge the quick\c and the dead.. . and in the Holy Ghost." Then it goes on to say: "And those who say there was a time when He was not, or He was not before He was made, and He was made out of nothing, and out of another substance or thing, or the Son of God is created or changeable, or alterable: they are condemned by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." Now this is the first and fundamental Christian confession. I will give you immediately its significance, but before this a few words of comment: The central phrase is "of one substance with the Father" (homoousios to patri). Then the important thing is that nothing else is said about the Holy Ghost. This was the reason for further struggles and decisions Then the condemnations are interesting: The first and all-embracing one: "Those who say there was a time when He was not. . . are condemned by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." Now let me give you, point by point, the significance of this decision for world history and the history of the Church:

1) The main possible Christian heresy was overcome. Christ is not one of the many half-Gods; He is not a hero. He is God Himself appearing in Divine essence within a historical person. – This was the definite negation of paganism. In Arius, paganism again raised its head after it was defeated in the anti-Gnostic struggle, and it raised its head very strongly – Christ, one of the many powers of being – this would have made Christianity one of the many possible religions

2) This fundamental statement was expressed in terms which were more pleasing to Rome and the West than to the East. The East did not like the homoousios; it wanted a ladder of hierarchies. The West, Rome, and her allies in the East, insisted on the homoousios. For this reason the decision of Nicaea was immediately attacked and somehow transformed into something else by the East, in 60 years of struggle and theological work. Only in 381 did this struggle come to an end, and then in terms which pleased the East more than the original formula did, and in new theological interpretations.

3) The decisive statement is: "Being of one substance with the Father." This is not in the scheme of emanation but in the scheme of Monarchianism. Consequently it was accused of being Sabellian. And so were the main defenders. . ., Athanasius and Marcellus.

4) The negative character of the decision is especially visible in the condemnations. The creatureliness of Christ is negated. He is of no other ousia than the Father.. But what the homoiousios is, is not explained. . It was not decided whether the three prosopa are really differences in God, and if so whether they were eternal or historical. And no doctrine of the Spirit was given. But one and only one thing was decided: Jesus Christ is not an incarnated half-God; He is not a creature higher than a1l others; He is God, and God is creator and unconditional – this negative decision is the truth and the greatness of the decision of Nicaea. And you should not forget what I said in the beginning about the dogma; the dogma is a negative decision against ideas which perhaps could undercut the conformity of the Christian congregation, which can undermine the basic statement that Jesus is the Christ. And every synodal decision worthwhile being mentioned is and was such a decision. The dogmas are not invented because people wanted dogmas, but they developed because people had to protect a religious substance. And in this light you must see the limited meaning of the dogma and of such a decision, and at the same time its greatness.

5) Beside this basic element some consequent implications must be mentioned. The statements had been made in philosophical, non-biblical terms. So some Greek terms were taken into the dogma. They were taken in not so much as classical philosophy as mystical philosophy of religion.

6) The unity of the Church from now on is identical with the majority of the bishops. A conciliarism has developed in hierarchical terms, and the majority of the bishops from now on replace all other authorities. And only much later did the Roman bishop claim and receive a special standing among the bishops, and finally the majority of the bishops as authority was abolished.

7) The Church had become a state Church This was the price which had to be paid for unity. The emperor did not command the content of the dogma, but he exercised pressure. Therefore revolts occurred against it, and the emperor after Constantine had to exercise even more pressure. All this meant a new development of Church history, and even of world history.


Lecture 12: Athanasius, Marcellus, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil, John of Damascus. The Christological Problem.

Theological problems related to the nature of Jesus and the trinitarian God.


We have discussed the significance of the Council of Nicaea and the reasons why it was attacked by many Eastern theologians, for religious, philosophical and political reasons. The main defender of the decision of Nicaea was Athanasius. He was first of all a great religious personality and therefore he was able, because his religious foundation was unchangeable, to change the scientific means and the political ways in which he fought for his basic religious conviction. His style is clear, he is consistent, cautious, and sometimes for the reasons just mentioned even compromising in his terminology. He was expelled several times from his episcopal see in Alexandria, he was persecuted, but he was finally victorious over heretics and emperors. It was he who saved the decision of Nicaea but in order to do so he had to compromise with a more Origenistic or, as one called it at that time, scientific interpretation of the formulas of Nicaea.

Let's look at the negative and the positive side of his beliefs. Sin is overcome by forgiveness; and the curse of sin, death, is overcome by the new life – both given by the Christ. The new life includes communion with God, moral renewal, and eternal life, as a present possession. Eternal life is, positively speaking, deification, becoming similar to God as much as possible, (as I quoted from Plato.) So two things are needed: the victory over finitude, and the victory over sin – participation in the infinity of God and participation in the holy, over against sin, must be provided. How? It can be provided only by Christ who. as true man, suffers the curse of sin and, as true God. overcomes death. No half- God. no hero, no relative and limited power of being can do that. They cannot do the one. they cannot do the other. Only as historical. could he change history; only as Divine could he give Divinity. There is no half-forgiveness or half-eternity. Either our sins are forgiven: then they are fully forgiven; either we are eternal or not: if we are. we are fully eternal. Therefore no religious half-God could be the saviour. The problem of Christology. as always in all Christological and Trinitarian struggles, is salvation. and from this point of view you must understand them; from this point of view they become meaningful. even in the moments of greatest confusion and in the expressions of greatest abstraction.

The Christ who performs this work is not understandable to the human mind except through the Divine Spirit. Only through the Spirit can we come in unity with the Christ. This implies that the Spirit of Christ must be as Divine as Christ Himself is. When after the Nicaean decision groups arose which denied the Divinity of the Spirit, they were called semi-Arians. Athanasius fought against them and said: they are wrong. they want to make the Spirit into a creature but if the Spirit of Christ is a creature. then Christ also is a creature

The Spirit of Christ is not the human spirit of the man Jesus. as a historical individual; the Spirit of Christ is not a psychological function; but the Spirit of Christ is God Himself in Him and. through Him. in us. In this way the Trinitarian formula which in Nicaea was left open with respect to the Spirit. becomes filled up. The same thing which was said about the Son is now said about the Spirit. In order to be able to unite us with Christ. the Spirit must be Divine as Christ Himself is Divine – and not partly Divine. not .half-Divine. but fully Divine.

One of Athanasius' supporters was Marcellus. in whom the Monarchianistic tradition entered the discussion. He was a man always in intimate friendship with Athanasius, always accepted by him. although finally. after Athanasius' death. condemned by the more Origenistic theologians who didn't like his Monarchianistic trends. His emphasis was on monotheism. Before the creation, God was a mona a unity without differentiation. His Logos was in Him, but was in Him only as a potential' power, only as a possibility for creation, but not yet as an actual power. Only with the creation does the Logos proceed and become the acting energy of God in all things, through Whom all things have been made. In this moment something has happened – the Divine monas has become broader; it has become a duas, the unity has become a duality.

In the incarnation. in the act in which the Logos took on flesh – not became flesh but took on flesh – the second "economy" is performed. An actual separation has occurred between Father and Son. in spite of the remaining potential unity. so that it is now possible for the "eyes of faith" to see the Father in the Son. And then a further broadening of the monas and of the duas occurs. when after the resurrection of Christ the Spirit becomes a relatively independent power in the Christian Church.

But all this separation is only preliminary. The independence of the Spirit and of the Son is nothing final. The Son and the Spirit will finally return into the unity with the Father, and then the flesh of Jesus will wither away. The potential, or eternal, Logos should not be called the Son. He becomes the Son only through the incarnation and resurrection. In Jesus a new man, a new manhood, appears, united with the Logos by love,.

Now this is a dynamic Monarchianistic system. The Trinity is dynamized, is put into movement, (approaches) history, and has lost the static character it has in the; genuine Origenistic thinking. But this system was rejected. It was accused of being Sabellian, of representing that kind of Monarchianism in which God the Father Himself appears on earth. Origen and the system of degrees and hierarchies triumphed, against Marcellus,

But the fight went on. The Origenistic protest against the homoouseous, against the one substance between Father and Son, led not only to a fight against a man like Marcellus or a man like Athanasius , it led finally to a fight against the Nicaenum itself – only in the east, of course, but there, with strongest power and passion, not only Marcellus but also Athanasius were condemned. The Origenists, who were overwhelmed by the pressure of the emperor in Nicaea, gathered again and gathered such strength that they insisted, against the Nicaenum, on three substances, and could get away with it" It was – if you want to call it so – a pluralistic interpretation of the Trinity; it was an interpretation in the, scheme of emanation, of hierarchies, of powers of being. The unconditional is seen in degrees; but only the Father is, in an unlimited way, unconditional. He alone is the source of everything:,eternal and temporal. This was the mood of the Eastern theologians and of the Eastern popular piety It prevailed again and again, in some cases under strong support of the emperor, who defied the decision of his predecessor Constantine and now tried to press the supporters of the Nicaenum against the Nicaenum.

But there was a shortcoming in Eastern theology. It was united only negatively; it was not united in a positive decision. So it was easy to split it and reduce its power of resistance against the Nicaenum. There were some in the East who practically returned to Arius; they were called the anhomoioi, which means: Christ is not even similar to God; He is completely a creature. There were others who mediated between the Nicaenum and the mood of the East. They were called the homoiousianoi , those who believed not in the homoousios but in the homoiousios , (the latter is derived from homoios (meaning "similar" and ousia, "essence.")... So we now have the struggle between the homoosioui and the homoiousioi . The hostile pagans in Alexandria made jokes about this fight going on in the streets and barber shops and in the different stores and everywhere: the Christians fight about the iota, the smallest letter of the alphabet – the only letter distinguishing homoousios from homoiousios. But there was behind it more than an iota; there was behind it another piety. For the homoousianoi Father and Son are equal in every respect, but they have no identical substance. This group interpreted the Nicene formula homoousios , which they couldn't remove any more, in the sense of homoiousios, and even Athanasius and the West finally agreed that this could be done, if only the West accepts the formula homoousios. The West accepted the eternal generation of the Son – a formula which comes from Origen and which the West didn't like so much before – and with it they accepted the inner Divine, the non-"economic", non-historical Trinity, which is eternal.

The East, on the other hand, accepted the homoousios after it was possible to interpret it differently, namely in the light of the homoiousios. And the East also accepted under these conditions, the homoousia of the Spirit. Now this means that theological formulas had been discovered which were able to overcome the struggle in theological terms, but theological terms are never able to overcome the religious difference itself. And we shall see how this worked itself out in the later developments of the Eastern and Western churches, in the coming fights and struggles and in the final separation. But for the time being the Synod of Constantinople (381) was able to make a decision in which East and West agreed, in which homoiousios and homousios could come together, because the one could interpret homoousios as real homoousios, and the others could interpret it as homoiousios.

But in order to do this, new theological developments were needed. These developments are represented by the three great Cappadocian theologians, Basil the great, Gregory of Nyssaa, his brother, and Gregory of Nazianzus, his friend. Basil the Great was bishop of Caesarea. He was many things in one person: a churchman, a bishop, a monk, the great reformer of monasticism, a preacher, a moralist. He fought against the old and neo- and semi-Arians, against everything which followed the idea that Christ is a half-God and a half-man. He died, however, before the favorable decision of Constantinople was given.

His younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa was called "the theologian." He continued the Origenistic tradition and its scientific methods. He worked scientifically on his (Origen's) basis. After the victory of Christianity in Constantine, after the fixation of the dogma in Nicaea, it was possible that now again a great theology could come and reestablish a union of Greek philosophy and the dogma. But it no longer had the freshness of the first great attempts – the Apologists and especially Origen. It was much more determined by the ecclesiastical situation and the creed of Nicaea, and therefore was more a matter of formulas than of material creativity. But most important for the development was the third man, Gregory of Nazianz. He brought the doctrine of the Trinity to its definitive formulas, and was called "the theologian," among the Fathers of the Church. In Athens, where he and Basil studied, he became an intimate friend of Basil. They were united not only because of their common theological convictions but also because of their common asceticism. Gregory of Nazianz became bishop and was president of the synod of Constantinople for a certain time.

Now what was the step taken by these theologians – especially the latter one? It was a sharper distinction between the concepts which were used, and had to be used, for the Trinitarian dogma. I give you now two series of concepts where each side has three words, meaning the same.

The first series is:One Divinity One essence (ousia) One nature (physis)

The second series :Three substances (hypostasis) Three idiotetes (properties) Three prosopa (personae)

If you have these three terms, on each side, you could perhaps best use the following in the one case: mia ousia (one essence) and three substances. The Divinity is one power of being – that is what ousia, essence, nature, means. But this one power of being, which is Divine, has three forms in which it expresses itself, three independent realities. This means the Divinity is not a species, (as man is a species, for three of you who are sitting here in the class, but under one and the same power. Son and Spirit come out of the same Abyss, of the Father, and always remain in it even if they become independent. All three have the same will, the same nature, the same essence, Nevertheless the number three is real: each has His special characteristics or properties. The Father has the property of being ungenerated; He is from eternity to eternity. The Son has the characteristic of being generated, although in eternity. The Spirit has the characteristic of going out, of proceeding from the Father and the Son. But these characteristics are not differences in the Divine essence, but only in their relations to each other. Now this was complicated and very abstract philosophy, but it was the formula which made the reunion of the Church possible – one essence, three persons; one nature, three faces or countenances.

The Council removed the condemnations, which were added to the Council of Nicaea, because they didn't fit the new terminology any more; and it did something else that was important and which was lacking in Nicaea, namely they said about the Holy Ghost: "And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, Who preceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified." Of course the latter phrases are more mystical and liturgical; but these abstract formulas mean more than they would mean for us, or for a logical positivist. They mean mystical power, at the same time, and therefore they can be used liturgically.

This decision ends the Trinitarian struggle. Arius and Sabellius and many of their mediating followers were excluded. The homoousios stands now against Arius in all subsequent Church history. But it was interpreted as homoiousios (as similar with God) against Sabellius.

Now in all this the negative side of the decision is clear, but its positive side, the implications for a development of the Trinitarian doctrine, are extremely difficult. I will show you the four main difficulties.

1) The Father is, on the one hand, the ground of Divinity. He is, on the other hand, a special persona, a special hypostasis. Now if you take these two points of view together, then it is possible to speak of a quaternity instead of a trinity, namely to speak of the Divine substance as the one Divine Ground, and the three persons, Father, Son and Spirit, as the manifestations of this Ground. Then we have a quaternity instead of a trinity. And there was always an inclination in this direction, and Thomas Aquinas still had to fight against it. Usually theology said: He who is the Father is at the same time the source of all Divinity, and that means, of the other manifestations also.

2) The distinctions in eternal Trinity are empty. The Trinity was created in order to understand the historical Jesus. As long as this was kept alive, there was a difference between God and him very evident. But now we are in the realm of a transcendent Trinity. How can differences be made there? They are made by words: like non-generated, generated, and proceeding. But what do these words really mean? They are words without content, because there is no perception of any kind which can confirm their meaning. And to anticipate something of Augustine: Augustine said these differences are not expressed because something is said with them, but in order not to remain silent about the differences. This means: If the motives of Trinity are left and lost, then the formulas become empty.

3) The Holy Spirit remains even now an abstraction. He is brought in concretely only if He is defined as the Spirit of Christ, namely of Jesus as the Christ, but if He is put into the transcendent Trinity, then He is more an abstraction than a person. Therefore He never had very great importance for Christian piety. At the same time in which He was deified, in the same sense in which Christ was deified, He was replaced in actual piety by the Holy Virgin, who as the one who gives birth to God, received Divinity very much herself, at least for popular piety.

4) The three hypostases, the three different personae, could lead to tri-theism. This danger became much more fully real when the philosophy of Aristotle replaced that of Plato. Plato's philosophy is always the background of what the medieval called mystical realism, namely that the universals are more real than their individual exemplars. But in Aristotle the thing is different: Aristotle calls the individual thing the telos, the inner aim, of all natural development. Now if this is the case, then the three powers of being in God become three independent realities – or more exactly, the three manifestations of God become independent powers of being, become independent persons This is something which I believe is one of the great difficulties in your understanding of the Trinitarian dogma. You are nominalists by education: everything which is must be a definite thing, limited and separated from all other things. For mystical, realistic thinking -- as we have it in Plato, in Origen, in the Middle Ages – this is not so. There the power of being in a universal can be something quite superior and different from the power of being in the individuals. Therefore the danger of tri-theism was very small, as long as Platonic philosophy interpreted the Trinitarian dogma. It became rather dangerous in the moment in which Aristotelian categories came in, and with it, some nominalistic trends, some emphasis on the individual realities. Then the Son and the Spirit could become, so to speak, special Individual beings – and then we are in the realm of tri-theism. ~

The last great theologian, John of Damascus, of whom I hope Father Florovsky will tell you a little more, protested against this consequence. He emphasized the unity of action and being within each other of the three manifestations of God. But something else happened. For practical piety, the Trinitarian dogma became just the opposite of what it originally was supposed to be – it was supposed to be an interpretation of Jesus as the Christ; it was supposed to mediate this understanding to the Greeks, with the help of the Logos doctrine. But the consequences of the Logos doctrine became so dangerous in Arius especially, that traditional theology reacted against it. It was still used, but it was somehow broken in its philosophical meaning. And that's something which has often happened with Christian theology. In this way – and here Athanasius is mostly responsible – the Trinitarian dogma became a sacred mystery. This sacred mystery was put on the altar and adored; it was put into the ikons, the pictures (which are important for the cult in the Eastern church); it was put into liturgical formulas and hymns, and there it lives ever since. But it has lost its power to interpret the meaning of the living God.

Now this is the end of the Trinitarian struggle. I come back to it once more when I shall speak about Augustine's interpretation of it, which is typically Western, but for the time being I will now introduce the next great struggle, the Christological one:

The Christological problem is historically a consequence of the Trinitarian problem. But in principle it is the other way around. The Trinity is the answer to the Christological problem. But it is an answer which seems in its final formulas to deny the basis on which it has arisen. The question was: If the Son is of one substance with the Father, how can the historical Jesus be understood? This was the purpose of the whole Trinitarian dogma, but now if the Trinitarian dogma was formulated as it was in Nicaea, is it still able to make Jesus understandable? How can He who is of Divine nature, without restriction, be a real man at the same time? The answer to this question was given – or at least one attempted to give it – in the Christological struggle which, according to its importance, lasted for almost three centuries and again brought the Christian Church to the edge of self-destruction.

There were always two main types of Christological thought: Either ,God as Father (or as Logos or as Spirit) has used the man Jesus of Nazareth, begetting and inspiring and adopting him as Son – this is the one possibility; or a Divine being, the Logos, the eternal Son, has become man in an act of transformation. The Nicaenum, with its homoousios and with the Monarchianistic trend, favors the former solution. And so does the Roman theology. The emphasis on the Divinity of the eternal Son makes the emphasis on the humanity of the historical Son much easier. A half-God can be transformed; God Himself can only adopt man.

But this former solution was not in the line of Origenism. In Origen the eternal Logos is inferior to the Father and has, by His union with the soul of Jesus, in eternity, the traits of the historical Jesus. Therefore He can easily be transformed into Him with the help of the body, and a transformation Christology can be developed. In the Trinitarian struggle, no sharp distinction between these possibilities has been made. The homoousios could be interpreted nearer to Sabellius or nearer to Arius. So the Christological interpretations could be more in the sense of adaptation, or in the sense of transformation. This uncertainty was discovered by some theologians and became a matter of- controversy when one man acted in the Christological struggle as Arius did in the Trinitarian struggle, namely drawing the consequences of the Origenistic position. This man was Apollinarius of Laodicaea, of whom we have to speak more next time.

Lecture 13: School of Antioch. Theodor of Mopsuestia. Apollinarius. Nestorius. Cyril. Chalcedon

The various schools of theology and philosophy literally fight, at times with clubs, to perfect a formula that explains the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth.


The West never followed the Alexandrian line, of which Apollinarius was the first and most radical expression, and was rejected for this reason. How is salvation possible if in Jesus the humanity is not more or less swallowed into the Divinity, so that we can adore Him as a whole, so that His mind is identical with the Divine Logos? The answer was: It is impossible. Therefore the general trend goes in the direction of what was later called Monophysitism – one Divine nature, into which the human nature is swallowed.

Against this the West and the school of Antioch protested. And let me say something about the school of Antioch and their general attitude. The first is Theodor of Mopsuestia. This whole school has very definite characteristics which distinguish it from most of the Alexandrian tendencies and which make them the predecessors of the emphasis on the historical Jesus in modern theology.

1) They had a very strong philological interest, and gave a most exact interpretation and emphasis on the historical picture of the Christ. So they had the same half-philological interest which historical criticism developed in our days.

2) They had a rational tendency – just as liberal theology also had – in the sense of Alexandrian philosophy.

3) They had strong ethical-personalistic interests – instead of mystical-ontological – exactly as Rome and the Stoics had.

Rome, the West, was not always on their side, but on the whole Antioch represented some main Western trends, although it itself developed in the East. It was the great ally of Rome in the East which made it possible that Rome – i, e. , the emphasis on history, personality – was victorious over against the mystical-ontological interest of the East.

But the popular religion was on the whole on the side of Alexandria, and not of Antioch. And since Antioch, beyond this, was broken by the basic structure of the dogma, coming from Origen, much more in the line of Alexandrian than of Antiochean thinking; since it further was broken by politics and by lack of moral resistance against the superstitious level of Christianity – which developed largely at that time everywhere in Christianity – Antioch could not prevail. The personalities were not great enough to resist the demands of the people for a magically working God who walks on earth and whose human nature is only a gown for his Divine nature. Nevertheless, Antioch, in alliance with Rome, has saved the human picture of Christ in its religious significance. Without Antioch, probably the Church would have lost completely the human picture, and this means the history-conscious West never would have been able to develop.

In this way Antioch also has defended the main part, at least, of the Church against the Monophysites, which according to the human character of Christ being swallowed up, has produced infinite sacramental magic superstitious things. In doing all this, Antioch paved the way for the Christological emphasis of the West. Now it was very fortunate that you heard a representative of the East because it is perhaps impossible for somebody who comes from the West fully to understand what the religious meaning of the East is. And I believe this is even more difficult for you than for me, because in Europe we are much nearer to the East, not only geographically but also in history. The mystical-ontological elements permeate the whole Western culture in Europe, but they don't in this country. Therefore you should be all very grateful for your heritage to the Antiochean school. . . and to Rome which in alliance with this school was able to save that kind of attitude which is natural to all of you.

Theodor emphasizes, against Apollinarius, the perfect nature of man in unity with the perfect nature of God. He says: "A complete man, in his nature, is Christ, consisting of a rational soul and human flesh; complete is the human person; complete also the person of the Divinity in him. It is wrong to call one of them impersonal." This was what finally prevailed in many sections of the East, in everything Monophysite, that only one nature is personal, namely the Divine, and the human is not. Therefore he says: "One should not say that the Logos became flesh." You remember I came to this again and again already in the Apostolic Fathers. He says this is a vague metaphoric kind of talk and should not be used as a precise formula, but one should say: He took on humanity. "The Logos had not been transformed into flesh." This transformation, or transmutation, idea was felt by him as pagan, and so he rejected it. But the pagan spirit of superstition wanted to have a transformed God walking on earth. But of course this brought Theodor into a very hard problem. If each side in Christ, the human, and the Divine, are themselves persons, is He not a being with two personal centers? Is He not a combination of two sons, a monster with two heads, as his enemies told him? Theodor tried to show the unity of the two persons. He rejected the unity in essence or nature. In essence they are absolutely different because the Divine nature cannot be confined to an individual man. The Logos, as follows from the Fourth Gospel, is always universally present. Even when Jesus lived, the flowers were blooming, the animals living, men were walking, culture was going on. All this is Logos. How can the Logos be only the man Jesus?,;, he says;that is impossible. He speaks, therefore, of a unity by the Holy Spirit, which is a unity of grace and will. In this way he establishes in Jesus the analogy to the prophets, who were driven by the Spirit. But it is a unique event because in the prophets the Spirit is limited; in Jesus the Spirit is unlimited.

The union of the two natures started in the womb of Mary. In it the Logos has connected a perfect man with Himself in a mysterious way. This Logos directs the development of Jesus, His inner growth. But it does not do so by coercion. Jesus, as every man, has grace, even unlimited grace. But grace never works through coercion, but through the personal center. In this way Jesus increased in perfection, by the grace of God. So he says we have one person, but the natures are not mixed. He denied that he spoke of two sons, but he affirmed that he spoke of two natures. The Divine nature does not change the human nature, in its essence; but it was a human nature which by grace could follow the Divine nature. The Divine nature does not change the human nature. Therefore one can speak of Mary as giving birth to God – you remember this was the decisive formula. This is against the tradition of the Antiocheans, but they couldn't deny at least the phrase – Mary giving birth to God. He justified the acceptance of this phrase by saying that Mary also gave birth to a man, and this is the direct and adequate (way of) speaking; the other, that she gave birth to God, is only indirectly adequate, because the body of Jesus was united with God the Logos.

In the same way, he agrees that the human nature must be adored and, conversely, that God has suffered. But he says all this can be said only of the unity of the first person. In this unity one can say this because what you can say of the unity, you can say of the whole being. But not because of a transformation of the Logos into a human being – this he rejects.

Now this is the Antiochean theology. It is very near to us, and this is not by chance; the West was near to these ideas.

The oneness of nature, the Western theologians said, is reached only when Christ is elevated at the resurrection to the throne of God, where the body and the human soul are glorified and transformed. But this event of the human part being swallowed up, is something transcendent. This happens in Heaven, but not on earth. So he says: Only the flesh, i. e. , the historical person, has suffered and died, not the Divinity in Him. It is blasphemy to say that Divinity and flesh belong to one nature. Having both natures, He suffered in His human nature, Ambrose said.:The same grace which accepted the human nature in Christ and made Him the Son of God, made us also justified before God and His children."

This means we see here two allies: Rome with the empirical personal and historical interest; Antioch, which has the same interest and uses it for philological studies and for philosophical considerations, which however were less successful than the historical criticism.

This alliance of Rome and Antioch could have led perhaps – we don't know – to a full victory of the Antiocheans over the Alexandrians. But this did not happen. And it did not happen because Rome had no direct theological interest. It had only a political interest – not political in the state sense, but in the Church-state sense. Rome was the great (center of the Church's movement) and as such it did not want to surrender Christianity because of a theological formula.

One of the members of this school for (whom) we should have great (respect), is Nestorius. He preached in 429 against the theotokos doctrine, that Mary gave birth to God. Mary gave birth to a man, who became the organ of Divinity. Therefore not the Divinity but the humanity of Christ has suffered. Therefore one could even say, as he does, that Mary is Christotokos. But if this is the case, that Christ is Christotokos – and only indirectly, later, did he accept that Mary can become theotokos – this was not really meant; he really meant that here is God, the Logos, coming down; there is Mary giving birth to a man: and they are united. But it is not a divine being coming down and becoming; a man, in terms of a transmutation myth.

The two natures preserve their qualities in the personal union. They are connected in the humanity of Jesus, but He is not deified in it. The unmixed connection of the natures: that is what he teaches. He who terms Jesus or Christ the only begotten or the Son, he means the one person. The term "man" describes the one nature in Him; the term "God," "Logos," the other nature. But these ideas brought him into heresy. They were consistently in the Antiochean school, but with him the Antiochean school became suspect and finally rejected. . . . . Nestorius actually was a victim of the fight between Byzantium and Alexandria.

But some other developments supported the Alexandrian cause:

1) Already for a long time the Mary-legend – for which there is very little basis in the Bible – produced out of and against the Biblical reports legendary stories of a pious imagination. This figure of Mary attracted the novelistic mind of all those who talked about her, and so a whole Mary-legend developed.

2) The second reason for the predominance of Alexandria over Antioch was the high valuation placed on virginity, which came together with an ascetic trend which increased in strength

3) There was also a spiritual vacuum in the life of that time, an empty space which like all other empty spaces in the spiritual life soon are filled – namely, the desire to have a female element m the center of religion. This was the case in Egypt, in the myth of Isis and Osiris, the goddess and her son, but it was not in Christianity. Following Judaism, every female element was thrown out. The Spirit could not replace the female element; first of all He appears, in the early reports of the birth of Jesus, as the male element, in respect to her as the female element. And beyond this the Spirit is an abstract concept. It was so even for those days" So the Divine Spirit never could replace, in the popular mind, the different forms of male-centered religion coming from the Old Testament.

4) The popular appeal of the transformation Christology, which was represented by Alexandria. Imagine a simple-minded human being: she wants to have God. Of course if you tell here: "There is God, on the altar. . ., go and have Him there," then she will go – this fills the Catholic churches because there you have God on the altar. But how is this possible? Because of the Incarnation, for in the Incarnation God became something whom I can have, with whom I can walk, whom I can see, etc, , . All this is popular feeling, and this feeling was decisive against the Alexandrians.

What Cyril wanted was to show that the human nature is taken into the unity of the Logos, who remains what He was" Therefore he could say that the Logos Himself experienced death, since He has received His body, namely, in Jesus. In the formula "out of two natures, one," he accepts the abstract distinction of the natures, but actually there is no difference between the natures This makes it possible for him to be the protagonist in the fight about the theotokos. The religious motive is: It is not a man who became king over us, but God, who has appeared in human form. If Nestorius were right, then only a man, not the Logos, would have died for us, (because the Logos cannot die.) Only if the natures were so united (as Cyril wanted), he could say they were united and that they can represent the duality. "If Nestorius is right, then we eat in the Lord's Supper the flesh of a man," What the people wanted was the physical presence of the Divine. This underlies the sacramental development, and was the whole Alexandrian theology.

First it seemed they could be united. Then the Alexandrians reacted, but they reacted so much and so victoriously that Rome took the side of Antioch. But Rome put a condition to the Antiocheans. They had to remove Nestorius because he was now too much suspect. After a synod in Ephesus in 431, in which a compromise was prepared and (also) many further synods – the famous latroceneum Ephesum ,the synod of "gangsters," as they were called, because they came with sticks to drive each other out, and they transported hundreds of monks to the doors of the church where the synod took place, in order to threaten everybody who would deny the theotokos of Mary, God walking on earth.

After all this, the final and most famous synod, that of Chalcedon, took place in 451, the only other date (together with Nicaea, 325) which I would like you to know. In the Synod of Chalcedon, the alliance of Rome and Antioch proved its strength. They were very much supported by the fact that one of their opposition, the bishop of Alexandria, Eutychus, put forth such a radically Monophysitic attitude that he was condemned. This condemnation of Alexandria was at the same time the victory for Antioch.

How does this decision of Chalcedon look? Decisive for the actual outcome of this synod was that the Roman pope, Leo I, wrote to a synod in Ephesus a letter which was not even read by the victory-drunken Alexandrians, In Chalcedon, however, the letter was accepted as a basic document. There Leo says: "Thus the properties of each nature and substance were preserved entire, and came together to form one person. Humility was assumed by majesty, weakness by strength, mortality by eternity." "There was one true God in the entire and perfect nature of true man. The Son of God therefore came down from His throne, from Heaven, without withdrawing from His Father's glory, and entered this lower world, because of the unity of the person in each nature, which can be understood that the Son of Man came from Heaven, and conversely that the Son of God has been crucified and buried. " Here again you have the same phenomenon as in the Antiochean theology: on the one hand a radical statement, and combining them rather easily with traditional ideas. The decision of Chalcedon was made on this basis. It was not passed in significance by Nicaea, and together with Nicaea passes all the other synodal decisions. Today no one can study systematic theology who does not know something of this decision. In it the problems discussed are mentioned all together and brought into paradoxical formulas. Everything discussed in the main synods, etc., were brought together into paradoxical formulas.

1) "Therefore, following the Holy Fathers, we all with one consent teach men to confess one and the same Son of God, Jesus Christ, the same complete in Godhead and also complete in manhood."

2) True God, and at the same time true man, of a reasonable soul and body.

3) He is consubstantial with the Father, according to His Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to His manhood – in all things like unto us, apart from sin,

4) He is begotten of the Father both before all worlds, according to His Godhead, and also in these latter days, on account of us and our salvation, of the Virgin Mary, the God-bearer, according to His manhood.

5) One and the same Christ, Lord, only begotten, is to be acknowledged in two natures, but these natures must not be confused. And they are natures without any change, without division, without separation.

6) The distinction of natures, being in no way annulled by the union, the characteristic of each nature being presented and coming together to form a person and a substance. It is not parted nor is it divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only begotten God. . . . the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here you see, as in many of these documents, how easy these philosophical terms had a transition into a liturgical and poetic language. This was always the case. And it makes them much more beautiful.. . . .

Again the negative side was clear. The positive side was doubtful. The Roman way was victorious, but different interpretations were possible. The East was disappointed by this decision. The Alexandrian delegates did not subscribe. They said what most Russian delegations today would say, if they subscribed to something so much against the popular demand: they would say they would be killed if they signed this document and came home. They would not be able to live any more because of the fanatic monks who would beat them to death. Therefore the reaction of the East was unavoidable. This reaction against Chalcedon by the East, in its radical consequences, was strong enough to divide East and Rome in such a degree that it became an easy prey to the Islamic puritan reaction. This is especially true of the Monophysitic churches of Egypt and neighboring countries. They were all swallowed up by the reaction of Islam, which I would call a puritan reaction, against the sacramental superstitious form into which Christianity fell more and more. It is a thesis I have that the attacks of Islam never would have been successful if Christianity had taken into itself the element of personality and history. But it didn't They fell down deeper and deeper into popular superstition, and so they were surprised...

The decision of Chalcedon was partly denied, partly put aside. From 482- 590, the first schism occurred between the East and the West, the latter maintaining Chalcedon, the other trying to reinterpret it. After the reunion, Monophysitism became victorious in Alexandria. It was a radical return to Cyril and his emphasis on the unity of the natures '; . . .. After the union, only one nature is there; Christ is one, according to His composite nature, according to His person, according to His will. After the union there is no duality of natures or energies. Chalcedon and Leo, who assert two natures and two energies, should be condemned. The more radical Monophysites taught that with the conception in Mary the flesh of Christ became progressively deified. They really made Mary already a goddess. The radicals said their enemies adored something mortal. But both are united in the opposition to the two natures. They wanted nothing except God on earth, and without human relativity.

An alliance of the emperor, who wanted a union with the Monophysites and a new theology, solved the problem for a long time for sections of the East. The man was Leontius of Byzantius, who combined Cyril and Leo with a new scholastic thought.

He said:

1). The human nature in Christ is neither an acted hypostasis nor without hypostasis; it is anhypostasis. Here you have reached Scholasticism...(Hypostasis means being an independent being.) (When) :one understands hypostasis, one understands non-hypostasis. But when it comes to the formula enhypostasis (one hypostasis in the other), then we don't know any more what that really means. The reason why it was invented is clear. The question was: Can two natures exist without an independent head? The answer was, they cannot; therefore Christ must be the representative. . .

2) The being of the human nature is in the Logos: This meant the condemnation of the whole Antiochean theology, including Theodor, who was attacked by him. The religious meaning of this theology became visible in the fight about the suffering of God which was expressed in liturgical and theological formulas. The treis-hagion (thrice holy) was also enlarged to the formula: "Holy God. . . . Almighty. . . immortal, who for us was crucified, have mercy upon us." And the theological formula: One of the holy trius has suffered in the flesh. - - Both things are carried through in spite of Rome's protest. All this was dogmatized in 553 in Constantinople, in the 5th Ecumenical Council. The Council expressed itself in fourteen anathemas. . . It decided that He who did the miracles is the same. . . The unity is not a matter of energy, etc., or honor, but it was an indirect one, or a unity by mercy. But it was a union of the personal with the Divine power.

The natures, Divine and human, are only distinguished in theory, not in practice. The person of the Logos has become the personal center of a man. The human nature has not personal characteristics of its own. This was the decisive point; because if it has not, how can He help us? The crucified is the true God and Lord of glory and one of the Trinity. The identification of Jesus Christ with the ethical Logos is complete. Like the icons in which Christ appears in gold-ground (setting), the human personality has disappeared. This is the meaning of all this.

But the West could not be conquered so easily. A new reaction of the West occurred. The question was whether the one person, Jesus Christ, has one or two wills. One speaks in this time of monoteletis and duoteletis. They fought with each other, but finally this time the West prevails. Christ has two independent natures; the human nature is not swallowed up by the Divine.

You can grasp this development if you use the key of the problem of salvation and how salvation is related to the individual, to history, to personal life. Here the West was clear; the East was not.

The last fight in the east was about the icons.Ikon means image, the images in the churches of the Fathers and Saints. The icons deserve veneration and not adoration. But if one asks what this actually means, we must say that in popular understanding veneration always develops into adoration. . . . This was perhaps for us not the greatest thing the East gave the West – although I would say that the salvation of human nature is something extremely great – but there is still something else in the East, namely the development of mysticism. To this we will go tomorrow by dealing with the classical early Christian mystic (ca. 500), Dionysius the Areopagite , who influenced everything in West and East after Chalcedon.

Lecture 14: Dionysius the Areopagite (Pseudo-Dionysius)

An examination of Christian mysticism and the role of hierarchies brings to an end Tillich's interpretation of the East


Yesterday I gave a survey on the rise and further fate of the Christological doctrine as formulated in the Council of Chalcedon. Today I want to bring to an end the discussion of the Eastern church. I must say something which has been experienced in several years of giving these lectures, that there is a hidden protest against the emphasis on the Eastern church in some of you, probably even now. I understand this because it does not have the actuality, let us say, of the Reformation or of modern theology. The situation is thus: As long as you know the fundamentals of the early development and have really understood it – which is not so easy – then everything else is comparatively easy. But if you know only the present-day things and don't know the foundations, then every- thing is in the air, and you always are in a state of a house built from the roof and not from the foundations. That's really why I myself and of course some of my colleagues – e. g., Prof. Richardson – think that the foundations of Christian theology, as given in the early Church, are really foundations; they are foundations immediately after the Biblical foundations, and as such they must be considered. For this reason I gave almost half of our whole time to the Greek church. I give also this hour to it, and then we will go to the Roman church of the Middle Ages.

Yesterday I tried to show you that the doctrine of Chalcedon is something which, however we think about the use of Greek terms in Christian thinking, has saved one important thing for our Western theology, even in the East, namely the human side of the picture of Jesus. It was almost at the edge of falling down completely and being swallowed by the Divine nature, so that all the developments of the West, including the Reformation, would not have been possible. This is the importance of the Synod of Chalcedon and of a decision, which the East never really accepted, which (it) transformed after it, which (it) first of all swallowed up in (its) sacramental kind of thinking and acting.

If you understand this, then perhaps the single steps of the Christological doctrine are easy to understand. Always have two pictures in your mind if you want to understand them:

1) The being with the two heads, where there is no unity: God and man.

2) The being in which one head has disappeared, but also humanity has disappeared.

The one head is the head of the Logos, of God Himself, so that when Jesus acts it is not the unity of something human and something Divine, but-it is something else: it is the Logos who acts. So all the struggles, all the uncertainties, the despairs, the loneliness, and all this which we have in the Gospel picture, is only seemingly and not really so. It has no consequences: it is inconsequential. This was the danger of the Eastern development, and the fact that this danger has been overcome is the great importance of the decision of Chalcedon, for which we must be very grateful to the Eastern church that it was able to do this against its own basic feeling. But the power of the Old Testament and the power of the full picture of the human side in Jesus, was such that the East couldn't fail in this respect.

I come now to one of the most interesting figures in Eastern church history,Dionysius the Areopagite (Pseudo-Dionysius), who was also of extreme importancefor the West. (Cf. Acts 17:34, where a man called Dionysius followed Paul who was speaking in the Areopagus; he is called Dionysius the Areopagite, in the tradition. His name was used by a 'writer writing between 480-510, probably ca. 500. He called himself Dionysius the Areopagite, namely the man who was with Paul and who received much wisdom from him. This man was accepted as the real Dionysius who talked with Paul, when he gave to his books this name. This was of course in our terminology a falsification. But it was the usage of ancient writing, so it was not a betrayal in any technical or moral sense; but it was a matter of launching books under famous names. Not until the 16th and in some cases even the 19th century was this falsification scientifically discovered. Not even the Catholics doubt about. it. It is a historically established fact that the man who wrote these books wrote actually about 500 and that he used the name of the companion of Paul in Athens in order to give authority to his books. He was translated into Latin by the first great Western theologian of the New World, namely Scotus Eriugena, ca. 840.

This Latin translation was used in all the Middle Ages and had many Scholastic commentators. For us he has all the main characteristics of the Byzantine end of the Greek development. He is the mediator of Neoplatonism and Christianity, the father of most of Christian mysticism. Therefore we must deal with him very carefully. His concepts underlie most Christian mysticism in the East as well as in the West, and some of his concepts – such as hierarchy, which he invented – entered the ordinary language and helped greatly to form the Western hierarchical system of Rome.

We have two basic works of-his: "On the Divine Names", : and "On the Hierarchies." The latter book is divided into the Heavenly and the ecclesiastical hierarchies. The word "hierarchy" probably was created by him; at least we don't know if anyone else used it before. It is derived. from hieros, holy, sacred; and arch principle, power, beginning, etc. – thus, a holy power. The word hierarchy is defined by him as a holy system of degrees with respect to knowledge and efficacy This characterizes .all Catholic thinking very much; i. t., it is not only ontological, but also epistemological; there are degrees not only in being but also in knowledge. The system of holy degrees is taken from Neoplatonism, where it was first fully developed, after Aristotle and Plato (Symposium). The man who is most important is Proclus, a Neoplatonic philosopher who has often been compared with Hegel; he has the same kind of triadic thinking, thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, arid brings all reality into such a system of holy degrees.

The surprising thing about Dionysius is that this system, which was the end of the Greek world, the summary of everything Greek wisdom had to say about life, was introduced into and used by Christianity. Shortly before, this system was used by Julian the Apostate in order to fight Christianity, in order to bring paganism in again in a large system, which is the basis for all Greek thinking, and for the new religion of he educated to which he wanted to introduce Christlanity. So Julian and the Christian theologians who were figbting with each other in a life and death struggle, now were united in a Greek Christian mystic and theologians, Pseudo-Dionysius, Dionysius created Christian mysticism by using the system of degrees. This is what "hierarchy" means. The other book is "On the Divine Names." The term "Divine names" is also a Neoplatonic term, which was necessary for the Neoplatonists when they brought all the gods of the pagans into their system, How could they do this? Because they followed the philosophical criticism of hundreds of years, and no educated Greek of that time believed literally in the pagan gods. But there was still the tradition, there was the popular religion, and so something had to be done about these Divine names, What they tried to show was that the qualities of the Divine were expressed in these names. These names cannot be taken literally, They express different degrees and powers in the Divine ground and Divine emanation; they point to principles of power, of love, of energy, and other virtues, but they are not something which in terms of "name" could be understood as special beings. This meant they discovered, in present-day terminology, the symbolic character of all our speaking about God. The writings about the Divine names can be found in all the Middle Ages; all theologians did this; they spoke about the symbolic meaning of everything we say about God, They didn't use the word "symbol" at that time, but used the word "name," i. e., expressing a character or quality. And when you today have a popular discussion or a bull session, and someone tells you,'" Now what we say about God is only "symbolic," you can say that this "only" is very wrong, and as long as a real thinking theology exists, people have understood the symbolic character of what we say about God, and the wrong is on our side that we haven't followed in this respect the insight of classical theology – of the Greek and of the Western church – but that we have fallen into a literalism against which all the Reformers, especially Calvin, were fighting. The symbolic interpretation of everything we say about God corresponds to the idea of God Dionysius develops. First of all, how can we know about Him? He answers: There are two ways of recognizing Him, the affirmative theology: all names, as far as they are positive, must be attributed to God because He is the Ground of everything; so He is designated by everything, everything points to Him, This is the positive theology, and this has to be done. God must be named with all names,

But then, at the same time – there is a negative theology which denies that He can be named by anything whatsoever. He is even beyond the highest names theology has given to Him. He is beyond spirit, He is beyond the good. He is, as he says, super-essential, i. e., beyond the Platonic ideas, beyond essences; super-exalted, i. e. , beyond all superlatives; He is not the highest being but beyond any possible highest being; and He is super-Divinity, i. e., He is beyond God, if we speak of God as a Divine being. Therefore He is "unspeakable Darkness", In both cases he denies the possibility, by His very nature, that He can be seen , that He can be spoken Therefore all names disappear, after they have been attributed to Him, even the holy name "God." Perhaps this is the source, unconsciously, for what I say at the end of my "Courage to Be," about ."the God above God," namely the God above God which is the real ground of everything that is, which is above any special name we can give, even to a highest being. It is important that the positive and the negative way lead to the same end. In both cases the forms of the world (are) negated. If about God you say everything, you can equally say you don't say anything about Him, namely, anything special. That is, of course,the first thing which must be said about God, because that is what makes Him God, namely, that which transcends everything finite. In this sense Dionysius says that even the problem of unity and trinity disappears in the abyss of God. Since that which super-essential, beyond the Platonic "ideas," is also beyond all numbers, it is even beyond the number one – so that there is no difference between three or one or many, in this respect. When you hear that God is "one," don't think of numbers; always translate this by the sentence that God is beyond numbers, not only against two and three and four and five, but beyond all numbers. Only on this basis can we then speak of "trinity, " and of the infinite Self-expression in the world. First of all, "one" means beyond one and two and three and four; it does not mean one against two and three and four – this is a complete misunderstanding.

From this abysmal "one," which is the source and substance of all being, the light emanates, and the light is the good in all things. The word "light" is a symbol not only for knowing but also fore being. "Hierarchy" for Dionysius is a system of degrees not only for our knowledge but also for being itself.

It is the same as the earliest Greek philosopher Parmenides said, that where there is being there is also the Logos of being. This light, which is the power of being and knowing, is identical with itself; it is unshaken, it is everlasting. What the first Greek philosopher Parmenides said, the.1ast, Dionysius, said. In this the East was consistent in its whole development.

There is a way downwards and a way upwards – we have this already in Heraclitus who says that in everything there is a trend from earth over water over fire to air, and an opposite trend from the air to earth, i.e., every living being is a tense reality, in which there is a fundamental tension, a tension of the creative power of being going down, and the saving power of being going up. The three stages of the way upward are purgation, or purification (this is the ethical-ascetic realm); illumination (this is the realm of mystical understanding); and union or perfection (this is the return into the unity with God. In this last stage something takes place which became the foundation of the modern world through Nicholas Cusanos, namely what Dionysius calls the mystical ignorance; what Cusanos called the learned ignorance (docta ignorantia). Of this the two men say that it is the only ultimate true knowledge. And again this word "ignorance" says we don't know anything special any more when we have penetrated into the Ground of everything that is. And since everything special is changing, it is not ultimate reality and truth. But if you penetrate from everything changing to the ultimate, then we have the rock of eternity and we have the truth which only can rest on this rock.

Now this fundamental reality is represented in degrees called "hierarchies." The line from above to below is the line of emanation. The line from below to above is the line of salvation. The hierarchies represent both ways. They are the way in which the Divine abyss emanates. They are, at the same time, the revelations of the Divine abyss, as far as it can be revealed, in the way upwards – in the saving union with God.

From the point of view of the way upward, they have the purpose to create the most possible similarity and union of all beings with God. Here again the old Platonic formula which I already gave you, "being equal to God as much as possible," is used by the Areopagite – coming nearer and nearer to God and finally uniting with Him.

Every hierarchy takes its light from the higher one and brings it down to the lower. In this way each hierarchy is active and passive at the same time. It receives the Divine power of being and gives it in a restrictive way to those who are lower than it. But this system of degrees is ultimately dualistic. I already said this when I spoke about the title of the book on hierarchies. There are two fundamentally different hierarchies, namely the Heavenly and the earthly. The Heavenly hierarchies are the Platonic essences or ideas, above which is God, but which are the first emanations (and) are from God, but which in Dionysius are interpreted as hierarchies of angels. This is a development which already occurs in later Judaism; the two concepts, the concept of angels – which is a symbolic personalistic concep t– amalgamates with the concepts of hypostatized essences or powers of being: they become one and the same being and they represent the Heavenly hierarchies. If you want to give a meaningful account about the concept of angels to your people, and perhaps even to yourselves, always interpret them as the Platonic essences, as the powers of being, not as special beings. If you interpret in the latter way, it becomes crude mythology; if you interpret them as emanations of the Divine power of being in essences, in powers of being, then it becomes a meaningful concept and perhaps a very important one – but of course not in terms of the sentimental winged babies which you find in pictures of angels. This has nothing to do with the great concept of Divine emanations in terms of powers of being.

This is the one hierarchy, and as an image of this hierarchy we have the ecclesiastical hierarchy which is on earth. The angels are the Spiritual mirrors of the Divine abyss. They always look at Him, i. e., they are the immediate recipients of His power of being. They always are longing to become equal with Him and to return to Him. And they are with respect to us the first revealers. Now if we understand it in this way, we can understand again what it means that they are the essences in which the Divine ground expresses itself first.

There are three times three orders of angels – which is of course a Scholastic play – making it possible to give a kind of analogy to the earthly hierarchies. The earthly hierarchies are powers of Spiritual being. Here you can learn something about medieval realism. The earthly hierarchies are:

1) The three sacraments: baptism~ the Lord's Supper, confirmation

2) The three degrees of the clergy: deacons, priests, and bishops.

3) The three degrees of non-priests: the imperfect, who are not even members of the congregation; the laymen; and the monks, who have a special function.

These nine earthly hierarchies mediate the return of the soul to God. They all are equally necessary and all are equally powers of being. You will immediately ask, as children of nominalism, "what does that mean, that here the sacraments are equal, as hierarchies, with people; namely, the clergy, laymen, etc." This you can understand only if you understand that the people are not people here but bearers of sacramental power, bearers of power of being. And so are the sacraments. That is the point .of identity which makes it possible that he calls all nine of them hierarchies. But in order to understand this, you must know what arch , power of being, means. They all are sacred powers of being, some of them embodied in persons, some in sacraments, some in persons in the congregation with the function only of being believers in the congregation, with no special function. "

This brings the earthly world into a hierarchical system because earthly things – especially in the Sacraments – are used to express themselves – sounds, colors, forms, stone, etc. All reality belongs to the ecclesiastical reality, because the ecclesiastical reality is the hierarchical reality as expressed in the different degrees of being and knowledge of God. In the mystery of the Church, all things are interpreted in terms of their symbolic power to express the abyss of Divinity. They express it and they guideback to it. The ecclesiastical mysteries penetrate into the interior Divinity, into the Divine Ground of all things. And so a system of symbols in which everything is included potentially, is established. This is the principle of Byzantine culture, namely to transform reality into something which points to the eternal – not changing reality, as it is in the Western world, but interpreted reality, penetrating into its depths.

Therefore the understanding of the Eastern hierarchical thinking is much more an understanding of the vertical line, going into the depths of theology, while the Kingdom-of- God theology, for instance in Protestantism, is a horizontal theology, and we can say, looking at the situation in East and West, that the East is missing, (with respect to) transforming reality, and therefore became first the victim to the Islamic attack, and then a victim to the pseudo-Islamic Marxian attack, because it was not able itself to work in the horizontal line, transforming reality.

On the other hand, when we look at our culture we can say – without too much doubt about this – that we have lost the vertical dimension to a great extent; we always go ahead; we never have time to stand somewhere and to look above and below.

These are two types. Here I give you a system of hierarchies which is completely

vertical and has very little horizontal. In order to understand what I mean with making everything transparent for the Divine ground, we should look for a moment at art. The most translucent religious art is the Byzantine mosaics. They don't want at all to describe anything which happens in the horizontal line; they want to express, in everything which appears on the horizontal level of reality, on the plane of time and space, to make it a symbol pointing to its own depths: the presence of the Divine. This is the great(ness) of the mosaics. There are a few examples of them in the Metropolitan Museum, which you should look at. There you have the expression of Divine transcendence, even if the subjects are completely earthly – animals, trees, men of politics, women of the court. Every expression has its ultimate symbolic meaning, and therefore. . . the last great fight in the Byzantine church was a fight about pictures, because the Byzantine culture believed in the power of pictures to express the Divine ground of things. And the danger was very great that the popular belief would confuse the transparency of the pictures with the power of the Divine itself, which is effective through the pictures, but which is never identical with them. And the whole fight, especially coming from the West against the East, and on the other hand coming from Mohammedanism against the East, was a fight about the meaning of the transparent power of the pictures. For the East, this was essential and still is; therefore most of the great art came from there and then conquered the West. But from the West the danger was so great that after Rome partly capitulated, it finally was attacked again by Protestantism, especially Reformed Protestantism, in a way which removed the pictures from the churches again. Therefore in Calvinism natural objects have lost their transparency - -that is the meaning of all iconoclastic (image-destroying) movements. You can understand this when they saw the superstitious way in which many Catholics prayed to their pictures, etc... But when you understand what else was thrown out in the same act, then you are not so sure about it - -namely, that natural objects have lost their transparency: they are simply objects of technical activity, and nature became de-divinized, its Divine character, its representative character for the Divine, became lost. This is part of the whole problem. So we can say that what the Byzantine culture effected was the spiritualization of all reality. Please don't: confuse that with idealization --t hat is something quite different. Idealization is the picture of Hoffman's in Riverside Church, an idealized Jesus. A Byzantine Jesus is a transparent and never idealized Jesus. There is the Divine majesty which is visible throughout, but not a nice human being with ideal, manly handsomeness. That is not what great Christian art wanted to do. Therefore don't confuse it. And I would say that this Eastern church represents something which has been lost, and therefore I am especiaIly happy that it was possible and still is possible to communicate with this church – but it is not possible with the Roman church – namely to take them into the World Council of Churches, and I hope we will not believe, because we are the big majority and are the dynamic power there, that we have nothing to learn from them. We have much to learn from them. . .

This may happen in centuries of more intimate contact, and then it might be that the dimension of depth will again enter the Western thinking, more than it does now.

The system of Dionysius was received by the West. There were two things which made this possible, and which Christianized, or baptized, it. The one was that emanation was not understood in a natural but in a personal picture. God has given existence to all beings because of His benevolence. This goes beyond pagan thinking. Here the personalistic element comes in and the Neoplatonic dualism is removed.

Secondly the system of mysteries is built around Christ, and around the Church. All things have the power of illuminating and uniting only in relationship to the Church and to the Christ. Christ does not become one hierarchy beside others. This was prevented by Nicaea. But He becomes God manifest, appearing in hierarchy and working through every hierarchy. In this way the system of pagan divinities and mysteries, which lived in Neoplatonism, was overcome, and in this way the Western church could receive the system of hierarchies and mysteries.

Consequently medieval mysticism never was in contrast to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. They all worked together, and only much later did conflicts arise.

This brings to an end my interpretation of the East, and tomorrow we start with the transition towards the West.

Lecture 15: Tertullian. Cyprian. Augustine

The western Church centers around sin and salvation. Turtullian, Cyprian and Augusting. The Catholic church and the bishops were one and the same.


We finished the discussion of the Eastern development of Christian theology and we are now looking at the West, with the intention to remain there until the end of these lectures – which is perhaps not absolutely fair to the East, because there were developments there which one must certainly study if one wants to understand the situation in present-day Russia, for example, but our limitations are so great that I cannot go into this.

The two men who lead us from the East to the West, and with whom we must deal first, are Tertullian and Cyprian. We already discussed Tertullian to some extent in connection with the Montanistic movement of radical spiritualism and radical eschatology. He was its greatest theological representative. We also spoke about him in connection with his ability to create those formulas which finally survived, in a very early stage, those formulas about Trinity and Christology which, under the pressure of Rome, finally conquered all the other suggestions made by the East. Further, we have seen that he was a Stoic philosopher and as such he was fully aware of the importance of reason and carries through his rational system in a very radical way. But the same Tertullian is also aware of the fact that on the basis of his philosophical attitude there is something else, namely the Christian paradox, He who said that the human soul is naturally Christian (anima naturaliter christiana,) a phrase you should remember, and is the same who is said to have said, at the same time – though he did not actually say it – that "I believe what is absurd," (credo quia absurdum est). What he really said was: "The Son of God is crucified; it is not a shame because it is a matter of shame. And the Son of God had died; it is credible because it is inadequate And the buried (was) resurrected; it is certain because it is impossible."

Now what you find in such paradox is a mixture of an understanding of the surprising, unexpected – and that means, in Greek, "paradoxical" - -reality of the appearance of God, or God-man unity, under the conditions of existence; and at the same time it is a rhetorical expression of this idea, in the way in which the Roman educated orators used the Latin language. So you must not take it as a literal expression but as a pointing – by means of paradox – to the incredible reality of the appearance of Christ. Now people have added to this, credo quia absurdum est, "1 believe because it is absurd," but this of course is not Tertullian. He never would have been able to give very clear dogmatic formulas and (be) a Stoic, believing in the ruling power of the Logos.

In Tertullian also appears something which is important later in the West, namely the emphasis on sin. He speaks of the vicium originis, the original vice, and identifies it with sexuality. In this way he anticipates a long development of Roman Christianity, the depreciation of sex and the doctrine of the universality of sinfulness.

Another thing can be derived from him and partly from his Stoic background: for him the Spirit is a kind of fine substance, as it was in Stoic philosophy. This fine substance is called grace or Spirit – which is the same thing in all Catholic theology; usually the third concept is love: (grace, spirit and love are actually the same in Catholic theology.) Therefore Roman Catholicism can speak of, infused grace, infused like a liquid, like a very fine substance, into the soul of man and transforming it. This is the non-personalistic element in all Roman Catholic sacramental thinking, and in the way in which the fine substance of the Spirit, or of love or grace, can be infused into the soul,. . into the oil of extreme unction, into the water of baptism, into the bread of the Lord's Supper. Here you have one of the sources of this kind of "spiritual materialism," if you want to call it like this, which played such a great role in the Roman church.

Finally he represents the idea that asceticism, the self-denial of the vital reality of oneself, is the way to receive this substantial grace of God. He uses the juristic term "compensation" for sin; asceticism, compensation for the negative side of sin. Or he uses "satisfaction": by good works we can satisfy God. Or he uses "self-punishment" and says that to the degree in which we will punish ourselves, God will not punish us. All this is legalistic thinking. And although he himself was not a lawyer, every Roman orator and philosopher was potentially a lawyer, as every American is a philosopher! . . . This use of legal categories was another fundamental characteristic of the West and it became decisive, for the later development of the Roman church in the movement in which the second and great important element was put into the foreground, namely the Church, and this was Cyprian.

The North African bishop Cyprian's greatest influence was on the doctrine of the Church. The problem which he discussed was also a very existential one – as in all Church history very few people were mere scholars; most of them had very fundamental existential affairs and concerns, and out of that arose their doctrines. In the moment in which a theology says something which you cannot existentially realize any more, either the theology is bad or you have not yet had a special experience – both things are possible. But usually, I would say, the theology then is bad, or these parts of a theology are bad. And I believe – this is self-criticism – that in every theological system there are, besides those elements which are creations of existential concern and therefore full of blood and power and speaking to others, sections which are like lines drawn out in order to fill the system up, but not created on the basis of existential concern. And I believe that most of you are very sensitive to this; that is the reason why for a teacher every lecture should be a matter of fear and trembling – at least it is for this teacher! And just for this reason, because I never know, with absolute exactitude, (whether) something I tell you in systematics – and my whole "history of Christian thought" is very much systematic, as you know – is existential or not. That is the meaning of the word "existential." Nietzsche called it "spirit", and then he has said: Spirit is the life which cuts into its own life; out of its own suffering it produces its own creativity... He doesn't use the word existential, but that's what it means.

For the people like Cyprian, the problems of the Church were existential problems. There were the persecutions; there were those called the lapsi those who were fallen either by recanting Christianity or at least by surrendering books to the searching servants of the pagan authorities, or who denounced others in a trial such as those we see now in this country. All this was a matter of great concern for the Church, and of course each of them who did this was so to speak under Divine judgment. And these people wanted to return to t he Church and overcome the weakness which got hold of them. No one can judge them who is human. But not everybody could be returned into the Church; in cases where there was not human weakness but malignancy or lack of depth, it was not possible for the Church to re-accept. Now the question was: Who decides, in this situation. The ordinary doctrine was: those who are "spirituals," i. e. , those who had become martyrs or had in any other way proved that they were fully responsible Christians.

But against this, which was a kind of remnant from the period of Christianity in which spirit was still fighting with office and office was not yet prevailing, now the office didn't want this remnant of the past and wanted to take over this decision too. The episcopalian point of view said that the bishop, who is the Church, must decide about it. And he must decide in a very liberal way. He must take those who fell even more than once. In the same way, other mortal sinners must be received. The Church had become a country Church, a territorial, a universal Church, the Church of the Empire, and so no one could be easily excluded. The decision was now in the hands of the bishop.

But on the other hand the doctrine was still powerful that the Spirit must decide whether or not someone can belong to the Church. So Cyprian said that the bishops are the Spirituals, those who have the Spirit, namely the Spirit of succession from the early Apostles, apostolic succession. In this way the Spirit became the qualification of the office This was the greatest triumph of the office, that now the Spirit is bound to the office and the Spirit is called the Spirit of succession. This was a transition, and shortly after it became clear that the clergy has the graces which belong to it by ordination, and that the highest clergy, finally the Pope, embodies the Divine grace on earth. But this was the transition to it.

A similar very existential problem was the problem: What to do with people who are baptized by heretics and schismatics. You know the difference, I hope. Heretics are people who have a different faith, who have deviated from the order of the Christian congregation. Schismatics are people who follow a special line of church-political development, those who split from the church, perhaps because two bishops fight with each other, or some groups don't want to accept the Roman bishop. So the separation of the Eastern and Western churches is always called schisma. The Eastern church is considered by Rome not as a heretic church but as a schismatic church. Protestantism is considered by Rome not as a schismatic church but as a heretic church, because their foundations of faith are at stake and not only the non-acknowledgment of the Roman bishop.

Now the question was: How was it possible to receive into one's own congregation people who are baptised by one of these groups. The answer was, again: It is the objective character of baptism which is decisive, and not the person who has performed it. We will see how Augustine carried this through.

Now behind all this stands Cyprian's idea of the Church:

1) He who has not the Church as Mother, cannot have God as Father. "There is no salvation outside the Church" – extra ecclesia nulla salus. The Church is the institution in which salvation is reached. This again is a change from the early Christian period where the Church was a community of the saints and not an institution for salvation. Of course salvation was going on within it and those who could be saved, and were saved, from paganism and from the demons were gathered in the Church. But the Church itself was not considered to be an institution of salvation but a community of the saints. This is the first emphasis of Cyprian. It is very consistent with the legal thinking of the West.

2) The Church is built on the episcopate. He says the Church is built over the bishops. This is done by Divine law and therefore it is an object of faith. "Therefore you must know that the bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the bishop, and that if somebody is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church." Now this is purest episcopalianism – though somehow different from what is called today by this word.

3) The unity of the Church is correspondingly rooted in the unity of the episcopate. All bishops represent this unity. But in spite of the equality of all of them, there is one representative of this unity: this is Peter and his See. The See of Peter is the principle Church, "from which the priestly unity has arisen, the womb and the root of the Catholic Church." Now this is before Augustine. The consequence of this, although not yet in Cyprian's mind, was unavoidably the principate of Rome in a much more radical way than he expressed it.

4) The bishop is sacerdotes (the Latin word for "priest"). The priest's main function is the sacrificial function. The priest sacrifices the elements in the Lord's Supper and repeats the sacrifice on Golgotha by doing so. He imitates what Christ did; he offers a true and perfect sacrifice to God the Father within the Church. Here again it was not yet the later Catholic Mass, but it unavoidably would lead to it – (the more so in the primitive nations, with their realistic thinking and tendency to take as real what is symbolic. . . .).Many of the fundamentals of the Roman church existed as early as about 250, Cyprian's time. And whatever we say against the Roman church, we should not forget that the early developments of Christianity led this way, as early as the year 250, let us say, as an example. And when today one speaks of the agreement of the first 500 years, this is entirely misleading. Of course everybody agrees in the big synodal decisions – Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox – but this agreement is only seemingly an agreement, because the living meaning of all these things was absolutely different from what the Reformers built up as the Protestant doctrine. And if you take a man like Cyprian, then you can see the difference. No Protestant could accept any of these points.

Let me sum up some of the points characteristic of the Occidental tradition:

1) One could first mention the general practical activistic tendency in the West, the legal relations between God and man, the much stronger ethical impulses for the average Christian, not with respect to himself but with respect to the world; and include in this point the eschatological interest, without mystagogical and mystical emphasis. We can say: More law, less participation: that characterizes the West from the very beginning.

2) The idea of sin, even original sin, is almost exclusively occidental. The main problem of the East, as we have seen, was death – therefore immortality; and error – therefore , truth. The main problem of the West is sin, and salvation. In a man like St. Ambrose, the estimation of Paul – who is the main teacher on sin and salvation – is accepted. He has been called by St. Ambrose the doctor gentium , the teacher of the nations. Paul has the keys of knowledge; Peter has the keys of power. And there was going on through the whole history of the Middle Ages a struggle between Peter and Paul – between the keys of knowledge, which finally prevailed in the Reformation, and the keys of power, which always prevailed in the Roman church. Grace, therefore, is, according to St. Ambrose, first of all the forgiveness of sins and not, as in the Platonic attitude of the East, deification.

3) This has the following consequences: Western Christianity emphasizes the historical humanity of Christ, his humility, and not his glory. e. g., on the door of St. Sabina in Rome, before which I stood with great awe, I must say, there you find in wood-cut relief the first picture or sculpture of the crucifixion. The door is world-famous, coming from the fourth century. Here the West shows that it deviates, or can deviate, from the Christ in glory which you find in all mosaics but you never find the Christ crucified. This is more symptomatic for the difference of East and West than many theological formulas. But it is of course also expressed in the theological formulas: If I now return to this most difficult lecture I gave on Chalcedon, I now can illustrate it with the two doors, or with a mosaic in, let us say, Ravina, which was under Byzantine influence at that time; and on the other hand the door in Santa Sabina.... There you find the two Christologies clearly expressed in picture. .In one you have always the tremendously powerful Lord of the universe, in all glory as the Judge of the world or of the resurrected, in His majesty surrounded by angels, man, animals, and inorganic parts of nature, which all participate in His glory. And then you have this very wonderful, in some way poor, (presentation) of the suffering Christ on the door at Santa Sabina. The one is Antiochean, Roman theology, which emphasizes the humanity more than anything else, including the suffering humanity of the Christ; the other is Alexandrian Christology which makes Christ a walking God. . . – the bodily existence is swallowed up by the Divine form. Now this can give you an example of the difference in feeling. And so we have in the whole history of painting in the West, since that time, the most wonderful ,the most cruel, and the most destructive representations of the Crucifixion. The early Gothic crucifixes, of which there are many, are such that perhaps a modern church trustee wouldn't allow them to be hung in his church, because they are so ugly – supposing that the crucifixion was a beautiful thing. It was ugly. And that is what the West accepted, and could understand.

4) The last point I want to make is the Church. The idea of the Church is much more emphasized than in the East. The Church is built somehow according to the legal structure of the Roman state, with the principle of authority, with the double law – the canonic law and the civil law. All this is characteristic of the West. One element I want to add is the hierarchical centralization of power in the Pope, and the personal participation of everybody, including the monks, in the sacrament of penance.

Now this gives you some ideas about the difference. Now I come to the man who is the representative of the West more than anyone else ever since, even the Reformers, and who is so to speak the foundation of everything the West had to say, in an ultimate formula, Augustine.

Augustine lived from 354-430 after Christ. His influence overshadows not only the next thousand years but all periods ever since. In the Middle Ages his influence was such that even those who were struggling against him in theological terminology and method – the Dominicans, with the help of Aristotle – quoted him often; as a Catholic theologian in Germany has counted, 80% of all the quotations of Thomas are from Augustine, and Thomas is the great opponent of Augustinianism in the Middle Ages. Now if you quote your enemies in the amount of 80% of all your quotations – affirmatively, of course – then this enemy is not simply an enemy, but you live on his basis, and the difference is one in emphasis and a change in method, but it is not a substantial difference. The whole Middle Ages are full of this.

In Augustine we have also the man to whom all the Reformers referred in their fight with the Roman church. We have in him the man who influenced deeply the modern philosophical movement insofar as it was Platonistic – i. e., Descartes and his whole school, and including Spinoza. He influenced deeply our modern discussion, and I would say, almost unambiguously, that I myself, and everything you get theologically from me, is much more in the line of the

Augustinian than in the Thomistic tradition.

So we have a line of thought from Augustine over the Franciscans in the Middle Ages, over the Reformers, over the philosophers of the 17th and early 18th centuries, over the German classical philosophers including Hegel, to the present-day philosophy of religion, insofar as it is not empirical philosophy of religion – which I think is a contradiction in terms – but a philosophy of religion which is based on the immediacy of the truth in every human being.

Now this is the greatness of Augustine, and this we have to understand. Now I am sorry that we are so late now, because that lecture has to be given as one. But I must start and will dwell on one special problem and will continue next Tuesday.

In order to understand Augustine, we must look at his development, his development in seven different steps, and then an eighth step which is negative, with respect to content.

1) The first of these seven steps, which may help us to understand the immense influence of this greatest of all Church Fathers, is his dependence on the piety of his mother. This means, at that time, something extremely important. It means that he is dependent on the Christian tradition. This reminds us of Plato's situation. When Plato wrote, he also wrote out of a tradition – the aristocratic tradition of the Athenian gentry, to which he belonged. But this tradition had come to an end in the self-destructive Pelopponesian war, the masses had taken over, and then the tyrants came – as always, following the masses. The aristocracy was killed, as a principle and partly also as human beings. So what Plato saw in his mind was an ideal form of political and philosophical existence, both identical with each other, but a vision which had no reality any more. Therefore I warn you about a mistake! – The name of Plato overshadows everything else in Greek thinking, even Aristotle. But don't believe that Plato was the most influential man in the later ancient world. He had always some influence and his book "The Timaeus" was almost the bible of the later ancient world. But he could not exercise real influence because everything he developed was in the realm of pure essences, and had no historical foundation any more. Here I think in terms of pure economic materialism: if the social and economic conditions do not exist any more; if a civilization has reached a special status; then you cannot influence it and even less transform it with the ideal form of ideas which come from the past. This is very concrete for us today, namely the longing for the Middle Ages, and the daily – or I must say hourly – increasing power of the Roman church has something to do with this situation. But it cannot be done. We cannot go back to the Middle Ages, although this is the hope of every Catholic. So when Plato wrote his "Republic" and later on his "Laws," and implied in all this all elements of his philosophical thought – which was at the same time his social, psychological and religious thought – then he was in some way reactionary – (if you don't misunderstand this word, from agein, driving towards something which was a matter of the past, and could not be reestablished any more in the period of the Roman Empire. This produced again a kind of emptiness in which the Cynics and Skeptics and Stoics were much more important than Plato because they were adequate to their situation. Stoicism, not Platonism, governed the later ancient world. But Plato returned in the Middle Ages. We will speak of this later.

Augustine was just in the opposite situation. While in Plato a great aristocratic tradition came to an end, in Augustine a new tradition started. It was, so to speak, a new archaism into which he came, and was brought into it. So immediately he had something which made it possible for him to participate in the new tradition. He had a pagan father and a Christian mother. The pagan father gave him the possibility to participate in paganism – of course, in what was greatest in paganism at that time; what was lowest in it, for him personally, we don't know – and his Christian mother made it possible for him to enter into another tradition, a new archaism. Thus the simple empirical fact of a man with a pagan father and a Christian mother means almost everything for our understanding of him.

2) He discovered the problem of truth. This was the second step, connected with the fact that he read Cicero's book "Hortensius". Here Cicero deals with the question of truth. But this question in Cicero means choosing between the existing ways of truth, between the different philosophies. And Cicero, though a great Roman statesman, answers in terms of a kind of eclectic philosophy, (as I believe every American statesman, if he wrote a book on truth, would answer, showing those elements in philosophy which are most adequate to the political situation in which he finds himself.) So it was truth from a practical point of view. Cicero is not an original philosopher. This was impossible after the catastrophe of Greek philosophy. Therefore he used, from a pragmatic point of view, the Roman Empire – what enhances good citizenship in the Roman Empire is of philosophical value. And the ideas which enhance are: providence, God, freedom, immortality, rewards, and things like that.

Augustine was in exactly the same situation. But for him it was not the civitas terrenae but the Christian city of God; it was the Christian tradition. So he developed a pragmatic philosophy, with Platonic and other elements, on the basis of the need of the Christian life and not on: the basis of Roman citizenship. But the basic form was very similar – it was pragmatic-eclectic. Augustine is not an original philosopher in the sense in which Plato or the Stoics were. But he is a philosopher in whom the great synthesis between the Old Testament idea of Yahweh and the Parmenidean idea of being, was combined. He is responsible for the communion of Jerusalem and Athens, more than anybody else in the history of the Church.

Lecture 16: Augustine (continued)

Skepticism and the problem of certainty. Augustine stands between skepticism and the new authority – the Church.


I wanted to give you a survey of the basic elements in the development of Augustine. I started last time and gave you two of these elements, the first being the piety of his mother Monica, in contrast to the paganism of his father; the importance of tradition, which now again has started after it had come to an end in Greece, for instance, in the period of Plato. We can say Plato represents the end of a tradition (the Aristocratic tradition in Athens), while Augustine represents the beginning of a new tradition, the Christian. The second point I made was the reading of Cicero's "Hortensius," where the problem of truth is discussed. This gave him the first question. Hortensius, Cicero himself, answers this question in terms of eclectic philosophy, philosophy which chooses and doesn't construct, chooses out of the given systems according to a practical or pragmatic principle of what is good for a special situation. In Cicero it is the Roman Empire, what is good for a Roman citizen. For Augustine the point of view is the Christian Church, which gives the basis for his philosophical eclecticism.

The third point was his Manichaeism. The Persian religion was dualistic and produced, in the Hellenistic period, a movement called Manichaeism, from its leader Mani. It was a Hellenized Parsism, dualistic in character. So we can consider it a mixture between the prophecy of Zoroaster, the prophet of the Persian religion, and Platonism in the form of the Gnostic thinking of his time, the late ancient world.

These Manichaeans were for a long time the main competitors with Christianity. They asserted that they represent the truly scientific theology of their time. Augustine was attracted for this reason and also because the dualism of the Manichaeans gave them the possibility of explaining sin rationally. This is the reason why the Manichaeans always had some influence through the whole history of Christianity. There were in the Middle Ages always sects influenced by Manichaean ideas, and there are Manichaean elements in many of you, without your knowledge of it. Whenever you hear an explanation of sin in terms of human freedom, then ask the question: "But if God is almighty, it must come from Him, or a principle against Him" – then you are Manichaean in your thinking: you have two principles in order to explain sin. This is something which is a past problem, but an actual problem, especially actual if you talk with people who are outside Christian: thought but have this popular nonsense with which they confront God's almightiness and the evil of the world, and tell you either God is not almighty or He is not all-loving. Then you are tempted to retire into a kind of half-Manichaean principle that there is an ultimate principle of evil in the world against the ultimate principle of good. You hear this also unfortunately in very serious lectures, and when you hear that the Neoplatonists or Augustine called sin."non-being," then they have taken away the seriousness of sin. But in the moment in which you (regard) sin as a part of being, then you are Manichaean. .. Augustine was attracted ,by this because he could now have two ultimate principles – evil is as positive as good.

This choice, which kept him for ten years as a member of the Manichaean development, shows his interest in thinking. Not everybody had a merely logical interest in it. Most philosophers had other interests, too. There is first, that truth for this group, as for Augustine, is not a theoretical philosophical, it is not logical analysis, but is at the same time religious practice – practical truth, existential truth: that is his interest.

Secondly, truth is saving truth, and Manichaeism is a system of salvation. The elements of the good, which are captivated by the evil principle, are saved from it. This makes it attractive for Augustine because salvation is his main question.

Thirdly, truth is in the struggle between good and bad, ,which gives him a possibility of interpreting history.

Now he remained always, somehow, under the at least coloring influence of Manichaeism. He was not a Manichaean any more, after he left the group; he fought against it. But something in his thinking and even more, in his feeling, was colored by the profound pessimism about reality... His doctrine of sin is probably not understandable without his Manichaean period.

But he left Manichaeism, under the influence of astronomy. Astronomy showed him the perfect motion of the stars, i. e., the fundamental elements in the structure of the universe. This made a dualistic principle almost impossible. If the structure of the universe is a structure of regular mathematical forms which can be calculated and which are harmonius, where can you find the effect of the demonic creation in the world? The world as created in its basic structure is good – this is what he derived from it. This means he uses the Greek Pythagorean idea of the cosmos. He used the principle of form and harmony as it was expressed in mathematics.

Now this Greek European principle overcame the Asiatic dualism and negativity. So the separation of Augustine from the Manichaean philosophy was a symbolic event. It was the liberation of modern natural science, mathematics and technics from the Asiatic dualistic pessimism and negation of reality. This was extremely important for the future of Europe. And, as we shall see, as far as we have time to see it, the later medieval Augustinian philosophers and theologians were always men who emphasized astronomy and mathematics more than anything else. Modern natural science is born, as are Platonism and Augustinianism, on the basis of a belief in a harmonious cosmos determined by mathematical rules. This was also the worldview of the Renaissance. So if we look deeper into the movements of thought, then this anecdotic story, that AugustIne left the Manichaeans because of astronomy and that he had joined them because of the explanation of sin and evil, becomes a world-historical symbol for the relationship of the East and the West, of the Asiatic East and the European West.

The fourth influence: After he had left the Manichaean group, he fell intoskepticism, as always happens if you are disappointed about a system of truth in which you believe, suppressing other elements of truth which are in you but which you do not admit; then if you cannot keep them down any more., you fall into a skeptical doubt about every possibility of truth.

In his period skepticism was a very widely spread mood. Even in the later Academy, i, e., the Platonic school, skepticism about knowledge was present in terms of what is called probabilism: only probable statements are possible; no certainty is possible. This, in the Platonic school, was how the end of the Middle Ages looked.

All his older philosophical writings deal with the problem of certainty, He wanted to overcome the skeptical philosophy; he wanted certainty. This is another element in his thinking. It is very important, again, because it presupposed the negative end of the Greek development. The Greek heroic attempt to build a world on the basis of philosophical reason came to an end in terms of a catastrophe which we usually call skepticism. This was the end of the Greek thinking. The end of the Greek development to create a new world of thinking in terms of reason was skepticism. The heroic attempt of the Greek philosophers (after the archaic traditions had fallen down) to create a new world in terms of a doctrine of essences (Plato, the Stoics), came to an end in terms of skepticism. On this basis the emphasis on revelation must be understood. The negative end of the development of Greek philosophy, namely skepticism, is the negative presupposition for the way in which Christianity received the idea of revelation. Skepticism is very often the negative basis for a doctrine of revelation. Those people who emphasize revelation in the most absurd supernaturalistic terms are those who enjoy being skeptical about everything. Skepticism and dogmatism about revelation are correlate. And the way in which Christianity emphasized revelation in the earlier period and almost up to the Renaissance, is based on the tremendous shock Western mankind experienced when all the attempts of the Greek philosophers to bring certainty proved to be in vain. And this proof was given by the skeptical philosophers, which permeated all schools at that time.

Secondly, this skepticism gave rise to something else, namely to the new doctrine of knowledge, to the new epistemology, which Augustine created and which starts with the inner man instead of the experience of the external world. The skepticism, which was the end of all attempts to build a world in the objective realm, in the realm of things and objects, had the consequence that Augustine was thrown into himself to find the place of truth there, instead of outside. So we have two consequences of his participation in skepticism: the one is that he accepted revelation, and the other that insofar as he tried to find certainty as a philosopher, he tried to find it in the innermost center of his soul – in the subject himself.

Augustine stands between skepticism and the new authority, that of the Church, as Plato stood between the old authority and the beginning of skepticism. Here again we have the end of the archaic period in Plato and the beginning of a new archaic period in Augustine.

The fifth point: the liberation from skepticism in the philosophical realm was produced by his Neoplatonic period. While skepticism was the one end of Greek thinking, Neoplatonism was the other end. Skepticism was the negative, Neoplatonism the mystical, way in which Greek philosophy came to 1ts finish. Augustine became the Neoplatonic philosopher and he used it as the basis for a new certainty, the immediate certainty of God. In Neoplatonism you have the immediacy of truth in the inner soul, and from this he got his new certainty of the Divine,

Secondly, Neoplatonism gave him the basis for his interpretation of the relationship of God and the world, God as the creative Ground of the world in terms of amor (love).

Thirdly, it gave him the entrance to himself, from a psychological point of view, although this had to be supported by his Christian experience.

But now Augustine did something which later on all Renaissance philosophers also did: he turned the meaning of Neoplatonism into its opposite. Neoplatonism was a negative philosophy, a philosophy of escape from the world. The elevation of the soul out of the material world into the Ultimate, is the meaning of Neoplatonism. Augustine changes the emphasis. And this is the case in all Western Neoplatonism. Therefore he dropped the idea of degrees and used Neoplatonism for the .immediate experience of the Divine in everything, but especially in his soul.

In his doctrine of sin and grace, we still have these two influences, the influence of Manichaeism in his doctrine of sin and the influence of Neoplatonism in his doctrine of grace – we will come to this later. But he overcame skepticism not only philosophically, with the help of the Neoplatonists: he also overcame it with the help of the authority of the Church, under the influence of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milano, in whom the authority of the Church was represented.

The principle of authority was a form in which the new archaism, or the new archaic period which starts with the Church tradition, became conscious .of itself. The skeptical catastrophe drove Augustine more and more to authority, to the authority of revelation, concretely given to him by the authority of the Church, concretely given to him by the authority of this great bishop of Milano.

The whole medieval development has in its underground the anxiety of skepticism,

the anxiety of meaninglessness, as we could call it, over against which the acceptance of revelation and authority stood. We can say the catastrophe of the Greek autonomous attempt to construct a world out of pure thought, is the negative presupposition of the Christian doctrine of authority. – Authority for Augustine – you know he said that he would not have believed in the Christian message without the authority of the Church – means the impressive, the imposing, the overwhelming power of the Church and its great great representatives. This element of authority was not what it is for us, a problem of heteronomy, subjectionof something to what someb0dy else says to us we should accept. But it was for him the answer to the question implied in ancient skepticism. Therefore he did not feel it as heteronomy, he felt it as theonomy – and somehow rightly so, at that time. We will come back to this problem in the survey of the Middle Ages.

Seventh: Another element of ,the Church which impressed him profoundly: Christian asceticism, as represented by the monks and saints. He experiences the tension between the mystical ideal and his own sensual nature. In the period of Augustine, the sphere of sexuality was profanized in a terrible way. Neither Stoic reason nor Neoplatonism were able to overcome this profanization, on a large scale. The natural forms of love, sanctified by tradition and faith in the archaic periods of Greece and of the other countries, had been destroyed. An unrestrained naturalism of sex ruled. Against this, all the preaching of Stoics, Cynics, or Skeptics, was unable to help, because they preached the law, and the law was powerless against a naturalistically distorted libido. And now Augustine saw a new principle of sanctification. This gave him the solution for himself and for others also, in this realm. But it had the same tension in itself as Christian Neoplatonism. We already met Christian Neoplatonism in Dionysius, where we found this tension – affirmation and negation of the world. Now we find it here again in the problem of asceticism. Christianity affirms creation and sanctifies existence, through the historical appearance of the Divine in Christ. Neoplatonism negates creation; it has no creation, even. It negates the historical appearance of God, or makes it a universal event which always happens. Augustine was split: insofar as he was a Christian, coming from the Old Testament, he valuated family and sex insofar as it is in the family. Insofar as he was influenced by Neoplatonism and the ancient negativity towards the world, he denied sex and praised asceticism. This conflict goes through the whole history of the Christian Church. We have it even in the Reformers: the Reformation was basically on the positive side of Augustine – Old Testament prophetism affirms the body, etc. On the other hand the suspicion of libido was so deeply rooted in the Christian tradition that in spite of their greatness and their radicalism, the Reformers were unable to eradicate completely this remnant of Neoplatonic asceticism, and were at least very suspicious of everything sexual, as especially in Calvinistic countries the Protestants still are.

This influence was of equal historical importance as the other six. But if a man like Augustine has influences, then not only are these influences important for all later history, but also that which has not influenced him. And this is what I must discuss now. I concentrated around the name of Aristotle. Aristotle is missing in this development – of course, not entirely, because Plotinus took much Aristotle into himself. But Aristotle was not directly important for Augustine. This is equally important. This means that Augustine didn't include in his theology, in his philosophy, in his life, the concern for Greek science – not only natural science science, but also political science – was not really implied in his thinking. The significance of this is so important that it determines that whole presentation of the medieval development later on.

1) What Aristotle did was to (construct) a system of mediation and not a system of dualism, as we have it in Plato and Plotinus. The system of mediation couldn't be used by Augustme because for him the dualistic world-view seemed to be the adequate expression of Christianity. So this side of Augustine had to wait until hundreds of years of education of the barbaric tribes had been performed.

2) The emphasis in Aristotle on the importance of the individual gives a good basis for tendencies which are far from Augustine, who wanted the community of the Church.

3) Aristotle speaks about the middle way between the extremes. He denies anything like the erotic and ascetic ecstasies of Augustine. Again, it is a quasi-bourgeois attitude. The consequences of this later on became very outspoken in Protestantism.

4) Aristotle represents the special sciences, which deal with things in their rational and horizontal relationship. Augustine denies the possibility of such, or he denies their importance – what is important is the knowledge of God and the soul, but not of the natural things.

5) Aristotle is a logician. There is no special interest in logic in Augustine. The intuitive and voluntaristic character of his thinking made him disinterested in the abstractions of pure logic.

6) In some way this is the most important thing: Aristotle is an inductive thinker, he is an empiricist. He starts from the given reality in time and space and goes up from there to the highest abstractions. Augustine, following Plato, is an intuitive thinker: he starts from above and goes down to the empirical realities.

These two attitudes were due to clash in the moment in which Aristotle was rediscovered in the ancient world – in the 13th century, which for this reason is the greatest century of Christian theology, and which is completely determined by the tension between Aristotle and Augustine. This tension continues through all the following centuries, and if you want to put a label on me, call me an "Augustinian," and in this sense, an anti-Aristotelian and an anti-Thomist, in the fundamental attitude of Augustine with respect to the philosophy of religion – not in many other things; for instance, as a gestalt theologian or philosopher I am much nearer to Aristotle than to Augustine or Plato, because the idea of the living structure of a living organism is Aristotelian, while the atomistic, mechanical, mathematical science is Augustinian-Platonic. So there are some exceptions, and we will have more of them in the Middle Ages. But if you want to have the basic line of thought, don't forget what I told you here: After seven influences from the whole ancient world were mediated through the Middle Ages and to us, through Augustine, one of them was not (mediated): that for which Aristotle stands.

Augustine's epistemology. The purpose – at the same time, the way – of knowledge is expressed in his famous words: "I wish to know God and the soul." "Nothing else?" "Nothing at all." God and the soul. This means the point where God appears to man: in the soul. This he wants to know because only there can he know God, and in no other place. This implies, .of course, that God is not an object besides other objects. God is seen in the soul. He is in the center of man, before the split into subjectivity and objectivity. He is not a strange being, whose existence or non-existence one might discuss, but He is our own apriori, He precedes ourselves in dignity" and reality, and logical validity. In him the split between the subject and object, and the desire of the subject to know the object is overcome. There is no such gap. God is given to the subject as nearer to itself than it itself is to itself.

Now therefore the source point of all philosophy of religion in the Augustinian tradition, is the immediacy of the presence of God in the soul, or, as I like to call it, the experience of the unconditional, of the ultimate, in terms of an ultimate or an unconditional concern. This is the prius of everything. This is not a matter of discussing whether or not somebody exists.

Augustine connects this with the problem of certainty. He says that we have

immediate evidence of two things, namely, the logical form – because even the question of evidence presupposes the logical form – and secondly, the immediate sense experience, which should really be called sense impression because" experience'" is too ambiguous. What he means is this; I now say that I see blue. The piece of color may objectively be not blue but green – I sometimes confuse these two, especially in female dresses, (the horror of Mrs. Tillich!) – in any case, I now have blue, as sense impression. This is absolutely certain, even if the dress is not blue. Now this is what he means with immediacy. I see a man, but I come nearer and it is a tree, in reality; this often happens when you walk through a fog and cannot distinguish a man from a tree, if they are a little bit away from us. This means there is no certainty about the objective element in it, but there is absolute certainty about the impression I have as such. This means there is skepticism about everything real. Logical forms are not real; they are structures which make questions possible; therefore they are immediate and necessary.

Secondly, sense experiences are not real. They are real only insofar as I have them. But whether they are more than this, I don't know. Therefore these two evidences – of the logic and of the perception – do not overcome skepticism.

Now how can doubt about reality be overcome? You must start with the general doubt. You must doubt about everything. It was not Descartes who said this first. It was not even Augustine, but Augustine also said it. Therefore, is there a point of certainty, somewhere? He says: "You know that you are thinking." "I know." "Do not go outside; go into thyself" – namely where you are thinking – "The truth dwells in the interior of man, for a mind knows nothing except what is present to the mind. But nothing is more present to the mind than the mind itself." i. e., the immediate self-consciousness of the asking skeptic is the fixed point.. The truth which was lost in the exterior world, where everything fell under doubt, is found again in the interior world. The soul is the inner realm, in contrast to Greek philosophy, in which it is the power of life. The discovery of soul, in this sense, is one of the most important consequences of Christianity. It includes the world as the sum of all appearances. In contrast to the Greeks, where the soul is a

part of all things, the world is an object. Now the world is an appearance for the soul, which is the only real thing.

Now these ideas – Go into thy inner reality and there you will find truth – sound very much like Descartes' cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am). But the difference is that in Deseartes, the self-certainty of the ego is the principle of mathematical evidence – he derives from this his rational system of nature – while for Augustine the inner evidence is the immediacy of having God. So he says, after saying "go into thyself," "And after you have your soul immutable, transcend yourselves i. e., in your soul is something which transcends your soul, something immutable, namely, the Divine Ground. It is the immediate awareness of that which is unconditional, to which he refers here. This is certainly not an argument for the existence of God, but it is a way of showing that God is presupposed in the situation of doubt about Him. "While not seeing what we believe, we see the belief in ourselves." i. e. , we see the situation of being grasped by something unconditional.

Lecture 17: Augustine (continued)

What Augustine says about the relationship of God and the world. His statements are more important than what other theologians have said, in the whole history of Christianity.


We discussed the type of thought in epistemology, psychology, and doctrine of God represented by Augustine, which makes him the one representative of the possibilities of a philosophy of religion in which philosophy and the Christian message are brought together.

The statement I made was that after skepticism – in which Augustine himself participated in one period – had broken down the certainty of the external world, Augustine goes into himself and rediscovers the ultimate certainty within his own soul, not in terms of changing psychological terms, but in terms of something unconditional, which transcends all psychological phenomena. I said that this is not an argument for the existence of God, but the description of an element in man's finitude which is always present, namely the element of the unconditional, of which he is aware.

There were people whom Augustine met who said: Why truth at all? Truth as such is not necessary. Why not stick to probabilities? Why not restrict oneself to pragmatic answers, answers which work? – But he says this is not sufficient, because it leads to a complete emptiness of life. Without something unconditional or ultimate, the preliminary meanings lose their meaning. And this cannot be replaced by another statement, namely that the human situation is not (one of) having truth, but searching for truth. He says: Searching for truth, also, is not an answer to the question of truth because if we are searching for truth, then we must have at least some insight of truth, we must know, when we approach truth we, approach it. But in order to know that we approach truth, we must already have a criterion: truth itself. -- What he says here is that in every relativism, however radical it may be, there is an absolute norm presupposed, even if it cannot be expressed in propositions. Since truth is something which we can find only in the interior of the human soul, physics are useless for ultimate truth. They do not contribute to the knowledge of God. He says: While the angels have knowledge of the Divine things, the lower demons recognize the world of the bodies -- so a knowledge of the bodily world is a participation in the bodily world. Knowledge is union; union implies love; and he who deals cognitively with the bodies loves them, is connected with them, participates in them. That means he is distracted from the highest, the Divine, knowledge. This, again, means that he is in untruth. Natural sciences have meaning only insofar as they show the Divine causes in nature, show the traces of the Trinity in flowers and animals, but they have no meaning in themselves. This means that in the greater part of the Middle Ages, natural sciences are at least reduced in significance and not really furthered at all. The technical relationship to nature is of no interest to Augustine, and therefore the analysis of controlling knowledge for technical relation. This makes the attitude of the Middle Ages toward natural sciences understandable. It is not a matter that these people were so much more stupid than we are – there are some indications that they were not - -but the reason is that it had no interest for them; they were not in love with what natural sciences produce. If they loved the exploration of nature, then it was nature insofar as it is an embodiment of the Trinity. This of course gave them the possibility of artistic production which is much higher than most we produce under the power of controlling, and not uniting, knowledge. I would ask you to go to the Cloisters (Museum) and look at the carpets on the walls there, and what you find there in terms of the observation of nature. It is not an observation in terms of natural science – probably none of these flowers, and certainly none of these animals, is naturalistically exact. But they all are painted in order to show the traces of the Trinity, I. e., the movement of life to separation and reunion, in the natural objects. They try to show the Divine ground in nature, and that gives them their

extreme beauty. In all these things the intention, that which is really meant, must be understood – otherwise you cannot really understand their creations. You think they were bad craftsmen – even there, there are signs they were not – but they didn't want what we want, they didn't want to show objects in 3-dimensional space. They wanted to show the traces of the Divine in nature, as Augustine wished.

The Neoplatonists and Plato himself were nearest to Christianity, Augustine says. And he shows the Trinitarian elements in them, especially the Logos doctrine, in Plato and the Neoplatonists. But then he says – and this is a very important statement, which somehow reveals the whole relationship of theology and philosophy – that there is one thing which philosophy as such never could have said, that the Logos has become flesh. Philosophy gives the possibility for theologians to speak of the Logos, to interpret philosophy in terms of the Logos, but when theology says the Logos becomes flesh, then something is said which is the basis of a religious message and of a theological statement. Here he sees clearly that one thing distinguishes Christianity from classical philosophy, namely the statement of the unique, incomparable historical event. Becoming flesh means becoming historical; the universal principle of the cosmos, the Logos, appears in historical form. And that is, according to Augustine, a matter not of philosophy but of revelation.

In the same way, as in these ideas, the idea of God in Augustine unites Neoplatonic elements – which are always mystical – and ethical personality, and the uniting power is Augustine's idea of love.

Now let me say a few words about it before 1 go to the other problem, the problem of God, because this idea of love is rightly put in the foreground now. Nygren's criticism of Christian theology combining eros and agape is predominantly a criticism of Augustine. We have the synthesis in Augustine, and in Nygren – the Swedish theologian who wrote "Eros and Agape" , as you probably know. wants to have them not united but in contradiction. And of course on this basis Augustine must mostly be attacked. Nygren is right that in Augustine there are both elements, the agape element (the element of love, in the New Testament sense, personal, forgiving, – charity (caritas) , - -all this is in his idea. the personalistic Divine forgiving character. But there is also in it the agape element – God is the highest good for Augustine, and all creatures are longing for it, desiring to be united with it, to fulfill itself in intuiting eternally the Divine abundance. The agape element is especially emphasized when we speak of God moving down to man in caritas – 1 prefer the Latin word to the very much distorted word "charity" – in becoming humble in Christ in exercising grace and mercy; the participation in the lowest, the elevation of the lowest to the highest,

Eros, on the other side, drives from below to above, from the lowest to the highest. It is a longing, a striving, a being-moved by the highest, a being-grasped by it in its fullness and abundance. It is exactly as I said before – the Logos becomes flesh: that's agape. But all flesh (all historical and natural reality) is desirous for God – this eros I. have shown in my Systematics lectures, that if you take eros out, then you cannot speak of love towards God any more, because this is love toward that which is the highest power of being, in which we are fulfilled.

God is also a union of summa essentia, ultimate being, beyond all categories, beyond all temporal and spatial things. Even the categories of substance cannot be used, and if it is used it is abusively used. Essence and existence, being and quality, functions and acts, cannot be distinguished in this side of God. It is the negative theology of Dionysius which is present here, (though) it is not dependent on him (Dionysius)," since Augustine was earlier, but dependent on Neoplatonism, on which both of them are dependent.

But on the other hand, there is the positive way: God is the unity of all forms. He is the principle of all beauty.. Unity is the form of all beauty and God is the unity of all forms. All ideas (all essences, or powers, or principles of things) are in the mind of God. Through these ideas, individual things come to pass and return to God through the ideas.

Now you have here the two elements of the idea of God. Insofar as God is beyond any difference, He is beyond subject and object. Love is not a subjective feeling, directed towards an object. Not objects are ultimately love, but through our love toward them love itself is love. Amor amato, love is love, and that means the Divine ground of being is love. Love is beyond the separation of subject and object. It is the pure essence, blessedness, which is the Divine ground in all things. Therefore if we love things in the right way, including ourselves, then we love the Divine substance in them. If we love things for their own sake, in separation from the Divine ground in them, then we love them in the wrong way, then we are separated from God.. So he can speak of a right self-love, namely if you love yourselves as loved by God, or if you love through yourselves – God, the Divine loving ground of everything.

But on the other hand Augustine is in the personalistic tradition of the Old and New Testament and the early Church. And for him this is even of much stronger importance than for the Eastern theologians, like Origen. He completely takes the point of the West in the Trinitarian discussion. He is not so much interested in the different hypostases, the powers of being in God, the three personae, as he is interested in the unity of God. And he expresses this in terms which make it very clear that he is one of those who are responsible for our present-day inclination to apply the term persona to God, instead of applying it to the Father, Son and Spirit. He is inclined, but of course he never became heterodox, in this respect, although his tendency goes, as the West's always went, toward a Monarchianistic tendency. He expresses this in using analogies between the Trinity and the personal life of man. He says: "Father, Son and Spirit are analogous to amans, (he who loves), quod amato, (that which is loved), and amor, (the power of love. ). Or: "The

Trinity is analogous to memory, intelligence, and will." This means that he uses the Trinity in order analogically to give a description of God as person. Since God is a person, and that means a unity, all acts of God towards outside are always acts of the Trinity, even the Incarnation. None of the three personae or hypostases acts for Himself. Since the substance of all things is love, in its three-fold appearance as amans, quod amato, and amor, everything which is created by the Divine Ground has the traces of the Trinity, and this gives the immediate world this theonomous character, that character of all forms of life, not denied or broken, but theonomously filled with Divine substance.

With respect to the relationship of God and the world, there are several important things. He expresses, of course, very clearly the doctrine of creation out of nothing. There is no matter which precedes the creation. Creation is done without an independent substance. This means a continuous threat of finitude. I believe that when our modern Existentialist thinkers – including myself – say that finitude is the mixture of being and non-being, or in everything finite . non-being is present, it has something to do with Augustine's statement that "everything is in danger of the fathomless abyss of nothingness. " The world is created in every moment by the Divine will, which is the will of love. Therefore Augustine concludes – and all Reformers followed him – that creation and preservation are the same thing. I. e. , the world is in no moment independent of God. The forms, laws, and structures of reality do not make it an independent reality. God is the supporting power of being, which has the character of love. This makes every deistic fixation of two realities – God and the world – impossible. God is the continuous, carrying ground of the world.

This is in' agreement with Augustine's famous doctrine of time. Philosophically speaking, this is his greatest work, perhaps because here he really starts a new era of human thinking about the concept of time. Cf. his prayer (Book 11 of the "Confessions") Time has no objective reality, in the sense in which a thing is. Therefore it is not valid for God. Therefore the question how time was before the creation, is meaningless. Time is created with the world, it is the form of the world. Time is the form of the finitude of things, as is space also. Both world and time and space have eternity only insofar as they are subjects of the eternal will to creation, I. e., they are potentially resent in the Divine Life, but they are not eternal as real; as real they are finite, they have a beginning and an end. There is only one world process, according to him – and this is the decisive statement in which he denies Aristotle and the Stoics – namely, that there is no cyclical world, cycles of a birth and rebirth of the world after everything repeats itself in the same way, infinitely. This is Greek thinking. But for Augustine, there is a definite beginning and a definite end, and only eternity is before and after this beginning and end. For the Greeks, space was finite, time was infinite--or, better, endless. For Augustine neither time nor space is infinite. In the finitude of space, he agrees with the Greeks; they couldn't understand the infinity of space because they were all potential sculptors, their world-view was plastic--(they wanted to see bodies) in space – the infinity of space would have disrupted the plastic form of reality, expressed in mathematical forms by the Pythagoreans. Augustine, however, said time was finite. This finitude of time is necessary if time shall have an ultimate meaning. It has not, in Greece, In Greece it is the form of decay and repetition, but it has no meaning of itself, in creative terms. The endless times in nature are meaningless. Meaningful time is historical time. And historical time is not a matter of quantity. The 6000 years of world history of which Augustine speaks are the meaning of time. And if instead of that there were 100, 000 years or, as we say, a few billion years, it cannot take away anything from the meaning of time. Meaning is a qualitative, not a quantitative, concept. The measure of time is not clock time. Clock time is physical time; it tends to repeat itself. But the meaning of time is the kairos, the historical moment, which is its qualitative character.

There is one world whose center is the earth, and one history, whose center is the Christ. This one process is eternally meant by God, but eternity is not time before time nor is it timelessness, something beyond all these categories. But the world itself, although it is intended eternally, is neither eternal nor infinite; but it is finite and meaningful. In the finite moment, infinite meaning is actualized. This feeling of finitude is again something which makes the Middle Ages understandable to us. They felt they lived in one process, which has a definitely known beginning, the days of creation, which are only a few thousand years before our time and which will have a definite end, the days of judgment, which are only a few or a few thousand years ahead of us. And within this period we live; what we are doing in it is extremely important; it is the meaning of the whole world process. But it is limited in time, as it is limited in space. We are in the center of everything which happens, and Christ is in the center of everything which we are. This was the medieval world-view, and you can imagine how far away we are from this if you really realize, not what this means in terms of words, but in terms of a feeling towards reality, an awareness of one's existence.

This is what Augustine says about the relationship of God and the world. Each of these statements is more important than what other theologians have said, in the whole history of Christianity.

Augustine's Psychology or, better, his Doctrine of Man: He says that the decisive function in man is the will. It is present in memory and in intellect, and has the quality of love, namely, the desire toward reunion. This predominance of will was another of the great ideas in which the West overcame the East, and which produced the great medieval struggle between voluntarism and intellectualism. The two basic activities of the soul – knowledge and love, or will, which is the same – have an ambiguous character. They are partly directed towards themselves, and partly beyond themselves. They are directed towards oneself in self-knowledge and self-love.. . . . "We are, we know that we are, and we love this our being and knowing" This means we are self-related and self-affirming. We affirm ourselves in knowledge and in will.

On the other hand, of course, love and knowledge transcend ourselves and go to the other beings.

Love participates in the eternal – this is its own eternity. The soul has trans-temporal elements. Now this participation is not what we usually call immortality, but it is the participation in the Divine Life, in the Divine loving ground of being. But this idea is crossed by another one, in Augustine, and this tension is very important. One could say the mystical element is crossed by the educational element. The souls are not only eternal in their essence, but also immortal in the technical sense of continuation in time and space, or at least in time. As a consequence, those who are excluded from eternity because they are separated from God, are still immortal, and their immortality means their punishment, their damnation. They are excluded from God, which means they are excluded from love – love is the ground of being – and they do not deserve any pity. There is no unity of love between them and the others; but if so, one must ask: How, then, is (there) unity of being, if being is love? Here you see one of those conflicts between mystical-ontological thinking and ethical-educational thinking. We had the same conflict in Origen when he spoke about the apokatastasis panton, the return of everything to God, the final salvation of everything that has being – and the Church rejected this. Here we have, again, in Augustine the same conflict. In this conflict esoteric theology and philosophy and mysticism always choose the one side, namely the side of the eternal and the union with God in eternity. Ecclesiastical, educational and ethical thinking always chose the other side, namely, the. personal impossibility of being eternally condemned and punished. Logically this is impossible because the very concept of the eternal excludes continuation in time, and the ontological concept of love – which is so strong in Augustine – excludes being which is not in unity with love. Educational – this is the continuous threat over everybody, and therefore the Church always maintained it, and accepted the logical contradiction in order to produce the threat of eternal (I. e., endless) condemnation. Ontological mysticism and educational moralism contradict each other in such ideas. It reminds me a little of another problem which is much more concrete, perhaps, in our time, but it has the same character: Everybody who thinks seriously, or at least thinks in a Christian or in an existentialist tradition, will agree with me that utopianism, namely the idea that at a certain time the classless society, or the Kingdom of God, will be established on earth, without power or compulsion, is Utopian – I. e., there is "no place" (no topos ) for this in time and space. But if we say this, then we diminish the fanatical will to political revolution and to transformational society – because people tell you: We know this, but if we tell the people, then they will not fight any more for the transformation of society. They can do it if they believe the final stage is at hand – the Kingdom of God at hand. Only this gives the tremendous demanding power – What do you answer? It is the same problem. The ethical (in this case the social-educational) and the insight into the relation of time and eternity contradict each other, and many say: Although we know this is Utopianism, we must pronounce it, otherwise people will not act. Others say: – I belong to the latter.– The disappointment which follows utopianism, always and necessarily, makes it impossible to speak like this to people if you know better, because the disappointment is worse than the weakening of fanaticism. This would be my decision, but this decision is very questionable. But today even in this doctrine of eternal condemnation – you know that in Augustine even the unbaptized children are not condemned to hell but to the limbus infantium where they are excluded from the eternal blessedness, from the Divine love. Now such an idea might have a tremendous educational and ecclesiastical value in some periods of history, it doesn't have for us any more. It produces very often – especially the personal fear of condemnation – neurotic stages, and therefore we cannot say it is superior to the others.

Now let me give you finally something about Augustine's Philosophy of History. Each of these doctrines is world-historical, and therefore we must dwell on them so much. If you know him, you know the Middle Ages and much of the Reformation and Renaissance. The philosophy of history is based – as philosophy of history usually is – on a dualism; not an ontological dualism, of course - -this is impossible – but a dualism in history: on the one hand, the city of God, and on the other hand the city of earth or the Devil. The city of God is the actualization of love. It is present in the Church, but the Church is a corpus mixtum , a mixed body, with people who belong to it and others who do not, essentially, Spiritually. But on the other hand, there is a mediation between these two characters of the Church, representing the Kingdom of God and being a mixed body, (I. e., -not being the Kingdom of God), and this is the hierarchy, that is, all those who have the consecrations, who mediate between the two. In them Christ rules the Church and Christ is present. So the Catholic 61urch could use Augustine in both ways. It could identify the Kingdom of God with the Church to such a degree that the Church became absolutized – this was the one development which actually happened. On the other hand, the difference could be made very clear, and this was what the sectarian movement and the Protestants did. There is a dialectical relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Church in Augustine, which was ambiguous and therefore useful for different points of view. But one thing was clear for him: there is no thousand-year (I. e., no third stage in world history. Chiliasm, or millenialism,was denied by him. (In this present time) Christ rules the Church; these are the thousand years; there is no stage of history beyond this stage in which we are. The Kingdom of God rules throughout the hierarchy, and the chiliasts are wrong: they should not look beyond the present state, in which the Kingdom of God is present in terms of history.

The same thing is true of the Kingdom of the earth. It has the same ambiguity. On the one hand it is the state of power, compulsion, arbitrariness, tyranny, the gangster-state (as Augustine called it); it has all the imperialistic characteristics we see in all states. On the other hand,(there) is the unity which overcomes the split of reality, and from this point of view it is a work of love. And if this is understood by the emperor, he can become a Christian emperor. Here again we have the ambiguous valuation: the state is partly identical with the Kingdom of the Devil; partly it is different from it because it restricts the devilish powers.

History has three periods: that before the law, that under the law, and that after the law. In this way we have a fully developed interpretation of history. We are in the last period, in the third stage, and it is sectarian heresy to say that another state must be expected. This heresy was expressed, of course, by the medieval sects, and from that point of view the fight between the revolutionary attempts of the sectarian movements and the conservatism of Augustine's philosophy of history, becomes visible.

Lecture 18: Augustine. Pelagius.

The great struggle between Augustine and Pelagious is perhaps the classical example of the problem in the Christian Church. This is the tension pastors will experience in every hour of religious instruction, counseling, and preaching


We must continue our discussion of Augustine now, and after we have heard about the elements of his development and his psychology, epistemology, doctrine of God and doctrine of history, we now come to that doctrine which is perhaps most important for his position in the development of Church history as a whole: his doctrine of man.

The doctrine of man was really touched on to a certain extent when I spoke about the voluntaristic character of Augustine's thinking, the idea that the center of man is not the intellect but the will, and the fact that in carrying this through he is the beginner of a development which goes through the whole Western world, through that group of theologians and philosophers in whom the will – center of man - -in a much larger sense than the psychological concept of will – is in the center against the intellect. We shall see when we come to the medieval philosophers and theologians and to the modern ones, that this influence always goes on and is always in creative tension with the tendencies coming from Aristotle. The tension between Augustine and Aristotle is the decisive power which moves the medieval history of thought, and almost everything can be seen in the relationship to this tension.

But this was only a description of man in his essential relationship. If man is seen in the essential relationship to God, to himself, to other men, then he is seen by Augustine as a will whose substance is love. This love, as we have also seen yesterday, is the creative ground of everything that is. It is an idea of love in which agape and eros are united – the Christian form of love and the platonic form of love. But this essential nature of man is not his existential nature, is not actual in time and space. On the contrary, this essential nature is distorted by what Augustine calls, in the tradition of the New Testament and the Church, sin, and especially original sin. His doctrine of sin, the center of his anthropology, his doctrine of man, was developed in his fight with Pelagicus.

We must now turn to this struggle, which is one of the great struggles in Church history, like the Trinitarian and Christological struggles, which we have discussed, and it: is one which repeats itself again and again. We have the tension already in the New Testament between Paul and the writers of the Catholic Letters; we have it in Augustine and Pelagicus; we have it somehow between Thomas and the Franciscans; we have it between Karl Barth and the present-day liberals. It is something which goes through the whole history of the Church. And there is always one point which is decisive. Usually it is discussed in terms of the concept of freedom, but this is misleading because freedom has so many connotations which are not relevant for this discussion. But it is the question of the relationship of religion and ethics, whether the moral imperative is dependent on the Divine grace in its actualization, or whether Divine grace is dependent on the fulfillment of the moral imperative. That is actually the question which is going on through all Church history. In abstract terms, you could say it is the relationship of religion and ethics.

Pelagicus is not a special heretic. He represents simply the ordinary doctrine of people who were educated in Greek thinking, especially in Stoic traditions, and for whom freedom is the essential nature of man. Man is a rational being, and a rational being includes freedom of deliberating, deciding. All this wouldn't have made him a heretic because most of the Eastern church had exactly the same idea of freedom. But he developed them in a way which brought him into conflict with Augustine. When this conflict was decided, Augustine was at least partly victorious and Pelagicus was an arch-heretic, whose name was used all the time as a name of one of the classical Christian heresies.

Let us listen to some of his ideas: For him, death is a natural event and not a result of the fall. Death would have happened, it belongs to finitude, even if Adam had not fallen into sin. Now you remember what I said about Ignatius and Irenaeus, where the same idea is expressed, namely that man is naturally finite and therefore due to die – as everything natural – but that in the paradise story the participation in the food of the Gods made it possible for man to overcome his essential finitude. What Pelagicus does here s to leave out the second possibility and to state only the first is true and is even in the Christian tradition.

Secondly, the sin of Adam belongs to him alone and does not belong to the human race as such. In this sense original sin does not exist. Original sin would make sin into a natural category, but man has moral existence and therefore the contradiction to the moral demand cannot be a natural event but must be an event of freedom. Everybody must sin, in order to be a sinner. The simple dependence on Adam doesn't make (one) a sinner. Here again Pelagicus says something which is universally Christian, that without the personal participation in sin, there is no sin. On the other hand, he does not see that Christianity sees the tragic universality of sin and makes it therefore a destiny of the human race. The relationship to Adam as the presupposed first man is of course mythological, but in this myth the Christian Church – whether or not the Church took it literally – has preserved the tragic element which we also find in the Greek world view. So again Pelagicus has some point, but on the other hand he doesn't see the profundity of the Christian description of the human situation.

Thirdly, children after their birth are in the state of Adam before their fall; they are innocent. But of course Pelagicus could not close his eyes to the fact that the evil surroundings and customs distort their innocence. He follows a modern tendency, namely the psychoanalytic theory of the relationship to the parents, or their representatives, which decide about all the complexes and other negativities which are in the depths of the soul and come to it through the surroundings. There is even today another theory, the biological theory, that the distortion is inherited and cannot be avoided even in terms of the best surroundings you can provide for a child; there is something in its very nature, (from birth.) Here you have a modern restatement of this old struggle, Pelagicus using the psychoanalytic theory in order to avoid the idea of hereditary sin.

Fourthly, before Christ some people were without sin, and :after Christ some people sin. Sin is not a universally tragic necessity, but it is a matter of freedom. Here again you can say that the state of things in this country is very much in favor of this basic Pelagian idea that every individual can always make a new beginning, that he is able in terms of individual freedom to make decisions for or against the Divine. The tragic element of the human situation is very much known in Europe, but is not so near to the heart of the people in this country. On the other hand, in Europe the merely negative Augustinianism – we can call it Existentialism - -has made this human situation inescapable and has reduced the ethical zeal and impact Pelagianism can have.

Fifthly, the function of Christ under these circumstances is a double one: to provide the forgiveness of sins in baptism to those who believe, and to give an example of a sinless life not only by avoiding sins but also by avoiding the occasions of sins, through asceticism – Jesus, the first monk; Pelagicus himself was a monk. He gives the example of an ascetic life, thus avoiding the occasions for sins, and not only the actual sins when the occasion is given.

Sixth, grace is identical with the general remission of sins in baptism. After this, grace has no meaning because after this, man is able to do everything himself. Only in the situation of baptism does man receive the grace of forgiveness. We can say it is a strong ethical emphasis with many ascetic elements, but the tragic aspect of life has been lost entirely. This is Pelagianism. And don't take him too easily; take him seriously. I don't say we all are Pelagians, by birth --as I say about nominalism - -but I would say Pelagianism is nearer to all of us, especially in countries which are dependent on sectarian movements, as this country so strongly is. It is nearer to us than we know ourselves, and it is always effective in us when we try to force God down upon ourselves. And this is what we usually called by the much abused term "moralism."

He says: Good and evil are (performed) by ourselves; they are nothing given. If this is true, then religion was in danger of being transformed into morality. And you know enough about this danger; I don't need to say anything. So Pelagianism, like all the other great heresies, is not something of the past – otherwise it would not be worthwhile for you and me to dedicate this precious hour from 11-12 each morning to all these old stories. They are, all together, new stories at the same time. And only if I succeed in making it clear to you that they are stories can they have meaning, and then it is worthwhile to deal with Church history.

Now against this we have Augustine's Doctrine of Sin.. Augustine agrees with Pelagicus and all philosophy that freedom is the quality of man essentially or originally, so that Adam, when he committed his fall, and man essentially – which is always represented by the figure of Adam – is free. Originally man's freedom was directed towards the good and as we have seen last time, the good is the love with which God loves Himself; it is the being-directed towards good as the loving ground of being; in this sense everybody is free. But this freedom was dangerous, and it was so dangerous that man could change his direction towards God and could direct himself towards the special things in times and space.

Now Augustine saw the danger of freedom as so great that he produced the famous doctrine attutorium gratiae , the helping power of grace, which was given to Adam before he fell. He was not in pure nature (in puris naturalibus), namely the assisting power of grace. This assistance of grace made it possible for him to continue indefinitely in the direction of his will towards God. It made it possible for him. But you see this was a point where the Reformers fought against Augustine. This attutorium gratiae , this assisting power of grace, implied indirectly that nature in itself cannot be good, it must be fulfilled by supra-nature; that if man is in puris naturalibus, in pure nature, then he is so endangered that actually he must fall. Therefore the supernature helps him. The Reformers had such an emphasis on human nature – very similar to the Renaissance, at the same time – that they declined this idea of a donum superadditum, a gift which was added to man's nature. This is a very profound distinction, and behind this seemingly Scholastic terminology something is hidden, namely the question of the valuation of creation. In the doctrine of the donum superadditum , something of the Greek .valuation of matter as the resisting power, is present. There is some of the Greek tragic feeling which enters here, the Jewish-Protestant-Christian affirmation of nature as good in itself.

Now if we see how Adam was formed, on the basis of all this, Augustine can say that the first man had the freedom not to fall, not to die, not to turn away from the good. In this stage he was at peace with himself – a profound remark in view of our modern depth psychology; he was at peace with all things and all men. There was no cupidity, no desire, in him, not even in sexual life. There was no pain in this state, not even in the situation of birth. ~ . . . .In any case, it was very easy for him not to fall. There was no real reason for it, but astonishingly he did fall. And since there was no external reason for his fall, his fall started in his inner life. Sin, according to Augustine, is in its very start spiritual sin. Man wanted to be in himself, he had all the good possibilities, he had nothing to suffer, from which he would turn away; he had everything he needed, but he wanted to have all this by himself, he wanted to stay in himself, (therefore he turned away. And this is what Dr. Niebuhr calls "pride," and what I prefer to call "hybris," self-elevation. In this way man lost the assistance of grace and was left alone by grace. He wanted to be autonomous, to stand upon himself, and this meant a wrong love of himself, not the right love of himself; and this wrong love of himself cut off the love towards God. He says: "The beginning of all sin is pride; the beginning of pride is man's turning away from God.." Or, if you say hybris instead of pride, then this is profounder, because pride often has the connotation of a special psychological character, and that is not what is meant here. The most humble people psychologically can have the greatest pride.

Now these statements show first of all that Augustine was aware that sin is something which happens in the spiritual realm, namely turning away from the Ground of Being to whom one belongs. It is not a naturalistic doctrine of sin. But more important than this, Augustine shows clearly the religious character of sin. Sin for him is not a moral failure, it is not even disobedience – disobedience is a consequence but not the cause; the cause is: turning away from God, and from God as the highest good, as the love with which God loves Himself, through us. For this reason, since sin has this character – if you say "sins," is easily dissolved into moral sins, but sin is first of all basically the power of turning away from God. For this very reason no moral remedy is possible. Only one remedy is possible: return to God. But this of course is possible only in the power of God, and this power is lost. This is the state of man under the conditions of existence.

The immediate consequence of man's turning away from his highest good is the loss of this good. This loss is the essential punishment for man. Punishments in terms of educational or juristic terminology are secondary. For Augustine, the basic punishment is ontological. If God is everything positive, he power of being overcoming non-being, or the ultimate good – which is the same thing for him--then of course the only real punishment possible is the intrinsic punishment of losing this power of being, of non-participating any more in the ultimate good.

Augustine describes it thus: "The soul died when it was left alone, by God, as a body will die when it is left by the soul." The soul, which, religiously speaking is dead, has consequently lost its control over the body. And in the moment in which this happened, the other side of sin becomes actual. The beginning is pride, or turning to oneself, or hybris, separation from God and turning to oneself. The consequence is concupiscence, the infinite endless desire. The word concupiscentia , concupiscence, desire, libido, (in the forms in which modern psychology uses it) has two meanings in Augustine: the universal meaning, the turning towards the movable goods, those goods which change and disappear; but it has also a narrower sense, namely in the natural, sexual desire, which is accompanied by shame. This ambiguity of the term concupiscence has been repeated by the ambiguity of Freud's term libido. It is the same situation in Augustine. Both terms are meant universally, the desire to fulfill one's own being with the abundance of reality. And because of the predominant power of the sexual desire among all other desires, it has received, in both Augustine and Freud, the meaning of sexual desire, and out of this ambiguity innumerable consequences followed. From this followed, for instance in Freud, his puritanism, his depreciation of sex, his bourgeois suppression; and on the: other hand, the revelation of this situation. But he never found a solution to the problem – either suppressing or getting rid of it. And since you cannot get rid of it, according to Freud, you have the desire to death, the death-instinct, as he calls it, which is the necessary answer to the endlessness of desire. In Protestantism, as in all Catholicism first, the ambiguity of the term concupiscence had the ascetic consequences in all its different forms up to the most extreme and disgusting forms. The Reformers tried to reestablish the dignity of the sexual, but did it only in a limited way. They never completely followed through their own principles against the Roman church. Therefore, as every theologian can tell you who knows a little about the history of moral behavior and the history of ethical theory in Protestantism, in this point Christianity is very much uncertain and has produced no satisfactory answer to this question implied in human existence. This has something to do with the ambiguity of Augustine's concept of concupiscentia.

The sin of Adam is original sin, for two reasons. We all inhabited.. potentially, in Adam, namely in his procreative power, and in this way we participated in his free decision and thus are guilty. This again is of course myth, and a very questionable myth.

Secondly, he introduced libido, desire, concupiscence, into the process of sexual generation, and this element was given by heredity to all the others. Everybody is born out of the evil of sexual desire. Original sin in everybody is, as in Adam, first of all spiritual sin, sin of the soul. But it is also bodily sm, and Augustine had great difficulties in uniting the spiritual character of sin in everybody with the heritage-character which comes from Adam.

In this way everybody belongs to a "mass of perdition," to a unity of negativity, and the most striking consequence of this is that even the little infants who die early are lost. Since everybody, by hereditary sin, belongs to the mass of perdition, nobody is saved who is not saved by a special act of God. This is the most powerful emphasis on the unity of' mankind in the tragedy of sin. He denies, in this way, most radically and almost in the sense of his Manichaean past, the freedom in the individual personality. The embracing unity makes us what we are. Now if we look at our modern research into depth psychology and depth sociology, we probably are able to understand better than our fathers did what Augustine means, namely the inescapable participation in human existence, in a social structure and in an individual psychological structure, whether we call it neurotic or something else; it is something which we can see better today. The question which is put before us, of course, is:" What about the participation of the individual in guilt ?, and there is no answer to this in the context of Augustine.

The opposite doctrine is the Doctrine of Grace. Man has lost his possibility to turn towards the ultimate good, because of his universal sinfulness.. We are under the law of servitude, the bondage of the will. Therefore grace is first of all :gratia data, grace given without merit. It is given by God to a certain number of people, who cannot be augmented or diminished; they belong eternally to Him. The other part is left to the damnation which they deserve. There is no reason for the predestination of the one and the rejection of the other groups. The reason is in God alone; it is a mystery. Therefore one cannot speak of prescience, of foreseeing what man would do – as is often done in the doctrine of freedom. This is impossible since God's willing and knowing are identical. God never can look at something as if it were not carried by His power of being, I. e, His will, in this sense. Therefore God always wills what He knows. "He has elected us not because we would be holy, but in order to have us become holy." That is the decisive thing in this whole idea. There is no reason in man for predestination. God acts both the willing and the fulfilling.

But Augustine was not a determinist in the technical psychological sense. Predestination does not exclude man's will. The psychological will of man is preserved and distinguished from external forces, or from compulsory elements in man. But the direction of the will towards Hod is dependent on God's predestination and this predestination cannot be explored. 

Grace is given to everybody who becomes a Christian. The forgiveness of sins, which is first given to him happens in baptism and is received by faith. In this Augustine continues the general tradition. But beyond this, forgiving is a real participation in the ultimate good. This ultimate good has appeared in Jesus as the Christ, without which neither good thinking nor good acting nor loving is possible. Now he describes this side of grace as the inspiration of the good will, or he also calls it the inspiration of love, namely first of all the love towards God. "The Spirit helps," he says, "by inspiring in the place of bad concupiscence, good concupiscence, that is, diffusing carinas (agape) within our hearts." Justification therefore is inspiration of love. Faith is the means to get it. But faith at that time already had the deteriorized sense which today makes Christian preaching about faith almost impossible, namely faith as tile acceptance of doctrines which are unbelievable. So Augustine distinguishes between two forms of faith. He calls faith crater deo aut christo, namely believing "to" God or "to" Christ, namely, accepting their words and commands; and the other is believing "into" God and "into" Christ. The first is an intellectual acknowledgment, without hope and love. The second is a personal communion which is created by grace, or by the Holy Spirit, or by love – these words are all the same. This alone is the faith which justifies, because it makes him who is justified just.

Those who are predestined are of course naturally able to fall away again, so they get something else: they get the gift of perseverance, of sticking to what they have received, the gift of not losing the grace. All this, the whole process I have just described, does not depend on any merit, not even on the merit of non-resistance against grace, since grace, as Augustine emphasizes, is irresistible; when it comes to you, you cannot resist it, and you cannot get it if it doesn't come to you.

Now this is the way in which he has attacked Pelagicus. It is in all respects the opposite. Now Church – historically – I can now tell you that this never was completely accepted by the Church. Of course Augustine was considered to be the greatest of the Church teachers, but he was not fully accepted. Pelagianism was rejected and even semi-Pelagianism, which crept up a hundred years later, was rejected. But the rejection didn't change the fact that it crept into the Church. Some historians who like additional Greek words have called it crypto-semi-Pelagianism, hidden, underground, spying, so to speak going into the Church half-officially, half-unofficially. And you cannot deny that especially in the Augustinian school, in the later Franciscans, we have semi-Pelagianism very much. No one would repeat Pelagicus in the official Church: that was out of the question. But half-Pelagianism, taking away the irrestability of grace, the necessity that we work in order to keep grace, and things like that; or restriction in terms of predestination and salvation- all this crept into the Church and made the doctrine of Augustine educationally possible. I talked about this before, and this is always a problem: you cannot have such a doctrine if you at the same time are an institution of education; and the only institution of education for a thousand years was the Christian Church. In such a situation you must appeal to the free will of those who are educated, and such an extreme doctrine cannot be presented in a direct way to most people. So the ultimate tragic element did not get lost, but it kept down to a certain extent for the sake of the educational element. This was the situation when the Reformers came in. When they came, the tragic element was reduced almost to nothing, by something else, namely, the educational, ethical, and ascetic element, and the Church lived in these things all the time. The churches are usually, with some exceptions, suspicious, very suspicious, of any doctrine of predestination – at least the Catholic church was.. ..because that makes the ultimate religion to God independent of the Church, or at least it tends to do so, and actually very often did. So we have here one of those tensions of which I spoke, in connection with Origen and other theologians, he tension between the ultimate theological, and the pre-ultimate, preliminary, educational point of view. And this is the tension you will experience in every hour of religious instruction – you always have these two elements: you will have it in counseling, you will have it in preaching. And the great struggle between Augustine and Pelagicus is perhaps the classical example of the problem in the Christian Church.

Lecture 19: Augustine. Donatism. The Medieval Church. Scholasticism. Mysticism.

Authority, traditions, and interpretations through the eyes of the Medieval Church.


There was one point remaining to be discussed in Augustine, namely his doctrine of the Church, and since this is of extreme influence in all the Christian churches – not only the Roman – we must deal with it.

I gave you the basic ideas of Cyprian's doctrine of the Church, namely that the Church is an institution of salvation; the concept of the communion of the saints (communio sanctorum) was largely replaced by that of the institute of salvation, in Cyprian and the whole development of which he is the representative, the institution of salvation being an objective thing, in which we participate.

In this situation Augustine came into conflict with the Donatist movement. The consequence of the institution meant a change in the idea of the holiness of the Church (una ecclesia sancta .). These ideas meant something other than what they meant originally. Originally the emphasis was on the sanctification of the individual members and the group as a whole. Now this emphasis is changed to the sacramental reality of the Church, the holiness of the Church is identical with the sacramental gifts, especially with the sacramental power of the clergy. Sanctus, holy, saint, does not mean now, any more, someone who is personally sanctified, but it does mean someone who has the sacramental power. This of course is a fundamental change in meaning, from the subjective to the objective element, from personal holiness to institutional holiness.

There were people in North Africa, where Augustine was bishop, who didn't want to follow this development and who were interested in the actual sanctification of the Church and its members, especially of the clergy. The points in which this problem arose were the following:

1) the discipline in the act of penitence;

2) the question whether baptism is valid if performed by heretics;

3) the question whether ordination is a possible thing if it is done by traditores , traitors, who in the persecutions delivered over the holy books, or denied they were Christians.

Are the objective graces valid if they are done by people who subjectively are under a strong judgment of the opposite of holiness? The Donatistic movements excluded them, did not allow them to become ministers, because for them the holiness of the Church is the personal holiness of their representatives. This would have had the consequence that the individual Christian would have been dependent on the moral and religious standing of the clergy. He would have been dependent on the inner holiness of the minister. Now Augustine was clear about the fact that you cannot judge about it, that any attempt to judge about it would lead to terrible consequences – to claiming the position of God who alone can look into the hearts of the people. He wanted to save the objectivity of the Church against the demand for subjective holiness in its representatives. He followed the lead of Cyprian. In order to do this he introduced the distinction between faith (including hope) and love. Faith, including hope, are possible outside the Church, because they are determined by their content. You may live among heretics, you may be one yourself, but if you fulfill the formula of baptism in the right way, then the content is decisive and not your personal heretical or morally unworthy status. The formulas are the same as they are in the Catholic church. Therefore if the heretic churches use these same formulas, the contents make their activities valid.

Love, on the other hand, is something which cannot be found where there is not the right faith. Love is the principle which unites the Church – it is not simple moral goodness, which can be found everywhere, but it is the agape relationship of individuals with each other. And this spirit of love, which is embodied in the Church as unity of peace, as the reestablishment of the original Divine unity which is disrupted in the state of existence – this is something which you can have only in the Church. Therefore salvation is only in the Church, since salvation is impossible without the poured-in agape, the agape given like a fluid into the hearts of men. But this you can get only in the Church, therefore there is no salvation outside the Church, although there may be valid sacraments outside it.

Now this distinction between the faith element and the love element is of extreme importance and makes the Church the only place of salvation for every Catholic.

From this follows a second distinction, namely between the validity and the effectiveness of the sacraments. The sacraments of the heretics are valid, if they are performed n terms of the orthodox tradition. Therefore nobody has to be rebaptized. But they have no effectiveness within the heretic groups. They have effectiveness only within the Church. Baptism, for instance, always gives a "character from the Lord," as the technical term stated; it is the character coming from God, which one has throughout his life whatever one does. This was very important because it enabled the medieval Church to treat the pagans and Jews differently from the baptized Christians. The baptized Christians are subjected to the laws of heresy, the Jews and pagans are not, because even if they tried to become Jews and pagans – or Mohammedans, etc. – they cannot because they have the indelible character given to them in the very act of baptism – whoever mediates this act, whether a member of the Church or a member of the heresy. But the effectiveness of baptism, its saving power, you cannot have except within the Church.

In the same way, ordination is always valid. The priests who are fallen and excommunicated are forbidden to administer the sacraments, but they are able to do it validly. If in a prison the medieval priest who is excommunicated for a crime meets a couple and marries them, what he does is valid in spite of the fact that it is forbidden him to do so. No re-ordination is needed if the priest is absolved and returns into the clergy, because ordination is and remains valid.

Now all this makes the people in the Church completely independent of the quality of the priest. Nobody knows this quality exactly, anyhow – of course, there are mortal sins which are publicly visible, and then the priest will be excommunicated and forbidden to exercise his activities, but this is quite different – what he does is valid anyway – in this way the institution is effective by itself and has become completely independent f the status of the clergy. What we have here is the hierarchical institute of salvation, which as an institute is I dependent of the character of those who perform it; and also there is the spiritual community of the faithful. According to Catholic doctrine, the first is he condition of the second; according to sectarian ideas, the second is the condition of the first, if it comes to the first at all. These two concepts of the Church were fighting with each other in all the history of the Church. This ends our discussion of Augustine. We come now to the development of that Church which is more dependent on him than on anybody else: the Medieval Church.

The Medieval Church

We can deal with this topic for two semesters, four hours a week, starting only with the year 1000 and ending with 1450. But here we can do it only in a few weeks. Therefore I will do something which some of you may criticize. Others in former years have appreciated it so much that, following Professor Handy's advice, I will repeat it at this time, namely to give you, in one lecture hour or so, a survey of the main ideas and trends of the Middle Ages, from the beginning to the end, and only after this will I go into a few great figures and their special discussions. This is an emergency method, because this survey should follow the at least four hour semester course necessary for dealing with the Middle Ages. But it cannot. So you must follow me in what is usually called a sweeping statement. Now I hope it is not sweeping as a statement, but sweeping insofar as it sweeps through the centuries!

Now first the basic problem of the Middle Ages, which we find in all its periods: namely, a transcendent reality manifest and embodied in a special institution, in a special sacred society, leading the culture and interpreting the nature. This is medieval though t– a transcendent reality embodied in an institution in time and space, leading all cultural activities and interpreting the relation of man to nature. If you have this in your mind, you can understand everything going on in the Middle Ages. If you have not, you cannot understand anything, because then you measure the Middle Ages by our own measures of today, and this the Middle Ages do not admit. When you come to distorted pictures, you come to the judgment that the Middle Ages were "dark ages" and we are the illumined ages, and we look back at this period of terrible superstition with a kind of contempt, etc.

But nothing of this is true! The Middle Ages were one form in which the great problem of human existence in the light of the eternal was solved. The people lived in these thousand years, and they lived not worse than we live. in many respects, and in other respects they lived better than we do. So there is no reason to look back at the Middle Ages with any form of contempt.

But on the other hand I am not a romanticist. I don't want us to measure our situation with measures taken from the Middle ages, as does all romanticism.

The Middle Ages are not so united as our ignorance about them makes us regard them. They are very much differentiated. We can distinguish the following periods:

1) Ca. 600, which we all should know as the date of Pope Gregory the Great, in whom the ancient tradition was still alive, but in whom already the Middle Ages started.

From there to ca. 1000, we have 400 years of preservation, as much as could be preserved – which was comparatively little - and of reception, in the tribes which ruled Europe (the Germanic-Romanic tribes.) It was the period of transition from the ancient to the medieval

world. It was a transition which sometimes, in contrast to the real Middle Ages, is called the Dark Ages, especially the 9th and 10th centuries. But they were not so dark as they seem, and great things happened there which prepared a new world out of which we all come, even if we have forgotten it.

2) The second period if from 1000-1200, when new, original forms developed, decisively different from the ancient world. It is the very creative and very profound period of the early Middle Ages, artistically represented by Romanesque art.

3) We come to the High Middle Ages, 1200-1300. Here all the basic motifs are elaborated and brought into the great systems of the Scholastics, of Gothic art, and of feudal life.

4) From 1300 on, we come into the period of the disintegration of the Middle Ages, from 1300-1460, the Late Middle Ages. If I call it an age of "disintegration," I don't want to depreciate the tremendous surge of new motifs which developed there and made both the Renaissance and Reformation possible. Thus, to repeat:

1) The period of transition, 600-1000.

2) The Early Middle Ages, 1000-1200.

3) The High Middle Ages, 1200-1300.

4) The Late Middle Ages, 1300-1450.

The first series of problems we will discuss are the main cognitive attitude, the main theological attitude – 1 don't speak of systems, but of attitudes. There are three of them, and they were always present and influential.

1) Scholasticism: , the main and determinative cognitive attitude of the whole Middle Ages. It is the methodological explanation of Christian doctrine. It is derived from "school, of course, and means "school philosophy," philosophy as it was treated in the school. Today "school" has connotations of separation from life; "scholasticism" even more so. When we hear the word "scholasticism" we think of lifeless systems, (as thick as a horse is heavy, as was said of one of these Scholastics), and no one can read them, since they have nothing to do with reality. There was a distortion of Scholasticism in the late Middle Ages, but that Scholasticism really is the theological interpretation of all problems of life of these people. Therefore we have an extremely rich Scholastic literature, that has tremendously influenced the whole spiritual life of the Middle Ages.

But there was of course one limit to this. . . A Scholastic(education) ... was given only to a small upper class. All the Scholastic books were written in Latin, and although many more of the educated of that time knew Latin, the masses did not know it, nor could they even write or read. So the question was: how to bring the message discussed in these Scholastic systems to the people.

There were two ways: participation in the church services, the liturgies, pictures, the church (structures), hearing the music, and receiving other sense impressions – which do not require much intellectual activity but which give the feeling of the numinous, and some kind of moral guidance. But this didn't mean that these objective things were really personal experiences. The second attitude therefore developed to introduce personal experience into the religious life, and this was what mysticism in the Middle Ages meant.

Now you are today misled by a Protestant theology which starts with Ritschl and is still alive in the Barthian theology, a misinterpretation of the meaning of mysticism. You are misled by people who immediately identify the word mysticism with either Asiatic mysticism of the Vedanta type, or with Neoplatonic mysticism of the Plotinus type. Now forget about this when you approach the Middle Ages. Every medieval Scholastic was a mystic at the same time I. e. , they experienced what they were talking about as personal experience. That was what mysticism originally meant in the Scholastic realm. There was no opposition between mysticism and Scholasticism. The Scholastic message "experienced" – that was mysticism. The unity with the Divine in devotion and ascetic exercises and prayer and contemplation was the basis of the dogma. Now if you know this, then at least I hope you will not fall. into the trap of removing mysticism from Christianity, which practically means reducing it to an intellectualized faith and a moralized love. And that is what has happened since the Ritschlian school became predominant in Protestantism, and still is very important in many parts of this country. And don't fall into the trap that if you use the word mysticism, or read it, or hear it spoken, you immediately think of the pattern of absolute or abstract mysticism in which the individual disappears in the abyss of the Divine. Mysticism - - unio mystica , as even the Orthodox theologians of Protestantism called it – is the immediate union with God in His presence. And even for the Orthodox people, this was the highest form of the relationship to God. In the Middle Ages, mysticism and Scholasticism belonged to each other.

3) The third attitude was biblicism. Biblicism is strong in the later Middle Ages and helps prepare the Reformation. But biblicism is not something exclusively Protestant. There were always biblicistic reactions in the whole Middle Ages. These reactions sometimes were very critical of the Scholastic systems, sometimes they ,were critical of mysticism – usually they were united with mysticism, and often also with Scholasticism. They were attempts to use the Bible as the basis for a practical Christianity, especially a lay Christianity. They prepared also in this respect the Reformation: in the later Middle Ages biblicism was predominant and made it possible for many laymen even in that period to read the Bible, before the Reformation.

So we have these three attitudes: Scholasticism, mysticism, biblicism. They could be united in the same person, and were in most cases. They could come into some tension. And we shall see how, for instance, Scholasticism and mysticism came into tension in the fight between Bernard of Clairvaux and Abelard. That is possible. But neither of them prevailed. Both gave what they had to give to the medieval Church. And the biblicistic criticisms were simply (appropriated) as the biblical foundation of the Scholastic system and the mystical experiences.

This is the first group of considerations. The main point is: Take these things for what they really are: Scholasticism is the theology of that time; mysticism is the personal experiential piety of that time - -sometimes going to extremes; biblicism is the continuous critical reaction coming from the biblical tradition and entering the two other attitudes, finally overcoming both of them in the Reformation.

Now we come to something much more difficult, namely the scholastic method. All Scholasticism has one basic problem, namely that of authority and reason. This you must understand again. The first thing is to understand the word "authority." What is the medieval authority? The medieval authority is the substantial tradition on which medieval life is based. Authority is first of all the Church tradition, and then those places where this Church tradition is expressed: in the acknowledged Church Fathers, in the creeds, in the Bible, in the Councils. This is authority. Now if we hear of "authority" today, we always think of a tyrant – be it the father, the king, the dictator, or sometimes even a teacher – I think some teachers exist who are tyrannical, but very few, I suppose, who would dare. In any case this is what authority means for us. Now don't be betrayed when you go to medieval sources and read the word auctoritas , or "authority", and identify it even with the Pope at that time – this is much later, toward the end of the Middle Ages. But in the earlier and High Middle Ages, authority is the living tradition. This is perhaps the way in which you can translate the word authority. So the question is: What is the relationship of reason to the living tradition of the Church in which everyone lives and there is no other tradition? This is the tradition which is as natural for us as he air we breathe. There are no places of the earth that have different kinds of air to breathe, and we can choose one or the other. We breathe the air, and if it is not polluted by human activities, it has everywhere the possibility of keeping us alive. This is an analogy you must understand if you want to understand what living tradition in the Middle Ages means.

But in contrast to my example, the tradition was composed of many elements. It happened that these elements didn't all say the same thing, if you inquired into them. In many cases you had to make decisions. The Middle Ages experienced that first of all in the realm of practical decisions, namely of canon law. The canon law is the basis anyhow of medieval life; the dogma is one of the canon laws – this gives it its legal authority within the Church. In this sense, practical needs produced people who had to harmonize the different authorities on the meaning of the canon laws, as they appear in the many collections of c anon law. Here we have first the harmonizing method, the, method of harmonizing the authorities. One called this the method of yes and no, the dialectical method, which intends to harmonize.

Now we know what reason means in the Middle Ages: it is the tool for this purpose. Reason combines and harmonizes the sentences of the Fathers and the sentences of the Councils and their decisions – first practically and then also in the theoretical realm of theological statements. Therefore the function of reason was to collect, to harmonize, and to comment on the given sentences of the Fathers. The man who did this more successfully was Peter the Lombard , whose sententiae , the sentences of the Fathers, was the handbook of all medieval Scholasticism; everyone commented on it when writing one's own system.

But another step was taken, namely, this tradition which is now harmonized in the "sentences" of Peter the Lombard, or some others, must be understood; they need commentary; they must be interpreted. The next function of reason was to interpret the meaning of the given tradition expressed in the sentences. This means that the contents of faith had to be interpreted, but faith is presupposed. Out of this situation came the slogan: credo ut intelligam, I believe in order to know. But this simply means: the substance is given; I am living, participating, in it; it is not that I exert a will-to-believe – this is nonsense for the Middle Ages. The creed is given, like nature which is given. Natural science does not create nature; no natural scientist would tell you this. But he calculates the structures and the movements of the given nature. Similarly, reason has the function of interpreting the given tradition – it doesn't create the tradition. If you keep strictly to these analogies, then you can understand the Middle Ages much better.

This was carried through in the next step, less speculatively, very cautiously, by that group of thinkers which took Aristotle into their theology, and formulate – especially Thomas Aquinas – the relation in such a way that they said: Reason is adequate to interpret authority; reason at no point is against authority, but you are able to interpret that which is given in the living tradition in rational terms, and you don't need to hurt or destroy reason in order to interpret the meaning of the living tradition. This is the Thomistic position even today.

But then the last step developed, namely, the separation of reason from authority. Duns Scotus, Occam the nominalist, asserted that reason is inadequate to the authority, the living tradition; reason is not able to express it. This was stated very sharply in later nominalism. But if reason is not able to interpret the tradition, then the tradition becomes authority in a quite different way. Now it becomes the commanding authority to which you have to subject yourselves even if you don't understand it. We call this positivism: the tradition is given, positivistic ally: there it is, you simply have to look, at it and accept it, subjecting yourselves to it; and it is given by the Church. Thinking never can show the meaning of the tradition; it can only show different possibilities which can be derived from the decisions of the Church and the living tradition. Reason can develop probabilities and improbabilities, but never realities. It cannot show how things should be. They are all dependent on the will of God. The will of God is irrational and is given. It is given in nature, so we must be empiricists in order to find out how the natural laws are. We are not in the center of nature. They are in the Church orders, in the canon law, so we must subject ourselves to these decisions, positivistically; we must take them as positive laws; we cannot understand them in rational terms.

Now this was the end of the Middle Ages. And these different steps in the relationship of reason and authority, or reason and living tradition, must be kept in mind when coming to the last step, where Scholasticism dissolved itself. I repeat these steps:

1) Collecting and harmonizing the different expressions of the tradition – called authority .

2) The commenting upon them, making them un-understandable in a quasi-systematic way.

3) To-speculate about them, but on the basis of faith (Anselm).

4) To say cautiously: you cannot really produce them, but they are adequate to reason.

5) They are inadequate to reason and you cannot reach them at all with reason; you must subject yourselves to them as they are given by the authority of the Church.

This is the development in many steps, and if you take them all together and say the medieval Church was "authoritarian," you don't know what you are saying. These different steps must be distinguished.

In Protestantism both things came to an end, the Church authority and to some extent reason. Reason then elaborated itself completely and became creative in the Renaissance. In the Reformation, tradition was transformed into personal faith. But the Counter Reformation tried to keep reason in the bondage of the tradition, but now this tradition was not so much living tradition as formulated tradition, tradition which was identical with the authority of the Pope.

Now this is very important for our present situation. Keep this in mind. We all have to deal, even today, with the problem of living tradition. Living tradition is often confused with authority, but this confusion is wrong. Authority can be natural, factual authority, authority which is not created by a break in ourselves, by a break of our autonomy, and by a subjection to a foreign law ofheteronomy. This was the situation in the early Middle Ages. In this situation, authority was natural, so to speak, as our relation to nature is natural.. But at the end of the Middle Ages the situation was changed. And then that concept of authority arose against which we must fight – which is embodied in the preservation of one tradition against other traditions by subjection to one. The dictators today go even beyond this. They exclude the other tradition. The so-called "iron curtains" which we now build to a certain extent by not admitting books from the East, etc., are attempts to keep the people in a definite tradition and prevent it from touching other traditions, because every authoritarian system knows that nothing is more dangerous for a given tradition then the contact with other traditions, which puts the individual into the point of decision between the traditions, and this they want to avoid. Therefore the iron-curtain methods, which were not necessary in the early Middle Ages because there was no other tradition and one lived in this tradition as naturally as we live in nature.

Lecture 20: Medieval Period: Nominalism, Realism, Monasticism, Crusades.

Different trends in Scholasticism and points of view which are always valid yet always in conflict with each other.


Our subject has been the general trends in the Middle Ages. We discussed the main periods, attitudes of thought, and the development of the Scholastic method in its different steps. We now come to different trends in scholasticism itself.

The first form in which autonomous thinking arose in the Middle Ages was dialectics. This word is very hard to use today, having innumerable meanings, the original meaning having been lost. The original meaning is the Greek word "conversation," talking to each other about a problem, going through "yes" and "no," one representing the "yes" and the other the "no" – or vice versa. I told you yesterday already that the jurists, those who represented the canon law, had to harmonize for practical reasons the different authorities, Councils, theologians, about practical problems of the organization of the Church. Out of this need arose the method of "dialectics," of yes and no. They were applied to the theological problems themselves. But yes and no is always something about which the guardians of traditions are afraid, because once a "no" is admitted, one does not know where it leads to. This is so today, when you think of our Fundamentalists, our traditionalists, of any kind, and this was so in the early Middle Ages.

Certainly the early Middle Ages were not able to stand much no's, in view of the primitive peoples to which they had to speak, and in view of the fact that they were the only reality in which mankind lived at that time, and in view of the fact that everything was a process of transformation and consolidation. So against the dialectics, the pious traditionalist – arose – 1 think here especially of the dialectic of Abelard, and the representative of the pious traditionalists is Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard prevailed over against Abelard in terms of synodal decisions, but Abelard prevailed insofar as his method became the general method of Scholastic thinking.

The question was: Can dialectics produce something new in theology, or is dialectics to be used only for the sake of explaining the given, namely the tradition and the authorities? .

This was the first conflicting couple of trends. The next goes deeper into the Scholastic development itself. I referred to it already when speaking about Augustine, that one man is missing in Augustine's development, namely Aristotle, and that this had consequences in the High Middle Ages when the Augustinians came into conflict – or at least into contrast - -with the newly arising Aristotelians. The Augustinians were represented by the Franciscan order, therefore they are often called the Franciscan group; the Aristotelians were represented by the Dominican order, therefore it is often called Dominican theology. Augustinians against Aristotelians: or Franciscans against Dominicans. One of the heads of the Franciscan order was Bonaventura, a cardinal of the Church, opposing Thomas Aquinas, the great Dominican theologian.

This means we have a development of one of the fundamental problems of the philosophy of religion when Augustine and Aristotle – since Augustine is somehow Neoplatonic – when Plato and Aristotle met again and continued their eternal conversation, which will never cease in the history of human thought because they represent points of view which are always valid and which are always in conflict with each other. If you want the more mystical point of view, (cf.) in Plato, Augustine, Bonaventura, the Franciscans; and the more rational, empirical point of view, in the line from Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas. This was perhaps the most important couple of trends in the Middle Ages, from the point of view of the foundation of religion and theology. Almost all the problems of our present day philosophy of religion were discussed in this light, which was especially strong in the 13th century, developing in all methods.

A third contrast or conflict was between Thomism and Scotism (Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus – 13th century). In some way this is a continuation of the other struggle, since Duns Scotus was a Franciscan and Thomas a Dominican. But it was not the old problem, it was another new and very important problem, also decisive for the whole modern world – namely, the fight between intellect and will as ultimate principles. For the Dominicans, for Thomism, for the Aristotelian rationality which Thomas introduced into the Church, the intellect is the predominant power; man is man qua intellect. For the Augustinian line, which leads to Duns Scotus, will is the predominant power which makes man man, and God God. God is first of all will, and only on a second level, intellect. Man is first of all will – this is the center of his personality – and only on a second level, intellect. The world is first created by will and therefore irrational and to be taken empirically, and only on the second level, intellectually ordered; but this order is never final and cannot be taken in by us in deductive terms. So we have another form of conflicting, going on all the time also, going on also through the modern world where people like Bergson can be confronted with a man, for example, like Professor (Brand) Blanshard of Yale who fight with each other, in terms of will and intellect. This is the third of the conflicts going through all the Middle Ages, on which all of us are dependent whether we know it or not, if we start thinking.

The fourth of the conflicting trends is Nominalism against the so-called Realism. Now in order to make this very powerful conflict understandable, we must understand the word "realism." If you understand what realism was in the Middle Ages, then simply translate it by "idealism": it was what we call idealism, if idealism is not meant in a moral sense or a special epistemological sense, but if it means that the ideas, the essences, the ousia's of things have reality and power of being. Medieval realism is almost 180 degrees the opposite of what we call realism today, and realism today is almost identical with what the medieval people called nominalism. Now this is very confusing, but you as people who have to learn these things should at least be able to understand this confusion.

The reason for it is the following: For medieval man, the universals, the essences, the nature of things, the nature of truth, the nature of man, are powers which determine what every individual tree or every individual man always will become when he or it develops. This is, if you want, mystical realism or, if you want, idealism. Universalia realia – this is medieval realism. They are not, of course, things in time and space; that is a misunderstanding, and then it is a little too easy to reject them and say, "I have never seen "manhood," I have only seen "Paul" and "Peter". Of course this is a wisdom the medieval people, also, knew. But they said all Pauls and Peters always have a nose and eyes and feet and language – this is a phenomenon which must be understood, and it can be understood only if it is understood in terms of the universal, the power of being which we call manhood, and which makes it possible for every man again to become a man, with all these potentialities – which may not develop, which may be destroyed; but he has these potentialities. That is what realism means.

Nominalism is the opposite position which says: only. Peter and Paul, only this tree, at Riverside Drive, at the corner of 116th (the big one there!): that alone exists, and not "treehood," not the power of treehood, which makes it become one and which makes all the small ones develop – if the boys don't destroy them! Here you have an example of the difference in feeling. If you look at a tree, you can feel nominalistically and say, "This is a real thing; if I run against it, I will hurt my head." But you also can look at it and can be astonished, that of all the tree-seeds thrown into the soil, always this structure, shooting up and spreading its branches, etc., develops. And if you do this, then you can see in this big tree "treehood," and not just a big tree. And in Peter and Paul, you can see not only these particular individuals, but also the nature of man, manhood, as a power which makes it possible that all men have this character. The importance of this discussion, which went on in logical terms and is still going on all the time – there's almost

no day in which I do not have a fight against nominalism on the basis of my comparatively medieval realistic kind of thinking, which thinks that being is power-of-being. That is a sin against the "holy spirit" of nominalism, and therefore very much against the "unholy" spirit of logical positivism and many other such spirits. But I fight this fight because I believe that although extreme realism is wrong – namely that realism against which Aristotle was fighting in Plato, that the universals are special things somewhere in heaven – of course this has to be denied -- there are structures which actualize themselves again and again against all attempts of boys and stones and climate to make something else of them. They are always carried through. This is what I mean with "realism'"and so I can say, of being always resists non-being. And for this reason I believe that we cannot be nominalists alone, although the nominalist attitude, the attitude of humility towards reality, of not desiring to deduct reality, is something which we must maintain.

The immediate importance of nominalism was that it disrupted the universals, which were not only understood in terms of abstract concepts but which were also understood in terms of embracing groups – for instance, family, state, a group of friends, of craftsmen – where it is always the group which precedes the individual. Now this was also the danger of medieval realism, that the individual was prevented from developing himself in his potentialities. Therefore nominalism was an important reaction, so important that I would say that without the nominalistic reaction the estimation of the personality in the modern world, (this real basis of democracy), couldn't have developed. And while I usually make scolding remarks against our being nominalists, I now praise it, saying that without the emphasis on the fully developed individual and his potentialities we would have become Asiatics, as we are now in danger of becoming. And in this danger, medieval nominalism must be understood as positively as medieval realism. Medieval realism maintains the powers of being which transcend the individual; medieval nominalism preserves, or emphasizes, the valuation of the individual. The fact that the radical realism of the early Middle Ages was rejected has saved Europe from Asiatization, namely from collectivization. The fact that at the end of the Middle Ages all universals were lost has produced the imposition of the power of the church on individuals, making God Himself into an individual who, as a tyrant, gives laws to other individuals. This was the distortion which nominalism brought with itself, while the affirmation of the personal was its creativity.

So when you hear about nominalism and realism, and read about it in textbooks of logic, don't be betrayed into the belief that this is in itself a basically logical problem. It is logical, it must be discussed in terms of the science of logic, too, but it is in terms of the attitude towards reality as a whole which expresses itself also in the logical realm.

The fifth and last of these trends, partly connected with realism in the Middle Ages, is, Pantheism – tendencies toward the complete extinction of the individual. This was done in different ways – in what is called Averroism (cf. Averroes, the greatest of the Arabian philosophers, who said that the universal mind which produces culture is a reality in which the individual. mind participates. But the individual mind is nothing independent. What is to be seen here is that it was just in the same line of Asiatization. And he was rejected. Another way in which pantheistic elements were brought down was, German mysticism of the type of Meister Eckhardt, which in itself could dissolve all the concreteness of medieval piety, and which has led to the philosophy of the Renaissance. But the Church rejected it, in the name of the individual authoritarian God.

Thus the trends:

Dialectics against traditionalists.

Augustinians against Aristotelians – or Franciscans against Dominicans.

Thomism against Scotism -- about the will.

Nominalism against mystical realism.

Pantheism against the Church doctrine, in its concreteness.

This alone should show you that the Middle Ages are not monolithic, although they had a definite authority; that they are very rich and varied, and have many tensions and problems. We cannot sweep them with the statement that they are the "dark ages," since all their problems are present even now.

The Religious Forces

The next consideration is about the religious forces. Which are the religious forces in the Middle Ages? First the hierarchy: it is the greatest and most fundamental of the religious forces. They represent the sacramental reality on which the existence of Church, state, and culture as a whole depend. They administer the central event in which this happens, namely the Mass.

Then, the hierarchy carrying through the educational work towards the Germanic-Romanic tribes, (from which barbaric state) They, the tribes, entered the Church and ancient civilization. In doing so they tried not only to influence the individual, through the sacrament of penance – which is the correlate to the sacrament of the Mass (the Mass is merely objective, penance merely subjective) – but beyond this they tried to influence the social status of reality; they wanted to control the world. The civil powers arose – not the "state?: this is a nonsensical term for the Middle Ages, but the different secular hierarchies, up to the emperor at the top of all of them, and this meant they had to come to a fight with the emperor, who aspired to do the same thing from the secular point of view which the Church tried to do from the religious, namely to establish one body of Christian secular life, a life which is always at the same time secular and religious, instead of establishing two realms and separating them, as we do.

This is the hierarchy, and is the first and basic and continuous religious force. But of course by these functions the hierarchy was always in danger of becoming secularized itself. So we must look at other religious forces, resisting this tendency. Here we have, first, monasticism, the second religious force. It represents the uncompromising negation of the world, but this negation was not a quietistic negation: it was a negation connected with activity towards transforming the world, in labor, in science, in all other forms of culture, e. g., esthetic culture, church-building and forming, poetry, music, etc. It was a very interesting creation and has very little to do with the deteriorized monasticism against which the Reformers and the Humanists were fighting. It was the radicalism, on the one hand, of resignation from the world, leaving the control of the world to the clergy, to the secular hierarchy, as it is sometimes called. But they themselves restricted themselves from all this, but then at the same time they didn't fall into a mystical form of asceticism alone,(or a ritual alone as the Eastern church was in danger of becoming), but they applied their status to the transformation of reality. The monks produced the great medieval esthetic culture, and even today some of the monastic orders represent the highest form of culture in the Catholic church, especially the Benedictines, who have preserved this tradition until today. Then there were the real bearers of theological science, and somehow of all science. The Franciscans and Dominicans, especially the latter, produced the greatest theologians. Then there were others who did agricultural work, work of irrigation, drying swamps, and all the things necessary in the newly conquered countries where conversions had been made, in central and northern Europe So as monastics they had the intensity of resignation and at the same time the power of controlling and transforming. They were, as we would say today, the active, ascetic vanguard of the Church. They were free to perform cultural activities and at the same time were bound to the fundamentals of the Church. Later on, similar things developed, namely attempts to bring this monastic spirit more into groups other than the monks themselves. I can mention two groups – the knights and the knight orders who were fighting against the pagans and conquering eastern Germany; and if you want a sweeping historical statement, these knight orders who fought a thousand years ago for a Christianization and at the same time Germanization of the East of Europe, as far as possible, have now been conquered, in this 20th century, with the help of the Christian nations of the West, namely the Slavic groups have retaken what was taken away from them by the knight orders of the Middle Ages, and Christianity was suppressed for the sake of the Communist form of a non-Christian secularism. It was a great world-historical event (as great as the battles of the knights in the Middle Ages) when in the20th century, especially in the conference of Berlin in 1945, Eastern Europe was surrendered and the Germanic population which lived there for a thousand years was thrown out.

Now if you see the situation in this perspective, then you also see a little of the importance of these medieval orders.

Related to them are the Crusades and the spirit of the crusaders. It was also an introduction of the monastic spirit into the lower aristocracy, and the effect was that they were to conquer – for a certain time at least -- Palestine and the eastern Byzantine Empire. But they also finally were repelled.

3) This is monasticism. Now I come to Sectarianism. Sectarianism should not be understood so much from the dogmatic point of view, as one usually does – of course sometimes they have crazy speciality with respect to doctrine, and leave the Church for this reason; but never believe them: that is not the real reason. The reason is psychological and sociological much more than theological. Sectarianism is the criticism of the Church for the gap between its claim and its reality. And it is the desire of special groups to represent groups of consecration, of sanctification, of holiness. It is an attempt. to carry through some of the monastic radicalism - not all of it, not the ascetic elements, often – radically or moderately, as the case may be, but in terms which are anti-hierarchical.

Now this leads immediately to the fourth group, the Lay Movements. In some way the sectarian movements are lay movements. But as the word secta means, they "cut" themselves off from the body of the church. There were other way to introduce monastic ideals partly into secular life, namely the so-called tertiarii , the "third orders." There was a "first order" of St. Francis (the men's order); their second order was the women's order (the nuns); and later on a third order was created (the laymen, who did not enter the cloister nor were they celibate, but they subjected themselves partly to the discipline of the monastic orders, and as such produced a kind of lay piety which towards the end of the Middle Ages became stronger and stronger and prepared the Reformation, which in some way is a lay movement.

5) The fifth movement which I must mention as a bearer of medieval piety is the

Great individuals of Church history. But they are not great individuals as the Renaissance has introduced them. They are great individuals as representatives of something objective, namely of the"holy legend."

The holy legend starts with the Bible, goes through all centuries. ,

"Legend" does not simply mean "unhistorical" it is a mixture of history and interpretation and stories connected with it, and hanging usually on great individuals who themselves never had any connection with these stories, but they are representatives: so legendary history is a history of representatives of the spirit of the Church. That's a, very important thing – this meant that the Catholic Christian of the Middle Ages was aware of a continuation from the Biblical times and even the Old Testament period and even before that, going back to Adam and Noah, through all history, always represented by great individuals who are not interesting as individuals but as representatives of the tradition and the spirit in which the people lived. This seems to me more important than the superstitious use of these individuals as objects of prayer, if they had become saints. The holy legend was a reality which, like nature, was something in which one lived. It is a reality in which the living tradition expresses itself symbolically. And those of you who have some interest in religious art will see that up to Giotto, the great figures of medieval art are not so much individuals but representatives of the Divine presence in a special event or a special form and character.

3) The sixth of the religious forces: the popular and superstitious forms of daily piety.

These forms are, if we call "superstitious" everything in which a finite reality identifies itself with the Divine. And such superstitions permeate the whole Middle Ages. One of them was the relics of the saints, or from Christ's life. Another was the ever-repeated miracles. Another was the kinds of holy objects, which were not used as pointers to, but as powers of, the Divine in themselves.

But this had also the positive element that it consecrated the daily life. Now let me give you this in a picture. You come into a medieval town – you have not this occasion; but if you ever have it abroad, e. g., take the most accessible town, the town of Chartres. It is not only its cathedral which is important, which you must look at to understand the Middle-Ages, but also the way in which the cathedral stands, on the hill in the middle of the small town. It is a tremendous cathedral, overreaching the whole surrounding country. If you go into it, you find symbols of the daily life in the Church – the nobility, the craftsmen, the guilds, the different supporters of the Church - the whole daily life is within the walls of the cathedral, in a consecrated form. If you go into it, you have your daily represented in the sphere of the holy. If you go out of it, you take with you the consecration you have received in the cathedral, and take it with you into your daily lives. Now of course this is the positive side of it. The negative side is that this express itself, then, in the superstitious forms of poor pictures and sculptures and relics and the looking for new miracles, all forms of holy objects, etc.

7) The seventh and last: This also is of great importance: the experience of the demonic in the daily life of medieval man. This was something which with a kind of thrill one hears about in lectures on systematic theology here, from 9 to 10, or reads in some books of theologians – not earlier than 1930 – but it is something which was a reality of the daily life for these people. The vertical line which leads to the Divine also leads down to the demonic. And the demonic is a power which is present in the cathedral as conquered. The so-called exorcism, the driving out of the demonic, belongs to the daily practices in the cathedral. If you enter it, you spread yourself with holy water, which means that you have to purify yourself from the demonic forces which you bring with you from the daily life. Baptism is first of all exorcism of the demonic forces,,before the forgiveness of sins is possible. Demonic figures are seen supporting the weight of the churches - -which is perhaps the greatest symbol, – namely, the power of the Divine which conquers the power of the demonic within the daily life. And then towards the end of the Middle Ages, when the Renaissance brought into it all the demonic symbolism and reality of the later ancient world, the demonic prevailed over against the Divine in terms of anxiety. And the Church of this period lived in a permanent anxiety about the presence of the demonic within themselves or within others. And this is the background of the witch trials and partly of the persecution of heresies. It is the basis for a demonic persecution of the demonic – we cannot describe these witch trials differently. It is the feeling for an under-ground in life, which is overcome, which can break in every moment and broke out in many individuals in terms of neurotic anxiety. The churches were first able to conquer it and at the end of the Middle Ages they were not able any more, and so they started the great persecutions, which were more cruel and more bloody than the persecutions even of the heretics. But as every persecution –- those of the heretics and those of the sorcerers – it was the fear, the tremendous anxiety about non-being in terms of demonic symbols, which was behind this hostile attitude towards oneself and others, if one felt that there the demonic was present.

Now this is a survey of the religious forces of the Middle Ages. Of course, not everything is in it. We will return to it, partly. But if you have these seven religious forces in mind, you will know more than if you had 200 names of mediaeval theologians and saints.

Lecture 21: Medieval Period (continued)

The struggle for power between the Church and secular authorities and the nature of the sacraments. Augustine. The Medieval situation. Curialism. Conciliarism. Criticism of Church. Sacraments. Problems of the Middle Ages.


The Seven Religious Forces:




The Lay Movements

The Great Individuals

The Popular Superstitions

The Experience of the Demonic

All this happens within the Church. We must therefore, now, discuss the interpretation of the Church. It is interesting that in the systems of the great classical theologians of the Middle Ages, there is no special place for the doctrine of the Church This indicates, besides other things, the fact that the Church was, so to speak, self-understood; it was the foundation of all life and was not a matter of a special doctrine. But of course, in the discussions about hierarchy, about the sacraments, about the relationship to the state, a doctrine of the Church was implicitly developed.

The first consideration is: What was the Church in relationship to the Kingdom of God, according to medieval thinking?

On the answer to this question everything depends for the answer to all other questions about the relationship of the Church to the secular powers, to culture, etc. The background of it is what I said about Augustine's interpretation of history; to this we must look back in order to understand the situation.

In the Augustinian interpretation of history we have a partial identification and partial non-identification of the Church with the Kingdom of God. They are never fully identified because Augustine knew very well that the Church is a mixed body, that it is full of people who formally belong to it but who in reality do not belong to it. On the other hand he identified the Church with the Kingdom of God from the point of view of the sacramental graces which are present in the hierarchy. This identification could be the point of emphasis or the non-identification could be the point of emphasis. This was always the problem of the Middle Ages. The Church of course tried to identify itself with the Kingdom of God, in terms of the hierarchical graces. You never should think that any medieval representative of the Church, neither a theologian nor a pope nor a bishop, identified his own goodness or holiness with the Kingdom of God, but always his sacramental holiness, his objective sacramental power. And the objectivity of this sacramental reality is decisive for all understanding of medieval thought. On the other hand, the actual Church was a mixed body and the representatives of the sacramental graces were distorted. So from this point of view it was possible to attach the Church. Between these two poles the discussion of the Middle Ages went on, in continuous oscillation.

But Augustine had another identification, namely the partial identification and partial non-identification of the state with the 'kingdom of earth, which is also designated as the kingdom of Satan. The partial identification was based on the fact that in Augustine's interpretation of history, states are the result of compulsory power, "robber-states," as he called it, states produced by groups of gangsters, so to speak, who are not considered criminals only because they are powerful enough to take the state into their hands. This whole consideration, which reminds one of the Marxist analysis of the state, is, however, contrasted by the natural-law idea that the state is necessary in order to repress the sinful powers which, if unrepressed, would produce chaos.

This was the Augustinian situation, and here again the emphasis could be on the identity of the state with the kingdom of Satan, or at least the kingdom of earth, i. e., the kingdom of sinful earth; and on the other hand, the non-identification, the possibility that the state has a Divine function to restrict chaos. All this is understandable only in a period in which Augustine lived, and in which the Roman Empire and later the Germanic-Romanic kingdoms were matters of non-Christian power. Even in a period in which already Constantine had accepted the Christian doctrine, the power-play was still going on and the substance of the ancient culture was still in existence and was not replaced by the religious substance of the Church. Now the situation changed. After the great migration, the Church became the cultural substance of life – that power which determines all the individual relations, all the different expressions of art, knowledge, ethics, social relations, relation to nature, and all other forms of human life. The ancient substance was partly received by Augustine and partly removed, and what was left in it was subjected to the theonomous principles of the Church. '

Now in such a situation one couldn't say any more that the state is the kingdom of Satan because the substance of the state is the Church. So a new situation arose which had consequences not only for the consideration of the Church with respect to the state, but also for the state itself. How was the Germanic system related to the Church? The Germanic tribes, before they were Christianized, had a religious system in which the princes, the leaders of the tribes, represented not only the earthly but also the sacred power. So they were automatically representing both realms. This was continued in the Germanic states in the form that the clergy belonged to the feudal order of these tribes. A man like the great bishop of Rheims, in France, Hincmar, represented the feudal protest of a sacred political power; – political and sacred at the same time – against the universality of the Church. The German kings, who had to give political power to the higher feudal lords, had to give power to the bishops who were higher feudal lords also, – the Church called this simony, (from the story of Simon, who wanted to buy the Divine power.) This was connected with the fact that these feudal lords had to give something for what they received. All this was necessarily connected with the territorial system of the Germa ic-Romanic tribes and was of course something in opposition to the universal Church.

Against the feudal bishops and the local kings or princes, opposition came from three sides: 1) from the lower clergy. 2) from the popes, especially Gregory VII, 3) from the proletarian masses; which were anti-feudal, especially in northern Italy. The pope used them and let them alone again. The pope used the lower bishops who were very much nearer to the lower clergy than the pope, so in the name of the pope they could resist the feudal clergy of their own countries. This was the situation which finally led to the great fight between Gregory VII and Henry IV, the struggle which is usually called the struggle between Church and State, but this is very misleading, you shouldn't call it thus. It was a quite different thing. First of all, "state" in our sense is a concept of the 18th century and didn't exist before, and when we speak of "the state" in Greece, in Rome, in the Middle Ages, we should always put it in quotation marks, using the word from the18th century situation, which didn't exist in former centuries. What did exist were the legal authorities, with military and political power,

But what was the point of conflict? It was not, as it was often later, that the states encroached upon the rights of the Church – this of course was their right – but it was a much more fundamental thing. Since the Church was the representative of the spiritual substance of the daily lif of everyone, of every function, craft, business, professi6n – it was all ecclesiastical in some way – there was no separation of realms as we had it after the Reformation, but there was one reality, with different sides. But now the question arose: Who shall head this one reality? There must be a head, and it is dangerous if there are two heads. So from both sides, the clergy and the princes, the feudal lords, each claimed to be the head of this one reality. The state represented by the feudal order was conscious of also representing the Christian body as a whole, and the Church represented by the pope was also conscious of representing the Christian body as a whole, This was the fight. The same position was claimed by both sides, a position which embraces the secular as well as the religious.

The king aspired – and especially when he became the German emperor and as such the continuation of the Holy Roman Empire – and claimed to represent as protector all Christendom, Christendom as a whole, the secular as well as the religious. On the other hand, Pope Gregory VII claimed the same thing from the hierarchical side. He made claims transcending everything which was done before, and of which even he could reach only a limited amount. He identified himself with all bishops; he is the universal bishop. All episcopal grace comes from the pope, who is Peter and in whom Peter is present, and in Peter, Christ is present, So there is no bishop who is not dependent on the pope in his episcopal sacramental power" This is the universal monarchy of the pope in the Church. But he goes beyond this: the Church is the soul of the body; the body is the secular life. Those who represent the secular life are related to him who represents the life of the -- soul, as the limbs of the body are to the inner self which is the soul. And so, as the soul shall govern the limbs of the body, so the pope shall govern the kingdoms and all feudal orders.

Now this was expressed --a fter compromises had to be made and became unavoidable – by the famous doctrine of the two swords. There are two swords, the earthly and the spiritual. As the bodily existence is subjected to the spiritual existence, so the earthly sword, that of the king and of the feudal groups, is subjected to the spiritual sword: the pope. Therefore every being on earth has to be subject to the pope at Rome. This was the doctrine of Pope Boniface VIII, in which the papal aspirations are expressed radically.

The emperors fought against it, compromises were made, but generally speaking the popes prevailed – up to a certain moment. They prevailed as long as there was this one reality about which they – emperor and pope – were fighting: namely, the one Christianity. But this was not the final answer. New forces arose in the Middle Ages. The first and main force was the national states. The national states claimed something which neither suited the pope nor the emperor, namely independence from both of them. And since the national feeling is behind them – this is partly the importance of Joan of Arc because, in her, French nationalism first arose and came of course immediately into conflict with the pope. But others followed, and at the end of the Middle Ages the national states had taken over much of the papal power. Again France was leading; Phillip the so-called handsome" took the pope to Avignon in France, and the schism between the two popes undercut the pop's authority most radically. But these princes and kings who slowly became independent and created the national states – the same thing was going on in England and Spain – were at the same time religious lords, and they put themselves also in the place of what the emperor wanted to do: in the place of the religious lords. So we have in England theories about the king of England being Christ for the Church of England, as the pope is the vicar of Cflrist. Here you see the new forces slowly developing, both against the emperor and against the pope. On this basis another theory arose, especially against the pope. The bishops of these developing national states were not simply subjects of the pope, but they wanted to get the position the bishops had in the period, let us say, of the Council of Nicaea. They developed the idea called conciliarism (from curia, the papal court): the papal court is the monarchic power over Church and state; conciliarism (i. e. , the council of the bishops, which is practically the majority of the bishops) is the ultimate authority of the Church. And in alliance with the national reaction against state and Church at the same time, this was a very radical movement, and the pope was in great danger for a certain time, but not in the long run because the national separations and the splits of all kinds, the desire of the later Middle Ages to have a unity in spite of all this, gave the pope the power finally to destroy the reform councils in Basle and Constance, where conciliarism triumphed; but the pope took away the triumph from them after, and finally ecclesiasticism and monarchism prevailed in the Roman church, and prevails up to now – even the cardinals have no power whatsoever against the monarchy of the pope.

But there was another movement of importance for this situation, namely the movement of criticism of the Church. These movements are present in the sectarian movements and are present in the lay movements at the end of the Middle Ages. The greatest of the critics of the Church is, theoretically, Occam, who fought for the German national state against the universal monarchy of the pope. But the most effective is Wyclif of England. Wyclif radically criticized the Church as it existed, from the point of view ?f t~e ~ay mov~ment; from the point of view of the lay movement, from the point of view of the lex evangelica , the evangelical law, which is in the Bible; he translated it; and he fought against the hierarchies with the support of the national king. There already the relationship between the king of England and the pope became very precarious. The pope did not succeed in inducing theking to persecute Wyclif and his followers.

Finally the hierarchy came to an end in the revolutionary movement of the Reformation. The territorial Church which was prepared long ago under the prince, or in society, became the form of the Protestant churches, Territorialism was prepared in the Middle Ages, but now the pope and the whole hierarchy disappeared, and now the situation was this: The Church had no backbone any more, it was mere spiritual groups, and it needed a backbone. So the prince became, not only as in England the Christ for the people – (the king), for instance, up to today, is the one who decides (cf.. the Book of CommonPrayer) – but in the German churches the prince received the title of "highest bishop," which simply means that he replaces the hierarchical sacramental bishops, and becomes the highest administrator within the church, as a lay member at the same time; he is the predominant lay member who can keep the church in order. So the Protestant churches became subjected to the earthly powers, and are in this problem even today. In Lutheranism it was the relationship to the princes and their cabinets and authoritarian governments. In the Calvinist countries, e.g., and in this country, it is the socially ruling groups which are decisive for the church and give it its administrative backbone.

This is again a sweeping run through the Middle Ages. You must keep this development in mind and understand it. And don't use the phrase "the fight between Church and State", etc – this is very misleading.

I come to the last sweeping statement about medieval Church history perhaps the most important of all, from the point of view of the actual religious life – namely,

the sacraments. Now if we come to the discussion of the sacraments, we must forget (as Protestants) everything we have in our immediate experience of the sacraments. In the Middle Ages, sacraments were not things which happened at certain times a year,and to which one went and one didn't know what to do with it; and which one regarded as a comparatively solemn act, but one was not very clear why. – In the Middle Ages the sacraments are important. The preached word need not necessarily accompany it. So people like Troeltsch called the Catholic church the greatest sacramental institution in all world history, and have understood all sides of the life of the Middle Ages, and even the present-day Catholic church, from the point of view of the sacramental basis. So I don't speak now about something which just happens to be in the picture and therefore must be mentioned along with the rest, but I speak of the foundations of the whole medieval thinking,

You remember that I said, in contrast to some other great periods in Western history, the medieval has one problem only, and this one problem is the basis for all other problems, namely, to have a society which is guided by a present reality of a transcendent Divine character, This is different from the period in which the New Testament was written, where the salvation of the individual soul was the problem. It is different from the period of Byzantium (let us call it ca. 4:50- 950 or so) where mysteries interpret all reality in terms of the Divine ground, but not much is changed. It is different from the period since the Renaissance – which ended in the 19th century – namely, a world which is directed by human reason, by man as the center of reality, and by his rational activities. It is different also from the: early Greek period in which the mind was looking for the eternal immovable. All these periods have their special problem. The problem of the Middle Ages – which you should keep in mind all the time – is the problem of the world (society & nature) in which the Divine is present in sacramental forms. Now this is the basis for this consideration, then we can say: What does sacramental mean? It means~all kinds of things, in the history of the Church. It means the deeds of Christ, the sufferings of Christ (His stations of the Cross), it means the Gospels (which you can call sacraments), it means problematic symbols (in the Bible), it means the symbolic meaning of the church buildings, all the activities going on in the church, everything in which the Holy was present.

And this was the problem of the Middle Ages: to have the Holy present. The sacraments represent the objectivity of the grace of Christ as present in the objective power of the hierarchy. All graces – or, another way of translating "grace" substantial powers of the New Being – are present in and through the hierarchy. The sacraments are the continuation of the basic sacramental reality, namely the manifestation of God in Christ. In every sacrament is present a substance of a transcendental sacramental character. A thing - -i. e. , water, bread, wine, oil, a word, the laying on of hands - -all this becomes sacramental if a transcendent substance is poured into it. It is like a fluid which heals. One of the definitions is: "Against the wounds produced by original and actual sin, God has established the sacraments as remedies." Here, with medical symbolism, you have very clearly what is meant: it is the healing power which is poured into the substances.

The question, often raised in Protestantism, is: How many sacraments.? Up tothe 12th century there were many sacramental activities. Which of them were most important was partly always clear, namely, baptism and the Lord's Supper, and partly very much open to changes. Therefore it took more than a thousand years of Church history to discover that seven sacraments are the mcst important. After this was discovered, these seven often draw upon themselves the name "sacrament" in a special sense. This is very unfortunate for the understanding of what sacrament is. We must always distinguish the universal concept of the sacrament: the presence of the holy. Therefore sacramentalia are going on in churches all the time, namely activities in which the presence of the Divine is experienced in a special way. The fact that there are seven, has traditional, practical, Church-political, psychological, and many other reasons (behind it). But there are seven in the Roman church. There were five for a long time. In the Protestant churches

there are two. There are at least in some groups of the Anglican church, actually and even theoretically three. But that doesn't matter. The problem is : "What does sacramental thinking mean?" not "How many sacraments?" And this is what Protestants must learn; they have forgotten it.

In the Roman church there are still the main sacraments: baptism and the Eucharist. But there is also penance as the center of personal piety. There is ordination which is the presupposition for the administration of all the other sacraments. There is marriage, as the control of the natural life. There are confirmation and extreme unction, as supporting sacraments, In the development of the life of the individual, (we see the raison d'etre) , the biographical reasons, for some of the sacraments; and other sacraments stem from the establishment of the Church. In any case, there they are, and now they are de fide; but it was not always the case.

Now what i a sacrament? Sacraments are visible or sensuous signs instituted by God, so to speak ,as medicaments, in which under the cover of visible things, Divine powers are hiddenly working. There we have the ideas: Divine institution, visible signs, medicaments (the medical symbol is very important), the hidden powers of the Divine under the cover of the sensuous realities. A sacrament is valid if it has a material substance, a form (the words by which it is instituted), and the intention of the minister to do what the Church does. These three elements are necessary. The sign (we would say symbol) contains the matter. Therefore the sacrament has causality: it causes something in the inner part of the soul, something Divine. But it has not ultimate causality. It is dependent on the ultimate causality, namely, on God. The sacraments give the grace. You always should translate "grace" as Divine power of being, or power of New Being, which justifies or sanctifies – these two words are identical in Catholicism while in Protestantism they are far removed from each other. Grace, i. e., the Divine power of the New Being, is poured by the sacraments into the essence of the soul. into its very innermost center. And there is no other way to receive grace, justifying and sanctifying, than through the sacraments. From the substance which pours through the center of the soul, it has effects on the different functions of the soul ; or mind, as we would say. The intellect is driven towards faith, by the sacramental grace; the will is driven towards hope; and the whole being is driven towards love.

And now the decisive statement: the sacrament is effective in us ex opere operato by its mere performance, not by any human virtue. There is only one subjective presupposition, namely the faith that the sacraments are sacraments, but not faith in God, not a special relationship to God. It is a "minimum" theory: those who do not resist the Divine grace can receive it even if they are not worthy, if they only do not resist by denying that the sacrament is the medium of the Divine grace. I. e., the theory of ex opere operata (by its very performance) makes the sacrament an objective event of a quasi-magical character. This was the point where the Reformers were most radical. The whole life stood under the effects of the sacrament. Baptism removes original sin; the Eucharist removes venial sins; penance removes mortal sins; extreme unction, what is still eft over of one's sins before death; confirmation makes a man a fighter for the Church; ordination introduces him into the clergy; marriage, into the natural vocation of man and wife. But beyond them all is one sacrament which is a part of the Eucharist but which has become independent of it, namely the sacrament of the Mass. The sacrifice of Christ repeated every day in every church of Christianity, in terms of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into body and blood, is the foundation of the presence of the Divine and the foundation of the sacramental and hierarchical power of the Church. Therefore this was, so to speak, the sacrament of sacraments. Officially it was a part of the Lord's Supper, but objectively it was and is the foundation of all sacraments, namely the power the priest has to produce God, facere deum – making God out of the bread and wine is the fundamental power of the Church in the Middle Ages.

Let me add one last word: There was one sacrament which was in a kind of tension with all the others, namely penance. Penance was the sacrament of personal piety and there was much discussion about it: What are the conditions of the forgiveness of sins in the sacrament of penance? Some made it very easy, some more heavy. All believed that a personal repentance is necessary – light or heavy and, on the other hand, that a sacrament is necessary. But how the sacrament and the personal element were related to each other, to this no Scholastic gave an answer; and this was the point in which the medieval Church exploded, by the intensification of the subjective side in the sacrament of penance. This was the experience of Luther, and therefore he became the reformer of the Church.


Lecture 22: Anselm and His Arguments

Explication and analysis of Anselm's theory


After the general discussion of the Middle Ages, we now come to two men in the 12th century, in that period which I have described as the beginning of the new developments, namely Anselm of Canterbury and Abelard of Paris.

Anselm's basis for his theological work is like that of all Scholastics, the assertion that in the Holy Scriptures and its interpretation by the Fathers, all truth is directly or indirectly enclosed. It is that concept of faith or tradition which is not a special act of individuals but is, so to speak, the spiritual substance of the reality in which we are. Therefore the phrase credo ut intellegam --. "1 believe in order to understand," not "I understand in order to believe." Belief, which is not belief but which is participation in the living tradition, is the foundation; and the interpretation1, the theology, is built on this basis.

The content of eternal truth, of principles of truth, is grasped by subjection of our will to the Christian message, and the consequent experience out of this subjection. This experience is given by grace; it is not produced by human activities. Here the term "experience" becomes important. Experience, again, must be distinguished from what we mean today by "experience," if we mean anything at all - -which is very questionable, since the word has such a large use that it almost has become meaningless. In any case at that time experience means not religious experience, generally speaking – such a thing " didn't exist at that time -- but experience meant participation in the objective truth which is implied in the Bible and which is authoritatively explained by the Church Fathers.

In this experience every theologian must participate. Then this experience can become knowledge. But this is not necessarily so. Faith is independent of knowledge, but knowledge is dependent on faith. We can again use the analogy I have used last time, when we say: Natural science presupposes participation in nature, but participation in nature does not necessarily lead to natural science. On this bass, reason can act entirely freely in order to transform experience into knowledge. Anselm was the great speculative thinker, in a period when the word "speculation" had not yet the meaning of looking into the clouds, but of analyzing the basic structures of reality – which meaning you should always have.

Knowledge based on experience leads to a system. Here we come to one of the features of all medieval thinking. The medieval thinkers knew that in order to think consistently, you must think systematically. In the term "systematic theology," with which we are dealing in this institution, there is still the remnant of this insight, that knowledge, in order to be consistent, must have the character of a system. Today if somebody uses the word "system" ,except in this old fashioned phrase "systematic theology," he is attacked, just because he thinks systematically and not sporadically and fragmentarily. But the Church cannot afford –- what every individual thinker can - -to have here an insight and there an insight which have nothing to do with each other, and usually contradict each other. But the Church needs something which is consistent, where everything has some connection with every other thing. The bad element in systematic theology is if you derive from principles, consequences which have no foundation in experience to which the Devine is present in sacramental terms. But this is not the meaning of "system." The meaning of system is, to order experiences cognitively in such a way that they do not contradict each other, and that they give a whole of truth; for, as Hegel has rightly said, the truth is the whole.

Reason in this way can elaborate all religious experiences in rational terms. Even the doctrine of the Trinity can be dealt with rationally by reason, on the basis of experience. In other words, autonomous reason and the doctrine of the Church are identical. It is again to be compared with our relationship to nature, where we say: mathematical structure and natural reality belong to each other. The mathematical reason is able to grasp nature, to order and to make understandable natural movements and structures. In the same way theological reason is able to make understandable and to connect with each other the different religious experiences, which are not religious in the general sense, but experiences on the basis of the Christian tradition.

Now this is the courageous way in which Anselm attacked the problems of theology. If he says that even the Trinity can be understood in rational terms, then this is an Augustinian heritage; he did it also. We can call it dialectical monotheism, a monotheism in which movement is seen in God Himself. God is a living God and therefore there is a yes and a no in Himself – this is dialectical monotheism. It is not a dead identity of God with Himself, but it is a living separation and reunion of His Life with Himself. In other words, the mystery of the Trinity is understandable for dialectical thought. The mystery of Trinity is included in reason itself and is not against reason. How could it be, according to classical theology, since God has reason in Himself as His Son, the Logos.? Reason, therefore, is valid as far as God and world are essentially considered. Autonomy

is not destroyed by the mystery. On the other hand, autonomy is not empty and not formalistic. It doesn't empty the mysteries of the Divine Life, but only points to it in dialectical terms. The content, the substance and the depth of reason, is a mystery which has appeared in revelation.

Now this means that Anselm was neither autonomous in a formalistic empty sense, nor was he heteronomous in subjecting his reason to an un-understood tradition, to a tradition which is almost a magic mystery. but his attitude is what I would call Theonomy. You will encounter this concept often in my writings and in discussions. And whenever you are asked, "What do you mean with theonomy?" then you say: "The way of philosophizing of Anselm of Canterbury," or "The way of philosophizing of Augustine," or "The way of philosophizing" – now I hesitate to say it--"Hegel", in spite of my criticism of him; namely, acknowledging the mystery of being, but not believing that this mystery is an authoritarian transcendent element which is put upon us, and against us, which breaks our reason to pieces – which would mean that God breaks His Logos to pieces – but that which gives the depth to all Logos. Reason and mystery belong together, like substance and form.

But now there is one point – and that was the point where I deviate from Hegel and go further with Anselm – which is more than a point, namely a total turn of the whole consideration: the Logos becoming flesh, and what this means, is not a matter of dialectical reason. This is not only dialectical, not only mystery, but this is paradoxical. Here we come to the sphere of existence, and existence is rooted in the freedom of God and man, in sin and grace. Here reason can only acknowledge and not understand. The existential sphere, existence itself, is ruled by will and decision, not by rational necessity. Therefore it can become anti-reason, anti-structure, anti-Divine, anti-human.

This means that the limitation of rational necessity is not mystery and revelation. If somebody with whom you talk puts you into a corner, dialectically, don't say "That is a mystery," and then you'd escape the corner; but he would not acknowledge that you really have escaped. He will further believe that you are in the corner and that he has caught you. What you must do is to show that you are dialectically superior to him, and that the mystery of being is preserved by good dialectics, and destroyed by bad dialectics – That's what you have to do. But then there is one thing in which he and you have to acknowledge that there is something which is not mystery and not dialectical, but which is paradoxical, namely that man has contradicted himself and always contradicts himself, and those people who corner you have to acknowledge that also if they are honest with themselves – and they will. And that at the same time there is a possibility of overcoming this situation, because there is a New Reality under the conditions of existence, conquering existence: this is the Christian paradox. It is of serious concern that we do not make a gap between the Divine mystery and the Divine Logos. The Church again and again has affirmed that they belong to each other and are the same Divinity. If you deny that the structure of reason is adequate to the Divine mystery, then you are completely dualistic in your thinking; then God is split in Himself.

Now I come to more special problems in Anselm, in which this general theonomous character is obvious. I come first to his famous arguments, or as I like to say, so-called "arguments," for the so-called "existence of God, because I want to show you that they are neither arguments nor do they prove the "existence" of God. But they do something which is much better than this. There are two arguments, the cosmological and the ontological, the cosmological given in his Monologion and the ontological in his Proslogion. My task is to show that these arguments are not arguments for the existence of an unknown or doubtful piece of reality, even if it is called "God,"' but that they are quite a different thing from this.

The Cosmological argument says: We have ideas of the good, of the great, of the beautiful, of the true. These ideas are realized in all things. We find beauty, goodness, and truth everywhere, but of course in different measures and degrees. But if you want to say that something has a higher or lower degree in which it participates in the idea of the good or the true, then the idea itself must be presupposed. Since it is the criterion by which you measure, it itself is not a matter of measure and degree. The good itself, or the unconditionally good – being, beauty – is the idea which is always presupposed. This means that in every finite or relative is implied the relation to an unconditioned, an absolute. Conditionedness, relativity, presuppose and imply something absolute and unconditional. I. e., the meaning of the conditioned and of the unconditioned are inseparable.

If you analyze reality, especially your own reality, you discover in yourselves, continuously, elem ents which are finite and which are inseparably related to something finite. This is a matter of conclusion, from the conditional to the unconditional, but it is a matter of analysis, in which both elements are found as corresponding. Reality by its very nature is finite, pointing to the infinite to which the finite belongs and from which it is separated.

Now this is the first part of the cosmological argument, As far as this goes, it is an existential analysis of finitude and as far as it does this, it is good and true, and the necessary condition for all philosophy of religion. It is the philosophy of religion, actually. But this idea is mixed with the philosophical – or better, metaphysical – realism which identifies universals with the degrees of being. Medieval realism, as you remember we spoke very much about it, gives power of being to the universals. In this way a hierarchy of concepts is constructed in which the unconditionally good and great, and being, is not only an ontological quality, but becomes an ontic reality, a being besides others. The highest being is that which is most universal. It must be one, otherwise another one. could be found; it must be all-embracing. In other words, the meaning or quality of the infinite suddenly becomes a higher infinite being, a highest or unconditionally good and great being.

So the argument is right as long as it is a description of the way in which man encounters reality, namely as finite, implying and being excluded from infinity. The argument is doubtful, is a conclusion which can be attacked, if it is supposed to lead to the existence of a highest being. That is what I wanted to say. Therefore I speak of the "so-called" argument – it is not an argument but an analysis – of the "so-called" existence of God; God is not a being in itself, not even the highest.

In the Proslogion Anselm himself criticizes this argument because it starts with the conditional and makes it the basis of the unconditional, Anselm is right in his criticism if we consider the second part of his argument. but he is not right with respect to the first part, namely there he doesn't base the infinite on the finite but analyzes the infinite within the finite.

But Anselm wanted more. He wanted a direct argument which doesn't need the world in order to find God. He wanted to find it in thought itself, Before thought goes outside itself to the world, it should be certain of God. Now this is really what I mean with theonomous thinking. Now how does he do this? I give you now the argument, very slowly, and you should follow it and try to understand it – probably with very little success, because it is extremely Scholastic and extremely far from our modes of thought, I give you then, later, an attempted commentary to it.

He says: "Even the fool is convinced that there is something in the intellect of which nothing greater can be thought, because as soon as he (the fool) hears this, he understands it; and whatever is understood is in the understanding. And certainly, that of which nothing greater can be thought cannot be only in .the intellect, If, namely, it were in the intellect alone, it could be thought to be in reality also, which is more. If, therefore, that of which nothing greater can be thought is in the intellect alone, that of which nothing greater can be thought is something of which something greater can be thought. But this certainly is impossible, Therefore, beyond doubt, something of which nothing greater can be thought, exists in intellect as well as in reality, And this art Thou, our Lord." Now this last sentence is remarkable because I haven't read such a sentence in any of our logical treatises in the last few hundred years, that after they have gone through the most sophisticated logical arguing, the end is "and this art Thou, our Lord." Here again is what I call "theonomy," It is not a thinking which remains autonomous in itself, but a thinking which goes theonomously into the relationship of the mind and its Divine Ground.

What does this arguing mean? I will give you a point by point analysis:

1) Even the fool – the fool of the Psalms, who says in his heart,"There is no God, understands the meaning of the term "God." He understands that in the term "God" the highest, the unconditional, is thought. So he has an idea in his mind of something unconditional.

2) Secondly, if you understand the meaning of God as something unconditional, then this understanding has the character that it is, so to speak, in the human mind.

3) But there is a higher form of being, namely not being only in the human mind, but being in the real world, outside of the human mind.

4) Since this kind of being, outside of the human mind, is higher than the mere being (thought) in the intellect, it must be attributed to the unconditional. These are the four steps in the argument. Each step in this conclusion is such that each of you can easily refute it. and the refutations were given in Anselm's time already, and then again..later. For instance he refutation is: It would be adequate for every highest thing – for instance, a perfect island – since it is more perfect to exist in reality than only in mind. Secondly, the term "being in the mind" is an ambiguous phrase which means actually being thought, being intended, being an object of man's intentionality. But "in" is metaphorical and should not be taken literally.

Now this criticism is so obvious that each of you can make it. (!) But to the first, Anselm answered that a perfect island is not a necessary thought, but the highest being, or the unconditioned, is a necessary thought. Now we come back to the question: "Is God a necessary thought?" To the second argument he could answer that the unconditional must overcome the cleavage between subjectivity and objectivity. It cannot be only in mind; the power of the meaning of the unconditional overcomes subject and object, embraces them. But now if he had answered this way, then the fallacious form of the argument is abandoned. Then the argument is not an argument for a highest being, but is an analysis of human thought. And as such the argument says: there must be a point in which the unconditional necessity of thinking and being must be identical, otherwise there could not be certainty at all, not even that amount of certainty which every skeptic always presupposes.

Now this is the Augustinian argument that God is truth, and truth is the presupposition which even he who is the skeptic acknowledges. God is identical, then, with the experience of the unconditional as true and good and beautiful. What the ontological argument really does is to analyze in human thought something unconditional which transcends subjectivity and objectivity. This is necessary because otherwise truth is impossible. Truth presupposes that the subject which knows truth and the object which is known are in some way on one and the same place.

But it is impossible – here I come to the second part of the argument – to conclude from that a separate existence. In this we cannot follow medieval realism. The so-called ontological argument is a phenomenological description of the human mind, insofar as the human mind, by necessity, points to something beyond subjectivity and objectivity, points to experience of truth. But you cannot go beyond this, and in the moment in which you do so, you are open to a devastating criticism. This is proved through the whole history of the ontological argument. The history of this argument is dependent on the attitude towards form or content. If the content of the argument is emphasized, as all great Augustinians and Franciscans until Hegel have done, they all have accepted the ontological argument. If the argumental form is emphasized, as equally great men – namely, Thomas and Kant - -have done, then the argument must fall down. It is very interesting that this argument is going on all the time, even today, since Plato's period. And its most classical formulation in Christianity is that of Anselm. But it is much older and much younger; it is always there. Now how is that possible? You would say: If some of the greatest are completely split about this argument, and you hardly can say that Thomas was much cleverer than Augustine, and Kant much cleverer than Hegel, or vice versa – they all are supreme minds and nevertheless they contradict each other – what about this situation? How can it be explained? What I here try to give is an explanation of this phenomenon, which no one can deny. It is historically evident – read the history of philosophy – that this argument is passionately accepted and passionately rejected by the greatest men. How is this possible? The reason only can be that they look at something different. Those who accept the argument look at the fact that in the human mind, in spite of all its finitude, something unconditional is present. And the description of this something unconditional is not an argument, but it is a right description. That is what actually is behind all those who affirm the ontological argument. (I myself am of their number). On the other hand, people like Thomas, Duns Scotus, Kant, reject the argument because they say it is not an argument, the conclusion is not valid. And certainly they are right. So I try to find a way out of this world-historical conflict – it has much more consequences than the seeming Scholastic form shows – by saying that these people do different things: those who are for it are for the insight that the human mind, even before it goes (outside) to its world, has in itself an experience of the unconditional. And secondly, those are right who say the second part of this argument cannot be done because this never leads to the highest being, which exists. Kant's argument that existence cannot be derived from the concept is absolutely valid against this. So one can say: Anselm's intention never has been defeated, namely, to make the certainty of God independent of any encounter with our world, and to link it entirely to our self-consciousness.

Now I would say that here the two ways that the philosophies of religion part from each other. The one looks at culture, nature and history theonomously, i. e., on the basis of an awareness of the unconditional - -and I believe this is the only possible philosophy of religion.

The other one looks at all this - -nature and history and the self – in terms of something which is given outside, from which through progressive analysis one might come finally to the existence of a highest being called God. This is the form which I deny and think it is hopeless and ultimately ruinous for religion. And I can state that .in a religious statement, that where God is not the prius of everything, you never can reach Him. If God is not the prius of everything, you never can reach Him. If you don't start with Him, you never can reach Him. And that is what Anselm himself felt when he saw the incompleteness of the cosmological argument.

Anselm is famous in theology for the application of his principles also to the doctrine of atonement. In his book Cur Deus-homo (why did God become man?), he tries to understand the rational adequacy for the substitute suffering of Christ for the work of salvation. The steps are the following. Again they are difficult and not so easy as the popular distortion of this doctrine tells you.

1) The honor of God is violated by human sin. It is necessary that out of His honor, God react in a negative way.

2) There are two possibilities of His reaction: either punishment, which would mean eternal separation from God; or satisfaction, giving God satisfaction so that He can overlook the sins, This is the way in which His mercy has decided to solve the problem.

3) Man is unable to fulfill this satisfaction because he has to do what he can

anyhow – he cannot do more - -and his guilt is infinite, which makes it impossible, by its very nature, for man to solve it. Only God is able to give satisfaction to Himself.

4) Not God, but man has to give the satisfaction, because man is the sinner. Therefore somebody must do it who is both God and man, who as God can do it and who as man must do it. The God-man alone is able to do it.

5) But he doesn't reach it through what he did, because he had to do that anyhow; he had to give full obedience to God; but he did it by what he suffered, because he did not have to suffer, since he was innocent. So voluntary suffering is the work through which the Christ gives satisfaction to God.

6) Although our sin is infinite, this sacrifice - -since it is given by God Himself – is an infinite sacrifice, and it makes it possible for God to give Christ what he has deserved by this sacrifice, namely, the possession of man. He himself doesn't need anything, but what he needs and will have is man, so God gives him man.

Now this idea, in these 6 steps, is legalistic, of course, is quantitative, but it has behind it a very profound meaning, namely, that sin has produced a tension in God Himself. And this tension one feels. Anselms theory became so popular because everybody felt that it is not simple for God to forgive sins, as it is not simple for us to accept ourselves – it is the most difficult thing - -and only in the act of suffering, of self-negation, is it possible at all. And that was the power of this doctrine and still is; in every Lenten service, in our Week of Passion this week, we hear of the "atoning work" of Christ. The Church never has dogmatized Anselm; cleverly it restricted itself from doing so, because there is no absolute theory of atonement. As we shall see, Abelard had another one, and others did also, e. g., Origen. The Church has not decided.

But the Church obviously liked Anselm's theory most, probably because it felt it has the deepest psychological roots, namely the feeling that a price must be paid if one has become guilty; that we cannot pay it, but that God must pay it. But now the question was: How can man participate? And to this the juristic mind of Anselm had no answer. Here Thomas came in and said: It is the mystical union between head and members, between Christ and the Church, which makes us participate in all the steps which have been (made) by Jesus himself.

Now this is Anselm. Tomorrow, the last hour before Easter, we deal with Abelard - -and two others - -Abelard being


Lecture 23: Abelard. Bernard of Clairvaux. Mysticism.

Twelfth century understandings of "objective" and "subjective." as lived out by Abelard and Anselm pose both historical and philological tasks for the reader

We discussed Anselm of Canterbury as a typically theonomous thinker, theonomous in the sense that he does not crush reason by heteronomous authority, that he does not leave it empty, unproductive, but filled with the Divine substance as it is given with revelation, tradition and authority. We can say Anselm represents, so to speak, the more objective pole in the thinking of the Middle Ages, objective in the sense that the tradition. is the given foundation, which does not exclude a very personal kind of thinking and searching. On the other hand, we have a man who represents the opposite, namely the subjective side, if subjective does not mean willful but means taking into the personal life, as subjective reality. It is a very bad thing that the words "objective" vs."subjective" have become so undefined and distorted in all respects. This shouldn't be. And if you hear about them, don't react (so as to regard) objective as something which is true and real, and subjective something willful. This is often the reaction, but it is entirely wrong. "Objective" here means the reality of the given substance of Bible, tradition and authority. "Subjective" here means taking into the personal life, as something which is discussed and experienced.

Now when I come to Abelard, the philosopher and theologian of Paris, in the 12th century, who lived in the shadow of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. . .. When we look at him we can say the subjectivity is visible in the following points which characterize his spiritual attitude and character:

1) He was enthusiastic about dialectical thinking, dialectics meaning showing the "yes" and "no" in everything. He was full of contempt for those who accept the mysteries . of the faith without understanding what the words mean in which these mysteries are expressed. He, as all medieval people, did not want to derive the mysteries from reason; certainly not. But he wanted to make them understandable for reason. Of course, there is always the danger that the mystery is emptied, that the situation is turned around, but this danger is the danger of every kind of thinking: thinking destroys the immediacy of life, wherever it starts, and this cannot be helped. The question is whether a higher immediacy can be reestablished. This is also true of these theological lectures which you hear here. To hear them means being endangered, and this is the reason why some of the more fundamentalistic people would be very much afraid if their future theologians would be educated in a place like Union Seminary, which likes – as Abelard did – dialectical thinking, and shows everywhere the "yes" and "no." But if you don't risk this danger, then your faith never can be a real power.

2) Abelard represents the type of jurisprudential thinking which was introduced into the occidental Christian world by Tertullian. He was, so to speak, the lawyer who defends the right of the tradition in showing that the contradictions in the traditional material – which no one can deny – can be solved. In doing so he supported the Church, but of course dialectics which have the power to defend have also the power to attack. And this was the danger in dialectics which some of the traditional theologians sensed, even before the danger became actual. This is again a reason why some more or less orthodox theology doesn't like apologetics, because the same means with which you defend Christianity can be used to attack it.

3) He was a person of strong self-reflection, and this was almost a new event in this period which had a very objective character, in the sense of being related to the contents and not to oneself. In Abelard it is not a mere commitment to truth or good, but it was at the same time a reflection about his being committed. Now you know all this; you have a feeling of repentance; and you reflect about having this feeling. You have an experience of faith, and you reflect about this experience. This is something modern, which first appears in Abelard. From this we understand the famous book he wrote, "Historia galami!atum" ("History of my Misfortunes"). This is autobiography. The title is, of course, in the line of Augustine and his Confessions, but the importance is that the self-analysis is not made in the face of. God – as in Augustine - -and always related to God; rather, the self-analysis is done in relation to himself, in relation to what he has experienced. Here the title itself reveals the danger, a danger in which we all live, as modern men. When Augustine speaks of confessions, then he relates himself to God, in looking at himself. If you speak of "misfortunes," of "calamities," then there s a resentful feeling left, and resentment is always a sign of subjectivity.

This is supported by his tremendous ambition; by his lack of acknowledgment of others, for instance his teachers; by his continuous attacks on authorities; and by his personal ambition. All this was a very strong subjective character.

4) The subjectivity is visible in the realm of feeling. We can even say that he belongs to those who have discovered that realm as a special realm. This is expressed in his romance with Heloise, which has all the tragedy and all the greatness of an event, which opens up all romantic forms of romantic love, but which is much earlier than its development in the romantic period. It is the discovery of eros against two things which prevailed before: on the one side, paternalistic authority, and on the other, simple sexuality, which has nothing to do with the personal relationship but which is allowed and limited by the Church and is used as an element in the paternalistic family. Instead of this, we have in the romance of Abelard and Heloise a relationship in which the sexual and the spiritual are united. But again, this was something new and dangerous in a period in which all these things stood under the principle of education and stratification of barbaric tribes which had just received the Christian Gospel. It was, so to speak, too early, as was so much in Abelard.

All this is present in his book with the characteristic title, "Sic et non" ("Yes and No"). I said already in my survey that this is also older than Abelard. It comes from the canonistic literature (the sacred law literature) from ecclesiastical jurisprudence, in which the papal law scholars tried to harmonize the decrees of the different popes and synods. There was a practical yes-and-no problem because the pope and his advisors had to make decisions. They wanted to make these decisions on the basis of tradition, in this case, the law tradition. So the law had to be harmonized. But a part of the canones is the dogmatic decisions of the popes and synods, and so the dogmatic decisions had the same problem in it, sic et non, yes and no. When Abelard wrote this book and tried to harmonize the doctrines, he didn't do it in order to show some dogmatic differences, in order to provoke doubt or skepticism. On the contrary, he wanted to show that in the tradition a unity is maintained which can be proved by methods of harmonization. This was also accepted by the Church authorities because they needed it. And so all Scholasticism accepted the yes-and-no method of Abelard. They asked questions, they put opposing views against the answers, and discussed the opposing views, finally coming to a decision. The whole Scholastic theology is a sic et non theology, first expressed by Abelard. Let us look a little to see how this was applied.

The first step is the attempt to deal with the texts of the Fathers, the synods, the decrees, and the Bible, historically. One must ask the question whether these texts are authentic. Further, one must show in which historical situation and under which psychological conditions these texts were written. Changes have to be examined. The sphere and the configuration in which these changes take place in the same author, must be inquired into and stated. Of all this has been done, then something happens which you yourselves can control easily, namely, what seemed to be contradictions are not contradictions at all, but are only different forms in which the same idea is expressed. Very often in the history of thought – this is something which you should take with you – it happens that contradictory statements are only contradictory if you take them as isolated statements out of the gestalt, the structure to which they belong, and in which, seemingly contradictory, they may actually say one and the same thing. It is one of the miserable things in so many discussions that we don't follow this method of Abelard, first to show the whole structure in which a statement appears. I often am asked: Dr. Niebuhr says this in one book, and you say this. – This may be -- Very often when I inquire into it, I find it is only the contextual difference which makes it seem to be a contradiction at all.

2) The second step is the elaboration of the literal meaning of a word, the – philological task, after the historical task. This may lead to the discovery of different senses of a word, even in the same writer. It is as if he lived in 1953, where in all my lectures I continuously discover that the semantic problem is predominant in our situation, that if we use a word like "faith" or "Son of God" or any word in theology, it has at least half a dozen meanings and probably as many meanings as people who sit in this room, and each. of them has a little bit of nuance in terms of a different meaning. And then one fights with each other, each in a different concept. So it is actually not a real fight, but a talking beside each other. This is what Abelard wanted to avoid – a very reasonable demand.

Now when we come to the semantics which he suggests, and ask ourselves: Is there a danger in this method? or, more largely speaking, to what degree can logical calculus, semantic purification and reduction, be applied to contents such as that of the Christian message? - -then .I would say there is no absolute possibility of applying it because if we come to the important things of life, to the things which are existential, every word has an edge which makes it what it is, which gives it its color and power, and which, if you take it away, leaves a bone, but not a bone with flesh and skin – it leaves a conceptual bone. And that is why I am not so convinced of criticisms by logical positivists, in spite of my great semantic interest, because I believe that if they have their complete way, all words in a realm like theology or philosophical metaphysics or ontology or art theory or history, would lose their full meaning and would be reduced to mathematical signs through which everything escapes, which is the real power and meaning of such words. So be very careful to use every word in the same sense in your discussions, but don't be horrified or afraid or shaken if logical positivism shows you that you don't use a word in terms of a mathematical sign.

3) The application of the authority of the Bible as the ultimate criterion is the next step. This sounds very Protestant, as so much biblicism in the Middle Ages sounds very Protestant, but it is not very Protestant. It was not a new experience with the Bible, out of which Abelard spoke – as it was with Luther. It was the application of the Bible as a law, so to speak as the ultimate legal judge. This is something quite different from the Protestant interpretation of the Bible as the place where the message of justification can be found.

The legal relationship to the tradition is different from the creative traditionalism of Anselm. Anselm, although he was less dialectical than Abelard, was more creative and even more courageous, and nevertheless keener (about) the substance of the tradition.

Some of Abelard's special doctrines: He shows subjectivity in all his doctrines, ethical and theological. Connected with the subjective reason is his doctrine of ethical autonomy. He is a predecessor of Kant, in spite of the tremendous difference in time and situation. He first teaches that it is not an act in itself that is good or bad, but the intention makes it good or bad. As Kant expressed the same idea, nothing is good except a good will. And this man of the 12th century expresses the same idea. The work itself is indifferent; only the intention is decisive.. ."In the intention consists the merit." Therefore not nature itself, not even the desire itself makes us sinful, but the intention, the will. Not the contents of a moral system are important, but the conscience which follows or does not follow these contents. The contents of the moral system are always questionable in their application to a concrete thing. You never can take them absolute. But your conscience must guide you. The perfect good, of course, is if the objective norm and the subjective intention correspond; if our conscience shows us what is actually right. But this is very often not the case. And if it is not the case, it is better that we follow our conscience, even if it is objectively wrong. He says: "There is no sin except against conscience." Now in one way even Thomas Aquinas accepted this idea. Aquinas said: "If a superior in my order, to whom I have sworn obedience, asks me to do something which is against my conscience, I shall not do it, although I am obliged to keep obedience to him". -- The conscience was regarded as ultimate judge, even if it is objectively erroneous. The Protestants ,and Kant, were preceded in these formulas, which, at that time, couldn't work because the educational element is neglected by Abelard. If you tell these uneducated masses that they should follow their conscience, and you don't give them objective norms with sufficient strictness, you let them loose, and they may go astray. This means that in this respect, as in so many others, Abelard was an anticipation of something which later became actual. He had much of 18th century thinking in France.

In the same way he discussed the theological problems.

1) He denies the idea that in Adam all have sinned. Not sensuality is sin, but acts of will. Without an agreement of the will, no sin; and since we didn't agree with our will when Adam sinned, it is not sin for us. Here you see how. the subjectivity, exactly as in the 18th century, dissolves first of all from the very beginning the doctrine of original sin, because this doctrine shows the tragic side of sin, the objective and not the personal, subjective side, the agreement of will.

2) In Christology, he emphasizes the human activity in Christ, and denies radically that Christ is, so to speak, a transformed God or Logos or higher Divine being. For him the personal activity of Christ is decisive, and not His ontological coming from God.

3) In the idea of salvation, he is best known to Protestants and very often quoted. In the doctrine of atonement, as we have seen yesterday, Anselm makes a deal between God and Christ, out of the situation which is produced by human sin. He describes atonement in quantitative terms of satisfaction. This is not the idea of Abelard. But it is the love of God which is visible in the cross of Christ, which produces our love. It is not an objective mechanism between transcendent powers which enables God to forgive, as it is in Anselm, but it is the subjective act of Divine love which provokes our subjective act of loving Him. Salvation is man's ethical response to the forgiving act of the Divine love - -ethical in the sense of personal. Now this has produced a whole type of the doctrine of atonement, which is always called the Abelardian type, the type in which God forgives because He loves; the mechanism of atonement through the substitute suffering, the problems of satisfaction, etc., are simply ruled out. It is a doctrine of atonement in the personal center, while in Anselm it is a doctrine of atonement in a mythological realm in which God and Christ trade with each other -- Christ sacrifices something and gets back something from God in return, namely the human individuals, with whom He is united. In all these things Abelard is a pre -Protestant and pre-autonomous type. It is subjectivity in the sense of reason and centered personality. But Kant could not have appeared in the 12th century; he could only appear in the 18th century and become the all-decisive philosophical turning point. Therefore many things of Abelard were rejected. He was too early for the educational situation in which the Church

found itself. For instance, when you tell somebody whom you want to educate that the act of confession is only act of confession (and that means repentance) if it comes from love towards God and not from fear, then the whole educational effect of the preaching of the law is taken away. Abelard is just the opposite of an educational theologian. He doesn't think in terms of what is good for the people, but in terms of what is ultimately true, and what is good for those who are autonomous. For this reason some of his doctrines were rejected, and he was not received completely, in his time. But nevertheless he became one of the most influential people in the development towards Scholasticism, because of the cleverness and greatness of the method he produced, the method of sic et non.

I said he was rejected. Who were the people who rejected him? This brings me to another great man of the same century:

Bernard of Clairvaux

Anselm was fighting with Bernard about the possibility of applying dialectics to Christian contents. Bernard is the most representative of a Christianized, or "baptized," mysticism. He was, as I said, the foe of Abelard, but he was not only the foe; he brought Abelard to a council which rejected him. But when we call him the adversary of Abelard, this is only half true because he also was fighting for the subjective side, namely subjectivity in terms of mystical experience. He belonged to those who wanted to make the objective Christian doctrines, the decisions of the Fathers and the council; a matter of personal adaptation. But the difference was that while Abelard did this in terms of reason, Bernard did it in terms of mystical experience. This experience is based on faith – of course, every medieval theologian would say this - -and faith is described as an anticipation of will. This is Augustinian voluntarism which becomes visible here in Bernard as well as in the whole Franciscan school later on. Faith is something daring, is something free. You anticipate something which can become real for you only by full experience. Certainty is not given in the act of faith; it is a daring anticipation of a state to which you may come. Faith is created by the Divine Spirit, and the following experience confirms it.

But more important and more effective than these ideas which foreshadow the Franciscan school and much of medieval thinking about faith, is the mysticism of Bernard of Clairvaux. Here I come to a problem which is important and has been dealt with directly in this room two years ago when we had a seminar on Christian mysticism, and put it under the question, "Can mysticism be baptized?" I. e., can it be Christian? is that possible? Mysticism is much older than Christianity, it is much more universal than Christianity. What about the relation of Christianity to mysticism? Now in this seminar we came to the final answer that it can be baptized if it is made a concrete

Christ-mysticism – in a very similar way as it is in Paul - -a participation in Christ as Spirit. And now this is just what Bernard of Clairvaux did. He is really the baptizing father in the development of Christian mysticism. This is his importance. And whenever you are attacked, and some Barthians tell you that Christianity and mysticism are two different things; you are either a Christian or a mystic, and the attempt of almost 2000 years to baptize mysticism is wrong – then you must answer that perhaps the most important figure in whom mysticism is expressed is Bernard, and this is the mysticism of love, and only if you have a mysticism of love can you have Christian mysticism.

Mysticism has two contents in Bernard: first, the picture of Jesus as it is given in the Biblical report, and in which the Divine is transparent. It is the participation in the humility and not an ethical command, although this follows out of it. It is the reality of God in Jesus, in which we participate. The mystical following of Jesus is participating in Him. And you never should forget, when you read about Francis of Assisi and Thomas a Kempis, that when they tried to follow Jesus, this was not the way in which a Jew follows Moses; it was not another law, but it was meant as a participation in the meaning of what Jesus is. In this way the mystics of the Middle Ages overcame a legal interpretation of the obedience to Christ. We cannot really follow Him except we participate in Him mystically. But this participation is not static, it's dynamic. It's not legal, but it is participation. This concrete, active mysticism of love to Christ is the presupposition of the second part of mysticism in Bernard of Clairvaux, the abstract mysticism, "abstract" meaning abstracting from anything concrete, the mysticism of the abyss of the Divine. This side of the mystical experience is that which Christian mysticism has in common with all other forms of mysticism. There are three steps, according to Bernard:

1) Consideration (you look at things from outside; they remain objects for your subjectivity.)

2) Contemplation (participating in the "temple,"( going into the holiness of the holy..)

3) Excelsum (going outside of oneself, an attitude which exceeds the normal existence, in which man is driven beyond himself without losing himself. It is also described as raptus, being grasped.

In the third stage, man goes over into the Divinity, like a drop of wine which falls into a glass of wine. The substance remains, but the form of the individual drop is dissolved into the all-embracing Divine form. You don't lose your identity, but your identity is a part of the Divine reality into which you fall.

Now here we have two forms of mysticism which must always be distinguished: concrete mysticism, which is mysticism of love and participating in the Savior-God; abstract mysticism, or transcending mysticism, which goes beyond everything finite to the ultimate ground of everything that is.

When we look at these two forms, then we can say that at least for this life, Bernard's mysticism is in the Christian (tradition). When we ask about the second type, you can say: Now this makes an eternity love impossible. – But we must also add that Paul said something similar when he said that God will be all in all. This means that when we come to the ultimate we cannot simply think in terms of separated individuals, although we still must think in terms of love, and this is not an easy task. In any case the decisive thing is that we now have one man in which more is involved than in Pseudo-Dionysius, namely, it is concrete mysticism, Christ mysticism, love mysticism. But it is still mysticism, because it is participation, and participation always means partly participation

and partly identification.

Now I come to the end of this lecture on the early Middle Ages, to another man, Hugh of St. Victor. He was the most influential theologian of the 12th century. He was already the fulfiller of systematic thinking, to an extent in which neither Anselm nor Bernard nor Abelard were fulfillers. This man wrote a book, "On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith." This brings us back to what I said about the sacramental character of the medieval Church. The term " sacrament" in his book is used in the broadest sense – everything in which the Divine becomes visible; I. e. all works of God are sacraments. If this is the case, he can distinguish two groups of the works of God. He calls them the opera conditionis, the works of condition, and the opera reparationis, the works of reparation. This gives you a deep insight into medieval life. All things are visible embodiments of the invisible ground behind them. Nevertheless this does not lead to – what you are also much afraid of – a pantheistic form of theology, because although all works of God are sacraments, they are concentrated into seven sacraments. And if not only bodily realities, but also activities of God are called sacraments, then you see the full dynamism of this idea of sacrament.

So we have here an interpretation of the world in a dynamic sacramental form, centered around the seven sacraments of the Church, and there again centered around Mass and penance. This is the medieval situation which in people like Hugh of St. Victor already found a rather consistent and sharp expression. Now I see you after Easter again. I wish you a good Easter


Lecture 24: Thirteenth Century: Joachim di Fiore, Franciscan theology, Dominic.

The dynamics of the high Middle Ages are determined by the conflict between Augustine and Aristotle, or between the Franciscans who were Augustinians and the Dominicans who were Aristotelian. But don't take this too exclusively..

The last lecture dealt with Hugh of St. Victor and the sacramental interpretation of reality which we have found in him. I want to give you now a sacramental interpretation of history which has become extremely influential upon the Middle Ages and on modern thinking, namely the theology of Joachim di Fiore – (a monastery in Calabria, southern Italy, where Joachim was the abbe. )

He wrote a group of books in which he developed a philosophy of history which has become the alternative to the Augustinian interpretation of history and was the background for most revolutionary movements in the Middle Ages and in modern times, while Augustine's interpretation of history was the basis for most conservative movements during the same time. So what I want to do is to confront the Joachimistic interpretation of history with the Augustinian.

About the Augustinian I told you already that it puts the reign of Christ, the so-called thousand-years, in the present time and identifies the reign of Christ with the control of this period by the hierarchy and its Divine graces. The sacramental power of the hierarchy makes it the immediate medium of Christ, so that the thousand years, the monarchy of Christ, is the monarchy of the Church. Since this, according to Daniel, is the last period, there is no future any more, the thousand years are present, we live in them, and everything critical can be critical only about the mixed body of the Church, but not about the foundation of the Church, which is final. You can imagine that in this way Augustine removed the threat of millenariansm – the doctrine of-the thousand years – which still lay ahead, and which then was used to criticize the Church and the hierarchy.

Joachim renewed the idea of the thousand years of Christ laying still ahead. He speaks in a good philosophy-of-history-way about the three dispensations which go on in history and are characterized by historical figures. The first period goes from Adam to John the Baptist, or the Christ – it is the age of the Father. But this age is overcome by the very fact of the Christ. Then there is the 2nd period which goes from King Uzziah (Isaiah 6) to the year 1260. These years are produced by the fact that according to the genealogies of the Old Testament, this age embraces 42 generations. Then the 3rd dispensation is that of Benedict in the 5th century after Christ, where Western monasticism starts, and is called the age of the Holy Spirit. It has 21 generations after Christ, which leads to the year 2360.leads: to the year 1260.

This seems to be very artificial. The ages overlap, The 2nd age is identical with the first, in the years from King Uzziah to the birth of Christ, or to John the Baptist. And the 2nd is overlapped by the third in the birth from St. Benedict to 1260. Now what is this overlapping about? It is a very profound insight into historical developments. History, historical periods, never start sharply but always develop in terms of overlapping. There is no "the end of the Gothic period and the beginning of the Renaissance. " There is no "end of the Renaissance" and "the beginning of the Baroque." There is no "end of the baroque" and "beginning of the Rococo," etc. etc. Every new period is conceived and born in the womb of the former one. This is an insight of which no one was more aware than Karl Marx when he made his interpretation of history and described how every new period was prepared in the womb of the preceding period – for instance, the socialist period in the womb of the bourgeois period, and that in the womb of the late feudal period. It is

like birth: there is a certain period in which mother and' child are in one and the same body, and here in one and the same period. This insight is expressed in the idea of overlapping. The germs of the new period are earlier than what he called fructificatio (fructification), mature realization. A period is not mature when its first beginnings are visible. So we have this trinitarian scheme applied to history, but in such a way that the following period always is present for a certain time in the former period. Christ in this way is one moment in the three periods of history, and history goes beyond Him. It is the same problem which we have in the Fourth Gospel, which is discussed there, whether the Spirit goes beyond the Christ or not. The Fourth Gospel decides in a double way: it decides partly for going beyond the Christ – many things cannot be said now, but the Spirit will come and help you; and on the other hand: the spirit does not take it from its own; it says what is already present in the 2nd period, in the period of the Son, in Jesus, according to the Fourth Gospel.

These ideas about the meaning of historical development must be taken very seriously. Don't reject the whole thing because of these Old Testament names, which are certainly arbitrary. The arbitrariness of every historical periodization is known to every historian.

Every historian will tell you that the period which you call "Renaissance" was ."Renaissance" only for a few people – for some artists, scholars, and politicians, and, following, some other people in England, Holland, Germany, etc. But the masses of the people lived still in a period which was of hundreds of years ago. And so it is always. You never can say about a historical period that it is one hundred per cent that of which you say it is.

What are the characteristics of these stages? The first stage is, as Joachim knew – being a profound observer, as (were) all the others also – sociologically to be determined. It is a state in which marriage is the decisive sociological form where, with respect to economy, the need to work and servitude (slavery, feudalism, etc.) are decisive, and which therefore can be also identified religiously with .the period of the law. You see it is a very rich assembly of categories which he uses in order to describe these periods.

In the second period it is the clergy and the organized Church which is decisive. Here we have the graces, I. e., the sacramental reality which makes the law unnecessary, and in accepting the graces demands faith instead of good works. It is not an age of autonomy, but the age in which the clergy represent for everybody the presence of the Divine.

The third period is monasticism, where the monastic ideal will grasp mankind, and the production of new generations will cease. Therefore this is by necessity the last period. It has higher graces given by the Holy Spirit than the sacramental graces of the end period, and higher, of course, than the law of the first period.

While the 2nd period is prepared already in Judaism–where there are some sacramental there are some sacramental graces – the 3rd period is prepared in Church history, with the foundation in monasticism. The inner part of this period is freedom, I. e., autonomy, not subjected any more to state or Church authorities. The attitude is contemplation instead of work, and love instead of law.

If we look at this we can observe that it is sociological, but if sociology is not the "cause" of : every thing, as it is in Marxism, but it is a necessary condition. It is connected with the other attitudes. So we have here an early sociological understanding of the different periods of history. At the same time we have the religious understanding, which shows the difference of work, of grace – accepted by faith – --and of autonomous freedom, in contemplation and love. The scheme is trinitarian, I. e., the dynamic element, which is always implied in trinitarian thinking. has become horizontal. It has been transferred to the historical movement. It is the historizaton of the trinitarian idea: Father, Son and Spirit have different functions in history. Of course, all three are always present – God cannot be divided – but they are present with a different emphasis.

This means that something is still ahead. The perfect society. the monastic society , still will come, and, measured by it, not only the Old Testament society but also the New Testament society, the Church, has to be criticized.

Another element is in it, namely that truth is not absolute. but is valid for its time – bonum et necessarium in suo tempore- – the good and necessary according to its time.

This is dynamic truth. It is the idea of a truth which changes in history, according to the general situation.

The early Church had to apply this principle always toward the Old Testament. The truth of the Old Testament is different from that of the New, nevertheless the Old Testament is also the Divinely inspired Word of God. What to do about it? So one spoke about dispensations, or covenants, or different periods. In any case, one used the idea of the kairos, of the educational time, of the time which is different, and. accordingly the truth is different. This is now put against the absolutism of the Catholic Church which had developed, and which identifies its own being with the last period of history, I. e., with the ultimate trutJ1. There is a higher truth than that of the Church, namely the truth of the Spirit.

>From this follows that the Church is relative. It is inter utrumque, between both the period of the Father and the period of the Spirit. It's shortcomings are not only shortcomings by distortion, but also by its relative validity. The Church is relativized in this scheme. Only the 3rd period is absolute, and this 3rd period is not authoritarian any more: it is autonomous. Every individual has he Divine Spirit by himself. This means that the ideal for Christianity lies in the future and not in the past. He calls it intellectus spiritualis and not literalis, I. e., a spiritually formed intellect and not an intellect dependent on laws of literalism.

From this follows that in the future the hierarchy will come to an end and the sacraments will come to an end. They are not needed any more because everything is spiritually directly related to God, and the authoritarian intervention is not needed.

Joachim speaks of a papa angelico, an angelic pope – which is more a principle than a man. It is a pope who is not pope any more but only represents the presence of the Spirit without authority. The hierarchy will be transformed into monasticism and the lay world will be transformed into monasticism, and then the last period will have been reached. In this third stage there will be perfection (perfectio) , contemplation, liberty, Spirit. They will be in history. For Augustine the final end is only transcended; nothing new will happen in history any more. For Joachim the new is in history. He also calls it the "eternal Gospel," and the eternal Gospel is not a book – the Gospel is the presence of the Divine Spirit in every individual, according to the prophecy of Joel – which is often used in this context. It is a simply intuitis veritatis, a simple intuition of truth which all can have without intermediate authority.

Freedom means the authority of the Divine Spirit in the individual. It is not rationalizing autonomy, but it is theonomy, theonomy which is filled with the presence of the Divine Spirit.

History produces freedom in the course of its progress. So it is also a progressivistic idea: the goal is ahead.

Now this of course was extremely revolutionary, and we understand that Thomas aquinas fought against it in the name of the Church. The Church has no classical period ahead but has it in the past. The classical period of the Church is the Apostolic period. The Church is based on history, history has brought the Church about, but the Church is itself/ not in history. The Church is beyond history because it is at the end of history.

All these ideas are, as you can see, extremely important, and they are important because in them something is present which was the dynamic, revolutionary, explosive power in the medieval as well as in the modern world. The extreme Franciscans used his prophecies and applied it to their own order, and from there they revolted against the Church. Many sectarian movements, the sects of the Reformation on which much American life is dependent, were indirectly and directly dependent on Joachim di Fiore. The Enlightened philosophers who spoke about a third period in history in which everybody will be taught directly by the inner light – the light of reason – are dependent on Joachim. The socialist movement is dependent on the same idea when in the classless society everybody will be directly responsible to the ultimate principles. Now I don't mean that all these peoples knew exactly the name and the ideas of Joachim, but there is a tradition of revolution in Western Europe which goes on and on and in which fundamental ideas, first appearing in Joachim, are present and are changing reality. And much of American utopianism must be understood in the light of the same movement in the West. We have, as far as I know, nothing equal – except in Christianity and perhaps Judaism – in the Eastern religions, because by definition they are non-historical religions. And here in this man a new insight into the dialectics of history appeared.

His influence was mediated by the radical Franciscan monks. I now come to the Franciscan theology, and this means, to the thirteenth century. Everything I said up to now belongs to the early Middle Ages. All these men – Abelard, Hugh of St.Victor, Anselm, Joachim, et al-, are of the 11th and 12th centuries. The 13th is the highest point of the Middle Ages, in which the whole destiny of the Western world was decided in a very definite way. I have not used one name, a man who also belongs to the 12th century, and on whom all Scholastics are partly dependent: Peter the Lombard (Petrus Lombardus.) He is not as original as the others, but he represents the systematic didactic type of the Middle Ages. He wrote four books of "sentences," the sayings of the Fathers about theological problems – cf. in connection with Abelard. He organized the sayings of the Fathers into four books which became the textbook of the whole Middle Ages, if there ever was a textbook! Every great Scholastic started by writing a commentary on Lombard's four books of sentences. In this sense it has become the classical schoolbook of Scholasticism.

The 13th century can be described theologically in three steps, represented by three names: Bonaventura, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus. But there are others between them and I will mention them occasionally.

Duns Scotus was, as scholar, the greatest of all, but he was also the point in which new developments started on which all of us are dependent in our modern world.

Thomas is called the classical theologian of the Roman church – and certainly he is, and has been reestablished as such again a few years ago by the Pope

Bonaventura represents the spirit of Augustine and St. Francis, in his being, in his mysticism, and in his theology.

So these three names must be known by all of you.

Now what are the presuppositions of the 13th century which made it the central and high point of the Middle Ages? First I want to mention the Crusades, not because of their political and military importance but because they produced the encounter of two highly developed cultures – besides Christianity – namely, the original Jewish and the Islamic cultures. Perhaps one could say a third culture was encountered at that time, namely the old Greek, the classical culture, which through the mediation of the Arabian theologians, brought streams of ancient traditions into the medieval world.

The fact of an encounter with somebody else, if it is serious enough, always includes a kind of self-reflection. Only if you encounter somebody else are you able to reflect about yourselves. As long as you go ahead without a resistance, you are never forced to look back at yourselves. But if you encounter resistance, you reflect. And that is what Christianity had to do. In a much more radical way, it reflected about itself. This was the first part.

The second was the appearance of the complete Aristotle, his genuine writings, and with him the appearance of a scientific philosophical system which was methodologically superior to the Augustinian tradition.

Thirdly, there was the rise of a new type of monastic orders: preaching and mendicant orders, with their intensification and popularization of the religious substance. They produced a world-wide organization through all countries, and combated with each other theologically, and since they were not nationally provincial, they could compete on a world-wide scale and produce theological systems of the highest significance, in difference and in conflict with each other. Since the 13th century these two orders became the bearers of the theological process. They used Aristotle, but they used him differently. They used the new knowledge of Judaism and Islam, but they used it differently.

This leads me to a description of the two types which were developed by these orders: The Franciscan and the Dominican types. They were dependent on two personalities: St. Francis of Assisi and Dominicus. Francis continues the monasticism of Augustine and, Bernard of Clairvaux. Like them he emphasizes personal experience, but he brings some very modern elements into the Franciscan tradition. He brings in the idea of the active in contrast to the contemplative life. This was always nearer to the Western mind which from the very beginning was more half-historical than the East. But he enlarged this idea by applying it to all beings. Not only human hierarchical orders, but also sun and stars and animals and plants belong to the power of the Divine life; and he tries to produce on this basis a new relationship to nature. In order to understand him the best thing would be that you look at the pictures of Giotto. Giotto painted almost nothing else except the story of St. Francis, the new Holy Legend. So he became the father of the Renaissance. By his feeling of fraternity with all beings, he opened up nature for religion. He opened up nature with respect to its ground of being which is the same as it is in man.

At the same time he introduced another important idea, namely the idea that the lay people must be brought into the circle of the holy. In the sacramental system the clergy and the monks were the real representatives, while the laymen were only passive. Now he wanted to bring them into the circle and he did this by creating the so-called "third order" of St. Francis, the tertiarii. The first is the male order, the monks; the second is the corresponding female order, the nuns; the third is the laymen who remain laymen and remain married, but subject themselves to some of the principles of the monastic orders, and are directed by members of these orders.

But all this, St. Francis subjected to the authority of the Pope. The famous Giotto picture in which the greatest pope, Innocent III, and the greatest saint of the Roman church met in 1250, depicts a classical moment in world history. Nevertheless all this was dangerous for the hierarchical system. And the danger became actual first in the revolution of the Franciscan radicals who tried to unite St. Francis and Joachim di Fiore, and who became the prototypes of many later anti-ecclesiastical and anti- religious revolutions. It was also dangerous because of the emphasis on the lay principle, because this lay principle could mean the end of the absolute authority of the hierarchy. And it was dangerous because/the new relationship to nature and the vision of the Divine ground in it, which in the long run was able to undermine the Catholic supernaturalism.

Now all this was Francis. Generally speaking, he belongs to the Augustinian-Anselmian-Bernardian tradition of the mystical union of Christianity with the elements of culture and nature.

In contrast to Francis, we have no such original personality in St. Dominic. Instead we have a special task, which was the task of a special person; namely the task of preaching to the people - -in this they did the same thing as the Franciscans – and of defending the faith. This was something new – defending either by mediation or by conversion or by persecution, I. e., either in terms of apologetic or in terms of missions or in terms of Church power. In all three ways they became the order of the Inquisition and of the Counter-Reformation later on, until the Jesuits took over. Therefore they produced the classical system of mediation, of apologetic theology – namely, Thomas Aquinas – and they produced the greatest preachers, among them Meister Eckhardt. More than any other school, they brought Aristotle to the West. Their instrument was the intellect, even in their mysticism, while the Franciscan-Augustinian tradition emphasized more the will. Finally, the will of the Franciscans broke down the intellect of the Dominicans and opened the way for Duns Scotus, Occam, and the nominalists.


Now this was the spiritual background for the tremendous development of the 13th century. Without permanent reference to these movements, the theology of this period cannot be understood. And if we think especially of Thomas Aquinas, then we must understand him as a mediator. He has understood, as nobody else, the mediating function of theology. In Germany we had the term Vermittlungstheologen – this was a term despisingly applied to many of the 19th century. I tried to defend them by saying that all theology is a mediation, namely the mediation of the message, which is given in the Gospel, with the categories of the understanding as we have them in every period of history and of Church history. In this sense theology is and always will remain mediation.

The dynamics of the high Middle Ages are determined by the conflict between Augustine and Aristotle, or between the Franciscans who were Augustinians and the Dominicans who were Aristotelian. But don't take this too exclusively. Very often I warn you about making too sharp divisions. And here again all medieval theologians were Augustinian in substance. And all of them since the 13th century were Aristotelians with respect. to the use of their philosophical categories. In this sense the duality is limited. But in another sense, in the sense of an emphasis, it is a very important division, a division which is effective in all our philosophy of religion today, even in the most modern ones, who would not even know they do things which these old"primitives" of the 13th century have done – and I don't believe they are as primitive as most philosophers of today are, but they are considered to be such.


Trinity College of Biblical Studies