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Apophatic theology

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'''Apophatic theology'' - '—also known as ''negative theology'' - —is a [[theology]] that attempts to describe [[God]] by negation, to speak of God only in absolutely certain terms of what may be said about God and to avoid what may not be said. In Orthodox Christianity, apophatic theology is based on the assumption that God's essence is unknoweable unknowable or ineffable and on the recognition of the inadequacy of human language to describe God. The apophatic tradition in Orthodoxy is often balanced with [[cataphatic theology]] - —or ''positive theology'' —and belief in the [[incarnation]] , through which God has revealed himself in the person of [[Jesus Christ]].
==Apophatic descriptions of God==
*From [[Holy Scripture|Scripture]]**No one has seen or can see God ([[Gospel of John|John ]] 1:18).**He lives in unapproachable light ([[I Timothy|1 Tim. ]] 6:16).**His ways are unsearchable and unfathomable ([[Book of Job|Job ]] 11:7-8; Rom. [[Romans]] 11:33-36).*By Saints[[saint]]s**The true knowledge and vision of God consists in this - —in seeing that He is invisible, because what we seek lies beyond all knowledge, being wholly separated by the darkeness darkness of incomprehensibility (''The Life of Moses'', [[Gregory of Nyssa]]).
**God is infinite and incomprehensible and all that is comprehensible about Him is His infinity and incomprehensibility (''On the Orthodox Faith'', [[John of Damascus]]).
==History and Development in the Early Eastern Church==One of the first to articulate the theology in [[Introduction to Orthodox Christianity|Christianity]] was the [[Apostle Paul]] , whose reference to the Unknown God in the book of [[Acts of the Apostles|Acts]] (Acts 17:23) is the foundation of works such as that of [[Pseudo Dionysiusthe Areopagite]]. This is as Pseudo Dionysius so describes. Exemplars of the ''via negativa'', the The [[Cappadocian Fathers]] of the [[4th century]] , exemplars of this ''via negativa'', said that they believed in God, but they did not believe that God exists, at least in the same sense that man exists (notwithstanding the Incarnation). In contrast, making positive statements about the nature of God, which occurs in most other forms of Christian theology, is sometimes called '[[cataphatic theology]]'. Adherents of the apophatic tradition hold that God is beyond the limits of what humans can understand, and that one should not seek God by means of intellectual understanding, but through a direct experience of the love (in Western Christianity) or the [[Energies of God|Energiesenergies]] (in Eastern Christianity) of God. Apophatic theology can be also seen as an oral tradition. "It must also be recognized that "'forgery" ' is a modern notion. Like Plotinus and the Cappadocians before him, Dionysius does not claim to be an innovator, but rather a communicator of a tradition." []
Apophatic theology played an important role early in the [[Timeline of Church History|history of Christianity]]. The [[Three theologians who Holy Hierarchs]] all emphasized the importance of negative theology to an orthodox understanding of God, were [[Gregory of Nyssa|Gregory the Theologian]], [[John Chrysostom]], and [[Basil the Great]]. Later [[John of Damascus]] employed it when he wrote that positive statements about God reveal "not the nature, but the things around the nature." In addition, [[Maximus the Confessor]] maintained that the combination of apophatic theology and [[hesychasm]] - —the practice of keeping stillness - —made [[theosis]] or union with God possible. It continues to be prominent All in [[Eastern Christianity]] (see [[Gregory Palamas]])all, and is used to balance cataphatic theology. Apophatic apophatic statements are crucial to much theology in [[Orthodox Christianity]]. ==Role in ; the Western Church==Negative theology has a place opposite tends to be true in the Western Christian tradition as wellChristianity, although it is definitely much more of though there are a counter-current to the prevailing positive or cataphatic traditions central few exceptions to [[Western Christianity]]. For example, theologians like Meister Eckhart and St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz), mentioned above, exemplify some aspects of or tendencies towards the apophatic tradition in the West. ''The Cloud of Unknowing'' (author unknown) and St John's ''Dark Night of the Soul'' are particularly well-known in the Westthis rule.
==See also==
==Sources and external links==
*'''General'''**[ God and Other Necessary Beings], Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy**[http[w:// Negative TheologyApophatic theology|Apophatic theology]], Wikipedia**Toon, Peter. ''Our Triune God''. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1996.**[[Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia|Ware, Timothy]]. ''The Orthodox Church''. London: Penguin Books, 1997. [[Category:Theology]][[Category:Hesychasm]] [[ro:Apofatism]]

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