Sunday, October 25, 2009

Notes on Elm's "The Diagnostic Gaze"

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Elm, The Diagnostic Gaze

Most scholars see Gregory as incompetent and not a theorist of the ecclesiastic office, but when heresy became too tricky for good leaders to just have simple faith, it was St. Gregory the Theologian who was responsible for inventing the model of the ideal priest who was both an aristocrat and an ascetic philosopher with enough training to have the diagnostic gaze to discern heresy, appear credible, and heal souls.
When Gregory fled during the homoioan controversy in which his saintly father was involved, he had the opportunity to articulate this theory on the necessary characteristics of a good priest.
Harmonize Gregory and Athanasius: Gregory talks about post-fall while Athanasius talks about pre-fall human nature – George sees their anthropologies on the same page
Demacopoulos, Gregory Nazianzen’s Struggle of Synthesis
Gregory’s abandonment of Sasima essentially uncanonical
Failure as a politician
Upon his ascendancy to the see of Constantinople everyone, inc. Gregory, knew he was the wrong man for the job – even early orations, after multiple edits, have traces of bitterness about what transpired at Sasima & Constantinople
Gregory links the potential for Christian leadership to social class
Gregory did more than anyone before him to develop duties of spiritual direction – most creative attempt to synthesize the ascetic and clerical models and he was responsible for instilling the idea that this synthesis was not just possible, but necessary
Gregory more inclined to classical model of ascetic philosopher: attempts to be austere & avoid ambition, but still a life of leisure (something reserved to the aristocratic class), don’t go for fine food & sex, but drink wine and theologize – upbringing led him to this model as opposed to that of St. Symeon Stylites
Gregory’s classical model: not all aristocrats are philosophers, but the aristocrats on the right path become philosophers
Anthony in the Desert is a critique of the Nazianzen type of asceticism
Gregory did not like the idea of living in community – half of why he didn’t like Basil’s model may have been his distaste for being around people, other part may be because he didn’t like weaving baskets, etc. – but he definitely admired the Athanasian and Basilian ascetic models – everyone has a specific path to theosis
Gregory the first Christian writer to talk about theosis, mystical union with God – for everyone it will ultimately require silence, stillness, and asceticism but there will be different patterns for everyone
Gregory does NOT say that you shouldn’t think about God, but HE IS QUITE OUTSPOKEN THAT YOU SHOULD NOT TALK ABOUT GOD AT DINNER PARTIES UNLESS YOU HAVE THE QUALIFICATIONS
Never confuse early Christian leadership with Democracy – Dr. GD 3:12 P.M.
Is Gregory trying to protect his laity from error or trying to protect his own authority?
Seems sincere about his desire for the salvation of others because of his economy of receiving repentant heretics – whole
Tiny percentage of Syrian, Egyptian, and Palestinian literature is doctrinal – almost all practical -

Creed was Homoian: The Father and the Son are of a similar essence
Why did the Elder sign it? could be (1) emperor had gun to his head (lose jurisdiction, go into exile); (2) he believed it (difference between two wasn’t worth fight, bigger church with fuzzy understanding better than narrow church with precise understanding); (3) not sophisticated enough to understand the evil implications of the creed
Homoianism the dominant position for 40 years (two generations in antiquity); in hindsight, it gets dismissed rather quickly – no intellectual giant ever defended the creed – only had politicians advancing the middle position;
Group that breaks away from the Elder is essentially the monastic community;

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