The Problem of the Foundation of Mysticism in Erik Peterson and St. Gregory of Palamas Cover Image

„Isten különben puszta fogalom lenne.” A misztika megalapozásának problémája Erik Petersonnál és Palamasz Gergelynél
The Problem of the Foundation of Mysticism in Erik Peterson and St. Gregory of Palamas

Author(s): György Geréby
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion, Theology and Religion, Comparative Studies of Religion
Published by: Károli Gáspár Református Egyetem
Keywords: mysticism; mysticism in contemporary Reformed and Catholic theology; Erik Peterson; St. Gregory of Palamas

Summary/Abstract: Erik Peterson in his seminal article of 1924 analysed the concept of mysticism in contemporary Reformed and Catholic theology (reviewing the works of A. Ritschl, M. Reischle, A. Poulain SJ, A. Saudreau OCarm, and R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP). He called attention to the false juxtaposition of the co-ordinated concepts of sin and redemption against the finite-infinite opposition, the latter of which presumably characterises mysticism in contrast to the former which is Luther’s theology. Again, he points out that it is problematic to speak about mysticism as an ”escape” from the world (thereby an escape from society and moral actions), or a union with God, since it does imply the real presence of the divine. Peterson shows that the presumably impossible concept of the union with God (another tenet of mysticism) follows from such theologies that would maintain a strict transcendence of not only God but also of the resurrected Christ. In the other part of the essay I try to argue that the theology of St. Gregory of Palamas gives an exemplary case for mysticism as implied by Peterson’s analysis. The uncreated light (the energies of God) offers an immanent, and real possibility for the encounter with the divine, while it is based on a descent of Christ (and not an ascent of the soul). In this sense the mysticism of Palamas is neither ahistorical (since it is tied to the Incarnation, even if the energies had been present in a symbolic way throughout the history of salvation), nor is it contrasted to faith or grace, since faith and grace are intimately tied to the indwelling of the Spirit, that is, to the divinisation (theosis) of the human being.

  • Issue Year: III/2011
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 69-81
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Hungarian