Energy/Essence similar to Accident/Substance

Just had a thought. Could the energy/essences distinction in Eastern theology have a parallel in the western understanding of substances and accidents? We cannot see God’s essence(substance) but only the way in which He appears or comes down to us(accidents)?

No, not at all.

From my limited understanding, the closest western parallel to essence energy distinction, is Divine transcendence and immanence, not a distinction of substance-accidents (which cannot exist in God- per Western understanding). God as present to creation (immanence) and God being wholly other from and surpassing his creation (transcendence).We just don’t speak of it as a real distinction in the Divinity. Some Easterns speak of it as if it really were two parts, but others speak of it as two ‘‘modes’’ of being of God- one that is approachable by creatures, and one that is unapproachable- which, like I said, properly translates to Divine Immanence and Divine Transcendence in western understanding.

At least we in the West totally reject any idea of ‘‘accidents’’ in God, God is absolutely simple- The Divine nature has no interior boundaries (parts or distinctions) or exterior boundaries (limits or finitude) but, as Fr. Robert Spitzer puts it- is wholly transparent to itself.

And there goes the dogma of the three hypostaseis.

Hi jdconvert. I’m relieved to see that your post, unlike the thread title, has a question mark.

I for one would have to answer in the negative. I don’t see that energy/essence is similar to accident/substance.

Who so messed up your chatechesis as to lead you to think that the three hypostases refer to distinctions in nature? Really, sue him. :stuck_out_tongue:

I was refering to your “God is absolutely simple”

“Against those who cast it in our teeth that we are Tritheists, let it be answered that we confess one God not in number but in nature. For everything which is called one in number is not one absolutely, nor yet simple in nature; but God is universally confessed to be simple and not composite. God therefore is not one in number.” - St Basil the Great, Letter 8


I lost :o

Absolute Divine simplicity pertains to the divine nature, (as I explained)- so again-what has it got to do with the three hypostases? :shrug:

“For we say that gold, even though it be cut into many figures, is one, and is so spoken of, but we speak of many coins or many staters, without finding any multiplication of the nature of gold by the number of staters; and for this reason we speak of gold, when it is contemplated in greater bulk, either in plate or in coin, as “much,” but we do not speak of it as “many golds” on account of the multitude of the material. …] As, then, the golden staters are many, but the gold is one,” - St. Gregory of Nyssa, On not Three Gods

So how does the E-E distinction divide the nature of God?

Perhaps you should ask that question to the person who made the claim?..Except no-one has said so but you! :shrug:

But anyway, I’ll have to catch some sleep, I am apparently seeing things that are not there.

There’s nothing like that in what you’ve quoted there. I’m afraid you really are seeing things this time. But do enjoy your sleep! :slight_smile:

Energy is the activity of God (action/activity is actually the more proper translation of the Greek term in question, not energy), for lack of a better term. When God “touches” something it is Divine Energy, so when God creates, blesses, speaks, Graces, it is called Divine Energy. There is one simple, singular Divine activity, but it is manifold to us because of our mode of being.

Another way to look at it is that Divine Essence is “God within God”, the core definition of God, and Divine Energy is “God doing”. Accident/substance is really a different thing, though in creatures some energies are accidents (for example my moving from one room to another), this really doesn’t apply with God because all energy is essential and eternal with Him.

Peace and God bless!

So per OP, what would you say is the closest (parallel) concept of Essence-energies in Latinese? Simply saying activity confuses a Latin mind, because to us God’s acts are not all eternal and yet the energies are spoken of as being part of God and so eternal.

It’s not a distinction that is really worked with in traditional Latin theology, beyond saying that God’s activity is simple in God and manifold to us. It’s not a concept that is strictly necessary to understand God to the degree we can, just as accidents and substance aren’t strictly necessary concepts.

It’s more that we use pre-established philosophical terminology and then have to fit God into it as best we can.

Peace and God bless!

in Latin theology God’s acts are eternal, and singular. God has one activity, and we experience it in multiple ways and times.

Peace and God bless!

I tell you, this is the most challenging concept I’ve ever dealt with! I thought I finally got it with the immanence-transcendence thing, but it appears I still don’t :frowning:

Actually, I think immanence/transcendence is indeed the Latin concept that resolves the same difficulty, it’s just not the same thing precisely. One can’t translate to the other on a one-to-one basis, but they can be related to each other.

Latin theology doesn’t need E/E because it works with I/T, and visa versa. Not contradictory, just different limited ways of approaching Divine Mystery.

Peace and God bless!

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