I’ll make a few responses to several of your points.
Apophaticism in Ordodox theology means much more than St. Thomas’s “negative theology” of “we cannot know what God is (quid sit), but rather what He is not (quid non sit).” Orthodox apophaticism says the “human mind can never, even with the assistance of God’s grace, know anything positive about God’s ultimate being and essence.” Just because even the blessed do not understand God as He understands Himself does not mean that God is unknowable.
This is only true in Larson’s grotesque distortion of what he likes to fancy is Eastern theology. The Hesychast synods were in fact convened exactly for the purpose of determining if real positive knowledge about God could be known. Balaam of Calabria argued that nothing could be known of God, but only His created effects could be known. Gregory Palamas, drawing from the teachings of Ss. Athanasius, Cyril, Maximus the Confessor, and the Cappodocian Fathers, argued the opposite, that the acts of God in creation correspond to some sort of actuality in God, which can be participated in by creation through grace (the double meaning here of energy as both act and actuality is quite fortuitous), and thus certain affirmations about God, like ‘God is good’, or ‘God is just’ are true positive affirmations about God. The radical apophaticism which Larson pretends is part of Eastern theology is in fact a condemned heresy in the Orthodox Church.
[quote]St. Thomas relies heavily on Pseudo-Dionysius whenever he addresses our knowledge of God, and his teaching on analogy, which the author of this article does not appear to take seriously, is in basic agreement with The Divine Names. In fact, one of the quotations provided by the author to “prove” Pseudo-Dionysius’s heterodoxy is basically an early version of Thomas’s doctrine of analogy! I suspect the author of this article sees analogy as nothing more than semantic pedantry rather than connecting it, as St. Thomas does, to participation. In any case, God is ultimately beyond any affirmation we can make about him because our knowledge is always tied up with material things. I am not sure how one could reject this while claiming to be a Thomist.
Is that really the Thomist position? We certainly can make true, affirmative propositions about God.
Yes, I think it is rather clear that Thomas Aquinas taught that we do not predicate terms of God and creatures either univocally or equivocally but rather by analogy. He in fact tackles this very question in The Disputed Questions on the Power of God, Question VII, Article VII:We must accordingly take a different view and hold that nothing is predicated univocally of God and the creature: but that those things which are attributed to them in common are predicated not equivocally but analogically. Now this kind of predication is twofold. The first is when one thing is predicated of two with respect to a third: thus being is predicated of quantity and quality with respect to substance. The other is when a thing is predicated of two by reason of a relationship between these two: thus being is predicated of substance and quantity. In the first kind of predication the two things must be preceded by something to which each of them bears some relation: thus substance has a respect to quantity and quality: whereas in the second kind of predication this is not necessary, but one of the two must precede the other. Wherefore since nothing precedes God, but he precedes the creature, the second kind of analogical predication is applicable to him but not the first.
As Pascendi §19 says, some, like the Meyendorff (“the natural state of man as composed of three elements: body, soul, and Holy Spirit”), “hold that the divine action is one with the action of nature, as the action of the first cause is one with the action of the secondary cause, and this would destroy the supernatural order.” The Orthodox appear to deny that there can be substances (subsisting natures).
That is incorrect. This reading is based on Larson’s use of the fallacy of equivocation. It should be clear that what Fr. John Meyendorff means here by ‘natural’ is not the philosophical meaning of the word, but the plain English meaning of ‘how something is supposed to be’. Man is supposed to exist in communion with the Holy Spirit. What he does not mean to say is that the Holy Spirit somehow makes up the nature or essence of man in the philosophical sense.
However, God does not meddle with nature: “in the works of nature creation [ex nihilo] does not enter, but is presupposed to the work of nature”, and there is a difference between creatio ex nihilo and the working of grace; grace only works on intellectual creatures, so Lossky statement “grace is implied in the act of creation itself” is ambiguous at best.
Grace in the Eastern tradition has always had a very broad meaning, one that does not correspond well to what the term means in the West. That being said, the grace implied in the act of creation is not the same as say the deifying power of God. All Lossky is trying to point out is that creation is in a dynamic relationship with its creator, without any default state. On this point, however, Lossky diverges somewhat from the Eastern fathers who use language indicating that there are natures, capable of being contemplated in themselves (something which Lossky seems to wish to deny), which participate in God’s energies to the varying degrees of which they are capable.