Known also as Constantinople V, the Palamite Councils were a series of councils, which took place between 1341 and 1351 and resulted in the codification of the essence-energies distinction defended by St. Gregory Palamas and the monks of Mount Athos. The distinction is found in the New Testament, the Three Cappadocians (4th century), St. Maximus the Confessor (+661), and the 6th Ecumenical Council (681). As to whether or not the Palamtie Councils are dogmatic, it should be noted that the second Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated to St. Gregory Palamas and the hymnography specifically praises him for his theology, which was codified at the Palamite Councils. In other words, the councils are universally liturgically commemorated in the Orthodox Church. Further, the Council of Crete in 2016, in its Encyclical, listed the Palamite Councils on the same level as the Ecumenical Councils. The following are the decrees of 1341 and 1351 and were originally posted here and here at the blog Maximologia.
The Synod of Constantinople (1341)
1. Truly praiseworthy is he who said that humility is the acquisition of truth; for humility is the recognition of our own limits, through which we gather peace towards God and towards our neighbour. By this peace in turn we obtain rest in the present and the future age, according to that divine saying of the Lord which is so instructive in this regard, “Learn from me because I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. Humility persuades him who has obtained it to take heed to himself and rely on God, avoiding all evil by the fear of the Lord, according to the word of the wise Solomon. It teaches him to practise reverence and moderation concerning what is beyond him, respecting the eternal boundaries of the fathers and avoiding deviations on both sides (I mean excesses and deficiencies) and to travel that royal road of moderation which leads towards the heavens and God without error or accident.
2. But the monk Barlaam embarking from Calabria, with insane self-reliance set forth onto the sea of personal opinion. Confident in his knowledge of secular philosophy, attacking the teaching of the Spirit in opposition to the supernatural true philosophy, he adopted instead the unacceptable natural philosophy, which is completely incapable of receiving the things of the Spirit. In the guise of a disciple this man once deceitfully approached some of our monks, those who have chosen the silent life, who have said farewell to everything else and attend only to God. He went on purpose not to any of the better-educated monks, but to the simpler, doubtless fearing to be detected. A little later, moreover, after leaving them, he accused them in writing of an abominable doctrine, which he claimed was advocated by them. For after he had heard them saying, as receiving it form the tradition of the holy fathers, that those who are purified in heart through God’s commandments receive divine illumination occurring mystically and ineffably within them, he accused them of asserting that it was possible to participate in the very essence of God.
3. When they replied, “Not in the essence but in the uncreated and deifying grace of the Spirit,” he presumed to lay on them the charge of ditheism. Not only so, but addressing the Church of God and reporting these matters to Our Modesty, accusing especially the most honoured among hieromonks, Lord Gregory Palamas, he sought that they should be summoned into our holy and divine synod.
4. When they were summoned, Barlaam reversed himself. He fled and did not submit to meet with the council. He would not debate with the monks whom he had accused or let them confront him in regard to what he had written against them. He presented as the excuse for his flight the emperor’s absence at that time, but in truth he was aware of his own guilt and feared examination.
5. Then when the council was assembled in the renowned temple of the Wisdom of God the Word, in the presence of the illustrious and blessed emperor from God, the senate, not a few of the most honourable archimandrites and abbots, and the representatives of the state, Barlaam himself was summoned and bidden to speak and show if he had anything to say against the monks who lived the life of stillness. While they were already present at the council, he himself, as if suffering forgetfulness of the issue but actually trying to confuse the subject, proceeded to dogmatic questions and puzzles and sought resolution of his theoretical problems. He persisted in this and insisted that he would say nothing before he obtained answer and resolution for these questions. Even when he had been rebuffed with severity once and twice, he did not yield from this insistence nor was he persuaded to speak concerning the investigation of the issue, namely, his written accusation against the monks.
6. Our Modesty ordered the sacred and divine canons to be read in the hearing of the council, through which it is forbidden and altogether prohibited not only for those like him but also for anyone else to raise any dogmatic issues, to create a necessity for others in consequence to defend themselves concerning these matters, and assuming the teaching authority to hold forth on any ecclesiastical subjects; for this is granted only to bishops by the grace from above. For the sixty-fourth canon of the sixth ecumenical council says, “It is not right for a layman to speak in public or to teach, assuming the teaching authority, but he must submit to the authority appointed by the Lord, open his ears to those who have received the grace of instructive discourse, and learn divine matters from them. For in the one Church God has made different members, according to the saying of the apostle, which Gregory the Theologian interprets, clearly establishing the proper order in these matters: ‘Let us respect this order, brethren, let us keep this; let one be the hearing, another the tongue, another the hand, another some other member. Let one teach, the other learn; the learner in obedience, the leader with cheerfulness, and the worker with eagerness; let us not all be tongue, the most active member. We shall not all be apostles, we shall not all be prophets. We shall not all interpret.’ And a little later: ‘Why do you make yourself a shepherd, when you are a sheep? Why do you become a head, when you are a foot? Why do you try to be a general, when you are enrolled among the soldiers?” And elsewhere Wisdom exhorts: ‘Do not be swift in words, do not compete as a poor man with the rich, do not seek to be wiser than the wise.’ But if anyone is found weakening the present canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days.” And again the nineteenth canon of the Council of Chalcedon: “Every day, especially on the Lord’s Day, those who preside in the Church must teach all the clergy and the people with pious discourses, gathering from the Divine Scripture the ideas and expressions of the truth, and not transgressing the boundaries already set or the tradition of the inspired fathers. But if a controversy regarding Scripture should be stirred up, let them not interpret this otherwise than as the illuminators and teachers of the Church have set down in their own writings. Let them find approval with these rather than compose their own discourses, lest sometimes through lack of skill they may depart from what is proper. For through the teaching of the aforementioned fathers the people will come to know what should be desired and chosen and what should be rejected as disadvantageous, and will redirect their lives for the better. They will not remain in a condition of ignorance, but by attending to instruction they will motivate themselves to avoid evil and to work out their salvation in fear of the impending punishments.”
7. After the reading of the same sacred and divine canons, there were brought into the midst the reports which Barlaam earlier had made against the monks. And when these reports had been read, the distinguished priest-monk Lord Gregory Palamas was entrusted with making the defence in regard to them, since they especially concerned him. As a prologue to his speech he made such defence as was fitting, then narrated how their conflict developed: first the same Barlaam made written accusations against the stated above), setting out propositions opposed (as has been shown) to the divine words of the fathers; and then he himself was impelled by necessity to defence and rebuttal.
8. Then the decision was made to bring in the writings of Barlaam which he misleadingly entitled “Against the Messalians”, In these writings, concerning the unapproachable light of the transfiguration of the Lord our Saviour Jesus Christ and concerning his preeminent disciples and apostles who were found worthy to behold this light, he said in these exact words: “That which shone on Tabor was not the unapproachable light of Godhead, nor in truth did there exist a light of Godhead nor any light more sacred or more divine than the angels, but it was a light even inferior to and lower than our own intellectual activity. For all the concepts and objects of thought are nobler than that light, because it comes to the sight through the atmosphere and is subject to the power of sensory perception, and shows only perceptible things to those who see it. It is material and has shape; it appears in a place and a time, and colours the air. At one time it holds together and appears; then it dissolves and yields to nonexistence, because it acts on the imagination, is divisible, and has boundaries. Therefore also it was seen by those who suffered deprivation of their intellectual energies, or rather had not yet fully acquired them and were not yet purified, but were imperfectly prepared even for that very sight on the mountain, since they had not yet been granted the godlike intellectual power. We are led upward from this kind of light to objects of intellectual contemplation, which are incomparably superior to that light. Therefore those who say that it is ‘beyond thought’ and ‘true’ and ‘unapproachable’ and the like are absolutely in error. They have seen nothing more sublime than perceptible beauty, and because of this they introduce impious and deadly teachings into the Church.” Barlaam wrote these words, clearly heterodox and opposed to what the saints have said about that divine light.
9. Insisting that they were believing and speaking in conformity with the saints’ teachings, the monks cited the passages which follow. The divine John of Damascus says, “Today the abyss of unapproachable light, today the infinite outpouring of divine brilliance shines on the apostles on Mount Tabor. Now appears what is invisible to human eyes, an earthly body radiates divine luminance, a mortal body pours out the glory of divinity. For the Word became flesh, and the flesh became Word, although each did not depart form its own nature – what a marvel! Not from outside did the glory come upon the body, but from inside, from the supremely divine Godhead ineffably united to it in the hypostasis of God the Word.
10. “The angels cannot rest their eye on him without bending, yet the foremost of the apostles see him shining forth with the glory of his own kingdom.
11. “Therefore he takes the leaders of the apostles as witnesses of his own glory and divinity, and he reveals to them his own divinity. Surely those men are perfect who behold the divine glory, which is beyond all things, which alone is beyond perfection and more than perfect.
12. “The truly divine mastery, Dionysius, who speaks of God, says this: ‘He will be seen by his perfect servants, as on Mount Tabor he appears to the apostles. He takes John with him, as the pure virgin mouthpiece of theology, so that after beholding the timeless glory of the Son, he may proclaim in a voice of thunder, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.’
13. “Silence is the mother of prayer, and prayer is the revelation of divine glory. For when we close our senses and stay with ourselves and God, and freed from the outer distraction of the world stay inside ourselves, then within ourselves we will clearly see the kingdom of God. The kingdom of the heavens, which is the kingdom of God, is within us, Jesus our God announced.
14. “In the presence of the disciples he is transfigured who is always thus glorified and shines with the lightning of divinity.
15. “Begotten from the Father without beginning, he has obtained the natural unoriginate radiance of Godhead, and the glory of the Godhead becomes also the glory of his body.
16. “But his glory, not appearing in his visible body, was called invisible for those bound by the bonds of flesh, for those who cannot receive what even angels cannot contemplate. He is transfigured, however, not taking on what he was not, nor being changed into what he was not, but revealing to his own disciples what he was, opening their eyes and making them sighted instead of blind. This is what is meant by ‘He was transfigured before them’. For although he remained identically the same, his disciples saw him appearing differently from how he appeared before. And it says he shone like the sun, not because he did not shine brighter than the sun (for it is impossible to represent the uncreated perfectly in the creation), but because he shone as brightly as those who saw were able to behold.
17. “No one has seen God at any time, as he is by nature; whatever anyone has seen, he has beheld in the Spirit. This is the change of the right hand of the Most High; this is what eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has never entered into the heart of man. Just so in the age to come we will be always with the Lord, seeing Christ flashing in the light of his divinity. This light surpasses every nature; this is the life which has overcome the world. But Peter said, ‘It is good for us to be here’; and then a cloud, not of gloom, but of light overshadowed them. The mystery which was hidden from the ages and from the generations is revealed. The voice of the Father issues from a cloud of the Spirit, and glory perpetual and everlasting is revealed.”
18. The prophetic Andrew of Crete says: “The Saviour leads his disciples up to the high mountain, to do what or to teach what? To show them the glory and brightness of his own divinity, which is more brilliant than lightning.
19. “This is what we celebrate today, the deification of our nature, the change into something better, the ecstasy and ascent to what is beyond nature, by which we achieve the conquest of the better, or to speak more properly, the ineffable deification.
20. “At this the angels marvel. At this the archangels give glory.
21. “At this all the spiritual rank of the celestial ones, feasting at the immaterial banquet, make the clearest and most infallible witness of the Word’s love for us.
22. “Nothing of what appears in the creation can contain the excess of this brightness. For he who is beyond essence truly entered into essence. In a manner beyond essence he assumed our essence. He became a citizen with us in the flesh, and yet he also shone out surpassingly on the mountain.
23. “He did not then become more radiant or more sublime than himself (far from it!), but what he was before he appeared in truth to those of his disciples who were perfected and initiated in the more sublime mysteries. For departing from the flesh and the world, as far as is possible, there they learned already from their own experience the conditions of the coming dispensation.
24. “For although the good is imparted in some degree to everyone, it becomes accessible not as it is but to the extent and in the manner it is possible for the participants. And this is true because of the high goodness which proceeds to everyone and pours forth with infinitely munificent illumination. This is demonstrated by the blessed and renowned experience itself, which the apostles underwent on the mountain, when the unapproachable and timeless light transfiguring its own flesh shone supernaturally with the excess of its own outpouring of light – what a marvel! In the perfect ecstasy of their nature they fall into deep sleep, and overcome by fear, they close their senses, completely drawing back all their intellectual movement and apprehension. Thus they came to be with God in that divine invisible darkness beyond light. By seeing nothing they received the capacity to see truly, and by incomprehensible experience they obtained the supreme ignorance. They were initiated by sleep into the wakefulness which is higher than all intellectual authority. They went outside of everything seen and thought, and even of themselves, so hat through unknowing and unseeing, by the appearance of the Word and the overshadowing of the Spirit and the voice of the Father brought from on high out of the cloud, they might be taught the supremely supernatural mystery which goes beyond all ignorance and negation.”
25. Concerning this divine light the great Gregory the Theologian says, “The Godhead which was revealed to the disciples on the mountain is light a little too strong to see”; and again, “He will come according to my word, but such as he was seen by the disciples or was revealed when divinity overcame the flesh.”
26. The holy Maximus says: “The Gospel of God is this, the intercession with God and the assistance to mankind through the Son who was made flesh and bestowed on those who believe in him the unbegotten deification as a reward of reconciliation with the Father; I call unbegotten deification the individually realised illumination which does not have a beginning, but incomprehensible revelation in those who are worthy”.
27. And again he says: “Not always with glory does the Lord appear to all his adherents: to those who are being instructed he comes in the form of a servant, but to those who are able to follow him as he ascends to the high mountain of his transfiguration he appears in the form of God, in which he was before the world existed”.
28. And again the same saint says: “The light of the face of the Lord, which exceeds the capacity of human perception, formed for the blessed disciples the model of mystical theology by negation, according to which the blessed and holy Godhead in its essence is beyond ineffable and beyond unknowable and infinitely removed from all unlimitedness. It leaves no track at all of comprehension however slight afterwards for those who have experienced it.
29. “He who is not participable by beings according to his essence,” says the same saint, “but who wishes to participate in another manner with those who are able, does not entirely depart from his essential hiddenness. Even the very manner in which he willingly participates remains perpetually unrevealed to everyone.”
30. And the great Basil says: “The Holy Spirit is unapproachable by nature, but accessible because of his goodness. He fills everything by his power, but can be shared only by those who are worthy. He is not shared in the same measure by all, but distributed his energy in proportion to the faith of the recipient. He is simple in his essence, manifold in his powers.
31. “He is present as a whole to each one and everywhere. He is distributed without suffering injury, and is shared as a whole, like a ray of the sun. While he is present to each recipient as if he were present to him alone, he sends his grace sufficient and complete to all.”
32. And again St Basil says: “The energies of God are diverse, but his essence is simple. We say that we know God from his energies, but we do not pretend to approach his essence. For his energies descend to us, but his essence remains unapproachable.”
33. For this is what the great Athanasius also says, that no human being is able to see the naked essence of God in any way. From this it is clear that the saints behold not the essence of God, but his glory. It is also written concerning the apostles, that Peter and his companions saw his glory when they awoke.
34. And again the same saint says: “Christ is free from suffering even in the sufferings of his flesh, since as God he overcame death and rose on the third day and ascended into heaven, in natural glory and not in grace. He will come in his own divinity, clearly radiating his ineffable glory from the holy body which he received from Mary, as also on the mountain he partially revealed, teaching us that both before and now he is the same, begin unchangeable always and having no alteration affecting his divinity.”
35. The great Dionysius also says this: “When we become incorruptible and immortal, and we arrive at the most blessed and Christlike condition, we will be always with the Lord according to the saying. In pure contemplation we will be filled with his visible revelation, which will envelop us with exceedingly brilliant radiance, as it enveloped the disciples in that most divine transfiguration. When our minds become impassible and immaterial, we will participate in his spiritual illumination and in the union beyond understanding, by the unknowable and blessed reception of the rays which surpass appearance, in a more divine imitation of the celestial intelligences.”
36. And the great Basil says: “The reward of virtue is to become God and to receive the lightning flash of the most pure light, becoming a sun of that day which is not cut off by darkness. For a different sun makes this day, the sun which flashes with the true light. When once this sun shines on us, it is no longer hidden in gloom, but enfolds everything in its illuminating power. It continuously and perpetually enlightens those who are worthy and even makes those who participate in that light into other suns. ‘Then’, it says, ‘the righteous shall shine like the sun’.”
37. The divine Maximus says: “The soul becomes God by the participation of divine grace. It both desists from all the activities of the mind and perception and at the same time stops the natural activities of the body. The body is deified along with the soul in proportion to its participation in deification, so that God alone then appears through both the soul and the body, as their natural characteristics are overcome by the excess of glory.”
38. The great Dionysius says: “We do not see any deification or life which accurately resembles the cause which is situated above all.”
39. The same saint was asked how he who is beyond all things is also beyond the source of God and beyond the source of good. He says: “If you would understand Godhead and goodness, it is the very substance of the good-creating gift and the inimitable imitation of the supremely divine and supremely good, by which we are made god and made good. For if this becomes the source of deification and perfection for those who are becoming gods and becoming good, the supreme source of every source is both beyond what we call Godhead and goodness and beyond the source of Godhead and the source of goodness.”
40. The divine Gregory of Nyssa says: “If his judgments cannot be examined, and his ways cannot be tracked down, and the promise to the good surpasses all conjecture from guesswork, how much more in its ineffability and unapproachability the divine itself is also higher and more sublime than what we understand about it.”
41. The divine John of Damascus also writes in his sacred songs: “So that thou mayest show clearly how at thy ineffable second coming thou wilt be seen standing as the most high God in the midst of gods, as thou didst shine ineffably to the apostles on Tabor, and to Moses with Elijah.”
42. And in another song he writes: “And briefly hiding the outer garment of flesh he was transfigured before them, revealing the comeliness of the archetypal beauty, though not in full. He satisfied them and spared them at the same time, lest with the vision they lose their life, but he appeared as they were able to endure, using their bodily eyes.”
43. The great Dionysius again says: “The divine darkness is the unapproachable light, in which God is said to dwell. It is both invisible, because of its supreme brightness, and unapproachable, because of the excess of its supernatural effusion of light.”
44. “Not God, however”, says our father Chrysostom, “but grace is poured out”.
45. In addition, Barlaam disparaged the fear which came upon the apostles at that most divine sight, alleging that the apostles’ fear showed that they were imperfectly prepared even for that very sight, and indicated that the light which they saw at that time was of an earthly nature. Then, undoubtedly enlightened in mind by this same light, the most divine and renowned emperor said, “There is also a fear not of beginners but of the perfect, concerning which the prophet says, ‘The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever’; and again elsewhere, ‘Fear the Lord all you his saints.’ Proof that the apostles then experienced the fear not of beginners but of the perfect: they sought to remain always with that ineffable vision. ‘Let us make here’, Peter says, ‘three tents’, and ‘It is good for us to be here.’ One who has the other kind of fear desires to escape from that which he fears. Peter, the summit of the apostles, thinking that this age of dimensions and limits had passed away, but that that the dimensionless and unceasing age of light had been revealed, said prophetically from the state of his soul, ‘It is good for us to be here’. For he evidently saw that which human nature would surely be unable to see if it were not permeated with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Those men were then found worthy of such sight as human nature would receive only if assisted by the Spirit.”
46. Again the emperor spoke, wise in divine matters as is to be expected among those who praise that most divine light: “Let none of us who hears suppose that we are saying that the nature of God is visible; for even though the apostles had ascended to such a height of contemplation, they saw divine grace and glory but not the nature itself which produces this grace. For we know, being initiated by the Divine Scriptures, that that nature is imparticipable, incomprehensible, invisible, even to the celestial and sublime powers, leaving not the slightest trace of comprehension afterward to those who have experienced it. Likewise the most theological of Gregories, after discussing the prophets’ visions, in continuing immediately added, ‘But neither these prophets, about whom we are speaking, nor anyone else like them, stood in the council and essence of the Lord, as it is written, nor saw or taught the nature of God’.” By these words and arguments, Barlaam was being refuted and put to shame for sacrilegiously and erroneously attacking what is sacred.
47. Furthermore, Barlaam was found to have made many misrepresentations and accusations in writing against the practitioners of the silent life. At the same time he attacked the prayer customary with them, or rather with all Christians, the “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” For he made this statement also concerning the prayer in these very words: “While there are many charges which one could justifiably make against the promulgator of this kind of doctrine, second to none I consider this, that trying to overturn the mysteries of Christians through his breathing exercises, he calumniates even the fathers, claiming that what he now teaches, these men also thought before. You crazy and wretched man, by which of them was such monstrosity as you teach ever called ‘watchfulness’ and ‘guarding of the heart’ and ‘attention’? They say that this man made it a rule for his initiates to use this prayer continually, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.’ From this therefore we can understand what kind of man he was who invented these breathing exercises. For on one hand the ‘Our Father’, which the Bogomils use differently, he does not prescribe, for he supposed that, if he did, his heresy would be obvious; nevertheless for those whom he directs to attend throughout life to this one small prayer, he leaves all the other prayers to be considered merely foolish babble. Furthermore, while all Christians call in this prayer our Lord Jesus Christ also ‘our God’, this man changed the ‘our God’ into ‘Son of God’. By this change he revealed to us the whole of his own heresy. For it is to follow the doctrine of the Bogomils that this man changes in the aforementioned prayer the ‘our God’ into ‘Son of God’, since no one could give any other reason why he would have made such a change.” These things that most godless Barlaam said.
48. These allegations contradict both the blessed utterances of that foundation of the faith, Peter, the leader of the disciples, and the Lord’s blessing on his words. For Peter said to him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”; and the Lord replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven.” Besides, in the creed we say, “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, and in the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages.” So do we not glorify Christ as God, when we say that we believe in the Son of God? And about this sacred prayer also the divine teacher John with golden words says, instructing the monastics: “Devote yourself always to the Lord and persist in supplicating him until he has mercy on us. Seek nothing else but only mercy from the Lord of glory. Seeking mercy, seek with a humble and merciful heart, and cry out from morning to evening, and if possible all night, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us’. I beseech you, force your mind to this work until death. For this work requires much force, because narrow is the gate and hard is the way which leads to life, and men of force go in by it. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to men of force. I beseech you, do not separate your heart from God, but persist and guard it with the recollection of our Lord Jesus Christ always, until the name of the Lord takes root within your heart, and think of nothing else but that Christ might be magnified in you. I beseech you, therefore, never desist or despise the rule of this prayer, but whether you eat or drink or travel or do anything, unceasingly cry out, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us’. For ‘pray without ceasing’, the divine apostle says, without anger and speculation.”
49. But also the divine Diadochus says: “When we close every outlet to the mind by the recollection of God, it imperiously demands something to satisfy its need of activity. We must then give it the Lord Jesus, as the sole occupation that fully answers its need. For ‘no-one’, it is written, ‘calls Jesus Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.’” Those who repeat this holy and glorious name in the depth of their heart unceasingly can sometimes see the light of their own intellect. For then we grow fully conscious that the name is burning up all the filth which covers the surface of the soul. For “our God”, it is written, “is a consuming fire”. Therefore finally the Lord summons the would soul to love of his glory. For when the intellect with fervour of heart maintains persistently its remembrance of the glorious and desirable name, then that name undoubtedly implants in us a disposition to love his goodness. For this is the pearl of great price, which one can find by selling all its possessions and have unspeakable joy in finding it. And it would take too long to tell how the God-bearing fathers explain this and exhort us to it. The monks maintained persistently that this prayer is a thoroughly divine and delightful occupation according to the understanding of the God-bearers, inspired by the Spirit. At the same time they desired to continue telling how much the saints have set down in their writings, for example what was said by that John who constructed in words the ladder of the spiritual ascent; for he says, “May the memory of Jesus be united with your breath, and then you will know the value of quietness”.
50. As the monks were desiring to continue saying such things, the emperor, marvelous in all respects, who has now closed his life with a blessed end, as the Lord’s anointed took up speech again on behalf of Christ who anointed him. He said, “So be it. Let us grant that one of the heretics was the first to say this. It is no crime in us if we use well what they invented badly. For just because the Persians call Abraham the God of heaven, it does not follow that it is wrong for us to say, ‘I reverence the God of heaven’. Nor, because the pagan Greeks say that god is a mind which creates the universe, will we refrain from saying that he is the maker of the universe; neither would we be justly accused of thinking like them when we say this. For when the Greeks said that matter was unbegotten and coeternal with God, even if they said that God is the maker of the universe, they called him this not as one who produces what previously did not yet exist at all, but as one who arranges what already exists, merely giving form and harmonious arrangement to existing matter, with a small skill like man’s. They attributed nothing more than this to the power of God. For our part, just as we believe that everything has received from God its progress from nonbeing into existence and thus we know him accurately as maker of heaven and earth and everything in between, so also when we say that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we praise and proclaim him as true God from true God, both confessing the divinity of the Son and bearing witness to the source of the Son’s divinity. But they say that the Messalians and Bogomils pray the prayer which was transmitted by the Lord to his holy disciples and apostles. So what? Shall we therefore abstain from this prayer and abandon what is ours to those who have stolen it, and we ourselves avoid the truly pious expression because of those who imitate piety in words? Away with such shameful evil counsel! But since ‘we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he himself is the expiation for our sins’, with hope we will call on his name, and obtain salvation from such supplication, according to what was said by the prophet, ‘and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’. And since ‘there is no other name given among men, by which we must be saved’, and ‘no one is able to say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit’, and ‘in the name of Jesus Christ every knee shall bow of things in heaven and on earth and under the earth’, blessed is he who through continual repetition of this much-praised name has God dwelling within him.”
51. So by these words Barlaam was revealed and refuted as speaking blasphemously and heretically both about the divine light on Tabor and in his allegations against the monks concerning the sacred prayer which they practise and recite repeatedly. But the monks were demonstrated superior to his accusation. They were proved to be accepting and abiding by the explanations and traditions of the holy fathers concerning these matters, just as they themselves clearly confessed and insisted. Therefore the sam Barlaam, convicted (as has been said) by a common vote of the council for treating divine subjects wrongly and erroneously, sought indeed to be forgiven for these actions. And therefore we declare that if, on the one hand, he shows true repentance and corrects himself, and is no longer found speaking and shows true repentance and corrects himself, and is no longer found speaking and writing concerning such matters, it is well; but if not, he shall be excommunicated and cut off from the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ and from the orthodox community of Christians.
52. Furthermore, if any one else should appear again repeating any of his blasphemous and heretical spoken or written accusations against the monks or in any way harassing them in such matters, he will be subject to the same condemnation from Our Modesty; he also shall be excommunicated and cut off from the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ and from the orthodox community of Christians.
53. With severity therefore and spiritual austerity and censure we say: No longer from now on and hereafter shall anyone at all make dogmatic discourses concerning these and other doctrinal issues (that is, either in writing or unwritten), since no small scandals spring up from such activity in the Church of God. Confusion and disturbance, earthquakes and tidal waves assail the souls of the listeners, especially of the simpler people. Undoubtedly indeed it was for this reason that the God-bearing and holy fathers established the previously cited canons. Exercising foresight that no one hereafter may fall into similar errors, and publishing the present document as security, we have subscribed with our own signature, in the month of August of the ninth indiction.
It was also subscribed by the divine and patriarchal hand: John by the mercy of God archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and ecumenical patriarch.
The Synod of Constantinople (1351)
Synodical Tome. Published by the Divine and Sacred Synod which was assembled against those who think like Barlaam and Akindynos, in the reign of our pious and Orthodox Emperor Orthodox Emperors Cantacuzenus and Palaeologus.
1. We do not think that anyone is unaware of the madness of the Church’s common enemy, or of the Saviour’s victory. Although innumerable troubles have flowed over the Church, through this victory she has not only survived his assaults but even shines more brilliantly. The blood of God and the voluntary passion and the cross demonstrate the enemy’s madness; of God’s assistance the persecutors of the Church provide an accurate testimony. Some of them were transformed into evangelists, others were proclaimed a monument of God’s power not by their elevation but by their fall. So it was, and the common enemy could not keep still; but as if blaming himself for inadequate strategy, he undertook the war against the Church, not with a small nation as of old with the Jews, but bitterly arming the whole inhabited world against her. His generals were the associates of Diocletian and Maximian and Decius and anyone like them, who perished as shamefully as they had known how to fight. Their memorial has gone like an echo, but of God’s Church the sound has gone out into all the earth; the most reliable testimony of her power is the bodies of the martyrs which drive out all demons. Thus the power of God is proved extraordinary even through her misfortunes.
But the evil one did not learn even when he suffered, fool that he is. He reversed his tactics for attacking the Church, for he very much despaired of openly fighting, disliking public shame. Instead, he entered into those around Sabellius and Arius and their followers. Purporting to be getting rid of polytheism, he persuaded the mindless fools by the pretext of honour to one God not to believe at all in the true God. But he himself turned out to be plotting against himself, because the Church of God won as booty of this war the doctrine that the three persons of the Trinity have equality in honour.
2. This evil one laid many other sieges against the Church; and now yielding, now advancing, at one time with unhealthy doctrines, at another time with pleasures, in which he is accustomed to delight, of which the end is separation from God, at last he put on the person of Barlaam, to wage war against the truth. This man, a monk of Calabrian origin who had advanced far in the learning of the pagan Greeks and relied entirely on this, proceeded against the truth and those sacredly adhering to it. He accused of ditheism those who call uncreated not only the trihypostatic essence of God, in which no one can participate, but also the grace of the Spirit which is eternal and deifying, in which the worthy participate. When a divine synod was assembled on these issues, he was refuted and excommunicated by the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ through the theological writings of the holy fathers. The advocates of the word of truth were Palamas, who is now the most reverent metropolitan of Thessalonica, and the monks. But a little later Akindynos, adhering to his evil opinion, not at all chastened or improved by the condemnation of his teacher, undertook to accuse the same men again on the same issues. He deceitfully denied his teacher and invoked terrible curses upon him, insisting that he had never believed or spoken the same as Barlaam, in order that he would be thus permitted to speak; but to those to whom he spoke, he showed the hidden Barlaam, believing, speaking, and writing the same evil opinion as his.
3. For this heresy, then, when a second synod had been assembled, under the presidency of our present mighty and holy autocrat, the lord John Cantacuzenus, Akindynos was proved to be holding and teaching the same beliefs as Barlaam and making the same accusations against the monks. Because of this he drew on himself the same condemnation as Barlaam, from the preceding synodical tome against the blasphemies of that Barlaam. He was cut off from the whole Christian community, as this very synodical tome recites, from many other reasons and especially because he undertook to demonstrate that the light of the Lord’s transfiguration, seen by the blessed disciples and apostles who went up with them, is created and circumscribed and is nothing more than a perceptible light. The synodical tome did not excommunicate this Barlaam alone, but anyone who, following his example, makes war on the monks and the Church of God and thereby subjects himself to the same penalties. For it says, word for word: “Furthermore, if anyone else should appear again repeating any of his blasphemous and heretical spoken or written accusations against the monks or in any way harassing them in such matters, he will be subject to the same condemnation from our Modesty; he also shall be excommunicated and cut off from the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ and from the orthodox community of Christians”.
4. But he who works in the sons of disobedience, as it is written, the wicked serpent, source of evil, saw that when he attacked the true faith and those who held firmly to it, using men not commended by their rank, because of this he was unable to reach those whom he wished. Therefore he entered into John, who was then counted among the patriarchs, a vessel openly receptive of his evil intention. This man held the same beliefs as Akindynos, and had done and written and plotted many things against the true faith and those who adhered to it, or rather himself against himself (for he was the one who in writing had brought the condemnation on that Barlaam who was excommunicated), besides seizing the civil war as a golden opportunity. This man also found the worthy recompense for his own zeal and his wicked plots. For having been refuted, he was deposed; and when he also had been excommunicated and that by synodical judgment, a sacred tome was published by the synod, declaring both his attachment to Akindynos’ heresy and at the same time his unjustified rage towards the Orthodox. But the tome, confirmed by the signature of thirty hierarchs, and later approved and signed also by the most holy patriarch of Jerusalem, expels from the catholic Church and cuts off from the community of Christians not only Akindynos and the holder of the patriarchate, “But also”, it says, “if anyone else at all is ever caught believing or saying or writing the same things against the aforesaid most honourable priest-monk Lord Gregory Palamas and the monks with him, or rather against the venerable theologians and the Church itself, we both make the same decree against him and subject him to the same condemnation, whether he be one of the ordained or of the laity. Lord Gregory Palamas himself, the oft-mentioned most honourable priest-monk and the monks who agree with him, who have written and believed nothing contrary to the divine sayings, but have understood with accurate examination, or rather have defended the divine sayings and our common faith and tradition in all ways as is fitting, we do not only judge higher in every respect than the disputes against them or rather against the Church of God, as also the earlier synodical tome declares, but also we declare them most reliable defenders and champions and helpers of the Church and of the true faith. For thus also the preceding tome of those councils will hold, just as indeed it holds, that which is reliable and secure.”
5. But he who always rejoices at our calamities did not even thus know how to keep peace, nor did he go around seeking to remedy a lack of agents. He still had some who had kept company with Barlaam and that Akindynos, and were fatally ill with their disease. Through them he subjected to himself the one who is called bishop of Ephesus and the bishop of Gannos, Gregory and Decius. These men formed a society and collected other persons as companions, never thinking up anything healthy at any time, stirring up dissension against the Church of God, zealously striving to lead the many astray and to cut them off pitiably from the Church, supposing that they would obtain glory from this for themselves. So it was necessary because of this to assemble a great council, as our most clement emperor took pity on the souls which were perishing. Therefore his mighty and holy majesty from God and the most holy ecumenical patriarch, Lord Kallistos, summoned the most reverend and honourable hierarchs of Herakleia, Thessalonica, Cyzicus, Philadelphia, Chalcedon, Melenikos, Amasea, Pontoerakleia, Pegae, Berroia, Trebizond, Trajanoupolis, Selivria, Apro, Amastris, Ainos, Sogdaia, Brysa, Madutoi, Bizue, Grevella, Medea, Tenedos, Kallioupolis, Hexamilios; the hierarchs of Adrianopolis, Christoupolis and Didymoteichon being also in agreement. Also present were the God-beloved bishops of Panion, Charioupolis, Pamphylos, Athyra, Campania, Sinaon, Eleutheroupolis. Our most clement mighty and holy sovereign and emperor Lord John Cantacuzenus presided in the hall which is called Alexiakon of the sacred palace of Blachernae. Seated together with his holy majesty was also the most holy ecumenical patriarch Lord Kallistos, as well as the much-desired brother of his holy majesty the most fortunate Augustus, Lord Manuel Asen, and also the much-desired nephew of his holy majesty the extremely august Lord Andronikos Asen. The senate also sat beside them with the archbishops and rulers of the Church, and gathered together the abbots and archimandrites in this blessed city, and in addition not a few priest-monks and priests and monks. The rulers of the state were not unrepresented, as well as many bystanders who were avid listeners in these matters. These men who were causing disruption and dissension in the Church were also summoned and were asked why, while an emperor was living piously, they dared such things against the true faith. They alleged as cause that some addition had been made in the confession of the appointed hierarchs. They blamed also the metropolitan of Thessalonica, since they said they were scandalised by some of his writings in controversy with Barlaam and Akindynos.
6. The metropolitan of Thessalonica said: “Well then, you yourselves believe these doctrines”. But just as Akindynos denied Barlaam, the leader of his error, so they denied both Barlaam and Akindynos. The metropolitan of Thessalonica in reply said: “Indeed most of those who, as we previously said, were speaking in opposition to us and openly defending the heresy of Barlaam and Akindynos have continued unrepentant even until now. The rest of you are undoubtedly clearly aligned with them, because you are closely following the example of their doctrines. On these issues”, he said, “the addition by the divine synod, which you say you dislike (which would not justly be called an addition, since it merely interprets the sixth holy ecumenical council), is nothing other than an excommunication of Barlaam and Akindynos. It is obvious to everyone with any understanding at all that those who blame this are defending Barlaam and Akindynos.” They again denied following those two; but as they began to say in what matters they were scandalised, they cited as cause in the very words what both Barlaam and Akindynos before recited against the metropolitan of Thessalonica and the monks.
As it became obvious in consequence that they were incurably ill with those men’s disease, the most glorious and holy emperor decided with the agreement of the most holy ecumenical patriarch and all the sacred synod that the truth in these matters should be determined by an enquiry concerning the doctrines in question, examining them from the beginning to the end. When the metropolitan of Thessaonica joined in praise of this decision, they utterly disagreed. But being requested to set forth openly their own opinion concerning the issues, they were altogether unwilling, citing the previously mentioned grounds of offence. After many speeches had been exchanged during this first session, the discussion of this disagreement was adjourned; but it was ratified in writing that in the second session these men who differ from the Church shall begin wherever they wish and say as much as they want, and that then after them the metropolitan of Thessalonica beginning wherever he wishes shall say everything according to his judgment.
7. When the second session was assembled, those men also presented themselves. To begin with they spoke against the metropolitan of Thessalonica as much as they wished. When he in turn began to respond point by point to what they had said, they confused the words and set out to flee. After making many ehement arguments, they refused to remain. Although they gave promises to stay in the city again for another session, they fled, with no one pursuing, before the appointed time. But the metropolitan of Thessalonica, exhorted by our emperor from God and the holy Church of God, made a fuller discourse, speaking freely to all concerning the doctrines set before the Church for investigation. He added this also: “Defence of Orthodoxy is one thing and confession of faith is another. In a controversy it is not necessary for the defender to speak with great accuracy in his expression, as the great Basil says; but in a confession accuracy in all respects is preserved and required. Because of this I added to my adversarial speech against Barlaam and Akindynos also a confession of the faith which I received from the saints, so that those who happened on our words might learn from the confession the significance of the controversy.” When he said this, our mighty and holy sovereign and emperor asked for this confession of his, and when it was provided, he commanded that it should be read. When this was done, each was asked to say what his judgment was concerning it. There was no one who did not make mention of praise in declaring his opinion of that statement, both admiring the metropolitan of Thessalonica and praying that he himself might depart with the doctrines of that confession and appear with them before the Judge of the living and the dead on the day when all must make their defence.
8. The session after this was also assembled. Coming forward, the dissenters also asked for their own confession to be read. When this was done, at the end they added this also: “As for Barlaam and Akindynos, we hold our judgment concerning them as the holy Church of God believes concerning men like them”. After many interening speeches had been exchanged, the opponents began their accusation against the metropolitan of Thessalonica. It was like this: “That indeed in some of his compositions he often writes about two and many divinities, some superior and some inferior”.
When they made this argument often and rattled it around and kept criticising these expressions, the most pious emperor commanded us to clarify these matters: “Are you making an issue of the very words of what has been said, of the reality revealed through the words, or both? If on one hand the war is over the reality, why do you do battle with the shadow of the reality, holding fast to the words? We must examine the bare reality, and the theologians must seek the truth in this. But if on the other hand you have been in agreement all along on the reality, why do you blame the words? We for our part have not come together here for the sake of words, nor will we join battle, as the Theologian says, over names. We know no danger in the words as long as the mind appears to be healthy.”
9. In reality to this the metropolitan of Thessalonica said, “I have little to say about words, for our truth and our piety does not lie in expressions but in reality, as Gregory the Theologian says. I make my struggle for doctrines and reality. And if anyone agrees in the reality, I do not quarrel over the words. But in regard to the accusation brought forward by my opponents, I say this. I have not believed, I do not believe, nor by the grace of Christ will I believe in two or many or different divinities in the Holy Trinity, so that there would be one of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Spirit. Those who believe this I subject to anathema. But neither do I say that anything else is divinity outside of the trihypostatic Godhead. I have called by the name of divinity not a divine or angelic essence or hypostasis (as the great Dionysius says) but divine energies and emanations (so to speak) proceeding by nature and from eternity for God. In this I judge that I am speaking in agreement with the saints. But I would not have said even this, if I had not been compelled by my opponent to reply and to strive with him, when he said that the essence of God alone is uncreated, but reduced all divine power and energy to the status of creature, differing from the essence. In particular I said this without inferring many divinities in consequence, as they falsely allege; and this is clear both from my other writings and from the confession. For in all of them this is attributed to me, being said by my opponents, but not accepted by me; for I know one Godhead, the same trihypostatic and omnipotent and active. Except neither then was my purpose concerning words, but the whole contest was concerning reality, nor now do I differ over names and syllables. If the reality is correctly proclaimed by the grace of Christ, I am ready to embrace and accept everything which the divine synod decides concerning the words.” At this the most pious and clement emperor and the divine synod, fully approving the metropolitan of Thessalonica for his pious attitude, which he continued using in divine matters, and especially praising him for his right judgment, defined securely that two or many or any number of divinities should not be spoken or even thought (for this had explicitly not been said by the theologians); but the distinction of divine essence and divine energy or divine energies they bade very much to be thought and spoken, since this teaching had been expressly preached by the Church, as will be demonstrated below. The metropolitan of Thessalonica willingly and eagerly received this. And the third session concluded with this.
10. When the fourth session took place, the dissenters began again to criticise certain expressions occurring in the writings of the metropolitan of Thessalonica, paying no attention to the reality. But as the most glorious emperor and the synod were examining the reality, and from the theologians of the church were seeking the demonstrations of the problem, the synodical tome published against Barlaam was brought fourth. When this had been read by the divine command of our most clement emperor, it demonstrated that the dissenters shared in all respects in the heresy of Barlaam. But they refused not to keep on opposing what was written there, especially concerning the most divine light of the Lord’s transfiguration. Not only so, but when the metropolitan of Thessalonica and those who differed from the Church were asked what opinion they held about the most divine light, the one through what he said and read from his writings in the hearing of all, consistently proved that he was conformed unfailingly with the thought of the theologians; but the others, through what they said and were found writing, were proved to be separating into created and uncreated the one Godhead of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, by calling the essence of God uncreated divinity, deprived of all divine power and energy, but rejecting and denying all divine power and energy and simply all his omnipotence, and reducing God to a created being, and calling him two divinities, uncreated and created, superior and truly inferior. They said at one time that the light of divinity which shone on Tabor is the essence of God, but at another time they called it appearance and veil and image and creature, so that the same light was according to them both created thing and essence of God. The metropolitan of Thessalonica brought forward writings of theirs written in their own hands, in which they accused him of saying that the most divine light and radiance was uncreated but not the essence of God. They also accused the metropolitan of Thessalonica of saying that there are many divinities, since indeed he insists that all the divine powers and energies common to the three hypostaseis are uncreated. By this accusation they made it clear that their war was not over expressions, but that they acknowledged neither the distinction of divine essence and divine energy nor that the divine and omnipotent energy is uncreated.
11. In this regard as the theologians of the Church were being brought forward as evidence from the great Basil many other passages were read and in particular this: “For if Eunomius applies no concept to God, so that he may not seem to reverence God with human titles, he will confess that all the attributes of God are equally essence; how therefore would it not be ridiculous to say that the creative power is essence, the providential power is also essence, the power of foresight likewise, and simply every energy is reckoned as essence?”
A passage was read from the theologian of Damascus, in what he teaches concerning the two energies in our Lord Jesus Christ, saying, “It must be known that energy is one thing and energetic faculty is another, and action is another and the actor is another; for the active and essential impulse of the nature is energy, but the nature form which the energy proceeds is the energetic faculty. The accomplishment of the energy is action, but the one who uses the energy is the actor, that is the hypostasis.”
The glorious Maximus, in the chapter entitled “From the Secret Discourse” says: “Undoubtedly it is necessary to say that Christ has wills and energies, and entirely necessary; for none of existing beings subsists without a natural energy. The holy fathers say clearly that no nature whatever exists or is known without its essential energy.”
12. In what the dissenters said, they were not only continuing to fight against the saints individually, but already were attempting to overthrow and dissolve the holy sixth ecumenical council itself. That council had no other purpose; its whole subject concerned the two natural wills and the two natural energies in our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of this it was necessary to rbing in the Acts of the council and to read them, and from these to proclaim the true faith; so they were set out in the midst. But as soon as they were brought forth the dissenters at once cried out, “Not the Acts of the council, but read the definition only.” But while the divine synod was uncertain what this outcry meant, and why they rejected and did not accept the Acts, those men still did not depart in any degree from the same futile evil opinion and their twisted attitude, not at all accepting the reading of the Acts.
At this, by the glorious command of our most clement emperor, a passage was read from the Synodikon which is customarily read on the ambo on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which word for word is this: “On those who reject the words of the holy fathers, which were expressed at the confirmation of the correct doctrine of the Church of God, of Athanasius, Cyril, Ambrose, Amphilochius who spoke God’s words, Leo the most holy bishop of the elder Rome, and the rest, and in addition on those who did not embrace the Acts of the ecumenical councils, the fourth, that is, and the sixth, anathema.”
On this subject a passage from the Acts was also read, containing these words: “For who, even if he is slow in understanding, will not see, what is evident to all, that it is impossible and contrary to the order of nature for a nature to be able to exist and not to have a natural energy? Not even the heretics ever through fit to say this, although they invented all the human villainies and crooked controversies against the uprightness of the faith and assemblies suitable to their wickedness. How therefore can it be rashly asserted at the present time, what neither the holy fathers ever spoke, nor the impure heretics dared to invent, that the two natures of Christ, namely the divine and the human, of which the properties are know to be unconfused in Christ, have one energy? What man who thinks logically will ever be able to demonstrate, when they say it is one, whether they can say it is temporal or eternal, divine or human, uncreated or created, the same as the Father’s or different from the Father’s? If (you see) it is one and the same, it is one and common to the divinity and humanity of Christ, which is absurd to say. Therefore since the Son of God is himself God and man, performing human actions on earth, the Father also has acted equally with him by nature, since whatever the Father does, the Son also does equally. As the truth provides, insofar as Christ performed certain human acts, it is attributed only to his person as Son; these acts are therefore not the same as those of the Father. And obviously Christ performed one kind of action and another, so that according to his divinity, whatever the Father does, the Son also does equally; and according to his humanity, this same one performed as man the actions which are proper to man, since he is true God and true man. Whence we truly believe that this same, being one, has natural energies, namely the divine and the human, the uncreated and the created, as true and perfect God and true and perfect man, one and the same, mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And again from the same Acts another passage was presented; containing these words: “We know that there is an energy of each nature, I mean what is essential and natural and corresponding, inseparably proceeding from each essence and nature, according to its inherent natural and essential equality and the accompanying indivisible and at the same time unconfused energy of each essence. For this makes the difference of the energies in Christ, just as the being of each nature gives it its nature.”
13. Moreover, the definition which they sought, when it was read, had this word for word: “The present holy ecumenical council faithfully receiving and with uplifted hands embracing the offering made of the most holy and blessed pope of the elder Rome Agathon to our most pious emperor”; and after an interval: “following both the five holy ecumenical councils and the holy and select fathers and defining in agreement with them, confesses our Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, one of the holy and consubstantial and life-giving Trinity, perfect in divinity and the same perfect in humanity, and like us in every respect except sin. Before the ages he was begotten of the Father according to divinity, but in the last days the same for our sake and for our salvation from the Holy Sprit and the Virgin Mary (she who is properly and in truth called Theotokos) according to humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten. He is made known in two natures without confusion, without change, indivisibly, inseparably. The difference of the natures is not at all removed because of the union, but rather the property of each nature is preserved. The two natures come together in one person and one hypostasis, not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son only-begotten, God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as of old concerning him the prophets and Jesus Christ himself taught us and handed over the creed of the holy fathers to us. And likewise we proclaim two natural wills or volitions in him, and two natural energies inseparably, unchangeably, indivisibly, unconfusedly, according to the teaching of the holy fathers, and two natural wills not opposed (far from it) as the impious heretics said, but his human will following and not conflicting or contrary, rather indeed even subjecting itself to his omnipotent divine will.”
14. When these had been read, the leaders of the heresy were like deaf men, crying out and insisting that the divine and uncreated essence and its divine and uncreated energy are one and altogether indistinguishable. They also brought forward statements, one from the holy confessor Maximus, the other from the confessor among the saints Theodore the Branded, twisting and misinterpreting these towards their own impiety. For how would the glorious Maximus have made war on the energy of God, he who on behalf of the two energies in Christ, namely the divine and the human, was driven such a course, was deprived of his godly tongue, had his hand cut off, and finally, condemned to perpetual exile, nobly embraced the death of a martyr? But as they still opposed and reproached the metropolitan of Thessalonica for saying that the divine energy is Godhead, passages of the saints were read, first of all Basil the Great in what he wrote to Eustathius the physician: “I do not know how those who fabricate everything cite the designation of divinity to prove the nature, as if they had not heard from the Scripture that there is no such thing as an appointed nature. Moses was appointed god of the Egyptians, when he who called him this said to him, ‘I gave you as God to Pharaoh’. Therefore the designation signifies some power, either of vision or of action. But the divine nature, as it is, remains inexpressible in all the conceptual names, as we say.”
15. When Gregory of Nyssa in his Oration concerning the Deity of the Son and the Spirit says, “The Spirit-fighters say that divinity signifies nature … but we say that the divine nature either does not have a signifying name or does not have one for us. But if it is called something either from human custom or from the divine Scripture, it is one of the things which are indicated around it. But the divine nature itself remains ineffable and inexpressible, surpassing every signification by the voice. Let them recognise also the serpent as an accuser of their foolish blasphemy, for he shows that the name of Godhead has the signification of visionary power … for advising to touch what was forbidden, he promises this, that ‘your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods’. Do you see that he confirms the power of sight by the mention of divinity? For it is not possible to see anything unless the eyes are opened. Therefore the designation of divinity indicates not nature but the power of sight.” Again, the same saint writing to Ablabius says, “‘God’ signifies the energiser, but ‘divinity’ signifies energy. None of the three is energy, but rather each of them is energiser.”
26. When these men had been altogether refuted in this way, they were summoned by the Church to repentance. First our most clement emperor with attractive and appealing words exhorted them vehemently not to turn away from the good medicine of repentance. But they did not accept, saying openly, “I do not wish to know your ways”. For they persisted in what they understood baldly from the beginning. Therefore by the glorious command of our mighty emperor and the most holy ecumenical patriarch a tome was read which had been decided a little time before for deposition of the bishops of Ephesus and Gannos and others, on the grounds that they had caught the disease of Barlaam and Akindynos. It had not yet taken effect, because they were waiting for their change of heart and repentance, and were trying by every manner and means to elicit this with all eagerness and zeal. And when it had been read, the most honourable great chartophylax and chief of the philosophers, according to the ecclesiastical custom, began to ask each one what opinion he held concerning the dogmatic topics which had been individually discussed and examined. And all with one month and moved by one Spirit confessed openly, along with the union, also the theologically appropriate distinction and difference between the divine essence and energy, following the theologians. They acknowledge that the divine energy is uncreated, just as indeed the essence is also; and willingly they heard and accepted that this divine energy is also named divinity by the same theologians.
17. When the most holy ecumenical patriarch was asked himself also to express his own opinion on these questions, he first went through a full discussion of the difference between divine essence and energy, examining thoroughly and individually the kinds of difference discussed by the saints. In addition he demonstrated the inseparable union of the energy and the divine essence. He also showed that the divine energy was called “uncreated” and “divinity” by the saints. Accordingly he thus threw himself wholly into counsel to those who differed, exhorting, advising, rebuking, in every way with the greatest eagerness and zeal out of love for God summoning them to repentance and urging them to agreement with the saints and the holy synod. But as he saw that even so these men were incurably ill, holding once and for all to the former blasphemies and altogether rejecting repentance, taking up zeal worthy not only of himself and his virtue since childhood, but worthy also of his patriarchal throne, he stripped the bishops of Ephesus and Gannos of their episcopal insignia and of all priestly functions, with the agreement of the holy synod; but the others with them, the leaders of the heresy and those who follows them in wickedness and were subject to condemnation with them, were dismissed. Some of them sought forgiveness and obtained this through repentance. And so this session ended.
18. From that time a few days passed, as our most clement and holy emperor had commanded, wisely keeping open the door of repentance for the dissenters. But as they still were incurable, he decided to gather another synod again, so that through examination the truth of Orthodoxy concerning the problems raised would become more evident from the theological writings of the saints. And when this came about, as the heterodox were not willing to meet, but refused this once and for call, the most pious emperor gave the following instructions: “Many dogmatic topics have been raised. First, is there in regard to God a theologically appropriate distinction between essence and energy? Then, if the distinction is affirmed, is this energy created or uncreated? Third, if this divine energy is shown to be uncreated, how would one avoid supposing that God is therefore composite, for which the heterodox dare to reproach the Church of God? Fourth, is the name of divinity used by the theologians not only in reference to the essence but also in reference to the divine energy (for from this the enemies of the Church spew out that ugly charge of ditheism on the Church of God)? Fifth, do the theologians say that the essence is superior in some respect to the energy, since this also incurs blame from the opposition? And finally still, if it is possible to participate in God, is the participation according to the essence or according to the energy? Since so many subjects of enquiry have just now been set before us, we should not discuss all of them at once for thus we would not grasp the subject at all accurately, nor as we proposed. Let us instead determine concerning each question individually and then go on to another, using as unerring guides the venerable theologians.
19. “And first, if it is agreed, let us discuss the first question. Is there a theologically appropriate distinction in regard to God between essence and energy (which is denied by the dissenters, who suppose that they can infer many other absurd things from this and polytheism in particular), or are they altogethr the same and indistinguishable?” When the mighty emperor had given these instructions and the divine synod had attended to what he said, “We know no other road”, they said, “O most pious emperor, which more easily leads to the truth than this which you have indicated to us just now”. And when the theologians had been read in the hearing of all, to determine what opinion they held concerning these issues, it became clear that those who do not teach the distinction of the divine essence and energy, as well as their union, are godless and surround themselves with many other absurdities. For according to the great Dionysius, “That which has no power or energy neither exists nor is anything nor can anything at all be affirmed or denied of it”. But that which has something differs undoubtedly in some respect from what it has. Therefore if there is not a difference between the divine essence and the divine energy, the essence of God cannot have energy. But that which does not have energy is not energised, and that which is not energised is nonexistent.
20. The inspired John of Damascus writes, “The eternal generation is the work of the divine nature, but the creation is the work of the divine will”; and St Cyril writes, “Making is from the energy, but begetting is from the nature, and nature and energy are not the same”. As for those who say that the divine essence and the divine energy are indistinguishable, since according to St Cyril begetting is from the nature, but according to them the energy is indistinguishable from the nature, then according to them begetting will also be from the energy, and thus the things made will be things eternally begotten, because they are from the divine nature. But since on the other hand making is from the energy, but the nature is indistinguishable from the energy according to them, then making will be from the nature. And thus according to them what is from the nature will be created things. Likewise, when the same saint writes in the second of the dialogues to Hermias, “Besides all this we say that the burning fire has been made from the energy of God, and indeed also water whose character is to chill”, those who say that essence and energy are the same and indistinguishable will be forced to say that fire and water are from the essence of God. And thus the heresy now has become worse than the error of the pagan Greeks, if indeed those men believed that only the rational soul was from the essence of God, but these men think that even these material perceptible bodies are from God’s essence.
21. Furthermore, in the Gospel according to John the Lord our God said, “I and the Father are one”. The glorious Chrysostom in the sixtieth homily of the interpretation of this gospel, elucidating this expression, says that this assertion is made in reference to power, and his whole discourse was about this. “But if the power is the same, evidently the essence is also.” And a little later he says, “For it is not possible to learn anything from something different, whether it be essence or power”. And again on the same Gospel, when the apostle Philip says, “Lord, show us the Father, and it will suffice for us,” this glorious Chrysostom in the same series of homilies says, “Let us see what it is that Philip seeks to see – is it the wisdom of the Father? Is it the goodness? No, but the very ‘what God is’ – the essence itself”. Again the same saint interprets the apostolic saying of the epistle to the Romans, which says, “For the mind of the flesh is dead, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace”. He says, “By mind of the flesh he means evil, and by mind of the Spirit he means the grace given and the energy joined to the good choice. He is not at all speaking here about hypostasis and essence”. Again the same Chrysostom, in the discourse here he interprets, “Put your hand under my thigh and swear”, says this word for word: “The Lord’s flesh was the true candlestand which showed the illumination of the Holy Spirit with sevenfold grace. For Isaiah says, ‘A rod shall come forth from the root of Jesse, and a blossom will come up from it, and the Spirit of God will rest on it’. What kind of spirit? The Spirit of God which is manifold in energies and great in nature will rest on it (here he interprets the essence, he means that which brings the energies of teh Spirit), the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of judgment and piety, the Spirit of the fear of God”. By the symbol of a seven-branched candlestand he represents the seven graces of the Holy Spirit which have rested on the Lord’s body. And again the same glorious Chrysostom in the treatise concerning the Holy Spirit says, “One does not receive all the gracious gifts, lest anyone thing that grace is nature”.
22. Moreover, since the holy martyr and philosopher Justin writes, “As, therefore, God has essence on the one hand in order to exist, but will in order to create”, he who rejects the distinction of essence and will rejects both the existence of God and his creativity. Whoever rejects the distinction, is he not clearly proved to be both denying God and glorifying what happens by accident? For according to the glorious John from Damascus, “The will is also energy”, as he makes clear in the thirty-sixth of the dogmatic chapters concerning energy. After speaking first concerning other matters and especially about human and divine will, he adds in the beginning of the next chapter these words: “One must know that all the aforesaid powers, those of learning, of life, and of nature and of skill are called energies. For the natural power and motion of each essence is energy, of which only the nonexistent is deprived”.
23. When these topics had been altogether thoroughly examined, it was very clearly proved that the distinction was valid and could not be otherwise, not in persuasive words of human wisdom, as the inspired Paul says, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit, that is by the divinely inspired theological writings of the fathers. The divine synod said that those who had tried to differ in any way at all on this issue, even if they had not done so before, should now at least piously expel the disease of contentiousness from their minds, and be readily willing to be convinced by our common leaders and teachers of the true faith, who send forth voices all but more brilliant than any trumpet concerning the distinction of divine essence and energy. They should no longer attempt to oppose them in any way or try to meddle any further with what energy is and what kind of the distinction there is and how this might come about.
24. As it seems, they have not heard father Chrysostom, where he explains the Divine Gospel according to John, teaching that the divine energy is inexplicable and incomprehensible and beyond the laws of nature. For he says, “If you do not know how to interpret this wind, of which you receive perception by hearing and touch, nor its way, how do you concern yourself with the energy of the divine Spirit, when you do not understand the energy of the wind, although you hear its sound? ‘It blows where it wishes’ is said to exhibit the power of the Paraclete. If no one grasps the wind, but it goes where it wishes, much less can the energy of the Spirit be grasped by the laws of nature, or the boundaries of corporeal generation, or anything else of this kind.”
Neither have they listened to the great Basil, when he makes a theological reply to Eunomius: “So therefore if we were going to measure everything by comprehension, and to suppose that what cannot be grasped by reasoning does not even exist at all, the reward of faith will vanish, the reward of hope will vanish.” How would we still be worthy of the blessings which are stored up for faith in things not seen, if we believed only those things which are apparent according to reason? Whence were the Gentiles subjected to vanity and their foolish heart darkened? Was it not because following those things which appear to reasoning, they disbelieved the preaching of the Spirit? Whose destruction does Isaiah mourn: “Woe to those who are wise in their own sight and understanding before themselves”? Is it not people like these?
25. They should have heard these things from the saints who wrote theology, and indeed they should at once have listened willingly. Most pleasantly they would have attended to those and would have submitted painlessly to their glorious voices indicating this distinction, with pious silence embracing and accepting it. They would have added the “how” either not all or at least not in an attempt to refute the distinction, if indeed they expected to gather themselves with those counted in any way among the pious. But since they reached such a height of arrogance and shamelessness, or rather of insanity, as to rage against the very saints and the ecumenical councils and all (so to speak) the sacred theologians, and to dare to bring even these into public examination, and to say that some of them gave off a smell of pagan Greek and similar doctrines, and that others are indicated for the greatest ignorance although they were a complete synod. They also asserted that some have been brought to this theology by force, even though they willingly chose a martyr’s death on its behalf, and that others have written this as encomium and not as truth (O, how would one endure to tell their blasphemies individually?) – come now, because they do not accept the obedience of the lovers of Christ, as somewhere someone of the fathers rejected by them said. Whatever at any time is said by the saints concerning the divine doctrine, even if it is not very much fitted out with truth and theological precision, we rely on the God whom they teach. Whenever we try to explain briefly the manner of union and distinction of divine essence and energy, we do not attempt to invent reasons of our own to support the theology which has been piously stated by them long ago, but we keep the law which we have zealously kept everywhere, to confirm the doctrines of the Church by the teachers of the Church, and never from ourselves to put forward or to take away any part of the doctrines they have taught. Using this principle here also, when we have heard the saints explicitly proclaiming that the divine energy is from the divine essence, we do not think that this energy is from God in the same way that everything is, as the dissenters suppose along with many other absurdities. For “from God” is said also in regard to created things, but “from the essence of God” is never said in regard to any of the creatures; especially indeed the saints deny this altogether.
26. For the great Basil says, “What is made is not from the essence of the maker.” The glorious Damascene also says, “The creation, even if it has taken place after this, yet is not from the essence of God”; and, “Creation and making is altogether different: the thing created and made comes to be from the outside and not from the essence of the Creator and Maker”. No indeed, but we did not suppose that the energy is from the divien essence as being outside of the divine essence, as it came into the opposition’s head to say nonsensically, not so much impiously as ignorantly (may no one ever be so far out of his mind). Rather, knowing that this energy is an essential and natural activity of God according to the theologians, we say that it proceeds and flows from the divine essence as from an ever-flowing spring, and never appears without this. It always remains inseparable from the divine essence, and from eternity exists along with it, and is indivisibly united, because it cannot be separated from the divine essence by any age or temporal or spatial interval, but timelessly and eternally proceeds from it and inseparably exists together with it. For the great Athanasius says, “When all things are activated by God through Christ in the Holy Spirit, we see that the energy is indivisible of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. And Anastasius, marvellous among the saints, who also taught the holy ecumenical council to call this man great, in his second treatise concerning the uncircumscribed, says, “Let us see what the heretics presume to say about God. They say God is in everything by energy, but by essence nowhere, calling energy the result coming forth from the energy; but I would say for my part that the energy of God is inseparable from his nature”. And a little later he says: “Where the energy appears, the essence from which it proceeds is contemplated along with this, for each is uncircumscribed, and because of this they are altogether inseparable from each other; for the energy proclaims the hidden essence, and it is contemplated as being present along with the energy, since it cannot exist without this”. And again he says, “The energy is in everything, but the essence is inseparable from this”.
27. Indeed, just as we proclaim the divine and eternal union not only with the word “inseparable” but especially with the communion of the uncreated and uncircumscribed according to the theology of the saints, so also again we have learned to glorify the distinction and difference which according to them is theologically appropriate. We do not draw them apart into complete division and separation, nor imagine that this distinction is something foreign and a natural alienation, nor do we separate these from each other by intervals (far from it). We are taught by the saints to accept the causes and effects according to nature, distinguishing only in theologically appropriate thought what are united and inseparable by nature. For the great Athanasius in his fifth treatise against the Arians says that whatever is “from something” is one thing, and that “from which it is” is another thing; therefore according to this saint they are two. But if they were not two, but were said of the same one, the cause and the effect will be the same, the begetter and the begotten, which has been shown absurd in the case of Sabellius. Therefore since it has been convincingly demonstrated according to all the theologians that the energy is from the essence, it has clearly appeared that they are one thing and another, that they are two, and therefore that they differ from one another, as they are “that from which” and “that which is from something”, that is the cause and the effect, as this great theologian teaches the divine matters. And a little later he says: “Let a human illustration be the fire and the radiance from it: they are two in existing and in being seen, but one in that the radiance is from the fire and inseparable”. So just as in the case of fire and the light from it, the one being nature and cause, the other natural and effect, he has said “one” because of inseparability and again “different” because of cause and effect, so also in the case of the divine nature and the energy from it, we must understand the identity and the different – the one according to the inseparable union, the other according to the cause and what results from it as cause. For neither does the sameness drive out the different, nor indeed does the difference at all overthrow the oneness; but we have contemplated each piously according to the saints, nor will each at all be turned aside by the other.
28. The glorious Gregory of Nyssa also knew full well that this distinction of the causes and effects is attached to truth and does not at all injure the identity of nature. In writing to Ablabius he said: “When we confess the indistinguishability of the nature, we also do not deny the difference according to cause and effect, by which alone we understand that the one is distinguished from the other, in that we believe the one to be cause, the other to be from the cause”. But his brother, Basil the truly great, obviously provides once and for all the difference for these causes and effects, as he states dogmatically their order from natural succession. He thus explicitly names the first and the second in the case of the cause and the effect, and judges that not to confess this, but to try to deny these things, is absurd and irrational. He said that Eunomius either did not comprehend this distinction or hid it intentionally, when he wrote: “But that Eunomius either does not know or intentionally hid; because there is a kind of order not arising from our arbitrary stipulation, but occurring in the very succession according to nature, as the ‘from it’ is for fire in relation to light. In these cases we name first the cause, second what is from it, not separating by an interval these things from each other, but by reckoning from the effect inferring the cause. So how is it reasonable to deny the order, in the case of things which have a first and a second, not according to our arbitrary choice but from the succession which is inherent in them according to nature?” Anyone who is able to reason at all can therefore understand accurately how the saint was concerned equally with truth and with piety. For by saying, “not arising from our arbitrary stipulation but occurring in the succession according to nature”, they showed that the distinction in this order of effects and causes is from an inescapable and great and natural necessity, and brilliant truth, and never admits of being otherwise, but always appears in these; but by adding “separating these not by an interval but by thought, and contemplating the distinction of first and second only by the mind”, the fact of union appears thoroughly piously confirmed. He adds no harm to the union from this distinction, but theologically states that the union itself is unconfused, and teaches that the difference is altogether inseparable. So again when Eunomius tried to remove this distinction completely, this great saint said, “How do you leave no difference, not even that existing between the causes and what comes from them?” Thus to opine that there is no difference in the case of causes and effects clearly springs from the madness of Arius and Eunomius. For as they were striving to remove the “consubstantial” in every way, they had heard in the Gospel the Lord saying that the Father is greater than he, and they had taken this saying to imply a difference. From there they dared at once to introduce impiously the difference in nature; but the difference of cause and effect they denied once and for all, because they knew that it could not introduce any natural change or separation anywhere, but would always keep the union of nature indivisible. Against them these three saints nobly took up the struggle on behalf of the Trinity; and because those men’s heresy eliminated the great and supernatural mystery of the Trinity, they expelled it from the Church as far as possible.
29. Therefore with good reason those who now reject this distinction are found to have shared in that heresy. Those, however, who confess, accept and embrace it willingly are still adhering to the piety and theology of these saints, or rather of the party of Christ, distinguishing the divine things in union and unifying them in distinction. One would first and properly name one kind of distinction of the divine essence and energy. They differ from each other in that the divine energy is participated and divided indivisibly and named and conceived in some way (even if obscurely) from its results, but the essence is imparticipable and indivisible and nameless, because it is obviously beyond naming and altogether inconceivable.
30. After this we sought to have it demonstrated from the writings of the saints, whether this energy (which is inseparable but distinguished from the divine nature) is uncreated, which those who oppose the Church by no means accept. This also was demonstrated to be proclaimed clearly by the saints. The chief evidence comes from the sixth holy ecumenical council, as has been demonstrated very sufficiently above through its statements severally set forth. At the same time it was proved that those who do not accept that the inseparable and natural energy of the divine essence is uncreated but differs from this essence, as has been said, make also the very essence of God a created thing. For according to the holy Maximus, “the nature of each thing is characterised by its energy”, the uncreated energy showing an uncreated nature, but the created energy showing a created nature. Besides, the glorious John the Damascene says: “The created energy will reveal a nature also created, but the uncreated energy characterises an uncreated essence”. So those who say that the divine energy is created make also the divine nature to be created, since it is characterised by the divine energy.
31. Not only so, but also they are Monothelites, worse and more absurd that those at any time, and they believe that some eternal things are created. For since we confess two natures in our Lord Jesus Christ, the one uncreated but the other created, those who do not say that the divine nature has an uncreated will and energy acknowledge only one will and one energy in Christ, which the sixth council rejected and anathematised. And thus they themselves are clearly proved Monothelites, but far worse than those earlier, inasmuch as those said that there are one will and one energy in Christ, but uncreated (that is to say, they removed the created); but they say that there are one will and one energy, but created, evidently not accepting the uncreated.
Furthermore, the great Basil writes in his treatise to Amphilochius: “Such names of the Spirit are supernatural and great, yet they do not have any excess in regard to glory, but the energies are what? Ineffable because of their greatness, innumerable because of their multitude; for how shall we imagine those things which are beyond the ages? What were his energies before the intellectual creation?” Those who say that the divine energies are created obviously believe that there are created things from beyond the ages. This also was proved, not through two or three witnesses, but through the whole Divine Scripture, that the common and natural divine energies of the trihypostatic nature are uncreated.
32. After this we sought from the saints’ writings whether one could not imagine that God is in any way composite because of the distinction of the divine essence and energy. For the opposition insist on this also. It was demonstrated that all the saints proclaim that we cannot believe that there is any synthesis in God because of this. For the glorious Maximus, in his disputation with Pyrrhus, shows most clearly that no synthesis comes about because of energy: “You see”, he says to Pyrrhus, “that you are in error because of this, because you are altogether unaware that the syntheses are of things which are in the same hypostasis and not of things which appear in different entities. This is the common understanding of all, both of the outside philosophers and of the mystagogues of the Church who have the wisdom of God. But if you say that there is a synthesis of the wills, you will be forced to say that there is also a synthesis of other natural properties.” Moreover, Gregory of Nyssa in the sixth chapter of his Exposition of the Hexaemeron explains thus word for word: “If therefore in man, although different organs for perception happen to have been arranged by our nature, nevertheless the mind, activating and moved throughout and using each appropriately for its purpose, is one and the same, not changing its nature with the different energies, how would one suppose that the essence of God has many parts because of the variety of his powers?”
33. At the same time it was also prove that those who really make God composite are those who follow the opposition in not accepting the distinction of the divine essence and the energy, and simply everything which appears naturally around the divine essence. The great Basil clearly says: “If we posit all the divine names as referring to the essence, we will not only show God composite, but composed of unlike parts, because each of the names signifies something different”. And the great Gregory the Theologian writes: “Or also the immortality and the goodness and the unchangeability are essence of God; but if this is so, there are many essences of God, and not just one, or the Godhead is composed of these; for these are not without composition, if indeed they are essences”. And also the glorious Cyril says: “For neither the unbegottenness nor the incorruptibility nor the immortality nor the invisibility is essence. If each of these signifies an essence, from so many essences God is composed, as properties belonging to him by nature appear; for there are many properties which belong to him alone, and to no other of all beings”. And the glorious Chrysostom says: “The Scripture calls the grace of the Spirit at one time fire, at another time water, showing that these are not names of essence but of energy; for the Spirit does not consist of different essences, being invisible and of one form”. And Gregory of Nyssa to Eunomius says: “Who is there who says that God has two natures except you, who attach every named concept to the essence of the Father, and who say nothing from outside belongs to him, but who graft each of the names associated with divinity onto the essence of God?”
34. After this it was asked whether indeed the divine and uncreated energy is called Godhead by the saints, because those who now dissent did not accept this either. And this also was clearly proclaimed by the holy theologians. For example, the great Basil in his books against Eunomius says, “And the very name of divinity, whether it signifies the power of vision or the power of foresight, was properly applied to the human”. And again the same saint in his epistle to Eustathius the physician says, “Therefore the identity of energy in the case of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit shows plainly the identity of the nature. So that even if the name of divinity signifies nature, the community of essence allows this designation to be applied properly also to the Holy Spirit. But I do not know how those who fabricate everything cite the designation of divinity to prove the nature”. And a little later he says: “Therefore the designation signifies some power, either of vision or of action. But the divine nature, as it is, remains inexpressible in all the conceptual names, as we say. For when we learned ‘benefactor’ and ‘judge’, ‘good’ and ‘just’, and whatever else is similar, we were taught the differences of energies. But we are none the more able to learn the nature of the energiser through our recognition of the energies. For when one gives a definition of each of these names, and of the nature itself, with which the names are associated, he will not give the same definition of both. But whatever has a different definition has also a different nature. Therefore essence is one thing, and no informative definition has yet been found, but the signification of the names associated with it is something else; they are named from some energy or dignity”. And again the same great Basil writes in the same epistle: “Whether Godhead is a name of energy (as when we say there is one energy of Father and Son and Holy Spirit, so we say the Godhead also is one), or according to the opinion of the many the name of Godhead is indicative of nature (because no difference is found in the nature), not unreasonably we define the Holy Trinity as having one Godhead”.
35. Saint Anastasius says, “The designation ‘God’ obviously refers to energy. It does not represent the very essence of God; for it is impossible to know this; but ‘God’ represents and reveals his theoretic energy to us”. And again the same saint says: “The name ‘God’ does not signify the essence of the Godhead, for this is incomprehensible and nameless; but from his theoretic energy he is called ‘God’, as the great Dionysius says, either from θεειν, that is, ‘to run’, or from αἰθειν, which is ‘to burn’”. But the great Dionysius says, “If we should name the subsersubstantial hiddenness ‘God’ or ‘life’ or ‘essence’ or ‘light’ or ‘word’, we do not have in mind anything other than the powers brought forth from it to us, which are deifying or essence-making or life-generating or wisdom-giving. But we apply those names to it as all the intellectual energies are overcome, since we see no deification or life or essence which resembles the cause which more than all transcends all.” And again the same saint says, “The providence which sees [θεωμένη] all is Godhead [Θεότης].” But we know that that providence is an energy especially from what the great Athanasius writes: “The Father and the Son do not work according to different providences, but according to one and the same essential energy of Godhead.” The great Dionysius also says again in the second epistle to Gaius, that the reality of the deifying gift is Godhead, and “the inimitable imitation of what is beyond God and beyond goodness, by which we are deified and perfected”.
36. Besides this, the great gift and energy of the Spirit, namely deification, according to which the saints are deified, is called “Godhead” by the saints, but the opponents of the metropolitan of Thessalonica say it is created Godhead. They evidently construct this belief from the fact that the great Dionysius calls God the “giver of the substance” of deification. The sacred synod decreed that in calling this “imitation” and “relationship” of the partakers they spoke impiously. Nevertheless when the divine synod had also enquired whether any one of the saints said that deification was uncreated, and whether “relationship” and “imitation” and “gave substance” are said also about uncreated things, sayings of the saints were provided, making clear that these expressions are not always used in regard to created things. For the great Basil in his Antirrheticus says, “He who has formed drops of dew has not given substance in the same manner to the drops and to the Son”. And in the first homily on the Hexaemeron he says: “In order to show that the cosmos is a production of skill, set before all for contemplation, so that through it the wisdom of him who made it may be recognised, the wise Moses used no other expression about it but said, ‘In the beginning he made’ – not ‘he energised’, nor ‘he gave substance’, but ‘he made’; just as many of those who imagine that the cosmos exists from eternity along with God did not grant that it had come into being from him”. It was proved at the same time by this saint that “energising” and “being energised” can be said not only in regard to created things but also in regard to eternal and uncreated things (since the dissenters when they hear that grace is energised think at once that it is created). For Gregory the great theologian says: “Let it be also from energy, if you wish; not even thus will you remove us; for he would have energised this consubstantiality itself”.
37. And also the glorious Gregory of Nyssa says: “We cannot name three gods, activating the divine and visionary energy together and indistinguishably from each other in regard to us and all the creation.” But concerning “imitation” the metropolitan of Thessalonica said that the great Dionysius attributed inimitability to the imitation, so that the deifying gift is not rather imitation than imitability. Gregory the Theologian says that the Son is also an imitation of the Father, writing in his second treatise concerning the Son: “The Son is an image of the Father as consubstantial, and because he is from the Father, but not the Father from the Son. For this is the nature of an image, to be an imitation of the archetype and of that which it is called.” So the word “imitation” does not hinder the deification from being uncreated. Moreover, the providence of God in regard to what is foreseen is a relationship, and so is his foreknowledge in regard to what is foreknown, and the eternal decrees of God in regard to what is predestined. For each of these the fact of being a relationship does not hinder being uncreated. After all, the deifying gift of the Spirit (deification itself) is not a created thing just because it is a relationship in regard to what is deified. For that it is uncreated, the glorious Maximus will establish securely and concisely, writing: “The divine grace, although it gives enjoyment to those who participate according to grace, yet it does not give comprehension. For it remains incomprehensible even in the participation of those who enjoy it, because according to its unoriginate nature it is unlimited.” And again, “This is the gospel of God, the dispensation of God toward mankind through the Son, who was made flesh and granted the reward to those who believe in him, the unoriginate deification”.
38. After it appeared that the divine energy truly is named Godhead, we sought to discover from the theologians whether God is according to essence superior to the divine energy and those things which are essentially associated with him. This also was clearly proclaimed by all the saints. At the same time it was proved also that those who do not accept this are really polytheists. They say there are many origins, because they do not refer to one cause and one origin those things which are essentially associated with God. For the great Basil in his Antirrheticus says: “There is a kind of order not arising from our arbitrary stipulation, but occurring in the very succession according to nature, as the ‘from it’ is for fire in relation to light. For these we name first the cause, second what is from it, not separating by an interval these things from each other, but by reckoning from the effect inferring the cause. So how is it reasonable to deny the order, in the case of things which have a first and a second, not according to our arbitrary choice but from the succession which is inherent in them according to nature?” But also in his books to Amphilochius he writes: “But what are the energies of the Spirit? Ineffable because of their greatness, innumerable because of their multitude; for how shall we imagine those things which are beyond the ages? What were his energies before the intellectual creation? How great were his graces around the creation? What is his power in regard to the ages to come? For he existed and preexisted and coexisted with the Son and the Father before the ages. So even if you imagine something of what is beyond the ages, even this is more recent than the Spirit, proving that the eternal energies of the Spirit rank below the Spirit himself.” But in his treatise concerning the divinity of the SOn and the Spirit, the glorious Gregory of Nyssa says: “The divine nature remains ineffable and unutterable, surpassing all representation by voice”. Therefore the designation of divinity indicates not nature but the visionary power of the Spirit. Moreover the great Athanasius in his second treatise against the Arian heretics (who said that the Son was from the will but not from the nature of the Father) says, “If they grant to God the power of willing concerning what does not exist, why do they not recognise what surpasses God’s power of willing?” In the third treatise against the same heretics, he writes: “The heretics have seen what is opposed to the will, but what is greater and surpasses it they have not contemplated. For just as that which is contrary to the intention is opposed to the will, so that which is according to nature surpasses and precedes the willing”. And the same saint writing against Macedonius says, “Know that being God is secondary in relation to the nature; for we ourselves, if we become imitators of God, according to Paul, become gods; but we cannot become of the same nature”. Moreover the glorious Maximus says, “God is exceedingly far removed, infinitely in number and in degree, from all things which exist, from all things which participate or are participated in”.
39. Furthermore the great Dionysius in the twelfth chapter of the Divine Names says: “The things which are holy or divine or lordly or royal surpass the things which do not exist;t he things which participate only in themselves surpass those which participate in other things. In the same manner he who is above all existing things transcends all existing things, and the unparticipated cause transcends all participation and everything which participates.” And in his second epistle to Gaius he says: “How is he who is beyond all things above the source of Godhead and above the source of good? If you would imagine Godhead and goodness, it is the very reality of the gift which makes good and makes God, and the inimitable imitation of what is beyond God and beyond goodness, by which we are deified and perfected: for if this becomes the source of being made God and made good for those who are being deified and perfected, he who is above the cause of every cause, is also above the so-called Godhead and goodness, as he is beyond the source of God and the source of good.” And again the same saint says: “Now we must go on to that which is truly the theological essential name of that which truly is; but only this will we mention, that the aim of the discourse is not to reveal the superessential essence, insofar as it is superessential; for this is ineffable and unknowable and altogether impossible to reveal, and transcends the oneness itself; but to praise the procession of the divinely originated source of being which gives essence to all beings.” But the glorious Maximus in his Scholia says: “By procession here he means the divine energy, which has created every essence.”
Moreover the glorious Chrysostom in his first treatise concerning the incomprehensible says, “Not only are the prophets evidently ignorant of what God is essentially, but also they do not know how great his wisdom itself is. For the essence does not come from the wisdom, but the wisdom from the essence. But when they cannot comprehend even this with accuracy, how great madness it would be to think one could subject the essence itself to one’s own processes of reasoning!” And on the Gospel according to John again the same saint says, “God ‘does not give the Spirit by measure.’ For we all received the energy of the Spirit in a measure. For here he calls the energy ‘Spirit’, for energy is what is divided; but the Spirit has the whole energy without measure and complete. But if his energy is without measure, how much more his essence!”
40. Those who attack the Church say that all things participate in the essence of God because the divine essence and the divine energy are indistinguishable, and they call nothing else God except the essence alone. We, however, have been taught by the Holy Scriptures that God has not only essence but also power and energy (or rather powers and energies), which are distinct from the divine essence; for thus he will be not only trihypostatic but also omnipotent. So we asked what it is in which all things share, in the divine essence or in the divine energy of God. But the divine synod said this: We know on one hand that the divine essence and the energy of the divine nature are inseparable; for there would not be an energy without its own essence. But concerning those things which have been created from the beginning by God, who does not know, they said, unless he is delirious like those who oppose the Church, that every creation received a share of its Creator’s energy but not of his essence? For the house has obtained a share not of the essence of the builder, nor the ship of the essence of the shipwright, but of the skill and energy, according to the theologian of Nyssa. But that even the saints who are deified by union with God participate not in the divine essence but in his divine energy, Gregory the great theologian indicates, writing about our Lord Jesus Christ: “He is called Christ because of his divinity; but this is the anointing of his humanity, not sanctifying anointed things by energy like the others ,but by the presence of the whole anointer”. And the great Basil says: “the Holy Spirit fills everything by his power, but can be shared only by those who are worthy. He is not shared in the same measure by all, but distributes his energy in proportion to the faith of the recipient.” And again elsewhere he says: “Just as the reflections of the faces are not made in every material, but in those which have smoothness and transparency, so not in every soul is the energy of the Spirit reflected, but in those which have nothing crooked or twisted.” Saint Maximus says: Everything which God is he also will be who is deified through grace, except the identity in essence.” The great Dionysius says: “The divine thoughts are moved in a circle, united to the radiances without beginning or end of the good and beautiful”. By referring to them in the plural, he showed that they are not the essence of God; for the essence is never mentioned in the plural, but by calling them “radiances”, and adding both “without beginning” and “without end”, he showed that they are divine and uncreated energies.
Our Lord and God in the Holy Gospel according to John says, “He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, rivers of living water will flow from his bosom”. This he said about the Spirit, of which they were going to partake who believed in him. For the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Interpreting this the glorious Chrysostom says: “‘Rivers from his bosom will flow’, hinting at the abundance and bounty of his grace (as elsewhere he says, ‘A fountain of water springing up for life eternal’) that is, he will have much grace. Moreover elsewhere he says ‘eternal life’ but here ‘living water’. By ‘living’ he means that which is always acting. For the grace of the Spirit, when it comes into the thought and settles there, bubbles up more than any spring, and does not cease periodically nor is emptied nor stops. Revealing at the same time the inexhaustibility of the expenditure and the ineffability of the energy, he called it a fountain and a river – not just one river but innumerable; and there he represented the flood through the phrase ‘springing up’.” And a little later the same saint says: “No longer was there a prophet among them, nor did grace reveal to them the holy things; since the Holy Spirit had hitherto been held back, but was going to be poured out abundantly. But the beginning of this distribution happened after the cross, not only of abundance, but also of greater gifts – for the gift was more marvellous, as when it was written, ‘You do not know of what Spirit you are’, and again, ‘For you did not receive a Spirit of slavery, but you received a Spirit of adoption’. For the ancient people of God themselves had the Spirit but did not provide it to others; but the apostles filled multitudes. So since they were going to receive this grace, but it had not yet been given, because of this he says, ‘The Holy Spirit was not yet’ (that is, not yet given) ‘since Jesus was not yet glorified’, calling the cross ‘glory’. For we were enemies and sinners, lacking the gift of God and hateful to God, but the grace was the proof of reconciliation. But since a gift is given not to enemies or those who are hated but to friends and those who are well pleasing, the sacrifice first had to be offered on our behalf, and the enmity in the flesh had to be resolved, and we had to become friends of God and then receive the gift. For if this happened in the case of the promise to Abraham, much more in the case of grace.”
41. Furthermore the same Chrysostom in his thirty-sixth homily on the same subject says: “And in our case the water does not operate in a simple manner, but when it receives the grace of the Spirit, then it releases all our sins”. And a little later: “But even if the whole world comes, the grace is not used up, nor is the energy consumed, but it remains the same and such as it was even before this. And just as the sun’s rays give light every day and are not consumed, nor does their light become less because of so much expenditure, so also and much more the energy of the Spirit is not diminished from those who are enjoying it.” And again the same saint in his fifth homily on the same subject, explaining the saying, “Everything came into being through him”, says, “Speaking about the creation John brings in also a word on providence, saying, ‘In him was life’. For indeed lest anyone doubt how many and so great things came to be through him, he added that in him was life. So just as in the case of the spring which gives birth to abysses, no matter how much you take away, you have not reduced the spring at all, so also in the case of the energy of the Only-begotten, however many things you believe have been created and made through it, the energy has not become at all less.” And again when the Gospel has said, “From his fulness we all have received”, the same glorious Chrysostom in his fourteenth homily explaining this says: “And whatever does it mean that ‘Of his fulness we all have received’? For we must direct our discourse to this. He does not merely participate in the gift, but he is the very fountain and very root of excellent things – life itself and light itself and truth itself – not keeping the wealth of good things to himself, but pouring out to all others also, and after the outpouring remaining full. He is not at all diminished by providing to others, but always wells up; and giving a share of these excellent things to all, he remains in the same perfection. But what I bring can be shared, for I received it from another. It is a small part of the whole, like a platry drop compared to the inexpressible abyss and the infinite ocean. Or rather not even this comparison would be able to represent what we are trying to say. For if you take a drop out of the ocean, you have diminished the sea itself, even if the diminution is undetectable; but in the case of that fountain, this cannot be said, but however much one draws, it remains not at all diminished. For this reason especially we must turn to another comparison, itself weak and unable to represent what we are seeking, but serving more than the first to lead us towards the notion which now lies before us. For let us suppose that there is a fountain of fire, then from that fountain ten thousand lamps are lit, and twice as many and three times and many times. Does not the fire remain of the same fullness even after sharing its energy with so many? It is obvious to everyone. But if in the case of bodies which are divisible, of those which are diminished by having something taken away, some such object was found, which even after providing to others something of itself is not at all harmed, much more in the case of that incorporeal and inviolate power will this happen. For if where that which is shared is corporeal essence, it is both divided and not divided, much more will division be unlikely when the discourse concerns energy, and the energy from the incorporeal essence. For this reason also John said, ‘From his fulness we all have received’. We, all of us – the twelve, the three hundred, the five hundred, the three thousand, and the five thousand, the many myriads of the Jews, the whole community of the faithful, those then and those now and those who will be in the future, from his fulness we have received – but what have we received? ‘Grace instead of grace’, he says.”
42. The great Basil, explaining the forty-eighth Psalm, says, “God made man from the earth and his ministers a flame of fire; nevertheless men also have the power of conceiving and understanding their Creator and Demiurge. For ‘he breathed into his face’, that is he put some part of his own grace into man, so that by like he should recognise like.” And again the same saint in his treatise to Amphilochius concerning the Holy Spirit says: “The Lord, renewing mankind, and giving back again the grace of the Lord’ breath which he had lost, breathed into the face of the disciples, and said what? ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” The glorious John the Damascene in the section concerning the foreknowledge and foreordination of his theological chapters says: “This man the Creator made male, giving to him a share of his divine grace and making him to be in fellowship with himself through this grace of his”. And again the glorious Basil in his treatise to Amphilochius says: “Who is so ignorant of the good things which God has prepared for the worthy as not to know that the crown of the righteous is the grace of the Spirit, which then will be more generously and more perfectly granted?”
43. Furthermore in St Cyril’s third book to Hermias, this very Hermias asks about the divine indwelling in us and participation, and says: “Except now I am most eager to learn from you how the fulness of the Father and the Son would be conceived and accomplished in us, if their fulness is one and not different.” Answering this the holy Cyril says, “Indeed in this there is nothing difficult or hard to understand; for how otherwise could it be than through the Holy Spirit filling us with divine gifts through himself and revealing us as partakers of the ineffable nature?” And again the same saint in his Thesaurus says, “But if the Holy Spirit were really a created being, according to the madness of the heterodox, how does he have the whole energy of God? For no one, I suppose, will rightly cry out that he thinks so strange a thing as this, that he dares even only to say that the divine essence is provided with energy through some organs brought into being from outside, the energy from it going through naturally to some who are ready to receive it.”
44. And the great Athanasius in his epistle to Serapion says, “All that belongs to the Father belongs to the Son; therefore also whatever has been given from the Son in the Spirit is a gift of the Father. And because the Spirit is in us, the Word also, who gives us the Spirit, is in us, and the Father is in the Word. Thus ‘I and the Father will come, and we will make our dwelling with him’, as it is written. For where the light is, there its radiance is also, and where the radiance is, there also are its energy and radiant grace. Paul taught this writing again to the Corinthians in his second epistle, saying, ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all’. For the grace and gift given in the Trinity is given from the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. For just as the grace which is given comes from the Father through the Son, so also there would not be communion of the giving in us, if it were not in the Holy Spirit. For partaking in this, we have the love of the Father and the grace of the Son and the communion of the Spirit himself. So from these the energy of the Trinity is shown to be one.”
45. Moreover St Anastasius in his treatise on the Spirit says, “This agrees with what the inspired Paul says concerning the Spirit. For he called the believers temples of God, which had obtained the indwelling grace of the Spirit: ‘Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?’ and again, ‘Do you not know that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God?’ These passages teach directly that the Holy Spirit is of the divine nature. For if those who have believed are called temple of God, because they have received the grace of the Spirit, then the Holy Spirit must be from God. For having obtained the indwelling grace of the Spirit, they are called temples of God.” And the glorious Chrysostom in the fourth of his commentaries on Acts, explaining the saying, “And tongues were seen on them divided as of fire”, says: “He said well, ‘divided’, for they were of one root, so that you may learn that it is an energy sent from the Comforter.” And again the same saint in the same work says: “And they were all filled; they did not simply receive the grace of the Spirit, but they were filled.” Furthermore, when the Messalians said that those who have been purified among them are established in participation of the essence of God, and brought forth that Gospel saying, “I and the Father will come, and we will make our home with him,” and twisted this foolishly towards their own heresy, the council convening against these very Messalians, beating back their evil doctrine, said: “There comes an abiding of the Comforter, and God dwells in the worthy, but not as Godhead is by nature”.
46. After this it was sought to be proved from the saints’ writings, both that the light of the Lord’s transfiguration is uncreated, and that this is not the essence of God. And nearly all said that this was proved according to the fourth session. At that session those who opposed the Church were present. At one time they said, clearly blaspheming, that this was created and appearance and veil and image; at another time they impiously asserted that this was uncreated and the essence of God. For in that session Gregory named for his theology was cited, he who wrote: “No one is in the substance and essence of the Lord, as it is written, nor has he seen or spoken the nature of God.” And the glorious Maximus wrote in the seventh chapter of the third century of his theological works, “He in whom existing beings cannot participate according to his essence, but who wishes those who are able to participate in another manner, altogether maintains the hiddenness of his essence.” And the glorious Chrysostom writing for the same feast says: “Transfigured on the mountain, the Saviour briefly somehow as master showed to his disciples the glory of his invisible divine kingdom, but straightaway they will say who use an unrestrained and insolent tongue: ‘And if his divine glory is invisible, how did he show it to his apostles? For if it could be seen, it was not invisible; but if it is invisible, it could not be seen’. Therefore listen intelligently. Christ the Master here showed to his disciples the glory of his invisible kingdom, and did not reveal it; that is, he disclosed his divinity a little but not perfectly, satisfying them but sparing them. He satisfied them by showing them the divine glory of his invisible kingdom, not as much as it was, but as much as they were able to see with their bodily eyes; but out of desire to spare them, not because he grudged it, he did not show them his whole glory of his invisible kingdom, lest along with the sight they should lose their live.” Moreover all the saints call that light “illumination” and “brightness” and “grace” and “deification” and “Godhead revealed a little too hard to see” and “light unapproachable” and “natural unoriginate ray of the Son”, “missile of divinity”, “lightning-flash of Godhead”, and so on.
In that session the first conciliar tome on this subject was also brought forth, which securely and with love of the true faith revealed this light to be uncreated but not essence both through many testimonies from the Divine Scripture and the word and pious declaration of our thrice-blessed and renowned emperor, the Lord Andronicus Palaeologus, in accordance with the saints. Seeing that those who opposed the most reverend metropolitan of Thessalonica were also opposing and speaking against this sacred and divine tome at that time, we expelled them for the following reasons: because they at one time held that the light of the Lord’s transfiguration is created, but at another time too inconsistently held that it is essence of God; and because they did not accept that the essence of God has an uncreated power and energy, but they reduced all the common powers and energies of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit illogically to the status of created things; and they called polytheists those who confess God to be uncreated, not in essence only, but also in the hypostaseis and in the common divine power and energies of the three hypostaseis.
47. On these topics Akindynos’ books were brought into the midst and read, in which he was obviously teaching other old and new heresies, and especially insisted that there is no uncreated energy common to the trihypostatic Godhead, except only the Son and the Holy Spirit. But the divine synod, recognising well and with the love of God that this was the impiety of Marcellus and Photinus and Sophronius the earlier heretics, at once summoned the glorious Chrysostom against this heresy, sending him from heaven like a thunderstorm to burn up the undergrowth of Akindynos’ nonsense. In explaining the epistle to the Philippians Chrysostom says, “Marcellus and Photinus and Sophronius say that the Word is energy, and that this energy (not an essence in a hypostasis) came to dwell in the one from David’s seed. Arius confesses the Son, but in word only; he says that he is a creation, and far lower than the Father. But others say he does not have a soul. Did you see their chariot stopped? See then also how they fall, how St Paul overturns and throws all of them down at once, at one blow all together. So how does he overthrow them? ‘Let this mind be in you’, he says, ‘which was in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal to God’. Because of this Paul of Samosata fell, and Marcellus and Sabellius. ‘Being in the form of God’, he says. How do you say, wretched man, he began from Mary, and before this he was not? How do you say he is energy? The form of God, he says, took the form of a servant. Is the form of the servant energy of a servant or nature of a servant? Undoubtedly indeed the nature of a servant. Therefore also the form of God is the nature of God; therefore it is not energy.”
48. Furthermore, the glorious Gregory of Nyssa in his discourse to Ablabius says: “‘God’ signifies the energiser, but ‘Godhead’ the energy. None of the three is energy, but rather each of them is energiser.” “From this indeed”, the divine synod says, “it has been clearly proved that he who says only the Son and the Holy Spirit are uncreated energies of God, not glorifying the common natural energy of the three hypostases (which Akindynos rejects), dares to reintroduce into the Church of God the heresy of Marcellus and Photinus and Sophronius, long ago dead and abolished. But if some of the saints call the Son or the Holy Spirit ‘power’ or ‘energy’, they call them the power or energy of the Father – and accordingly each of them, as a perfect hypostasis, has energy and power.” And this is a common name, according to the glorious Dionysius, of the Godhead, all-perfect and more than full; by this designation even the Father is called ‘power’. But just now we were not discussing this energy and power, but that which is common to the trihypostatic Godhead (the Godhead which is not a hypostasis but a nature) and supernaturally belongs to each of the hypostaseis originating in God, according to the tradition of the theologians. For, according to the great Athanasius, we confess one God in three hypostaseis which have one essence and power and energy, and whatever else is attributed to the essence in theological writings or hymns. And so that we may give a seal to the discourse and may have a full collection according to theology, let us hear in order that when he is called uncreated, bodiless, timeless, unoriginate, eternal, endless, unlimited, unknowable, shapeless, inexplicable, untraceable, God of gods, Lord of lords, King of kings, All-Ruler, Creator, Demiurge, Light, holy, life, good, mighty, All-Powerful, and whatever else indicates superiority and causation, each of these is not called essence, but they are attributed to the essence. They are called both a collection and a fulness of Godhead according to the Scripture, appearing in and theologically attributed equally to each of the three holy hypostaseis. “For whatever the Father has is mine, and I am glorified in them.” The Son is called the power of the Father, and so is the Holy Spirit, for various reasons, which the theologians have handed down, but especially because the Father’s whole power lies on the Son, as the great Basil writes explicitly in dispute with Eunomius. So how is it right to remove the natural and common power of the trihypostatic Godhead, through which the theologians praise both the Son and the Holy Spirit as power of the Father?
49. In these matters by the decree of our mighty and holy sovereign and emperor, the great chartophylax and consul asked each of the wisdom-loving hierarchs and the senatorial and ecclesiastical leaders what opinion he held concerning all these issues which had been discussed and examined now at the divine and sacred synod. And each of them individually declared that he had no doubts concerning these matters. They all expressed gratitude to the most reverend metropolitan of Thessalonica, because he had spoken and written in accord with all the saints and had striven so zealously to defend the truth of orthodoxy, and had endured such insolence and slander and other abuse in order to refute that Barlaam and Akindynos and those who appeared afterward up to the present time in agreement with them, who were striving to move the Church of Christ away from the faith and piety towards God received from the fathers. But finally after all the others, as all rose from their seats, the most illustrious senators and the most reverend hierarchs, as it is customary at such times, a declaration was also made by the truly most sublime and wise in divine matters, most clement, mighty and holy autocrat and emperor, Lord John Cantacuzenus, stating: “Unrighteousness is a great evil even for those beings which creep on the earth, because it is able to corrupt and divide a whole nation, since also its opposite, righteousness, elevates a nation, as it is written. But if, in the case of things below, unrighteousness is so great an evil, how much more when it is spoken in regard to the divine height by those who think wrongly, and the very truth of God is wronged by those who reject it. But those who accept and proclaim this, and defend it as far as they are able, are abused and falsely accursed and slandered by those attempting to lead the multitude astray with a deviant intention! I for my part see so much harmony with the saints in what has been spoken by the most reverend metropolitan of Thessalonica and has just now been read from his compositions for defence of the true faith, and I see the saints making so much zeal in their own compositions on behalf of the divine doctrines which have recently been at issue, that no one who wishes to live with prudence would desire further investigation. Concerning the theological statements which have been made by the blessed disciples and apostles of Christ and by the saints and the ecumenical councils and the holy fathers, I have so much eagerness because of the grace of Christ in me, that I would be ready, if I had only one cup of blood left, to shed even this willingly on their behalf. But I am grateful to the one God of all, our Master and Lord Jesus Christ, that he granted his great mercy to us, being well pleased that the truth of piety should be revealed and confirmed today, and not permitting any part of this to be turned aside and shaken by those who have been undertaking with many attempts and deceits and devious machinations over fourteen years already to turn this aside and shake it down.” So this is what the most glorious emperor said.
50. When his divine and venerable command was delivered also to the Holy Mountain, so that those form there excelling in understanding and virtue might stay for the synod assembled in this blessed great city, but because of the length of the road and the harshness of the weather they were not able to stay, they sent two of the priest-monks to our mighty and holy sovereign and emperor, informing him that they had sent their own written opinion to the synod. So those priest-monks who had been sent stood up and gave their speeches to the synod on behalf of the whole Holy Mountain. These speeches were composed by the most sacred metropolitan of Herakleia Lord Philotheos while he still remained there with them. They brought forward also the written opinion of all which had recently been sent from there. When this had been read in the hearing of all, their opinion continued to agree and bear witness together with the most sacred metropolitan of Thessalonica in all respects in regard to the truth of piety. This is what the whole Holy Mountain said.
51. As the whole divine and sacred synod gathered by the grace of Christ in the hall which is called Alexiakon of the sacred Blachernae palace, and now fighting on behalf of the true faith, and having made an accurate and suitable investigation and examination concerning the matters set before us, and ratifying the earlier synodical tomes on these issues as most pious (or rather also following these), we justly subject that Barlaam and Akindynos to the anathema from Christ because they behaved insolently in the very crisis of the true faith and did not at all repent while still alive. And whoever now has been revealed and refuted by the synod as agreeing with these men, and simply as many as are of their faction, we hold them excommunicated and expelled from the catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, unless they repent and we subject them to the anathema from Christ. Those who keep fellowship with them in knowledge we hold deprived of fellowship, and those who are ordained we strip of every priestly ministry. Those who have been carried away and dragged into error by these men and are not leaders of the heresy, if they remain unrepentant, we subject to similar condemnation. But if they sincerely repent and abandon their evil opinion and those who persist in it, we gladly admit them most gladly into the communion of piety but also into the sacred ministry, not at all reducing them in rank, according to the judgment and proclamation for such cases of the seventh holy ecumenical council, which defined: “We absolutely do not recognise the originators and leaders and champions of the heresy, even if they repent, into the sacred ministry; but those who were forced or carried away and dragged into error, if they repent truly and sincerely, we receive into sacred ministry each according to his proper rank.” But also if anyone else at all is ever caught believing or saying or writing the same things against the most reverend metropolitan of Thessalonica, or rather against the venerable theologians and the Church itself, we will make the same decree against him and subject him to the same condemnation, whether he be one of the ordained or of the laity. As for the oft-mentioned most reverent metropolitan of Thessalonica, who has written and believed nothing contrary to the divine sayings, but has understood with accurate examination, or rather has defended the divine sayings and our common faith and tradition in all ways as is fitting, we do not only judge him higher in every respect than the disputes against him or rather against the Church of God, as also the earlier synodical tomes declare, but also we declare him a most reliable defender and champion and helper of the Church and of the true faith. For thus also the preceding tomes of those synods will hold, just as indeed they hold, that which is reliable and secure.
52. As these matters turned out thus, obviously not without the cooperation and grace of the good Spirit, it remained still for those of good will to remove every cause from those who wished consume, and not to pass by without examination what the enemies of the Church blamed in the writings of the most reverent Metropolitan of Thessalonica, even if all these were also included in what was then examined in the divine synod. So when our mighty and holy sovereign and emperor found these written down in part by their hands and gave them to us, we read and examined each of these in the book of the most reverend metropolitan of Thessalonica, meeting in the Great Church and passing the whole day together not once but twice and three times and many times. And we found the most reverent metropolitan of Thessalonica in agreement in these writings also with the sacred theologians and a defender by the grace of Christ of the truth of Orthodoxy; but as for them, from the written distortions and accusations which they tried to make, we found that they were falling into many great heresies. For they continued to oppose openly what the theologians have said explicitly, and dared to say that the deification of the Lord’s assumed humanity is created; and because the essence of God is called by the saints unapproachable and imparticipable, they declared impiously that those who think in this way about it consider it corruptible (what audacity!) – even though God said to Moses, “No one will see my face and life.” But also the seven spirits which rested on the flower from the root of Jesse, namely our Lord Jesus Christ (that is, the energies of the Holy Spirit, according to the sacred theologians), which the venerable Zacharias praised as seven eyes of Christ looking down on the whole earth. But the glorious Maximus stated theologically that these belonged by nature to the Son of God, they reckoned with created things. It is not easy to number their other assertions which tend no less to heresy. Therefore from these also their condemnation was ratified, if they should not repent. What was explained and decided just now by us in this synod with the royalty from God will bring security and certainty among all, as it is undoubtedly in agreement with what the Church and all the holy fathers and the sacred and divine councils had earlier for their purpose and the conciliar tomes of these councils. And the entirely lawful and synodical tome, written and subscribed just now, will be preserved immovable for the whole age, by the all-powerful energy and grace of our almighty and great God and Saviour, on behalf of which and because of which we have completed that present struggle.
The original had signatures in red letters of both the most glorious emperors:
John Cantacuzenus in Christ our God faithful emperor and autocrat of the Romans.
John Palaeologus in Christ our God faithful emperor and autocrat of the Romans.
By the reverend and patriarchal hand:
Kallistos by the mercy of God archbishop of Constantinople, new Rome, and ecumenical patriarch
The unworthy metropolitan of Herakleia, president of the most honourable and exarch of all Thrace and Macedonia, Philotheos
The unworthy metropolitan of Thessalonica, most honourable and exarch of all Thessaly, Gregory
The unworthy metropolitan of Cyzicus and exarch of all the Hellespont, Irenaeus
The original had another signature likewise of him who later became our Emperor with the addendum:
My Royalty being about to subscribe to the present tome, made earlier by the might and holy sole autocrat and emperor, the father of My Royalty, and the divine and sacred synod for confirmation of the holy catholic and apostolic church of Christ, for removal of the godless heresy of Barlaam and Akindynos, orders and declares that this is accepted unchangeable and immovable, without compulsion or pressure of any kind, as written by God through the saints who speak inspired by him. My Royalty receives and embraces what the present tome accepts, and hands over to anathema, whatever it hands over to anathema. In regard to those who oppose this divine and sacred tome, my Royalty orders them to be rejected in words and deeds and to be rejected as common enemies of the church; but those who adhere to this shall be deemed worthy of acceptance and imperial favour. My Royalty declares this, as established by God through his grace as defender and vindicator of the Church. This decree of my Royalty shall remain firm and immovable from age to age. It is signed by My Royalty and I have offered it, bringing it as a sacred offering in my own hands to the holy altar, in the presence of my mighty and holy autocrat and emperor, the father of My Royalty, and of my most holy master the ecumenical patriarch Lord Philotheos, and of the divine and sacred council around him. In the month of February of the seventh indication. Matthew Asen Cantacuzenus in Christ our God faithful emperor and autocrat of the Romans.