Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Benedict on St. Gregory of Nyssa

The latest installment in Benedict XVI's series of talks on the Church Fathers focuses on St. Gregory of Nyssa:

In the last few catecheses I spoke about two great doctors of the Church of the fourth century, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, bishop of Cappadocia, in present-day Turkey. Today we add a third, Basil's brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, who showed himself to be a man of meditative character, with a great capacity for reflection, and a vivacious intellect, open to the culture of his time. He showed himself in this way to be an original and deep thinker in Christian history ...

Especially after Basil's death, almost garnering his spiritual legacy, Gregory cooperated in the triumph of orthodoxy. He participated in various synods; he tried to settle divisions between the Churches; he took an active part in the Church's reorganization; and, as "a pillar of orthodoxy," he was a protagonist at the Council of Constantinople in 381, which defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit. (Benedict XVI, "On St. Gregory of Nyssa: A Pillar of Orthodoxy," August 29, 2007)

Full lecture:
http://www.zenit.org/article-20361?l=english

It is true, St. Gregory of Nyssa was indeed a pillar of orthodoxy, and given that Benedict says as much himself, it's worth examining what this pillar of orthodoxy, St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote of the people who Benedict calls his "elder brothers in the faith" with whom Christians "have a common mission."

The Lawgiver of our life has enjoined upon us one single hatred. I mean, that of the Serpent: for no other purpose has He bidden us exercise this faculty of hatred, but as a resource against wickedness. "I will put enmity," He says, "between you and him." Since wickedness is a complicated and multifarious thing, the Word allegorizes it by the Serpent, the dense array of whose scales is symbolic of this multiformity of evil. And we by working the will of our Adversary make an alliance with this serpent, and so turn this hatred against one another, and perhaps not against ourselves alone, but against Him Who gave the commandment; for He says, "You shall love your neighbour and hate thine enemy," commanding us to hold the foe to our humanity as our only enemy, and declaring that all who share that humanity are the neighbours of each one of us. But this gross-hearted age has disunited us from our neighbour, and has made us welcome the serpent, and revel in his spotted scales.

I affirm, then, that it is a lawful thing to hate God's enemies, and that this kind of hatred is pleasing to our Lord: and by God's enemies I mean those who deny the glory of our Lord, be they Jews, or downright idolaters, or those who through Arius' teaching idolize the creature, and so adopt the error of the Jews. (St. Gregory of Nyssa, Letter 17)

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/291117.htm


Now, I do not seize upon this statement by St. Gregory, which is typical to all of the Church Fathers, in an effort to stir up temporal animosity any more than St. Gregory intended to do so, but to demonstrate how double-minded it is of Benedict to on the one hand laud the orthodoxy of the Church Fathers who singularly identified Judaic practices, beliefs and those who uphold them as antithetical and inimical to Christianity, and on the other hand laud the "Jews" who today uphold these same beliefs and practices so opposed by the Church Fathers as our "elder brothers in the faith;" people with whom Christians "have a common mission."

Are they our enemies or our allies? They cannot be both. So, either Benedict or the Church Doctor Gregory of Nyssa and all of the Church Fathers are wrong here. I side with the Church Fathers.

Judaic beliefs have only become more hostile towards Christianity and Christians since St. Gregory's time. For the Vatican to make such a 180 degree turnaround from the position of the Church Fathers on this matter reflects a change on their part only and a most suspicious change at that.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

"for He says, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate thine enemy,'"

Jesus The Christ taught us to LOVE OUR enemies and do good to those who hate us. Man's only "enemy" is himself, his inner hatred, resentment, fear, and ego.

"I affirm, then, that it is a lawful thing to hate God's enemies, and that this kind of hatred is pleasing to our Lord: and by God's enemies I mean those who deny the glory of our Lord, be they Jews, or downright idolaters, or those who through Arius' teaching idolize the creature, and so adopt the error of the Jews. "

St. Gregory of Nyssa needed to read the four Gospels, not the Old Testament --the Hebrew bible is for the Jews. Jesus The Christ gave us His Last Drop of Precious Blood to show us that we are to lay down our lives for our enemies!

We are to defend truth and stand up against lies and injustice but Jesus NEVER taught us to hate anyone.

Maurice Pinay said...

To suggest that St. Gregory of Nyssa, a Church Doctor, was unfamiliar with the Gospels and Christ's teachings therein is rather ... perhaps I shouldn't say what word comes to mind.

Gregory of Nyssa was a mystic and his exhortation to hate our enemies is to be taken in the spiritual sense. I believe that I made it clear in my commentary that St. Gregory's words were not to be taken in the temporal sense. I also provided the quote in context which makes it's mystic nature plainly clear.

You apparently are unfamiliar with the writings of the Church fathers and the language that they used. I recommend The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers by Toal. It contains the Catena Aurea as edited by St. Thomas Aquinas and full sermons which the quotations were redacted from.

Furthermore, your claim that "the Hebrew Bible is for the Jews" betrays an ignorance of the Gospel which you immodestly suggest St. Gregory knew nothing of. Christ and the Apostles quote Old Testament Scripture throughout the New Testament as a foundation for their teachings. Christians are the rightful heirs of the Old Testament, not non-believing Jews and certainly not Khazars.

And further yet, your comments are completely extraneous to the point made. This is the case with too many comments that I receive from supposed allies. Why is this?

Anonymous said...

Maurie, I really appreciated your comments on Carrie's blog about the Jewish issue. It is clear you are well versed in the history of the Holy Faith, and it's troubling relationship with the Jews. Your comments on St Gregory are spot on. But the ignorance of so many of our fellow Catholics is appalling! What excuse do they have for being so ignorant?!

Steve Dalton

Anonymous said...

There is no "spiritual hatred." As I made clear, we are to stand up for truth, and stand against injustice. I never said anything about people-pleasing or wimpiness.

The "mystic nature of hatred" was not clear, maybe you can quote me exactly what you mean.

You are correct, I am not familiar with exactly what St. Gregory meant, maybe you can be more clear. What exactly do you think he meant by "hate?"

The Torah is the Jewish bible. Jesus went against Jehovah -who is the god of the Jews. Where do you think the Jews got their Talmudic teachings from? A lot of it is based in the Old Test Jehovah nonsense. Jehovah is a blood thirsty demon who shuns the light and who slayed the heads of children, commanded rape, and instructed the Hebrews to lie, steal, and cheat their way into getting what they wanted. Jesus clearly told us who Jehovah was in John 8:44.

I never said that St. Gregory knew nothing of Christ and the Apostles, but I did point out that he was quoting the Old Testament. Jesus referred to the Old Test in order to counter what was believed about the law. Jesus repeatedly changed the Hebrew laws.

If, as you say, St. Gregory meant "hate" in the same form as the one I gave you (stand up for truth and against injustice) then we are on the same page.

Elohim is the Father of Jesus. The Old Test is a mixed-up, tainted document. Esdras, a Rabbi, changed things in the Old Test and it is now a mess. People have gotten Elohim and Jehovah mixed up for far to long.

Maurice Pinay said...

The "mystic nature of hatred" was not clear, maybe you can quote me exactly what you mean.

"I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed ..." (Genesis 3;15)

You are correct, I am not familiar with exactly what St. Gregory meant, maybe you can be more clear. What exactly do you think he meant by "hate?"

See the above and a dictionary definition of the term, "enmity."

The Torah is the Jewish bible. Jesus went against Jehovah -who is the god of the Jews. Where do you think the Jews got their Talmudic teachings from? A lot of it is based in the Old Test Jehovah nonsense. Jehovah is a blood thirsty demon who shuns the light and who slayed the heads of children, commanded rape, and instructed the Hebrews to lie, steal, and cheat their way into getting what they wanted.

You're a Manichean, I presume? Fine, but do not confuse your beliefs with Christianity and do not hold me to them as I am a Christian and I accept Old Testament Scripture as the Word of God as Christ, the Apostles and the Church Fathers all did. You might profit from St. Augustine's critique of the Manichean heresy which he put to rest 1600 years ago.

Jesus clearly told us who Jehovah was in John 8:44.

Jesus speaks directly and unambiguously of the Devil in John 8;44. He says nothing of any alleged Demiurge or demon alleged to be called "Jehova." You're imagining something that is simply not there.

I never said that St. Gregory knew nothing of Christ and the Apostles, but I did point out that he was quoting the Old Testament. Jesus referred to the Old Test in order to counter what was believed about the law. Jesus repeatedly changed the Hebrew laws.

Christ just as often upheld Old Testament law. Or perhaps you believe the Ten Commandments went out the window with Christ?

Elohim is the Father of Jesus.

Elohim, Yahweh, Jehova, etc. are all different names for the same one and only God.

The Old Test is a mixed-up, tainted document. Esdras, a Rabbi, changed things in the Old Test and it is now a mess. People have gotten Elohim and Jehovah mixed up for far to long.

What you're stating here is itself a rabbinic myth about the Old Testament Ezra.

The Old Testament is the property of Christians and no amount of rabbinic obfuscation can change that. The rabbis misappropriate the Old Testament denying the world of it's wisdom through such myths and hold it up as their totem thereby usurping it's authority for themselves.

I should ask you, once you dispose of the Old Testament, upon what authority do you claim that Christ was the Messiah, or further, upon what authority do you claim that there is even to be a Messiah? Is Christ is the Messiah just because He said He was?

No, I'm afraid that's not how it works. Christians don't believe a claim with no foundation. Christians believe in Christ because the Old Testament Scriptures spoke of Him--as He said they did--and He fulfilled the prophesies thereof (John 5;46, Luke 24;27). Jesus Christ is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament which you would hand over to the rabbis cutting Him off from the foundation for His claim.

I urge you to abandon your Gnostic beliefs and their catastrophic consequences and accept the Gospel as Christ taught it.

Anonymous said...

"I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed ..." (Genesis 3;15)

Enmity is hostility, wishing ill will, harboring deep seated hatred --all of which Jesus taught us NOT TO DO. You have quoted Genesis, even though my point is what Jesus taught us.

"You're a Manichean, I presume?"

Do not presume anything about me. Labels serve no purpose. If you are truly a Christian -in the true sense of the word- then you would not put so much weight on the Old Testament like the Protestants and the Jews do. No one can align the teachings of Jesus The Christ with the blood-thirsty demon Jehovah who SLEW THE HEADS of children and commanded rape, murder, theft, and lying.

In John 8:44, Jesus was quite clear on who He was speaking about. "You are the father of the devil....he was a murderer from the beginning." THAT is Jehovah, the god of the Hebrews, and now the god of the current day Jews.

Jesus The Christ changed many of the Old Testament laws, and even the Holy Roman Catholic Church defied Jehovah when they made Sunday the Sabbath. No human being needs the Ten Commandments if they adhere to the One Law that Jesus gave us, 'Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.' If everyone followed Jesus' Law of Love then the Ten Commandments would all fall in line on their own. The Hebrews did not understand the law of love and had to be given the Ten Commandments because the Hebrews were elemental in nature.

"Elohim, Yahweh, Jehova, etc. are all different names for the same one and only God."

Incorrect sir. Explore the root meanings of these words and you will find that you are in error.

"What you're stating here is itself a rabbinic myth about the Old Testament Ezra."

Do your research.

People who are alive in Christ and know Him through personal revelation do not need the Old Testament -or even the new Testament- to experience Christ within themselves and to know the Truth. Jesus Himself told us that the Kingdom of Heaven is within. People who have lived and breathed Jesus do not need a book to tell them that He is the Messiah.

"Christians believe in Christ because the Old Testament Scriptures spoke of Him--as He said they did--and He fulfilled the prophesies thereof..."

I don't need the Hebrew bible to tell me who and what Jesus is.

"...accept the Gospel as Christ taught it."

You might want to take this advice for yourself as you seem to be more connected to the Torah and its teachings of hatred than you are to Jesus and His teachings of Love.

Maurice Pinay said...

Enmity is hostility, wishing ill will, harboring deep seated hatred --all of which Jesus taught us NOT TO DO. You have quoted Genesis, even though my point is what Jesus taught us.

There is ill will between man and Satan (the serpent) which is what Genesis 3;15, and in turn, St. Gregory alludes to. Or perhaps you believe we should love Satan?

Jesus is the Word incarnate. The teachings of Genesis are His teachings for fallen humanity prior to His sacrifice and the graces which it brought forth.

Do not presume anything about me. Labels serve no purpose.

Labels most certainly do serve a purpose when used accurately, unless you live in a world where it's never necessary to identify anything.

And I'd suggest that the best way to avoid being labeled Manichean is to stop preaching Manichean beliefs.

If you are truly a Christian -in the true sense of the word- then you would not put so much weight on the Old Testament like the Protestants and the Jews do. No one can align the teachings of Jesus The Christ with the blood-thirsty demon Jehovah who SLEW THE HEADS of children and commanded rape, murder, theft, and lying.

God, or Jehova, if you like, never commanded rape.

You're very confused, unfortunately. The Old Law was for a fallen people without the benefit of santifying grace. It is repellent in certain aspects to the Christian mind enlightened by sanctifying grace, but no Christian can deny that there is only one Old Testament God or that the Old Testament is His inspired Word. That is unconditional. If you say otherwise you're not Christian.

In John 8:44, Jesus was quite clear on who He was speaking about. "You are the father of the devil....he was a murderer from the beginning." THAT is Jehovah, the god of the Hebrews, and now the god of the current day Jews.

You have falsified scripture here in order to support your case and that is most grievous, even as you accuse Ezra of falsifying Scripture. In John 8 Jesus tells the Pharisees that even though they are physically descended of Abraham their spiritual father is the Devil, not Abraham whose spiritual father is Yahweh, or Jehovah, if you like.

I've wasted too much time on this nonsense. Your beliefs have no Christian basis. The foundation for your beliefs is the Gnostic heresies which the Church Fathers always identified as Jewish in origin. If you truly are sincere in your claims to be opposed to Jewish errors I must say, ironically, you've been duped by them yourself.

Maurice Pinay said...

Enmity is hostility, wishing ill will, harboring deep seated hatred --all of which Jesus taught us NOT TO DO. You have quoted Genesis, even though my point is what Jesus taught us.

There is ill will between man and Satan (the serpent) which is what Genesis 3;15, and in turn, St. Gregory alludes to. Or perhaps you believe we should love Satan?

Jesus is the Word incarnate. The teachings of Genesis are His teachings for fallen humanity prior to His sacrifice and the graces which it brought forth.

Do not presume anything about me. Labels serve no purpose.

Labels most certainly do serve a purpose when used accurately, unless you live in a world where it's never necessary to identify anything.

And I'd suggest that the best way to avoid being labeled Manichean is to stop preaching Manichean beliefs.

If you are truly a Christian -in the true sense of the word- then you would not put so much weight on the Old Testament like the Protestants and the Jews do. No one can align the teachings of Jesus The Christ with the blood-thirsty demon Jehovah who SLEW THE HEADS of children and commanded rape, murder, theft, and lying.

God, or Jehova, if you like, never commanded rape.

You're very confused, unfortunately. The Old Law was for a fallen people without the benefit of santifying grace. It is repellent in certain aspects to the Christian mind enlightened by sanctifying grace, but no Christian can deny that there is only one Old Testament God or that the Old Testament is His inspired Word. That is unconditional. If you say otherwise you're not Christian.

In John 8:44, Jesus was quite clear on who He was speaking about. "You are the father of the devil....he was a murderer from the beginning." THAT is Jehovah, the god of the Hebrews, and now the god of the current day Jews.

You have falsified scripture here in order to support your case and that is most grievous, even as you falsely accuse Ezra of falsifying Scripture. In John 8 Jesus tells the Pharisees that even though they are physically descended of Abraham their spiritual father is the Devil, not Abraham whose spiritual father is God, or Jehovah, if you like.

I've wasted too much time on this nonsense. You either ignore or are unable to understand the facts presented before you, most notably the fact that Jesus Himself stated that He fulfilled Old Testament prophesy and that without the Old Testament there is no Messiah, therefore there is no Christianity.

Your beliefs have no Christian basis. The foundation for your beliefs is the Gnostic heresies which the Church Fathers always identified as Jewish in origin. If you truly are sincere in your claims to be opposed to Jewish errors I must say, ironically, you've been duped by them yourself.