May 14, 2021

The "Godlike Personhood" and the "Society of Persons"

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In a text signed by "Hagiorite Fathers Living in Cells" and sent to the "Revered Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain of Athos" regarding the pandemic and the vaccine (dated 2/10/21) many and various things are written, for which they wrote the various "observations" of the friend of Mount Athos the Reader-Doctor Stephanos Demetropoulos.

However, I would like to comment on a paragraph which refers to the "mask-muzzle" which "allegedly" protects against the coronavirus the "Godlike personhood of man" and by this "abolishes the society of persons."

I don't know what they mean by the phrase "Godlike personhood of man" and I cannot understand what they mean when they say it "abolishes the society of persons." What exactly is the "society of persons" that is abolished by the mask?

What I do know is that these phrases come from post-patristic theology and they have both papal and protestant backgrounds. That is, Latin and Protestant theologians use such terms and phrases in conjunction with existential philosophy and existential psychology. It is from them that they were transferred over to Greece by our own theologians who studied in Europe and America.

Thus, by these efforts they replaced terms such as "man", "relationship between man and God", "love for God and man", "separation between men" and so on. This whole movement resembles an attempt to create a new terminology in order to replace the terminology and decisions of the Ecumenical Synods.

For example, in the West at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century a theological movement developed, which brought back the study of Thomas Aquinas, the Scholastic theologian of the 13th century (Neo-Thomism), which was followed by another movement of the 20th century in reaction to the previous one, which was characterized as the "ontology of the relationship", and within it all the topics that speak about the person and the "society of persons" were developed.

Thus, the "Godlike personhood" and the "society of persons" refer to the fact that nature is connected with need and the person with freedom, which is the source of the heresies of Arius, Nestorius, Dioscorus and so forth and were opposed by the Great Fathers of the Church. Also, such expressions echo the heretical scholastic views of analogia entis and analogia fidei.

It is therefore paradoxical that such expressions and post-patristic views were passed on in the text of revered Hagiorite fathers, when many Hagiorites are opposed to the post-patristic theology of modern theologians.

The surprising thing is that in the same text it is written that "man is not a static size nor does he operate in scholastic terms," but at the same time there is talk of "Godlike personhood" and "society of persons", which is discussed in western theology and the "ontology of the relationship".

The Holy Mountain, especially the ascetics of the Holy Mountain, must preserve the theology of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Synods as the apple of their eye.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.