Question 23: The Essence-Energy Distinction Non-Conceptual and Beyond Intellection


What do we do with quotes from saints such as st kokkinos in antirr. 5 pg151 880D saying “they (essence and energy) differ from each other conceptually but not really” and st justin poppovich dogmatics pg 62 [5] “and they do not constitute any real differences in the essence of God nor are they demarcated “?


They are referring to the fact that God is a reality - the reality - which lies above and beyond the capacity of word (language), reason (discursive thinking), and intellection (concepts, that is, the immediate apprehension of ideas by the mind, Gk. nous).

In short, God is entirely present in His revelation of Himself to His reasonable creatures, even though we affirm that we can never know or participate in His essence - this simply means that we can never be what He is: the God and Creator of all. 

Follow-up question 

So do you think theres a real or conceptual distinction between essence and energy?

Answer to Follow-up Question

I have answered your question in my presentations on Palamas: I agree with St. Philotheos Kokkinos, and with St. Justin Popovich. 

The distinction is real, but not in the Platonic sense; therefore it lies beyond intellection. 

For more information, see our Academy presentations on St. Gregory Palamas, here: videos / podcasts.