One More Thought Prompted by Gregory of Nazianzus

As the title of Beeley’s book reveals, Gregory placed much emphasis on the knowledge of God. While I read through it, I began wondering how it was the knowledge could effect salvation in the way that Gregory proposes. This must not be taken in a contemporary sense of what knowledge is (often assumed to be some type of cognitive content). For Gregory, there is the process of purification and illumination (ch. 1 in Beeley’s book) by the Holy Spirit which points to Christ and through him to the Father. God is incomprehensible, but not unknowable and to my great surprise Gregory doesn’t hold to the essence/energies distinction found in Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. One can know God’s essence (though only partially) by knowing the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. That, however, is another topic altogether. More importantly here, Beeley’s book caused me to question how it is that knowledge can effect salvation. I will call it the Cognitive Salvation Model (CSM) and contrast it to what is taken to be it’s opposite (though whether it is or not is another question), the Ethical Salvation Model (ESM). Or, to put it more simply, deeds over creeds. I began to wonder whether those who are critical of CSM in favor of a type of ESM ever put worship of God into the type of action necessary for salvation. I ask this because my initial impression is that such a proposition would push one back into CSM,which of course would be self-defeating for ESM proponents. Obviously this is an over-simplificiation for the sake of analysis, but I wish worship of God was seen as a more important aspect of the “dogmas” (i.e., sine qua non) of salvation according to Christianity.

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