Divine Incomprehensibility in Eastern Orthodoxy and Reformed Theology
Keywords:Eastern Orthodoxy, Reformed theology, divine incomprehensibility, theosis, archetypal/ectypal
This article examines the views of the Eastern Orthodox and the Reformed on the subject of divine incomprehensibility. The two regard God to be entirely incomprehensible, but differ in the way that he can be known or experienced. The Eastern Orthodox maintain that God is not ultimately known intellectually but experienced mystically. Mystical experience, according to this view, is theology par excellence. The key means by which this mystical experience is enjoyed is theosis, or deification. The Reformed, on the other hand, eschew mystical experience and instead focus on the archetypal/ectypal distinction. God cannot be known as he is in himself (archetypal theology), but as he reveals himself to his creation (ectypal theology). Ectypal theology is not identical to, nor intersects at any point with, archetypal theology. It is, instead, analogous to it. With these different views on divine incomprehensibility, this article also briefly considers how these views affect other areas of study in theology (such as anthropology, hamartiology, soteriology, and pneumatology).
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