Continuing from the Called to Communion blog: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/05/imputation-and-infusion-a-reply-to-r-c-sproul-jr/#comments

[Drake] I don’t see the Eastern View of God as being something that can sustain a Christian Theology. Dionysius the Areopagite’s plagiarism of Proclus has become all to obvious to the world and maybe Perry should consider that a bit more.

[Perry]I don’t take Dionysius’ use of Proclus any more plagiarism than the Plotinus’ use of Plato. Besides, ancient standards for using sources were significantly different than our own. And having been, as Damascius, the head of the Platonic Academy, I think he was in a good enough position to do so. That by itself says nothing as to his Christian faith. That said, there is nothing I need to “consider” it a bit more. It would be helpful to exercise your mind to imagine a more plausible reading of the person’s position you wish to criticize so as to anticipate any rejoinders prior to your fingers hitting the keys.

[Drake]You are avoiding the argument. Was Dionysius the Areopagite the first century disciple of Paul? Was Dionysius teaching straight from Neo Platonism [Proclus]? Current scholarship answers no to the first and yes to the second. I thought that was standard fare. Your Church answered yes to the first and has yet to admit the second.  Lossky doesn’t touch the issue in Chapter 2 of Mystical Theology. He simply exposits him like its gospel. The fact is, the Neoplatonists refused predication of the One because predication requires distinction between subject and predicate and the one had no distinctions [Simplicity]. Therefore positive theology and predication of the One was rejected. That is the same theology as Lossky and the East. It is the same Neoplatonism and simplicity that you criticize in Scholasticism.

[Perry]I am not avoiding the argument. I don’t think Dionysius was a disciple of Paul. I think he was Damascius, as I said before. I think certain Monophysites took him to be so and others just assumed as much. Current scholarship is all over the place on his identity and there is more than one way to read him, in the current scholarship.  Lossky for example speaks directly to this in his, The Vision of God. He’s hardly alone in his assessment, even among non-Orthodox specialists in Late Antiquity.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t make Dionysius a plagiarist.

Well, duh, the late Platonists didn’t predicate concerning the one, or at least not concerning its inward activity, only its outward activity. On this Plotinus is sufficiently clear. But the reasons why the late Platonists can’t predicate and the Orthodox do not concerning God ad intra are not the same. First because we don’t hold their view of simplicity and we have a trinity of persons in God. So no, it isn’t the same, it is quite anti-platonic and Lossky says so in his Vision of God.  Here I’d recommend you read Gallwitz’ work on the Cappadocians and the transformation of divine simplicity, from Oxford.

End quotes from Perry

So what is the Eastern View of God with respect to language?

Lossky says,

“Proceeding by negations one ascends from the inferior degrees of being to the highest, by progressively setting aside all that can be known, in order to draw near to the Unknown in the darkness of absolute ignorance.” (pg. 25) The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladamir Lossky (Saint Vladamir’s Seminary Press: Crestwood, New York, 1976)

St. Ignatius of Antioch says in his Letter to the Magnesians 8, “For this reason also they were persecuted. But they were inspired by his gracious gift, so that the disobedient became fully convinced that there is one God, who manifested himself through Jesus Christ his Son, who is his Word that came forth from silence, who was pleasing in every way to the one who sent him.” The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1, ed. Ehrman (Loeb Classical Library), pg. 249. Ignatius was also known for his assertion that, “Silence is the language of heaven.”  Language is therefore created on this view. In this case, language will ALWAYS be incapable of expressing the fullness of God. That is the anchoretic view of the Eastern Church. 

Dr. Clark in describing Plotinus says,

“The Supreme One, transcending even the duality of propositional truth, transcending Mind, beyond all knowledge, shines by its own nature, and its expanding rays are the ranks of being in the world, each less brilliant than the prior one, until the light is lost in darkness and nothingness.” Clark, Gordon. The Trinity, (Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1985) pg. 115

The Neo-Platonic view and the Eastern view are indistinguishable.

Christ says to the Father , John 17:8 for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. Again, John 8:40 “But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God.” The language that Jesus gives us is the language that was given to him by the Father. The idea that God’s realm is silent in the sense that there is no language is wrong  There is also no modulation of the language necessary for language is eternal, uncreated and part of the thinking of God himself. Moreover, in John 6:63 Jesus refers to the fact that his words ARE SPIRIT! There is nothing terrestrial, carnal and mere about words.