One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Via Negativa

Apophatic Theology (from Ancient Greek: ἀπόφασις, from ἀπόφημι – apophēmi, "to deny")—also known as negative theology, via negativa or via negationis[1] (Latin for "negative way" or "by way of denial")—is a theology that attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.[2] It stands in contrast with cataphatic theology.

A startling example can be found with theologian John Scotus Erigena (9th century): "We do not know what God is. God Himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being."

In brief, negative theology is an attempt to clarify religious experience and language about the Divine Good through discernment, gaining knowledge of what God is not (apophasis), rather than by describing what God is. The apophatic tradition is often, though not always, allied with the approach of mysticism, which focuses on a spontaneous or cultivated individual experience of the divine reality beyond the realm of ordinary perception, an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion or the conditioned role-playing and learned defensive behavior of the outer man.
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