Thursday, 31 May 2012

Difference between Western and Eastern Catholic Church - Robert Byron


From Robert Byron - The Byzantine Achievement, 1929


The psychological difference between the two Churches lies at bottom in their temporal outlook.

To the Greek, who by nature lives entirely in the present, the conception of future resurrection and future afterlife is obscure. To the Roman it is as clear as his own hand.

The result is that while, for the Roman, the whole impulse of religion is in essence eschatological, woven with the idea of post-human progression, for the Greek it is derived from the desire to seek transfiguration, not in the future, but the present.

The Roman, in this life, is concentrated on the problems of sin and grace: his eyes are fixed on the below; the other world, though parent of his activity, is far off.

For the Greek it is here. He lives in two worlds at once, and his eyes are on the upper of them; the Eucharist is not so much a means of grace as 'a medicine of immortality'.

While in Roman opinion, God became man that man's sins might be forgiven with a view to future immortality, in Greek it was that his human nature might be deified, not in some future state, but now.

This for the Roman the prime function of religion is an ethical one, the regulation of conduct.

For the Greek it is the piercing of the sensory veil, the justification of the divine spark in man with its extraterrestrial affinity, God.


COMMENT: I'm with the Greek on this.



The Crow said...

The Greeks have it.
Or at least, they did.
It doesn't translate well, though, to austerity programs in the present.

Man is not Divine until he makes it so.
Strangely, he is mostly unaware of this.
Created in God's Image, you might imagine would give him some clue as to his latent potential, but no...
Man imagines, instead, in his obsession with mere appearances, that he looks like God, and God looks like him.

Bruce Charlton said...

Another way of thinking about this is that Romans are Aristotelian while Greeks are Platonists - the Greek is trying to pierce the veil in order to discern truth as eternal forms.