Confusing ‘Beyond Nature’ with ‘Contrary to Nature’

In St. Gregory Palamas’s dialogue Theophanes, the learner Theotimos asks Theophanes (who represents Palamas) about the view of those who claim that, although the essence of God is incomprehensible and incommunicable, it still can be comprehended and communicated in a way beyond nature (Lt tr.: supernaturaliter, Gk: ὑπερφυῶς), because, after all, it is fitting for God to be beyond nature. To this view Theophanes responds (PG 150:944-945):

But this is not beyond nature, nor fitting God – away with it! But rather it is contrary to nature and entirely impossible. For the same thing, in the same respect, being communicable and incommunicable, comprehensible and incomprehensible, is certainly unsuitable, and incoherent, and furthest from the truth, and as it were contradictory in the highest degree, because according to divine Gregory of Nyssa, whatever is said about God, although they may differ in meaning, may have no contradiction at the same time with the name applied. He who speaks thus, affirming the same thing in the same respect, he himself by his own words is opposed to God, and confuses in Him what is beyond nature with what is contrary to nature.

Certainly a very important reminder even today.

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