Fr Dumitru Staniloae: Have You Separated Natural and Supernatural Revelation?

Feast of St Peter the Righteous of Egypt

Staniloae_Square_2.jpgTHE ORTHODOX church makes no separation between natural and supernatural revelation. Natural revelation is known and understood fully in the light of supernatural revelation, or we might say that natural revelation is given and maintained by God continuously through His own divine act which is above nature. That is why Saint Maximus the Confessor does not posit an essential distinction between natural revelation and the supernatural or biblical one. According to him, this latter is only the embodying of the former in historical persons and actions.

This affirmation of Maximus must probably be taken more in the sense that the two revelations are not divorced from one another. Supernatural revelation unfolds and brings forth its fruit within the framework of natural revelation, like a kind of casting of the work of God into bolder relief, a guiding of the physical and historical world toward that goal for which it was created in accordance with a plan laid down from all ages. Supernatural revelation merely restores direction to and provides a more determined support for that inner movement maintained within the world by God through natural revelation. At the beginning, moreover, in that state of the world which was fully normal, natural revelation was not separated from a revelation that was supernatural. Consequently, supernatural revelation places natural revelation itself in a clearer light.

It is possible, however, to speak both of a natural revelation and of a supernatural one, since, within the framework of natural revelation, the work of God is not emphasized in the same way nor is it as evident as it is in supernatural revelation.

—Fr Dumitru Staniloae, The Experience of God, Vol 1: Revelation and Knowledge of the Triune God

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