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Chapter III -- 11

God, when he created the logikoi, was not in anything; but when he created the corporeal nature and the worlds which proceeded from it, he was in his Christ (IV, 58). This is an important doctrine in Evagrius: God himself, without the Christ, in a single act creates all the minds (noes). Among the minds (noes) is the Christ, in whom is the Word of God from the beginning, perhaps in a special way. The Movement occurs, and only the Christ is free of negligence. To him God gives the judgement of the other minds (noes), and the creation both of the bodies for the minds (noes) judged and of the worlds which correspond to those bodies. This creation the Christ accomplishes using the second natural contemplation, which corresponds to the wisdom of God. This is the significance of the following passage: The gnosis which concerns the second nature is the spiritual contemplation of which the Christ made use in creating from it the nature of bodies and the worlds (III, 26). As we have already remarked, the use of a gnosis or contemplation by the Evagrian Christ for the creation of the bodies and the worlds for the judged minds (noes) indicates both that for Evagrius gnosis or contemplation is not merely a subjective state of the mind (nous) which knows or contemplates, and that Evagrius seems to have a Stoic or Neoplatonic doctrine of the role in creation of the reasons (logoi) of created beings.

It is well to remark that this doctrine of the reasons (logoi) of created things was not in itself condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Synod. In itself, taken in an Orthodox way—that these are the reasons (logoi) of created objects in the Mind or wisdom of God—it does not seem to be heretical. Indeed, St Augustine himself, as we shall see in Chapter IV, advances a similar doctrine; and St Maximos the Confessor himself espouses a doctrine of natural contemplation that clearly is based on Evagrius.

Anathema 6 of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod does condemn a doctrine that the world was created by the Christ from ‘subsistent elements more ancient than its [i.e. the world’s] own existence, the dry, the wet, the hot and the cold, and the form according to which it [i.e. the world] was modelled’. We have not seen a doctrine of pre-existent elements either in the Kephalaia Gnostica or in Peri Archon—insofar as we could grasp that aspect of Peri Archon—but it is possible that that doctrine and the doctrine of the pre-existent form on which the world was modelled, together reflect an elaboration of Evagrius’ doctrine that the Christ created the world by means of the second natural contemplation, the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of existent things: it is possible that the ‘form according to which it [i.e. the world] was modelled’ refers to the reasons (logoi) of created things that are the content of the second natural contemplation. (Origen himself does not to our knowledge advance such a detailed doctrine how the Christ created the world.) The statement quoted above from Anathema 6 would then be the Fifth Ecumenical Synod’s understanding of the Evagrian doctrine of the use by the Christ of the second natural contemplation to create the worlds. Would this make the second natural contemplation heretical? We ourselves think that the notions that the reasons (logoi) of created things are the reasons (logoi) in the Mind or wisdom of God of those created things and that those reasons (logoi) can be contemplated (with the grace of God, surely) cannot in themselves be heretical, but should we be proved wrong, then we submit to the judgement of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod.

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