Eastern Patristics on Human’s Free Will and Divine Predestination: Conceptual Continuity in the Contemporary Russian Culture
This article deals with the most crucial philosophical and theological issue of correlation of freedom, freedom of will, and Divine predestination, which arose in shaping the Christian doctrine and remains emergent for contemporary Russian culture and society. This problem permeated all the centuries of Christianity’s formation, beginning with the period of apologetics, but it reached its climax in the classical Patristics epoch during the Byzantine Trinity and Christological theological disputes between the Western and Eastern Church Fathers. In theological discussions, they formed subtle differences, characterizing the discrepancy between Eastern and Western Patristics representatives’ views. We analyze the creative heritage of Greek-Byzantine (Eastern) Patristics, influencing the relationship between human freedom and Divine predestination, also conducting some comparative analysis with Western Patristics. The attention is also focused on the subtleties mostly of the Greek Church Fathers’ comprehension of connections between free will and freedom of choice, which correlates with human rationality, high morality, and choice of deification as a movement towards God. Philosophical reflection of described ideas of Eastern Patristics is also carried in conjunction with Christian soteriology, that is, the doctrine of spiritual salvation and eternal life. A prominent place in the article is given to some ideas of deification, the moral perfection of personality, and the Absolute spiritual ascent. The article stands on the original teachings of prominent Saints of Eastern Christianity—Maximus the Confessor, Athanasius of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, John of Damascus, and Justin Martyr as a predecessor for both the Eastern and Western Patristics. This article also examines the refraction of the ideas of Church Fathers in contemporary Russian culture and philosophical studies of Patristics and Byzantine philosophy. Adhering to the Russian academic tradition of Byzantology, we present some implementations of Greek Church Fathers’ ideas, particularly on free will and Divine predestination, in the works of gifted Russian Byzantologist scholars. We try to attract the reader’s attention to the valuable Byzantine heritage in order to continue the tradition of studying the Church Father’s legacy in our country.