On the “Uncreated Energies” (Part 1)

Gregory Palamas, a very important thinker for the Orthodox, proposed that God has “uncreated energies.” He has many reasons for these. We shall alight upon one or two of them. Gregory holds with the entire Tradition – and against the ever-changing and self-surprising God of von Balthasar – that God does not change. This is spot on.

His difficulty is understanding how on earth creation can be non-eternal (in the backwards direction). How can creation have a moment before which it was not? That is his difficulty. Another difficulty: How can you suddenly receive God’s grace? Don’t each of these things imply change in God?

The error to avoid: Do not think that God changes from not-creating to creating. That is treating God as though he were a “substance” that has “actions” as certain “attributes”. He would thereby no longer be absolutely simple. Rather, he would be complex, as you or I. From “not creating” he would change to “creating”. Gregory is right to reject this portrait of God, and for the reason he rejects it.