Drawing on both similarities and disagreements between the apophatic theology of Dionysius and Gregory of Nazianzus, I will demonstrate how glossolalia can be better understood through the lens of apophatic theology. Gregory and Dionysius both recognize the failure of human language, but each follows that concept to a different conclusion. Dionysius switches from categories of knowledge to categories of experience and focuses the mystical life on ascetic practices in the hopes that they promote an experience of God’s presence. Pentecostals, with our emphasis on experience, often find a kinship with thinkers like Dionysius. In contrast, Gregory of Nazianzus switches from the quest for our own knowledge to a reliance on revealed knowledge. Thus, while Dionysius relies on our ability to experience God, Gregory relies on God’s ability to make Godself known. We are unable to know God, except that God made Godself known. The Father condescends to provide the Law, a framework through which we understand Christ. The Son condescends to show us the Father. Likewise, the baptism of the Holy Spirit provides for us the only method by which we can speak mysteries to God. This method is a private prayer language, which is often called glossolalia.
"Is Wisdom Silent?: Apophatic Glossolalia,"
Spiritus: ORU Journal of Theology: Vol. 7
, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalshowcase.oru.edu/spiritus/vol7/iss1/5
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