I'm beginning to like the "theses" format. This fiver is in honor of the today's 1554th anniversary of the opening of Chalcedon: Still right after all these years.
Thesis 1. If only first millenium Christians had more readily read Maximus the Confessor, the church might not have split in 1054 for indeed he "combined the speculative genius of the East with the soteriological genius of the West" (p. 2) .
Thesis 2. If only 16th century Christians had more readily read Maximus the Confessor, the church might not have split in 1517 for he understood that "As the memory of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not bring about the illumination of knowledge in the soul."(p. 38).
Thesis 3. If only Prostestant Christians had more readily read Maximus the Confessor, we might not have continual Wesleyan/Calvinist infighting, as the doctrine for which he died preserves the integrity of the human will (wherein Wesleyans place the accent) and divine will (wherein Calvinists place it). A brief investigation into the doctrine Maximus died for, dyotheletism (dyo=two, thelo=will; meaning there were not one but two wills in Christ) should make that clear.
Thesis 4. If only modern era Christians had more readily read Maximus the Confessor, there might not be such a split identity in Seminaries between "spirituality" and "academics" - for in Maximus the line between prayer and theology just simply isn't there. In fact, "the purpose of theology is to safeguard against misunderstandings that frustrate a Christian life of prayer" (p.viii).
Thesis 5. And finally, if only third millenium Protestants would more readily read Maximus the Confessor, we might not have all this Evangelical/Emergent infighting (sigh), for Maximus' theology highlights the necessary harmony between defensible truth claims (wherein evangelicals place the accent) and the apophatic, unknowable mystery contained within them (wherein emergent folks, it seems, like to place the accent).
"Not even the words of the orthodox dogma, for which Maximus contended and suffered all his life, could adequately encompass the mystery of faith. 'Theological mystagogy' transcended the dogmas formulated by the councils of the Church. A spirituality shaped by orthodox apophaticism, therefore, was one that gratefully acknowldeged those dogmas and was ready to defend them to the death against those who sought to distort them, but at the same time, willingly - in fact, worshipfully - acknowledged the limitations that had been placed on all knowledge and all affirmation, be it human or angelic" (p. 9).Addendum: By saying such audacious things I am indeed suggesting that one particular man is the answer to all our problems. That man being of course not Maximus the Confesssor, but Jesus Christ - the fullness of truth about whom Maximus defended, even to the point of losing his tongue, hand, and consequently his life.
The least we can do in return is read him.