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The Theology Pugcast: The Via Positiva and the Via Negativa: The Positive and Negative Ways of Doing Theology

Glenn introduces us to the medieval distinction between the Via Positiva, an approach to thinking about God that emphasizes the things we can affirm about God, and the Via Negativa, an approach that focuses on the limitations of finite creatures to understand the infinite Creator. In general, Western Christianity has put more emphasis on the Via Positiva, also known as Kataphatic theology, while Eastern Orthodox Christianity has emphasized the Via Negativa, or Apophatic theology. Chris points out that the Via Negativa is necessary to prevent us from falling into idolatry by thinking we’ve got God all worked out. Tom brings in the transcendence of God, leading into a discussion of God’s holiness and what that means. The guys also discuss different approaches to spirituality based on a grid with Apophatic and Kataphatic on the horizontal axis, and Mind and Heart on the vertical.