James L. Kelley, PHILIP SHERRARD: ORTHODOX THEOSOPHY AND THE REIGN OF QUANTITY (Norman, OK: Romanity Press, 2015).

Download Romanity Press’s first installment in the “Breaks and Links” series. This series of short tracts covers various Modern Orthodox theologians as well as related topics. “Philip Sherrard: Orthodox Theosophy and the Reign of Quantity” can be downloaded free at academia.edu (https://www.academia.edu/15352902/James_L._Kelley_PHILIP_SHERRARD_ORTHODOX_THEOSOPHY_AND_THE_REIGN_OF_QUANTITY_Norman_OK_Romanity_Press_2015_) or at scribd.com (https://www.scribd.com/doc/278314269/James-L-Kelley-Philip-Sherrard-Orthodox-Theosophy-and-the-Reign-of-Quantity). The essay’s briefer first part examines the influence of theosophy on Philip Sherrard’s presentation of man’s experience of the sacred, while the lengthier last section analyzes Sherrard’s astute critique of the much-maligned “Western civilization.” Though his early embrace of German Romantic aesthetics led Sherrard to the gravest of errors in his teachings about God, man and creation, his insightful account of Western theological and cultural decline shows him to be, if not an important Orthodox writer, at least a noteworthy anti-Western polemicist.

KEY WORDS: Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Philip Sherrard, Sophiology, Modern Orthodox Theologians, Neopatristic Theology, Gnosticism, Boehme, Behmenism, Met. Kallistos Ware, Romanides, Florovsky, Perennialism, Traditionalism

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7 Responses to James L. Kelley, PHILIP SHERRARD: ORTHODOX THEOSOPHY AND THE REIGN OF QUANTITY (Norman, OK: Romanity Press, 2015).

  1. redoves says:

    Yaaaay, something I can comment on while still getting caught up on Virilio…~

    This is Sherrard alright: scathing indictments of scholastico-scientism mixed with toxic doctrine that can take a good and infuriating while to wash out.

    So many errors stem from misidentifying the seat of sexuality. Postmodern types (among others) tend to identify it with energy and so find it mutable and ultimately unreal, whereas theosophist types like Sherrard tend to identify it with essence and so find anyone possessing the essence in question to be ultimately androgynous. Not that this is the proper forum for me to pontificate novel metaphysics of sexuality, but I find that identifying hypostasis–“he” and “she” as references to whos, i.e., hypostases–as the seat of sexuality solves many, many problems and circumvents all this “Eternal Feminine” mishmash, not to mention all the homoeroticism implicit in the phenomenologies of so much traditional religion. (This ties somewhat into your Homogenesis articles.)

    Anyway, Sherrard may still be somewhat of an underground name, but he is quite dangerous, especially if one encounters him during formative years. (I speak from personal experience.) Good work here in coolly presenting his pros and cons.

    • romeosyne says:

      Yes, you have seen the connection between the Sherrard tract and the I-E homogenesis articles. In fact, I should write a new piece on Sherrard’s Christianity and Eros to outline these themes further. Two great (but undeservedly obscure) writers on the history of sexuality that I am re-reading now are Lawrence Birken (CONSUMING DESIRE, ETC.) and Eli Zaretsky (CAPITALISM, THE FAMILY AND PERSONAL LIFE). Thanks for the apropos comment…

  2. James says:

    Re: “…the gravest of errors in his teachings about God, man and creation,”

    I think you should have at very least mentioned these instead of supposing the reader had any idea of what you were referring to or whether your affirmation had any objective validity. Did one of the translators of the Philokalia really sustained the gravest of errors regarding God? This is not plausible a priori, and courtesy to the man should have imposed an obligation upon you.

    Personally, I think Sherrard did not entirely understand traditional metaphysics and held to an unintelligible idea of Guenon’s work, but that is another topic. I’ve never encountered a serious criticism of his Orthodoxy.

    • romeosyne says:

      Recall what I wrote in the early pages of the essay: “Later in his career Sherrard would teach that the divine essence is ‘androgynous’ and ‘bisexual’ and that the Theotokos was a human incarnation of the ‘Eternal Feminine’” (p. 4). So, James, do you think that the Holy Trinity is both male and female? Sherrard does, and this is the gravest of heresies. His Mariology is heretical as well, since Mary the Theotokos is not an instantiation of an Archetype of eternal femininity. Also, though I did not speak much or at all about it in the essay, Sherrard’s Christology is heretical: he claims that Hindus and Asians and Native Americans should not feel compelled to accept Christ, since the divine light shines on them through a non-Christian archetypal lens. Hindus should stay Hindus, since their psyches cannot be diverted from their cultural furrow into an “alien” religious thought-form. This is all heresy of the most serious variety. Read Sherrard’s Human Image: World Image and Christianity: Lineaments of a Sacred Tradition for details. So, your objection that a translator of the Philokalia cannot possibly believe heresies is incorrect in this case. Also, the fact that no one else that you know of has pointed out Sherrard’s heresies has no bearing whatever on whether or not Sherrard teaches heresy, as you can plainly see. If you have any other questions or concerns, I am eager to continue the dialogue.

  3. Mark says:

    St. Justin Martyr (First Apology): Christ is the “first born of God–the Logos in whom every human race participates”
    “Those who lived in accordance with the Logos, which is in all men,[the True Light that lighteth every man–the Nous or Intellect] are Christians–even though they be called impious–such as Socrates and Heraclitus and others amongst the Greeks…Those who lived by the Logos, and those who now live thus, are Christians, without fear and without vexation.”

    • romeosyne says:

      Yes, St. Justin rightly said that all who follow the Logos (Christ) are Christians. Insofar as Socrates and Heraclitus did follow Christ, they were Christians, and thus were not “impious.” This does nothing to support Sherrard’s idea of a finite number of civilizational/religious archetypes that correspond to various regions of the globe and which allegedly give pagans tickets to a Christian heaven. I welcome any comments or questions about historical or interpretational aspects of my writing, but from an Orthodox viewpoint, perennialism is heretical; from a perennialist viewpoint, my traditional Orthodoxy is heretical. There is nothing very interesting to say beyond this, apropos of Orthodoxy vs. perennialism, I fear. That is why I wrote a chapter about Sherrard, and not a book. I offered an interpretation of what may have led Sherrard to consider himself Orthodox and yet also hold non-Orthodox beliefs, which, if nothing else, is food for thought about a significant religious author of the last century. We need more articles, more reasoned, footnoted responses. Proof texting, in this case, does nothing for us.

  4. Cleverson says:

    The only paper by Sherrard I know so far is the fourth chapter of his book called Christianity: Lineaments of a Sacred Tradition, which always seemed to me to be an awesome refutation of René Guénon’s metaphysics. So now I’m sorry to find he was an heretic.

    Apart from it, congratulations for your work including this blog.

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