Browsing through the blogs, I found a very interesting blog from “St. Disillusion” on “Christianity is a Travesty”, with a post here:
I am so taken with the blog and the good saints comments, even more his questions, that I posted a rather extensive response to his remarks about the purpose of life. Since I have been mulling these ideas over for a post here, I decided to break protocol and cross post my own response, although I very much encourage you to go visit with Saint D. I expect to return often.
For the record, I thing God is greatly pleased when we ask such questions in the same spirit with which a child, having been wounded or undone by the actions of a parent, never less comes to that parent in faith to make his complaint. Think the book of Job.
Below is my response, which I hope to flesh out almost as a theme to these pages.
An Interesting post and a hugely important question to contemplate.
My own thoughts run in this way:
God is not surprised by the fall, seeing the end from the beginning. If time is not a medium in which the transcendent God exists, but rather space/time is part of what He created, then his experience of our action is not limited to sequence. Before the first act of creation, the whole scheme of the fall and redemption was seen. He is not “making it up as we go along” As the Prime cause, He cannot be simply reacting to mankind, but is acting – and we are still in the process of creation, of being created. As (I think) St. John said, “It has not yet appeared what we shall be…”
OK, what then is God about in creating humankind?
When God says “let us create man in our own image” there is a mandate to think about the attributes of God, in order to understand something of what that “image” is. There are two related concepts that leap to my mind-
1) He is as I mentioned, a source of events, an “unmoved mover” acting by His will, being under no compulsion to act in any way other than His own nature. Among the thngs of this creation, we see that they are not so; inanimate objects act in pure accord to the physical forces upon them. Animate objects do the same, reaching higher into the beginnings of personality, with instinct and learning. I of course do not know how high the higher animals reach. But with us,we see at least the glimmer of causality. In the Genesis 2 story, “the animals were brought to Adam to see what he would call them, and whatever he called them, that was its name” The name of course being a defining characteristic of what something or someone IS. But man’s word was free, it was authoritative, and it was effectual, having consequences. Later the fall of man is listed as free choice (although Eve and Adam both pleaded that they did not choose freely, but were influenced by the serpent and by each other, and ultimately by God himself –they abdicated their power) with permanent consequences.
Theologians from St. Paul to St Augustine to the reformers speak of there being bondage of sin. In part, this refers to our diminished ability to act as we know is right, and as we wish to act. Secular mental health practitioners sometimes will model “health” as an enhanced power to make effectual choices in our life: to stop only reacting to our circumstances, but being able to make autonomous and authoritative decisions and actions that can start a new chain of causative effects for those around us and for ourselves.
In my understanding, God created Adam (including Eve) whether one reads that story as symbolic and metaphorical, or historical, with free will like His own. That being a gift with tremendous destructive possibility, we misused it, bring its loss. But being that God’s choices are always effectual, the plan from the beginning is a restoration of that authority for us. That is a part of what I understand by salvation.
2) Another attribute of God is Trinitarian. His existence is described as “Three Persons in One Being” or, a “plural unity”
This suggest to me that at the core of creation, since like creates like, the highest mark of His creation will in some fashion share that attribute. We too are meant to experience alife as a plural unity, and in the old formula, “Neither confusing the persons, nor dividing the essence” And that we are being worked with in a way to develop that among us. My greates example is in marriage, which is a dual unity, “one flesh” and yet I am not my wife, she is not an appendage to me. The Father is not the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and yet “He who has seen me has seen the Father” There is another chapter or two here, which I have touched on in other places, but enough for now.
Also remember Jesus’ prayer “…that they all may be one, even as you and I are one…”,
And our corporate identity as “the bride of Christ” There’s that marriage thing again!
But if from these two ideas, we are to be able to love freely, without compulsion or need, to give in abandon without self interest, in a unity bound by nothing other than mutual love and mutual submission, then there is a process to be gone through to make us capable of that.
I’m no Jung scholar, but I believe he described two great tasks of life: first, discovering that I am separate from the world- I am not the world, other people are not extensions of me, etc. I am separate. The second great task is reintegration. This seems to me to perfectly describe not just my own path through life, but also to Christian story of humanity. That while sin is still sin, God knew it befor the foundation of the world, and incorporated it into His plan, in the same way He incorporated the sin of Judas into His plan. The first task of Jung was accomplished early in Genesis, with the rest of the Old Testament devoted mostly to describing that separation, some consequences, and some attempts to restore it. The New Testament describes God’s actions to heal the breach, to accomplish the second great task of reintegration, culminating with the marriage of the Lamb at the end of the Revelation.
With St. John, I have no idea “why” God intends all of this (other than Life overflows, and creates more of itself), but I think this life is not the full story; that we are being made for something, and that God foresaw (or should I say “saw” or even “sees”) this entire process as one creative act of His, to make creatures “In our own image” and fit for what He intends next.
I think it is an exiting prospect!.