Posts Tagged ‘christology’

Arius and Athanasius

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

I was in a study group with Martin Samson about Arius and Athanasius. I brought Athanasius’ argument from experience against the semi-Arians in the 350s, that when we worship Jesus Christ in the liturgy we experience that we are in connection with God, the ground of being; and that we know that it is forbidden to worship anything created. I represented the ban on idolatry as pretty normative, which I think I would stick by. Martin has been in touch to query my stand on this, and will comment on this post.

Just looking at it in itself: even if the Word that incarnates is the the ‘created Logos’, the cosmic Christ – (as is implied in so many statements by Steiner on the identity of Christ with the Elohim = Exousiai, ie beings of the hierarchies) – nevertheless he is a vessel for the uncreated Logos, the Son. Compare this with the experience of the second sentence of the 2nd part of the Trinity Epistle, with the word “as”. So we don’t worship a creature, we worship through him. I wonder if the concepts developed in the disputes on the worship of icons in the Eastern churches would be helpful here. Is the created Logos ultimately an icon of the Son? Does this open the door for a veneration of creation that is not idolatrous, because creation itself is icon?


Friday, April 9th, 2010

Technology, spirituality and Michaelic community building

In prechristian times there was a technology devoted largely to getting human beings into contact with the spiritual world. This was the gift of Lucifer. Priests anticipated future technology as a counterbalance by cultivating the very Ahrimanic arts of measuring and controlling – see the temple records from ancient Egypt, which have an awful lot of detail about the levels of the Nile etc.

Nowadays we can’t depend on the priestly caste to provide the counterbalance. If the whole thrust of our technology is to involve us in the earth, the counterbalance is art (gift of Lucifer).  Now however there’s a quantum leap: CIT takes us into a realm ‘below nature’ as RS describes it. We experience this, or at least we experience that different laws obtain: think of the difference between a film and a play. The film takes us outside of the natural. The play creates an illusion, but it is governed by the laws of time and space. Because the film is a product of many hours of filming, refilming and editing, and what we see only provides the illusion of continuity in time and space, it has removed itself from the laws that govern our every day experience. This is not supposed to imply that films are ‘bad’ – anyway rarely a useful characterisation, but it is important to characterise how they work.

My Ludlow post was about the emergent intelligence behind all the machines, and the purpose we can experience. I quoted the rancher from Fast Food Nation as evidence that there is such an intelligence and that it / he has a purpose.  And here we might arrive at the hypothesis of a third power working through Ahriman, even if RS hadn’t already presented us with one; what starts to shimmer through a hundred thousand isolated phenomena goes beyond Ahriman’s own intention, of burying us in the material world, which we can see as a great contribution to our freedom.  We see an emergent system bent on control, suppression and destruction. And the counterforce to this not a bit more Lucifer or Ahriman, but what was cultivated between them and beyond them: Christ. Not Christ, the property of Christians, but Christ the power of true humanity blessed and raised by the divine; the power of life in death, the power of belief. The power to look steadily at the counterimage, in order to see the truth.

Tomorrow in the conference we’ll talk about how we meet the shadow-sides of technology. Hopefully I’ll have more to say after that!

One of the participants at the Trigonos conference told us about TED. Seems very interesting.


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Kevin made a great comment on my “Knowing Christ” post, and my reply burst the bounds, so here it is as a new post.

I just recently had a discussion about whether the gospels are objective fact or ‘just stories’. Well I’m sure there was a reality which the gospels refer to, but it’s a big question how I would receive it if it weren’t clad in human language, in images – if it weren’t ‘story’. So Jesus tells the story about God – in fact you could say as God’s Word he is the story about God. Some theologians go from this to concluding that there is nothing more than story – asking ‘what do Christians believe?’ is the same as asking ‘what stories do they tell?’ Then it’s as unreal to ask what God is ‘really like’, beyond the stories, as it is to ask where the father of the prodigal son lived. The prodigal is true, even though no-one thinks it was historical fact.

Stanley Hauerwas says the moment you claim more, that your tradition is in possession of some kind of objective or absolute truth, you are on a path that leads to war.
But – but – but… I’m reminded of the title of Steiner’s first work about Christianity, Christianity as mystical fact. Somehow we have to encompass a reality that is at once mystical, ie inner and fact.
So there’s also a question of the kind of knowing. Kevin brought me a step further with his Eckhardt quote – thanks for that! (incidentally, a quick websearch to find the source took me to this lovely post of a homily on the Prodigal Son) The kind of knowing we’re talking about here is not reductive – in the sense of saying: if we’ve understood the story, we’ve got to the essence, and we can throw away the packaging. People sometimes – understandably – speak like that about the Act of Consecration of Man: Why seven candles? as if it were all an elaborate code. It’s a knowing that changes the knower and the known, like Adam knowing Eve. It’s not knowing about, but truly knowing. And such knowing is creative – it bears fruit in a new reality, just like procreation. And that’s how I understand Meister Eckardt – God has bound up his further fruitfulness with our journey. The homily above reminds us that the prophets bring the beautiful image of God looking for faithless Israel like a husband seeking his faithless wife. And of course the imagery of the wedding as a figure for the love of God for man, which runs through the whole Bible, implies a union and the birth of something new.
So we could think of coming from church to have tea with our atheist friend, who challenges us – why do you bother doing that? can you know that God exists? – which is actually a question about God. And if we’ve taken communion, and we’re feeling up to the challenge, we might answer: no, but I do know him!

Knowing Christ

Monday, March 29th, 2010

If God is made known to us through Christ, the question whether we can know Christ is really important. But just step back from the way theologians use words for a moment and ask: how can we know him? Then the incarnation gets another layer of importance – his humanity makes him knowable. If he is “the man” (Pilate) then what I know of humanity shows me him. Our primary data about God is the human. That’s also our surest test: if some god or ideology or system tells us we have to be inhuman, you can be sure it’s not Christian. Even if it’s called the church.
Fascinating in Borg & Crossan’s book that they point out the likely near simultaneity of Jesus’ entry on Palm Sunday with Pilate’s, taking up residence for the turbulent week of passover. The humble, human procession is the advent of God. The glorious powerful display is the arrival of the all-too-human.

Christology book

Friday, March 26th, 2010

God for Christians is the one who discloses himself. His Son is his Word – the communication of his being. We encounter this self-disclosure in creation, but only as something finished. As we make the transition from peripheral beings to centred ones, we need a  new kind of disclosure.

The self-disclosure of God in Christ means that we can be connected to ultimate reality without losing our individuality. When we say ‘not I but Christ in me’ it is not negation but ??? what’s the word here? Steigerung in German. Augmentation with intensification.

So it is very important that we know Christ, as the one through whom we know the Father. We need to make real for ourselves how this man can be the revealor of ultimate reality. This explains the intense preoccupation with the identity of Jesus Christ that lived in the first centuries of Christianity, and has never really left the church until today.

Knowledge that saves

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Book #2 is starting to take shape. The struggle has been to find the way in. Now I seem to have the line: can’t write a book which is supposed to help us to know Jesus without writing about knowing Jesus! In other words, the what without the how is pointless.
This seems right whatever object one’s discussing. But in case of Jesus, the Bible is full of statements about salvation coming from knowledge of God. How does this sit with post 4th century pessimism in West about our capacity to know him?
Challenges: theol. epistemology; salvific cognition; different ways of knowing in experience. This to include the experience of oscillation between extremes in ethics (virtue the opposite of vice, but holding the dynamic) – not natural theology is sense of something opposed to faith, but recognition that ultimately universe is Christlike.