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A Christian Orthodoxy
and the Holy Spirit

"... in a few days You will be baptized
with the Holy Spirit."
Acts 1:5

© Wim van den Dungen


the shipwreck of philosophy
the natural image in Hellenism & Judaism
individuality versus personhood
the personal experience of God
theomonism instead of monotheism
the Divine in Ancient Egypt, Greece & Rome
asking for human persons
the exodus of bondage
the exodus of death
creation out of nothing
the intelligible depth of beings
perpetual creation
the Person of Jesus Christ
the Jesus of history and the Christ of myth
the sacramental Jesus Christ and the light of the world
major sources of a theology of mysticism
the schism in the universal church of Jesus Christ
the imprisonment of Christian ethics
the redemption of Satan ?

the shipwreck of philosophy

Philosophy is the fine flower of the natural mind and its sciences, the excellence of the persuit of knowledge for its own sake, the final step in the emancipation of reason (rationality guided by itself), opening up understanding, inviting wisdom. The best minds invoke an intellectual love of God. Here the echo of the true call is transcendence. But the vehement devotee of God finds in this intellectual theology, the limitation of philosophy, whereas to the latter, this is precisely the ultimate expression of its intent, namely the "ipsum Esse subsistens" (Thomas Aquinas), the one sole existence of God.

Because thought and reason are its tools, philosophy is divided for the sake of an ever escaping horizon. Being a particular mental activity pertaining to the order of the languages of science, it exclusively works with a dual and finite logic. In the latter, two entities are always and irreversibly placed in opposition or contrary to each other, and the third is excluded (the set "A and not-A" is empty).

As a result, philosophical understanding enlightens, but exists in darkness (cf. Hegel's the flight of the owl at night), whereas absolute understanding is blind.

Mothering the principle of duality, natural excellence of mind is unable to pierce through the barrier of creation, the ring-pass-not. Because of this, philosophy is not equipped to escape the dialogue of the individuals (the intelligent animal and its objectivity posited outside the subject of cogniton). Love of wisdom belongs to the order of creation and its natural, rational laws. To be personally invited is a gift, not an accomplishment, not even for its own sake (contemplative). For God is not an abstract "esse", but a God-Person, a "Thou", not in any relational sense, but in a personal sense.

The reign of the dyad is not intended to bring peace, for two numbers always function in relational oppositions. Immanent metaphysics is devoid of the order of grace given by the Living God and His revelation. Understanding is without the spiritual awakening necessary to receive an uncreated light higher than the intellect, so as to humanize the human person. Hence, the darkness of the irreducible groundless ground of the mind -perceived by the eyes of the night- is defined as the light of the intellect posing as the sublime natural quality of the "nous", as it were reflecting or imaging the "esse subsistens". This posing is vain, for true greatness is not of creation.

Ergo, any philosophy of religion explaining itself in terms of an intellectual theology (of finitude) is meant to organize conflict (cf. the war of the "enantia", the elements of creation). As a result, in all possible intellectual theologies (natural or transcendent), concepts such as "essence", "unity", "oneness", "subsistence" & "substance" are crucial. They are indeed necessary to perpetuate the relational oppositions within the dyad by returning them to the "essence". But who unmasks the mask ?

"The wiser You are, the more worries You have ; the more You know, the more it hurts."
Ecclesiastes, 1:18

the natural image in Hellenism & Judaism

Classical Greek philosophy discovered the dyad and the formal mode of cognition, initiating decontextualized, conceptual rationality. Because of this, in the Mediterranean area and beyond, the ways of thought fundamentally changed.

In particular in Egypt's Late Period, Greek conceptual rationality allowed intellectual Egyptians and (a minority of) interested Greeks to finally summarize their traditional, native religion & philosophy in terms of a Pagan, Greco-Alexandrian Gnosticism : Hermetism.

Since Psammetichus I (664 - 595 BC), the Greeks had access to Egyptian sources, in particular to Memphite logoism (cf. the Memphite theology of the "heart" and the "tongue" of Ptah, extant on the Shabaka Stone, inscribed ca. 710 BC). Also within their range was the perennial Heliopolitan theology of the image ("tit", also : "form, shape, figure, design) : precreation versus creation ("in the image of Atum") and the order of Maat, i.e. justice & truth, incarnated by the king of Egypt, the "great house" ("pr-Aa") or Pharaoh, a god on Earth favoured by the gods and maker of good floods, returning Maat to his father Re.

He was the "son of Atum", and only he or his representatives faced his divine father face to face (the cult-statue in the "naos" of the sanctuary). Pharaoh was the witness. The "image", bearer of "reality", even in magical terms, belonged to the (ante-rational) canon of art since the Old Kingdom (ca. 2670 - 2205 BC). The hieroglyphs themselves were deemed sacred and vehicles of power, assisting Pharaoh to ascend to the deities.

Is it accidental, that after the complete destruction of the second Temple of Jerusalem, the Jewish diaspora gave a Hellenistic expression to the word of truth ? Today we know the Jewish qabalah has Platonic and Pythagorean sources, and is less Hebraic as some would like. The impact of Greek thought, its rapid intensity, scope and juvenile power was tremendous, as had been Alexander's armies for Darius.

The notion of the image returned in Plato, who claimed the aim of life is the imitation of God, an ideal primarily conceived on moral lines.

"Ah Theodorus, evil cannot dissapear. Indeed, there always has to be something opposing the good. And to give it a place near the gods, is not possible either ! So it must fatefully wander around mortal nature and this earthly abode. That is the reason why we have to try to flee upwards from here as soon as possible. That flight consists to become equal to God as much as possible, and this equilization means : to become righteous and pious with rational insight."
Plato : Theaetetus, 176.

The Neoplatonist Plotinus is clear : the "nous" or intellect is the natural "image" ("eikon", also : "figure, representation, comparison") of the One. This image is created out of a certain, natural necessity.

"The intellect stands as the image of The One, firstly because there is a certain necessity that the first should have its offspring, carrying onward much of its quality, ..."
Plotinus, Enneads, V,1.7.

This "certain necessity" associated with what may be called a "natural" approach of the image, is the "deus ex machina" of Platonic, Platonizing intellectual mysticism. The image is deemed to be a perfect second, and hence a direct participation in the Divine, a deification through individual perfection. Man, the microcosm, is an image or reflection of the macrocosm, God. This line of thought was also developed in Greek Paganism (the mysteries & Hermetism).

But is there a "natural" path to true salvation ? Shall all be well "of necessity" (cf. Ennead 3.2) ? Can we levitate as Baron van Münchhausen ? Although the highest levels of contemplation have reached a purity which seems wholly transcendent to the clouded mind, it remains impossible to know The One. Platonic heights are thus sterile. So it is rather the "return to the cave" which has a "certain necessity", than the mystery of the personal image of God, the "Imago Dei" hidden behind our human natures and individualities, the person or someone we truly are, not the something we possess (as our intelligence).

The Greek tradition had no voluntaristic concept, invented a dualistic anthropology (cf. Plato's "two horses" & "two worlds") and put into practice a linear interpretation of relations and processes (cf. Aristotle's ethics regarding the actualization of one's true nature and also his logic & categories).

So in Greek thought, the (active) intellect is the pure core, whereas the passions are linked with the body, and both have to be disciplined ("apatheia"). Liberated from the constraints of the body and its passions, the "nous" automatically returns to what it is and vanishes in The One, to be thrown out of oblivion, back as an intellect chained to the miserable sublunar condition. There is nothing personal in this conceptualization of man's relationship with God. The fact it ends with annihilation proves its unfruitfulness in matters spiritual. Is our return assured whatever the action of the human mind ?

Hellenism also influenced Judaism. However, in the Old Testament, there is almost a complete silence regarding God's image, except in Genesis.

"So God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness : and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him ; male and female created he them."
Genesis, 1:26-27.

Judaism (unlike Egyptian religion) introduced one living God (not a henotheist multitude of deities headed by Amun-Re, the "king of the gods"), but refused to give Him an image in human or animal form which could be worshipped. In Deuteronomy, we read the Lord spoke at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, but He had no form (similitude) and only a voice was heard (4:12). Throughout the books of the Old Testament, God hides Himself, although -paradoxically- He is called the Saviour (Isaiah 45:15) ! Adonai does not show His nature by means of any image, but does not remain an unknown God, for He speaks, reveals His Name and calls His chosen ones by their names (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), not often using angels. So Judaism reveals a personal God, a "Thou" who nevertheless remains transcendent to every image which could make Him known. The living, personal relationship between "YHVH ALHYM" is given no icon, but unfolds in a sacred history, initiated with His choice or election to liberate His people from their Egyptian masters.

This election shows, God commits Himself by entering into a personal relationship with those whom He chooses. For the Jews, the One of Plotinus was a natural, impersonal monad (as in Stoicism, Middle Platonism & Hermetism). But sanctified nature was not the perfect image of the unimaginable Unbegotten One. Of course, the One of Greek thought is not He of the Jewish revelation, neither "another God", a stranger to the "dweller in thick darkness" of the Hebrew kings. Greek philosophy approached God with the "nous" and ended up with an abstraction, a "supreme" logos or closed monad (engendering no dyad). Jewish revelation introduced the absence of icons and a personal God who only made history sacred.

Judaic revelation struggled with the fundamental antinomy between "YHVH" and "ALHYM". God (YHVH) is One, Alone and Unimaginable, but nevertheless entered into history (the convenant) and manifested His Presence in various natural, mental, social and spiritual phenomena & their processes (cf. the "Shekinah" of the manifold "Elohim"). The Hellenized, Jewish authors of the Ptolemaic Septuagint blurred the obvious contradiction by translating "ALHYM", plural & feminine, as "Theos", "Deus", singular & masculine, while in Messianism, Qabalah and Rabbinism the division reappeared.

"So the Elohim said : "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ..."
Genesis, 1:26.

The plural "us" in "Let us make man" refers to the "Presence of God" in His creation, namely to the original plural Elohim, the creators of creation by Divine speech. In the first chapter of Genesis, the phrase : "The Elohim said ... " is used 10 times (cf. the 10 Sephiroth of the Tree of Life), and with it, everything was created in the first six "days" of creation. The last three "elocutions of the Elohim" (on the sixth day) involved mankind. Here his status is clear : in the human, God's image lives, prompting man to become more and more like God. Fallen, human nature lost contact with His "image", initiating the sacred history of the chosen people, the personal God contacting Israel without revealing His nature, but only His law. The sacred history of Israel was prophetic, royal, legalistic and messianic. Out of the latter shoot, Christianity emerged.

In Daniel and the Books of Enoch, the Messiah and His Kingdom appear.

"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
Daniel 7:13-14.

"And at that hour that Son of Man was named in the presence of the Lord of Spirits, and his name before the Head of Days. (...) He shall be a staff to the righteous whereon to stay themselves and not fall, and he shall be the light of the Gentiles, and the hope of those who are troubled of heart. (...) And for this reason hath he been chosen and hidden before Him, before the creation of the world and for evermore."
Books of Enoch, XLVIII. 

In Judaism, the Divine image was posited (in general) but only indirectly thematized (in particular histories, eventually fulfilled by the Messiah). Besides being One (as in the Greek "Theos"), God revealed Himself to Israel as a true living person, someone who took the initiative to establish a direct, living & intimate "I - Thou" relationship and perpetuate it. In the process, He remained unimaginable, ineffable and in the most radical way absolutely transcendent and aniconical (without tale, form or shape, for nobody met the king of the good kingdom, cf. Baal Shem-Tov).

Even in the Qabalah, where the "Shekinah" is indeed invoked, the highest ("Ain Soph Aur") remains an impersonal, limitless vastness, an infinity of infinity lost to any personal perspective. This supernatural void or "pleroma" has a lot in common with the Egyptian "Nun", the limitless, undifferentiated primordial ocean, to be identified with the Greek "chaos". Indeed, Judaism converted to Hellenism remained mechanical. Is this not the fate of all theologies transforming the supernatural into a "deus ex machina", a supernatural fysics of abstractions regarding God ? If God were a Great Machine, His code could be cracked. As God is not something, but Someone, another approach is necessary. Only personalism will offer such good news, namely the Incarnation of God's Son and His recuperation of human nature. All the rest fails.

"God's Divine power has given us everything we need to live a truly religious life through our knowledge of the one who called us to share in his own glory and goodness. In this way he has given us the very great and precious gifts he promised, so that by means of these gifts you may escape from the destructive lust that is in the world, and may come to share the Divine nature."
1 Peter 1:3-4

Christian anthropology departs from intellectual theologies and their naturalism. God is unknowable by essence, but knowable in His existence. God is One ineffable essence in Three existing Persons sharing God's essence. The negative existence of the Qabalah is replaced by the living, personal existence of the Trinity revealed by Jesus Christ. Hence, in the sphere of humankind, Hellenistic reflection, participation & kinship (the methods of the natural image) are replaced by a personal relation, by the possibility of participating in the life of the Divine by virtue of the Divine image & the gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed on the community of Christ (the supernatural Image).

individuality versus personhood

Philosophies & rational systems underline the individual freedom of the highest primate on this planet, the Homo sapiens sapiens. Much is to be learned from these substantialist approaches. They utilize local standards to solve universal problems and not vice versa. Nearly a century of logical, epistemological & linguistic critique has not changed the realist, materialist and objectivist bias which characterizes posthumous modernism, as well as its  economical, political & social institutional sedimentations & adjacent polluting technologies. Individualizing, substantialist mentalities are contrary to the open, receptive, dynamical & personal mindset.

Personhood is a free participation in the Divine life given to humanity by God. It is possible because each human being is made in the Divine image of God, i.e. in the image of the "universal human" or human nature understood as a whole (cf. the human genome). It is man's spirit, the breath of God which imparts to humanity everything good, reflecting the plenitude of its prototype and flowering the likeness of God. The single human nature common to all individual expressions of this nature (the individual whatness of the body and whoness of the psyche), is divided in a multitude of human persons, living in all possible degrees of spiritual quickening (the being-there of someone). Insofar as humanity is fallen, this someone is drawn down into the abyss of individual free-will, identifying with the ever dividing something.

For Aristotle, the human soul contained in itself all the elements which formed the world and the other animated beings. In Ancient Egypt, as well as in Ancient Greek culture, the perfection of man lied in the restoration of his microcosmic image, so as to reflect the macrocosm. Hermetism underlined this, for the Heptarch of the firmaments had to be transcended in the Ogdoad of blessedness, in close proximity to the Ennead of the autogenic, perfect "nous", conceived as the manifestation of the Unbegotten One (the Decad).

That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Entity."
Tabula Smaragdina
, line 2.

In Heliopolitan theology as well as in Alexandrian Hermetism, the Ogdoad was reached by bracketing the seven dimensions of creation, entering a mythological "first time" (in the beginning) and jumping beyond the light of the circumpolar stars, settling the "nous" (or intellect) in the land of the blessed spirits and blissful deities.

"(...) I was born in the Abyss before the sky existed, before the earth existed, before that which was to be made firm existed, before turmoil existed, before that fear which arose on account of the Eye of Horus existed."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 486 (§ 1040). 

In Hellenized Judaism, the "Shekinah" or presence of "YHVH Elohim", prompted the rise of the Qabalah, introducing, at the apex of its theological system, three negative veils, called "Ain" (what ?), "Ain Soph" (limitless space) and "Ain Soph Aur" (limitless light). These recall the negative existence as defined by Hermopolitan theology, namely : Amun and Amaunet (hiddenness), Heh and Heket or Huh and Hauhet (eternity), Kek and Keket or Kuk and Kauket (darkness), Nun and Nunet or Nun and Naunet (primordial chaos).

Although the Qabalah deals with One God only, the veils define a negative existence declared inaccessible to man. The creature is confined to creation, and has to wait the Messiah to be able to lift the burden of sin & matter.

In Christianity, the perfection of genomic human nature is not part of the finite order of creation. But yearning after the unconditional, it is "natural" for the mind to seek transcendence in nature. The finite brain is wired to process infinity and in vain its co-relative mind tries to conquer the infinite, but ends up with idols. To posit this perfection of human nature as an enlightened microcosm, is to deify human nature by means of its own possessions, and not, as is the case, by God's gifts. The perfection of human nature is not "already there", but "bestowed". Hence, nobody possesses perfection, except God Himself.

Individual human natures are ruled by laws. It cannot escape these biological psychological and sociological parameters. The mind and its intellect is part of this human nature, as is the individual's sense of identity or ego, the seat of the free-will. The reign of this free-will on the material plane is limited by the petty households they are bound to rule. Individual economy is thus the freedom of an islander, a wanderer, a survivor of the blasts of nature, of crisis, turbulence and panic numbers. If destiny make the ego successful, centered and individualistic, obscurantism ensues and the dawnfall of its tirany is guaranteed by time.

If individual human nature limits its personality open to all other persons, God's unlikeness is achieved, and with it the degeneration of life, law & love. In extension, creation will not be redeemed because humanity relinquished its humanizing vocation. In such a scenario, human individuality would have betrayed its own, encompassing human personality. Instead of opening up, the doors would have been be sealed by the pull of the fallenness of all individual possession.

Understand that personality belongs to the order of the Divine image, and is not just another part of man's constitution (just as the Divine Persons are not parts of God) A crucial line must be drawn between "nature" and "person". As an individual, man is only one expression of the common human genome, but as a person, he is all other persons as himself. More than a single example of a common ground, each human person contains all others as himself in himself and so exceeds his individual human nature.

Personhood is irreducible to every human individual and can not be defined, only designated. Hence, personhood is the source of the greatest possible freedom, rooted in God. The personal uniqueness of someone, is what remains after all natural, individual contexts and facts have been annihilated (nulled), situating personhood in an absolute manner outside space & time. Each person is unique, and in its uniqueness he or she objectifies and collects.

Only through reciprocity can personhood be completely designated and so the "You" and the "I" form the inner poles of the constantly renewing personality in which God remains the One Absolute Witness. Hence, God is the common source of all persons (human and angelic) and thanks to God they are able to participate with each other and form the mystical body of persons of hope, faith and love.

In Greek philosophy, "ousia" and "hypostasis" were concepts used to denote the individual being of an entity. "Ousia" was its essential, monadic nature, "hypostasis" its singular particularities.

These categories define the individual nature of each entity. This particularized, biopsychological organism is part of a species. As a solitary element, it divides its own nature, related to others by natural law, not by personal connectivity & reciprocity. This happens in opposite & repetitive ways, causing division without diversity, each fraction closed to the other, the same nature constantly divided everywhere and all the time. This individual is alone and has disconnected his or her mind from the someone he or she is. Modern science, philosophy and rational theology have sprouted from this "nature morte", grasped without the light of the intellect, its humanizing persuits and immortal personhood.

Persons are united because the Divine is not possesses by them (as human nature is possessed by each individual), because they are open to other persons and able to share without restriction in the Divine intrapersonal exchange, both between them (true humanism), as between each person and God expressing Himself in a personal way (true spirituality). Theology emancipates the person to the point of surpassing the individual. Personhood is togetherness.

the personal experience of God

The fundamental neurotheological fact is simple : man is wired to experience God. To materialist science, this is nothing but an evolutionary reaction to enable us to accept death. But to the monotheist religions, God created us to worship Him.

Although mediated by conceptual (prefrontal) structures, comparative mysticism evidences the direct, unmixed, unmediated and highly emotional (limbic) nature of the personal experience of God, touching the person hidden behind the individual, inviting the solitary wanderer (the Homo erectus) to enter and settle down in communion and establishing a sense of the holy & sacred (the amygdalic response of the Homo neanderthalensis), while communicating the path towards the proper state of mind to realize this (the neo-cortical formations of the Cro Magnon, the Homo sapiens sapiens).

Mystical experience can only be designated (showed as examples) by science & philosophy, not defined. Its limitation is found in the experience itself, for the radical otherness implied can not get more personal. Hence, without the maturity of this experience (evolving from state to station), no mystical theology is possible. Conceptualizing one's personal life with God, is the only true mirror of the soul, but one has to be looking away from it (contemplating God). Personhood is this abandonment of individuality, to discover what is truly unique, the someone who remains after the ultimate negation, namely the loving "rapport" between the person and God through the Divine image rooted in the soul of every human being. Not "eros", but "agape", not "ego", but personality.

To move beyond the individual expression of a common human nature is not achieved by any intellectual contemplation, for the mind is restricted to the natural worlds of creation. The Alexandrian way only leads to the deification of the individual by means of what is already possessed, namely the intellect. In this mystical intellectualism, the perfect natural image is an abstract entity, an idea reflecting God. This allows His light to penetrate the intellect directly and enlighten this "nous", considered to be the best, most excellent "part" of the whole human being. The body, its emotions & feelings as well as the free-will, the organ of responsibility, are not thematized (for in Greek thought a Socratic determinism prevailed). Western science and its academia have inscribed this attitude in the metaphysical research program, the background of the current posthumous modernist paradigm, and its materialist, atheist, mechanistic, reductionistic and solipsist features.

The personal revelation of the existence of One Living God, is the solid corner-stone of dogmatic Jewish theology and legalistic Islamic theology (both being "Abrahamic"). However to these, God hides in the profundities of His nature. For the Jews, His name is unpronounceable. In Islam, He can not be directly accessed. Theirs is the revelation of an inaccessible God, denying man face to face encounters. Taken to the fundamentalistic extremes of Farisee logic or "Left Eyed" jurists, this closed and terrifying Divine monad bestows upon man the obscurity of obedience and scriptoral faith. The contradiction between a personal God and the absence of true reciprocity between God and man can hence not be solved. In this mindset, mystical theology is a priori a forbidden knowledge, for there is no common measure or mediation between Creator and creature. There is no Pagan "natural reflection", but a bottomlessly deep abyss, making all creatures, but man in particular, entities at the borderline, i.e. isthmusses between absolute everything and (nonexistent) nothingness. In this way, impossible knowledge (the One can not be experienced) makes room for forbidden knowledge (qabalah & sufism).

Christianity is not burdened by this dilemma. The One Living God reveals at once His essential nature ("ousia") and His Persons ("energeia"). Transcending creation, the Christian God allows for reciprocity. In His own Divine nature, He allows His essence to fully exist in Three Persons. In His economies, He gives creation His only Son and deifies human persons in the Holy Spirit.

Personhood is supernatural and not to be "mechanized" by the categories of the mind. If God exists, natural theology (God as machine) is impossible, for God is a Person, and hence exceeds His own nature by creating the other than Himself. The human person also exceeds his natural individuality, and is a someone precisely because of this. This surplus is achieved by an crucial intent (or concentration of the free-will), namely the greater freedom of the other human person.

Just as God considered a freedom other than His own, a human person invites the other person to relate, participate and share kinship with. Expecting the "parousia" this instant, a ransomed person already lives in the Kingdom of God, the "Mystery of the Eight Day". For recuperated by Christ, human nature no longer pulls this person down. And thus resurrected from the "sleep" of fallen nature, the Spirit of God may personally deify this someone in the likeness of God. In these relational reciprocities, the essential unity of God is not lost, exhausted or differentiated, for the Persons are completely God by virtue of their common, (super)essential nature : sheer unity.

theomonism instead of monotheism

Mystical theology, the conceptualization of the personal experience of God coming after ceaseless prayer with the mind in the soul (or heart), embraces theomonism instead of monotheism. This means Divine names, attributes, and revelations are of One and the same God, rather than One God expressing Himself exclusively in one exclusive way, for indeed, God revealed a variety of ways.

Mystical spirituality is touched by transcendence. A perfect Being transcends change and movement, as well as unity and plurality. If God would be nothing more than the "pneuma" of the wheel of becoming (cf. Stoic pantheism), transcendence could not be posited. So plurality does not harm unity and totality is unthinkable without transcendence.

"He is nothing but the One / the Many - to the like of this do all affairs give witness."
Ibn al-'Arabî : al-Futûhât al-makkiyya, III.458.6

Mystical theology embraces bi-polar pan-en-theism : God is both transcendent & immanent, both essence & existence, both hiddenness & revelation, both abstract & personal, both inaccessible & intimate, revealed & unveiled.

This bi-polarity of Loinprès (cf. Porete) is crucial : on the one hand, unknowing & un-saying ({0} : all possibilities) and on the other hand, number 1, the foundation or standard of formal thought. The remote side of the polarity is absolutely transcendent (the essence or "ousia" of God being unknown & unknoweable), while the intimate, existential and personal side of God, His "energeia", is immanent in the transcendent Trinity (Divine existence) as well as in creation (the economies of the Son & the Holy Spirit).

God's ineffable essence, the apophatic side of the bi-polarity, does not negate His Divine existence nor creation, the cataphatic side. God is One essence in Three Persons, each with a distinct Divine personality fully participating in the essence of God which they have in common.

Of course, by His (super)essential nature, God remains radically transcendent, and this in the very immanence of His manifestations. But never does this apophatism exclude His Presence, not to Himself (cf. the Trinity) and not to creation (cf. the Providence of the two Divine economies). Christian mystics from Dionysius to Ruusbroec confirm the bewildering simplicity of the ultimate vision.

"For in this fathomless whirlpool of simplicity, all things are encompassed in enjoyable blessedness, whereas the ground itself remains totally uncomprehended, unless it be by essential unity. The persons and everything that is living in God must yield before this, for here there exists nothing but an eternal rest in an enjoyable embrace of loving transport. That is, in the wayless existence that all inner spirits have preferred above all things. This is the dark stillness in which all the loving are lost."
Ruusbroec : Spiritual Espousals, c248 - 252

the Divine in Ancient Egypt, Greece & Rome

The Mediterranean religions of Antiquity conceived of a realm before creation, a primordial being before space and time had come into existence. But godhead shared preexistence with something else : an infinite ocean like the Ancient Egyptian "Nun" or the yawning space of the Archaic Greek "chaos". In Greek thought, creation was deemed the outcome of God's form imposed upon this inert, formless primordial matter.

In Heliopolitan theology, before Atum created himself "in the first time" and hatched out of his egg, subsequently (simultaneously) fashioning creation, defined in terms of space, life & light (of the Sun and other luminous stars), there was the Nun, the undifferentiated, primordial ocean.

Likewise, the Egyptian deities were remote and hidden away in the sacred darkness of their "naos", faced by Pharaoh or his representatives alone. The "king of the gods", Amun, was hidden although personalized and hearing the prayers of the poor (compassionate, caring and loving). The essence of these deities ("spirits" or "Akhu") was never incarnate, except in the divine nature of the king. Because the latter daily offered Maat (justice & truth), the deities dwelled in their temples and statues as "souls" (Ba) or "doubles" (Ka).

In Neoplatonic philosophy, the One, beyond being and nonbeing, is only known before and after, never during ecstasy, transcending the "nous". In these Platonisms, the ultimate experience is not an experience, not a participation and thus absolutely devoid of the I - Thou relationship of communication & communion, at once absolute and personal.

Because the majority of Greek thinkers linked man's ultimate spiritual experience with abstract intellectual contemplation and its adjacent sensoric and affective reduction, they rejected the living God Incarnating as a human being. God could not be a human individual. In the Greek pantheon, the individualized deities behaved as individual kings under the imperial dictatorship of Zeus, the super-individual (cf. the Alexandrian model). In literature and theatre, the gods interfered constantly and enjoyed themselves with mankind. The latter had no defences against their whimsical nature & astral fatalisms.

In Greek intellectual theology, ecstasy was seen as the outcome of a natural process of "return" to the original "idea", considered to be the essence or "natural image" of the individual. By means of the initiated "nous", the purified, serene individual would contemplate his or her "eidos", attributing the intelligent animal to a set of categories. This process was more automatic and necessary than volitional and contingent. This relational system involved the outstanding characteristics of the species of which the individual was part (in a closed, atomized, disconnected way), namely mankind. Each individual was a microcosmic deity (a pure idea buried underneath layers of material impurity).

At the end of the intellectual Odyssey, the individual is annihilated by the rapture (ecstatic delight) of the One. The individual desolves as a drop in the ocean. The free-will played no role whatsoever in this process or its outcome, for neither was this rapture an experience, but rather the complete annihilation of individuality in the impersonal One (a soteriology remarkably akin to Vedantic thought). A kind of natural automatism seems to be at work, a "deus ex machina" summoned by the spirituality of Antiquity as a whole (in Classical Yoga, liberation is the automatic result of distinguishing matter and "purusa", the spiritual, witnessing Self). Here, salvation as enlightenment is acquired, it in not the free gift of a Living God.

asking for human persons

The intelligent animal is the organism of natural qualities ascribed to the human individual. This individuality or "I-ness", is not the human personality. The latter is rooted in the Divine image each human person has to assume in order to attune his individual will to the Will of God. The character of egology of the intelligent animal is the least personal part of it. Neverthless, here the natural free-will is enthroned and able to decree against the natural order of things. So, the individual with his or her free will is not free from his or her own nature. In fact, although free, the individual remains imprisoned by his or her poverty as natural entity, an aggregate of material elements wandering in the cold expanse of an extremely vast cosmos. The human individual is even quite alone in the galaxy of the star providing him with life.

To reclaim the person, renunciation & repentance are needed. The former is the acceptance of individual sin, the latter the change of mind necessary to avoid its repetition and establish serene passions ("apatheia"). To fulfill the restoration of the Divine image, constant prayer with the mind in the heart leads to inner stillness ("hesychia"). Then the last step is the realization of the fullness of humanity in "the maximum man" (Nicolas of Cusa), Jesus Christ, the Son of God or Word Incarnate, a Divine Person Incarnating in history and its natural order to fullfull the vocation of human persons, betrayed by Adam. He is a Divine Person, not a human person, who, in His Divine Person, assumes human nature in its totality, with the exception of sin (depending on the fallen use of individual freedom).

He is the Transcendent descending from paradise (at the Annunciation) into the low hour of death (of the Passion), beyond the death of death in the infinite ocean of light flowing from His Body of Resurrection and the achievement of this final humanization of humanity in the Person of Christ, no longer separated from God or in the hands of the enslavers of the natural will (Ascension and Pentecost).

the exodus of bondage

Moses and his reception of "ego sum qui sum" is a clear break away from the iconical approach of Antiquity. It heralds the advent of the first rational monotheism, namely Judaism, profoundly characterized in every way by the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt (probably under Ramesses II).

"YHAdonaiVH est l'Être unique, la matrice de toute vie, Celui qui a été, qui est et qui sera. Les Elohîms en expriment les puissances créatrices infinies. (...) N'oublions pas que si YHAdonaiVH est Unique, Elohîms est pluriel. Les prophètes n'ont jamais aspiré à voir surgir un univers monolithique : l'Unité qu'ils annoncent n'est pas faite d'uniformité, mais, nous y reviendrons, d'une universelle et vivante diversité, dans l'unité de l'Être qui la fonde, YHVH. Mieux que monothéistes, ils sont théomonistes."
Chouraqui, A. : Moise, du Rocher - Paris, 1995, p.181-182, my italics.

Away are the images, pictures & statues of the Divine. The Name of God : "Yahweh Elohim" suffices. "YHVH" represents the ineffable, unpronouceable, unmixed, absolutely absolute, infinitely infinite and radically singular & alone side of God, whereas the "ALHYM", a plural word, exist in an inaccessible, uncreated light an ordinary man cannot see without dying. They are His Presence.

By stretching his iconoclasm too far (namely in the realm of thought itself), Moses closed the way of a face to face encounter between God and fallen man. Even Akhenaten had not done away with direct spiritual experience ! On the contrary, daily the Aten is visible to the naked eye. As a result, Judaic theology offered no true reciprocity between God and man and no redemption, no salvation and no liberation from death. Moses and his people worshipped a living God, but did not have a Divine life with God, a participation in His Divine nature, a becoming (like) God by His gift. Judaism is therefore the good promise, but not (yet) the true closure, completion or fulfillment brought by the good news.

the exodus of death

"I am the living one ! I was dead, but now I am alive for ever and ever. I have authority over death and the world of the dead."
Revelation, 1:18

The Christ, the Son of God, a Divine Person Incarnating in human nature, was absurdity to Athens & folly to Jeruzalem. These theologians posit the standard or "1", excluding relational oppositions, and hence division within the approach of God (the mode of witnessing and affirming His essential unity).

"And YHVH appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamrê as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day ; And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him : and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, Adonaï (...)"
Genesis, 18:1-2, my italics.

If, on the one hand, the monad is not duplicated to form the dyad, God has no relations with Himself and creation is oblivion. This fixation on the "standard" of unity is unable to think change, process, history and evolution and downplays God's Glory as well as the ultimate, escatological restoration in freedom of all in All (the "Mystery of the Eight Day"). But, on the other hand, Greek thought showed the dyad does not bring soteriology to its final end, for two poles differentiate nature & confirm the relative, conflictual (oppositional) diversity of being.

In Christian mystical theology, God is identically monad (union) & triad (distinctions). God is at once unitrinity and triunity. Why not more than three ? The triad allows for process to return to unity (from 3 to 1) and is an ouverture to variety under unity or organical multiplicity (from 3 to infinity). It is the last number retaining a direct and complete link with the standard without returning to oppositional logics (4 returns to the dyad).

Hence, these equations have to be posited :

  • {0} « » 1 : the monarchy of the Father (1) maintains the perfect balance between the "ousia" of God ({0}) and the Trinity as a whole ;

  • 1 = 3 :  the Father (1) bestows God's essence ({0}) compeletely to the Son (2) and the Holy Spirit (3) ;

  • and 3 = 1. This double equation is clear : when one of the three is communicated, the two others immediately rise up. The Persons and their Trinitarian Divine perichoretic dynamics, summarize all possible relational attributes of God ;

  • and 3 = ∞. The Three Persons together, bring in an infinite sequence of change (cf. the rise of irrational numbers in the theorem of Pythagoras, c = √2).

The Father and the Son have a circumscribed relationship : the Son is generated by the Father (the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him but is sent by the Son). The Son is the perfect image of the Father, and "in the bosom" of the Father, He is His Logos or Verb (the Father as it were "thinking" Himself). The Son is the reflective act of the Father. He is the Father's verbalization of Himself in terms of a dynamical opposition, for the Son is dual and actively relational (energy being difference).

The "recapitulation" (cf. Irenaeus of Lyon) of human nature (all human individuals as one human nature, one flesh) by Christ as Jesus, opened to the people of Jesus, i.e. humanizing humanity, a way out of the land of death, and completed the economy of grace (not of necessity) of the Holy Trinity, namely the deification of all human persons and, through them, the whole of creation. Not in the afterlife, but right here in the Kingdom of God to be realized by loving human persons anticipating the Day of the End, and at the "eschaton" of the multiverse as a whole.

"If then Elohim so clothes the grass that is in the field today and thrown into the oven tomorrow, won't He put clothes on you, faint hearts ?
And you, seek not what you will eat or what you will drink, neither be disquieted.
For those of the world seek these things, and your Father knows that you need these things.
But rather seek the Kingdom of
Elohim, and all these things will be yours as well.

Q1, 68 - 71.

Gregory of Nyssa (335 - 399) spoke of the Divine ruse. Christ is the bait the Spirit attached on the hook of the Father. Death threw itself on the prey, but the hook wounded death, which cannot swallow God and died. This death of death is the judgement of judgements, the final curtain on all attempts to separate humanity and God.

creation out of nothing

Creation sprung from the Will of God, as the gift of existence to the other than God. By nature, creation is to be conceptualized as the "outside" of God. This realm of created being, contains objective entities standing before God, each with an irreducible ontic density and a relative freedom of its own. Before creation, there was only God. After creation, God and creation stood in opposition : the absolute being of God versus the relative nothingness of creation. Each created being is thus an isthmus between these extremes.

Creation started with God, not from something else. There is no prime matter or original "chaos". Nothing exists in itself, except God. Although prime matter has been called a nonbeing, a pure possibility of being, it is never conceptualized as an absolute nothingness, but already as a "something" with which God shared precreation (as in the religions of Egypt, Greece & Rome). Creation has no uncreated substratum, "pneuma" or "hidden variables", for it is by essence the other than God. Neither had God to mysteriously fall and then strain to become God again, as in the Platonist emanational model. The perpetual taking-form of the Aristotelians is also rejected.

Without any necessity in God, creation is a gratuitous, free act of God, born in the one Will of God, which is the expression of the concerted Trinity. God in no way depends on the creature. As He is infinitely good, His creative act of Will gives rise to positive, liberated beings. Contingent of God, creation is only necessary for itself, not for God. The aim of creation is deification, in which the human person plays a crucial role, as the Incarnation underlines.

Creativity is not a reflection of {0} in "1" to subsume all natural numbers. It is taking the risk of novelty, the coming forth of something new. The Divine creative act consists in reaching out and fashioning a new, independent and free being other than God. The creativity of the absolutely free God, is willing another freedom, another created being endowed with the uncreated Divine image. And to allow this ultimate creativity to occur, God had to take the risk of being powerless precisely at the moment when created beings turned against Him by abusing His ultimate gift (cf. Adam and the Fall) ...

Before creation, concepts such as the "outside" or "inside" of God have no meaning. They are posited by the Will of God creating creation, separating "before" and "after", "inside" and "outside". Nothingness has no existence of its own. The "nihil" in "creatio ex nihilo" merely indicates nothing but God's Will rose creation. God's creative Will is not bound by any necessity, but lawless (not random) and absolutely indeterminate (but not disorganized).

the intelligible depth of beings

For Plato, ideas exist in the sphere of intelligible being, whereas the sensible world had only verisimilitude, not verity. Real because participating in the ideas, the flux of generation & corruption, of life & death did not touch the superior level of being, an intelligible, uncreated world. Plotinus took this structure a step further, and established the ineffable One above the ideas, reducing them to Divine intelligence or "nous", emanating from the One absolutely superior to being itself. In itself, the abstract idea of the One is the ultimate achievement of Greek intellectual theology, in casu developed in the context of a religious philosophy. A return to the One is then the natural path of an intellectual creature such as man, but no experience of this One is possible. Ecstacy is oblivion. There can be no vision of the One, and no participation or kinship with It.

The separation or "chorismos" is "natural" (between the beings of the created order) and "transcendent" (between the created and the uncreated). The immanent difference between the sensible & the intelligible worlds is as crucial as the transcendence of the One vis-à-vis the world of ideas. If unmediated, these Greek distinctions obscure the salvation of humanity and diminish the splendour of God's creation. For why creation if God is not interested ?

There are no two worlds. God does not make a replica of Himself (a Divine "nous") in order to create. If God, as transcendent Principle, Logos & Spirit, would make an immanent copy of Himself (a Stoic "pneuma"), His creation would not differ from Himself, it would not be the other than God. A cosmos already born Divine would not constitute the risk God intended with a free creation. The splendid, formidable newness of creation is absolute : His creation rests only in God's igniting omnipotent Will and in nothing else.

If ideas, which determine the essence of creatures or serve as exemplary causes, exist, then these are not uncreated, for God, being radical otherness, does not serve creation, neither facilitates (limits) the necessities (the freedoms) of creation by reproducing His transcendence explicitly in the laws of creation. Such an ideal world would already be Divine and the gift of freedom (the risk of Divine unlikeness) impossible. The dynamics of love demand freedom. God takes a risk by giving freedom, and only by taking this risk is He creating the other than God, and with this the possibility of a free return of all to All, the final goal of creation. The deconstruction of both Augustinianism and Thomism is irreversible. Both the intelligible "world" of ideas as well as immanent exemplarism emerge as obsolete theologies. As such they are hinderances, not gifts to cherish and keep ...

The ideas constituting the intelligible dimension of creation are the very depth of created being. The Will of God creates order and reason, allowing wisdom to position the "seven pillars of the mansion", the laws of the multiverse. The ideas of wisdom are not a Platonic world beyond, neither a replica of God. The "logoi sophon" (words of wisdom) or the "logoi" of creation constitute the fundamental matrix of order keeping the natural order in place (constants, laws, forces, particles or waves). But this very depth of being is not uncreated. The "logoi" raise the force of light in creation and the polarity of light & darkness. Rooted in wisdom, they are God's first creatures.

The "logoi sophon" are the instruments of creation, and represent the invisible, subtle & abstract laws determining the explicit structure of and the forces at work in the cosmos, its order and compass. God thinks creation, in the first place wisdom and its logoic archetypes. God gives freely, under no coercion, so His creation may choose for God and be partakers of the Divine nature, or not. Before anything else, God creates wisdom, at once eternal and created, timeless, yet turned towards the other than God, which must have a beginning. Wisdom abides "in the beginning", in the immobile eternity of the neverending "now" (time present), which is the ground or "standard" of mobile time, the first moment of time which is not yet in time.

Wisdom is to understand the beginning, to know how to found and build the attitude of someone who loves to begin. She stands at the beginning of time without being temporal. She is the beginning of everything without being somewhere. She is the mechanism of the psyche, the stability of the particles and waves. Because wisdom is the first being created, the crown of the cosmos is good and the demiurge is an unveiled fountain of light with nothing dark or reversed in any of its natural necessities.

perpetual creation

"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth."
Genesis, 1.1

This "beginning" is the first moment of time which is not yet time, the first step which is not yet a path. Eternity is not linear, neither an indefinite line. It escapes the conditionality of repetition.

The finite is not commensurable with the infinite, and so the latter is the limit (of immanence) and/or absolute transcendence. In Ancient Egypt, the beginning of "time" was not yet time, and so creation "happened" on the "first occasion", a mythical "realm" between absence of creational intent (the "Nun") and the emergence of the "primordial hill", the "first land". In-between stood Atum-Re the creator, autogenes.

The first moment is unthinkable. It is not a point in time, for the future becomes past without ceasing and the present is never grasped in time. The first moment is the truth of the moment when it is realized the past is all memory and the future only expectation. The "first moment" is timeless. The timeless beginning of time, before the beginning of creation as history, is the present, the "now" without duration, revealed as an door to aeonic eternity, uncovering the unchanging architecture governing creation.

In this first moment, "heaven and earth" appear, i.e. the entire assemblage of creation elocuted by the "logoi sophon". Creation rises up in an instant. Not yet time, it is created and eternal. Because of the wisdom of this timelessness, a creative explosion takes place and temporality ensues. This first moment, represents the timeless frontier of wisdom between the eternal God (beyond time) and the transient cosmos. "After" this instant, time, itself a creature, becomes fact and event until, at the "end of time", time is transformed into the eternal newness of the New Day, which is the "Mystery of the Eight Day".

God : One essence in three Persons : transcendent Divine nature ;
Divine energies : uncreated radiations shining forth from God ;
Wisdom : first creation of God, timeless, existing in the beginning ;
Logoi : faces of the aeonic eternity of wisdom ;
Creation : the forces, laws & entities of the multiverse.

The wise beginning of creation is instantaneous and non-temporal. The creative act initiates a relationship between the Divine energies (via eternal, but created wisdom) and that which is not God. This was a limitation, a determination of this infinite and eternal effulgence of God for the sake of creation. God created all things by the uncreated energies so created being may accede freely to union with God in the selfsame energies.

Through "sophia", God's creative intent explodes in timelessness, to give rise to time and history. "In the beginning", this world will always exist, even if time is transformed at the eschatological end of time on the Last Day, when all returns to All. As the root of created time is timelessness, and creation is the actualization or elocution of the timeless now, "in the beginning", creation remains perpetual despite the temporality of its actualizations as a historical otherness with a definite spiritual, timeless vocation.

the Person of Jesus Christ

When Christ, the Son of God, Incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth, the historical order was radically shattered. The hands of God (Logos & Spirit) facilitated the Incarnation of the Verb as an Edenic human being (a second Adam), called to plunge into the depths of a human nature corrupted by degeneration & hell, to assume sin without limitations, swallow it and let it die. And this, while not a human person but a Divine Person, someone who recuperated the single nature of humanity by becoming mortal flesh.

Christ is consubstantial ("homoousios") with the Father and the Holy Spirit, i.e. these Persons fully share in God's essence. The Trinity formed by the Three, is the joint operation of three modes distinct of origin : the Father being unbegotten, the Son generated by the Father and the Spirit proceeding from the Father (but sent by the Son).

The Incarnation in Mary, made Christ consubstantial with human beings by His humanity (as Jesus) and this without Himself being a human person. His human nature is a human body and a human soul, gifted with free-will. His humanity encompasses human nature, but without the effects of sin. Indeed, because of the unsullied, Edenical, virginal constitution of His humanity, this natural will always follows what is good, beautiful & true, i.e. His Divine will. Hence, the human nature of Jesus Christ was at all times always without the demons of sin.

"My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass far from me. Yet, your will be done and not mine."
Matthew, 26:39.

Jesus Christ is more than a great example (against Nestorius), and really a human being, in casu : a man (against the monophysites). His human nature is however not personal, but universal & Edenic. Jesus Christ represents the Divine Verb Incarnate, who shares with us the totality of our human nature (the sum of individuals), who assumes -with His Passion- the objective (not subjective) conditions of sin and submits to our fallen mortality ("kenosis"), while guarding His Divine nature.

"And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit ; and he cried out, saying, 'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth ? Are you here to destroy us ? I know who your are - you are the Holy One of God !' Jesus ordered the spirit : 'Be quiet, and come out of the man !'"
Mark, 1:23-25.

" ... the highpriest answered and said to him : 'I adjure you by the living God, to tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God ?' Jesus said : 'You have said it ! Nevertheless, I say to you : Hereafter shall you see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.'"
Matthew, 26:63-64.

Seven christological stages may be discerned :

1. Trinitarian :

The unitary essence of God is the common ground of the three Persons, and thus insofar as their essence is concerned, each of them is God. In this Trinitarian totality, Christ is the unique, begotten, and Divine Son of the unbegotten Father. As the second Person of the Holy Trinity, He represents the logoic operations, relations or determinations of the Father, the monarch from whom the Son is generated and the Holy Spirit proceeds.

Together, the Persons radiate the eternal, infinite, uncreated Divine light, which flows from the personal Trinity of the One God's infinite totality. Here, we receive glimpses of Christ's Divine Personality, and apprehend (by being given instead of possessing) the profound & sublime transcendence of His creative command, which is the command of the One God, King, Lord and Spirit of everything good, beautiful and true.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
John, 1:1.

2. Annunciation :

The Will of God (the concert of the Persons) decreed the Incarnation of the Father's Son by means of the Holy Spirit, who worked in Mary, a virgin.

"... the Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you, therefore also that the holy thing which shall be born of your shall be called the Son of God."
Luke, 1:35.

The Incarnation is the Father's love for His creation, and His love for humans, created in His image and towards His likeness. Thanks to the Incarnation, of which the Annunciation by Gabriel of the name "Jesus" is the first, timeless instant, the Father (through the Spirit and His angels) and creation (by the presence of Christ in the world) were joined for ever. The old abyss of Antiquity and intellectual theology was irreversibly filled up and rendered obsolete. But the impact of the Incarnation is only open to hope, faith and love, and belongs to the invisible order of grace. Without the gates of these cardinal virtues, the fallen kingdom of this world continues its closures, dull repetitions of the same, as well as the mummification process of its willed evil sedimentations.

This darkness has been dispelled. Only the grace of the Holy Spirit is needed to enter this new order of creation, established after Christ's Incarnation (God coming into the world directly, assuming original, Edenic human nature in its universality). Grace is not elsewhere, for as wisdom, she is everywhere.

"His disciples said to Him : "When will the Kingdom come ?" Jesus said : "It does not come by expecting it. It will not be a matter of saying : 'See, it is here !' or : 'Look, it is there !'. Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread over the earth and men do not see it."
The Gospel of Thomas, logia 113.

3. Baptism & Transfiguration :

To His most beloved disciples, Jesus Christ evidences His Divine Person at work through His human nature : Baptism and Transfiguration. In both instances, His Divine Person shone through His undefiled human nature, and His unity with the Father (a voice) and the Spirit (a dove) was actualized. Each time, the "form of God" and not the kenotic "form of the slave" was manifested. These are exceptional moments, revealing the ineffable psychology of Jesus Christ, in whom two distinct operations are conceived, but with one single result. These two natures of Christ, His Divine Person (the Divine nature) and His human nature, as Jesus, always cooperated in the single activity of Jesus Christ, and this in a manner suitable to it (the human weeping before Lazarus' tomb, the Divine raising him - cf. John of Damascus). There are two wills in Christ, but His natural will is unsullied by evil and hence always in accord with the Divine Will of the One Trinity and the absolute goodness of the Three.

4. Passion :

Jesus the Christ accepted, totally and voluntarily, the (outer) effects of sin, infirmities, and the humiliations of our fallen natural condition. He did so, without leaving His own Divine Person. The demonical passions depending on the free will of egoism and egology were not included, for Christ's natural will was perfect, His ego holy & saintly. Divine by nature (a Person) and human (the perfect man) by Divine choice, Jesus Christ never recapitulated in Himself (i.e. in His Divine Person) human aspirations bogged down by sin and anti-natural inclinations. Jesus Christ did not die for the perversions of our choice, neither for the stubborn continuation of the fixation of the will in activities running against the natural order of the cosmos, and its final end (deification). But he bore all the marks of one who suffered the consequences of very bad choice. His descent into hell was not a justification of the kingdom of Satan, but a debt payed to the king of woe for those who remained in prison because they could not discharge themselves, but nevertheless wanted to be free.

In Jesus Christ, the Divine (Person) hides behind the (human) slave to redeem human nature as a whole. The humbling ("kenosis") is an universal assumption of the objective, natural conditions of sin (i.e. the sum of all traits of individual, human suffering part of the human genome). The slave humbles Himself to seek the Glory of the Father who sent Him. The Passion of the Christ is the affirmation of the extreme form of this unique recuperation of human nature as a whole, the extreme abandonment of His transcendent Kingship by becoming the "man of sorrows", forseen by Isaiah.

"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him ; he had put him to grief : when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
Isaiah, 53:10.

His human nature was mortal in order to lead humanity into immortality. The "community" (church) saved by the Passion of the Christ, is the group of human beings "of good will", i.e. those who go for the reemergence of the Divine image, the surpassing of the individual by the person, the something by the someone. Let us never fool ourselves, as those who persist and fixate their will in evil, are not invited at the banquet of Christ. The Cross was not willed to save Satan, on the contrary, for thanks to the Cross of Christ, death -in the order of grace- died. The Passion of the Christ introduced a division in the sullied unity, namely between the visible order of the world and the invisible order of "outer" grace (cf. the veil of the temple rent in the midst). After the Passion, the order of grace was "internalized". It remained in the world, but not of this world, rather next or adjacent to it.

5. Resurrection :

By calling, in the upper room, bread "His flesh" and wine (beer) "His blood", Jesus Christ prepared His friends for what was coming : the Passion & the Resurrection. They had to understand the outer form of Jesus Christ, his natural human shape, was accidental to His Person, Divine and formless (transcendent, i.e. not of the created order). He had fully assumed human nature since the Annunciation, but only to save the single nature of humanity. Historically, the redemption of humanity would be initiated by sleeping apostles betraying their master, by Judas betraying his best friend, by Farisees betraying their own religion and by Romans betraying the laws of Jupiter supposed to protect the truly innocent. But what is worse than being betrayed by one's own intimate friend and brother ? The kenosis had to be complete. The Divine sacrifice had to be effective on the outer plane of individual, objective human nature. On the inner plane, it had been since the Incarnation.

The empty tomb is suggestive of the extraordinary nature of Jesus' physical body (as it were infused to the atom with Divine energy). The miracle stories underline the ease with which He mastered the physical, visible world. By nature, He was able to give life after death had done its work. Transformation of substances, anti-gravitation, exorcisms, spontaneous remissions and extraordinary healings were part of His ministery. By Resurrecting in His Risen Body after His human vehicle had died and vanished (the climax of the His kenosis), He eliminated death from the order of grace (before only "outer" and ending with the death of its prophet). His physical body had no other purpose than to allow Him to suffer as humans suffer. Once its humiliation, mutilation and destruction had reached its ultimate outburst (water & blood gulping out of its right side), it was transfigurated and assimilated into the Divine Person of Christ as the ocean of light of His Risen Body of Light.

The Resurrection is the full return to the foreground of the Divine Person Christ, the exceptional and unique manifestation of God in creation, who sanctified death itself and restored humanity (as a whole) in Himself. The Risen Body is then the background of this Person of Love, the shape of the human body being an image of the whole of humanity. The Resurrection operated a change in fallen nature, opening a prodigious possibility, namely participating in the Divine nature thanks to Jesus Christ.

6. Ascension :

After the Resurrection, only one task is left over : return to the Father and ask Him to bestow His Spirit, to seal the work of redemption, to guarantee the eternity of the order of grace in creation and to comfort the new humanizing humanity turned to deify creation. Christ's Ascension underlined the Divine nature of His Person. Rising to heaven in His Risen Body, with its human form made luminous, Christ nevertheless promises to remain with His people and to return to them (eucharistically and at the end of time). If His recuperation of our human  nature had not been essential, i.e. completely assimilated by the Person of Christ, His nostalgia for His people would be hardly explainable, and the Apocalyptic solution too mechanical (for with the Resurrection, all has been done, except for those of evil will).

7. Pentecost :

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God ; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."
Paul : I Corinthians, 2:12.

The Holy Spirit descends upon the people of Jesus Christ as a free gift (a new creation) of God. He lets us probe, discern & know the order of grace, the things freely given to us of God. This seal is for all times, and could only be placed because Christ deified human nature and we adhere to God.

The Holy Spirit is an independent Divine Person. He is not the servant of the economy of the Son and His redemption by recuperation of human nature. He proceeds from the Father in a way to be distinguished from the generation of the Son by the Father. The procession of the Spirit is a sequence, the generation of the Son a coinciding. The Person of the Spirit hides behind human persons, and works through them. At the Pentecost, a multitude received this Spirit although it is One and the Same Spirit, namely the One transcendent God insofar as His Divine economy of deification is concerned.

the Jesus of history and the Christ of myth

The scientific, historical study of Jesus of Nazareth shows the original teachings of the Jesus of history (Q1) contain no myth of Christ.

"... the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, James was his name, ..."
Josephus, F. : Antiquities, XX.200 (James was illegally brought to trial and executed in 61/62 AD).

Compared with Jesus' wisdom-teachings, so the story goes, "Christ" was a "myth", added by centrist Christians to the Jewish tale of the original Jesus-people. This myth was not new, but in line with Osiris - Dionysius - Attis - Adonis & Mithras beliefs. These popular salvic deities were worshipped in the Roman empire, and associated with the Greek mysteries (cf. the relatively early Osiris - Dionysius link forged by Pythagoras and his initiatic philosophical religion).

These scholars underline the distinction between the wise Jesus of Nazareth and the Divine Christ, cosmic Lord & unique Son of God. Does science put into danger the spiritual truth of Christianity, i.e. the Incarnation of the unique Son of God ?

The mythical mode of cognition is the first mode of all possible cognition. If our liberal scholars (humanists, agnostics, atheists) mean to say "myth" is to be equated with "nonsense" and something "obsolete", then objection should be made. Without myth, thought is impossible. Likewise, metaphysics can not be eliminated from science. Myth can not be pulled out of the language games, not even out of the game of "objective" science. The question is : is the myth of Christ an operational myth ? History indeed shows the myth of the Saviour had many powerful & influencial prefigurations (going back to prehistory as in the case of Osiris).

Those who wish to invalidate the historical work of Christ on scientific grounds (using linguistics, history, sociology, economy, politics, archeology etc.), point to the fact the narrative gospels were not written by the hands giving them their name. Moreover, the earliest gospel (Mark) defined the itinerary of the plot. Matthew and Luke (called, together with Mark, the "synoptics") followed this scheme, adding bits and pieces of their own. A variant chronological order is also brought into evidence, stressing the redaction of the narrative gospels after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans (on the 29th of August AD 70). Indeed, even in the gospel serving as the wisdom-source of the narrative gospels, namely Q, three layers are evident, shifting attention away from the spiritual wisdom-teacher or prophet of Q1 to the Christ-figure in Q3.

AD 75 - 80 :
redaction of Mark (instead of 65 -70) ;
AD 85 - 90 :
redaction of Matthew (80 - 85) ;
AD 95 :
redaction of John (90 - 100) ;
AD 110 :
redaction of Luke & Acts (85 - 90).

The "Christic" element, so the liberals claim, came into focus with John, written at least five decades, if not more, after the death of the historical Jesus. So, they gather the "Christic" superstructure was erected long after Jesus and despite of the latter. This myth was turned into an ideology by  a centrist, "catholic" tendency among the literate Christians of the time, in particular the club of Rome (after 67 AD, with the martyrdom of Peter and Paul). This centrist movement was largely justified & established for sacramental reasons (the bones of Peter & Paul, the two most universalizing, Christian apostles par excellence).

This fashionable historical viewpoint has one major problem : Paul. He starts his three missionary journeys at the earliest around 49 AD, and writes his Letters between AD 50 and 60. Ca. four years separate the death of Jesus of Nazareth (AD 30) from Saul's conversion on the way to Damascus, becoming "Paul" (ca. AD 34 - 36). It took Paul another 15 years to discover his task. Paul never knew Jesus of Nazareth and there were no centrists around, except the Jewish apostles of Jeruzalem, with whom he gathered around (49 AD) before initiating the announcement to the gentiles for which he became famous. Why ? These Jewish Christians still adhered to their ancestral Temple practices and to circumcision. Paul, a gentile, refuted these practices in the name of his vision of Christ Jesus. And he did so decades before the first narrative gospel saw the light.

In the course of Christian history, Peter and the Roman centrists have received major attention. Paul's church in Rome is not without reason "beyond the walls". Paul, an apostle and a prophet, was the first major Christian gnostic, proposing the universal concept of Christ. With insistence, he pointed to the tremendous importance of both the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Moreover, Paul's "kerygma" was from the start spirito-communal, seeking to eliminate all differences between humans in, through and with Christ Jesus.

Paul's source was his visionary, prophetic and mystical (spiritual) experience of Christ, understood in a cosmic and Divine sense. Long before John would finally convey his story to text and also before the Gospel of Thomas, Paul underlined the spiritual meaning of Christ. He focused beyond His historical, human nature, to which our sciences, outside the order of grace, are necessarily bound.

Paul's texts shows little interest in the historical nature of the Verb of God, for Christ Jesus had done His work on the Cross, had returned to His Father and given us the Spirit of God to know the order of grace and exist therein for ever. If Paul would have written his ideas long after or at the same time as the narrative gospels, the myth of Christ would indeed have been "invented" despite Jesus of Nazareth. But this is not so, although the historical Jesus does not explicitly say He is the Son of God (but only He is the son of man, as is to be expected). Christ hid in His human nature, merged with it, and underwent the kenotic condition to perfectly perform the task He was called to accomplish by the Father : save humankind, fallen and separated from grace by recapitulating, by means of His Divinity, human nature through His own humanity.

The work of Paul underlines Christ is Divine, Jesus of Nazareth human. The latter did not take the trouble of writing, whereas the former allowed a new order of grace to be experienced by those with hope, faith and love. The first narrative gospels are textualized fourty years after the crucifixion. For Paul, writing two decades after this event, Christian redemption emphasized the economy of the Divine Son of the Father, manifested by the Holy Spirit. He brought into perspective that the historical nature of Christ Jesus (His sinless human nature), was necessary (for soteriological reasons), but insufficient (by nature), even somewhat peripheral and "outer".

And this is precisely what historical studies confirm. About the historical Jesus, only very little is known. Even in His own circle, His Divine Person became the core of the Christian message. That He was a Jew, was only important insofar the Messiah and the "Teacher of Righteousness" (cf. the Essenes at Qumrân), fulfilled the convenant of Israel, bringing their 613 precepts back to 2 : the love of God above all and the love of the other human person as oneself.

Christianity is defined by what He accomplished for every member of the human species, namely uniting human nature as a whole in His Divine Person and making it possible for the Father to send us the Holy Spirit, who permanently calls us to be human persons, i.e. so many expression of God's unity at the "end of time", when the "Jubilee of Jubilees" is celebrated. New humans called to be deified and to deify. Part of nature, but no longer subjected to her whims. Still mortal in individual flesh, but immortal in spiritual personhood. By becoming Christ's relatives, no adverse power or sin can henceforth irreversibly separate man from grace :  truly repent and do penitence, and forgiveness is never kept aloof.

the sacramental Jesus Christ and the light of the world

Human persons are called to work together. The individual, self-contained system is doomed to fail. Only the order of grace, rooted in God Himself, is able to satisfy the need for the unconditional so rooted in human nature (in body as well as mind). Traditional solipsists are not of Christ. No individual can contain the whole cosmos, for each individual is the expression of a single, collective human nature.

The nature of personhood is participation and relation, openness to each possible other, to see oneself in the other. Hence, the sense of community ("ekklesia", church) is the natural result of Christ's sending the Spirit of the Father. Each Christian is called to be a priest.

"Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable. Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ."
1 Peter, 22:4-5

Peter also claims we are called to participate in the Divine nature (1 Peter 1:3-4). This too points to a spirito-communal Christianity. The question is, how to vision such a community ? For Paul, it is a mystical body, with Christ as its head. Again, the spiritual nature of the experience is stressed. In the narrative gospels, Peter received from the latter the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.

"'What about you ?' He asked them. 'What do you say I am ?' Simon Peter answered : 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' 'Good for you, Simon son of John !' answered Jesus. 'For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven. And so I tell you, Peter : you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven ; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.'"
Matthew, 16:15-19.

In the liberal chronology, this statement was inserted after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. Peter himself did not mention it, on the contrary. His community is a community of holy priests, not a new religious imperial order in the style of the centrist church of Rome, the later Roman Catholic Church.

Already in the first century, we see differences between Jewish Christians (cf. the Didache), the followers of Thomas, the twin brother of Jesus, the gnostic community-builder Paul, the visionary John and the centrist movement in Rome after 67 AD (from 69 AD onwards, Flavian emperors stopped persecuting Christians, and destroyed the old Jerusalem a year later). In Paul's Letters (ca. AD 50 - 60), we read of dissident churches and communities unsatisfied with their (directly elected) bishops. Some even dismissed their overseer ! To the apostles, the necessity of a unified and universal canon (of rules) must have been self-evident. Jewish Christians adhered to the itinerary of the Temple of Jerusalem and the return of Christ. From the start, and because of its spirito-communial character, Christianity faced the same problem incipient Egyptian monasticism would face centuries later : How to organize these various groups, especially in a multi-cultural setting ?

In the second century, heretics such as Montanus claimed the apostles had misunderstood Jesus Christ. The centrist bishops of the "third generation" (Clement I being their first Roman episcopal head), installed a system of religion, a church of "dead stones". To back their authority, the concept of "apostolic succession" was invented, warranted by the dead bones of Peter and Paul.

In the early second century, Christian Gnosticism became popular. Its presence prompted the Catholics to define orthodoxy and stabilize the canon of "sacred" texts (between AD 150 - 200, but universally accepted in 367). With this standard, they fought those who had made other choices (cf. Irenaeus of Lyon in Adversus haereses in 177). The Apologetics are indeed so intense because of the stronghold of the opposition. This process took more than a century to unfold, ending with the final banishing of Gnosticism by episcopalism (cf. the Nag Hammadi cache).

In the late fourth century, monasticism saw the light in Upper Egypt, and its inner vision of Christ contrasted with the urban priesthood ruled by the local bishop and his pomp. Indeed, around the same time, the library of Nag Hammadi was buried by local monks out of fear these books would be burned. This library shows that besides the canon, monks read gnostic & hermetical texts, invoking a Christ differing from the one of centrist orthodoxy (episcopalism and curialism).

Orthodoxy had been defined by the Greek and Latin Fathers of the Church and the differences between Latin and Greek churches was sealed by Roman rule (cf. Constantine and the Synod of Nicaenum of 325). But major differences, such as the Filioque, were never dissipated and continue until this day.

The visionary & gnostic John did not reject the authority of the bishop of Rome. Indeed, the problem with the centrist movements and their Latin & Greek offshoots, is their exclusive theology. From the start, a variety of movements around Jesus Christ were at work, and the fact they gravitate around an orthodox core, does not negate their variety. Even Latin Christianity has had to deal with this, and the history of liturgy proves the point : variety under unity is the seal of the Holy Spirit.

"I have said, You are gods ; and all of you are children of the Most High."
Psalms, 82:6.

major sources of a theology of mysticism

Mystical theology is concerned with the immediate communion with God, communicated by the Father in the Holy Spirit. It denies the vision of the Divine essence. The nature of this communion is uncreated, and surpasses both the sensible and intelligible light.

To understand how mystical theology involves a radical departure from Hellenism and its rationality, we need to characterize the major components of its cultural context insofar as they deal with the vision or experience of God :

  • the Greek heritage : the systems of Plato and Aristotle were two outstanding summings-up of Greek thought, stressing the intellectual (noetical) approach, stripping off all accidental, worldly dross to get at the "eidos", "ousia" or essence of something, in casu : the human soul. For Plato, the soul was of Divine origin, whereas Aristotle rejected the immortality of the individual and had no need for a contemplative "way back" to the luminous world of lights. In Late Hellenism, Plotinus' Enneads presented the pinnacle of Platonic intellectual mysticism. For most if not all Christian intellectuals of the first centuries, Greek philosophy, especially Platonism, had to be surpassed, not rejected.

  • the Alexandrian gnostics : in the Delta of Egypt, Greek thought forced those native, upper class Egyptians who wished to be part of the Greek Alexandrian establishment, as well as Ptolemaic Greeks interested in creating syncretic deities & cults, to stage "Hermetism", an Egypto-Alexandrian Pagan gnosis focused on Thoth, the Greek Hermes. Likewise, under the Ptolemies, Egypt's Judaism was Hellenized (cf. Septuagint). This stimulated the emergence of a Greek exegetical movement (cf. Philo of Alexandria), purist counter-movements (cf. the Essenes) and (after the destruction of the Temple of Jeruzalem), the emergence of a Jewish gnosis, a monotheist "qabalah", which would incorporate the Pre-Socratic (Pythagorean) number symbolism based on the Decad (cf. Sepher Yetzirah & Sepher Bahir).

  • the Christian school of Alexandria : for Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150 - 215), who read the Hermetica, we pass from Paganism into faith, and then from faith we rise to gnosis, achieved by a life devoted to contemplation, for to see God is to know God. A split between the Living God and the object of Platonic contemplation is at work here. Salvation and contemplation of God are separated. For Origen (ca. 185 - 254 or 255), the human soul maintains a co-natural relationship with the Word, in so far as it keeps its reasonable being. It is the latter which make it participate in the Verb and renders it His image. The perfection of the image is the likeness and the vision of God. Returning to the vision of God in the Logos (theologia) restores the likeness and realizes the perfect union with God, who again becomes "all in all" (as before creation). This restoration makes the soul (psyche) become once again spirit (nous). Late Alexandrian theology found its most orthodox expression in the thought of Cyril of Alexandria (370 - 444). With him, the intellectual gnosis of Clement and Origin is left behind, losing touch with Platonic contemplation. Instead, deification belongs to the economy of the Holy Spirit, who makes us likenesses of the Son, the perfect image of the Father. Even the physical body partakes in this life in union with God, especially in the Eucharist. Hence, the whole human being is addressed, and not only the reasonable or intellectual part of man.

  • the Cappadocians : the distinction (absent in Origen), between the essence of God and the Father of the Trinity, is already apparent in his pupil Didymus the Blind (313 - 393). The "ousia" of the Trinity is unknowable. If the Logos is consubstantial with the Father, then the latter is no longer a simple essence or God in Himself. Basil the Great (330 - 379) underlined there is not a single object which can be known in its essence. The inaccessible "ousia" of the Trinity and its natural processions or manifesting operations ("energeia") are separated. Gregory of Nazianzus (328 - 390) contemplates we will discover God when the Godlike image, our spirit, is elevated to its Logoic Archetype, Jesus Christ, and jointed to its similar. This is the celestial Kingdom, the vision face to face and knowledge of the Trinity in the plenitude of His light. Gregory of Nyssa drew the line between the created order and God. The former is the finite unity of the sensible and intelligible order, and so true contemplation surpasses what is visible to the senses as well as the light of the intellect. When "gnosis" becomes "agape", our spirit has made the crucial difference between what is created and its eternal, infinite image. It is this difference upon which all depends.

With the emergence of the dogma of the Trinity, the mystical intellectualism of the Greeks had been overcome. There was no longer an intellectual spirituality of escape, but a complete communion of the whole human person with the Trinity. The doctrinal synthesis of the Cappadocians articulated the contrast between the triune God and His bi-polar Son (Christocentrism). These teachings became part of the canon of the early church (ideas adhered to by the community of Christians ruled by the Holy Spirit).

Two major obstacles had been overwon :

1. (external) the Pagan definitions of God : God is beyond the created order, One essence in Three Persons and in no way in need of creation or bound by necessity to create - creation is "ex nihilo", i.e. with the absence of all necessity "ex parte Dei", in other words, the result of a Divine contingency in the act of the creative Will of God - the whole of creation exists by the grace of the Will of God - God is not a "deus ex machina", nor an impersonal power of powers or principle of principles (cf. polytheism & henotheism) ;
2. (internal) the Greek intellectual experience of God : the experience of God is not restricted to the intellect alone, but addresses the whole human being. The Holy Spirit blows were He wants.

  • the school of Antioch : the piety of this school is attracted by the concrete Jesus of Nazareth of the narrative gospels. For John Chrystosom (344 - 407), the compassionate nature of God is made evident by His revelatory descent, as the work of the One Will of the Three, ending in the Incarnation of His Son, the invisible image of the Father. Manifesting Himself in the flesh as Jesus Christ, the Son revealed God while remaining hidden in His Divine Person. This "hiding" of the Divine Person should not be emphasized or viewed ontologically, for this would imply rejecting any immediate communion with God (cf. Nestorianism).

  • the ascetical literature : the contemplative way is in no way superior to the way of action, and the great ascetics of Egypt focused on the way of continual prayer and vigilance, a life of virtues and a struggle for incorruptibility, following the commandements of the gospels, in particular to love God and one's neighbour. In the communal life, the bonds broken apart in the world must be drawn together in a life in the image of the Trinity. Contemplation of the Trinity is "pure prayer". In the gnosis of intelligible beings (achieved when "apatheia" is realized), one is still held back by multiplicity. At the end, the true gnostic is delivered from simple thoughts. By pure prayer, the "nous" becomes simple and bare, filled with the light of the Trinity. These ascetics make the Trinity dwell in the soul not as He is in Himself, but according to man's capacity to receive Him. Indeed, even an open window opens but to a small part of the sky ! Christ paints, by means of the Holy Spirit, out of the substance of the ineffable Divine light, in those who adhere to Him, and in harmony with their spiritual capacity, a portrait, in His own image, of the heavenly man ;

  • the Corpus dionysiacum : in the state of union, we know God at a level higher than "nous", the intellect, for we do not know Him at all, for knowledge is limited to what belongs to the created order. God's super-essential nature remains always inaccessible, and His energies are not diminishing emanations from God, but God is fully present in them and beings participate in them in the proportion or analogy proper to each one (the water takes on the color of the glass). The whole person, not just the mind, the spirit or the intellect, enters into communion with God. But, in order to achieve, we must surpass the sensible and the intelligible, enter total ignorance ("agnosis") & then encounter the Divine delights (ecstatic ignorance). Maximus the Confessor (580 - 662) added the spirit is perfect when it possesses in super-ignorance the super-knowledge of the super-incomprehensible. The penetration of created and uncreated in Christ finds its analogy in beings who are striving to become (like) "God by grace".

In the ninth century, when the iconoclasm was finally over, and the storm caused by the differences over the Trinity (one essence in three Persons) and the nature of Christ (one Divine Person with two wills) had calmed down, the pneumatological question of the experience, vision, knowledge of God came to the fore.

  • John Damascene (675 - 749) : God can not be known ; what is said of God "ad extra", does not indicate His nature (or essence) but His attributes (personality). Communion with these distinctions is possible, but the vision "face to face" is deemed a communion with the Person of Christ alone, leaving the communion of the whole person with the triune God aside. Participation in the Divine is seeing Christ eternally, and eternally being seen by Him, source of unending joy. Deification is restricted to the Christological context ;

  • Gregory Palamas (1296 - 1359) : the core of his work is the question of the possibility of an actual communion with God, i.e. the nature of grace. Deifying grace is not the essence or "ousia" but the energy of God ("energeia"), a power and universal operation of the Trinity. Insofar as God manifests Himself and makes Himself known in these energies, i.e. in His dynamical attributes, He is Divine light. The perfect vision becomes perceptible as uncreated light, fully revealed at the end of time as the "Mystery of the Eight Day" (eschatology). It is imperceptible, yet contemplated by the eyes of the body (cf. the Transfiguration). There is no co-naturality between the intellect and God (cf. the Alexandrians). God (as a Trinity, not only as Christ) makes Himself known to the whole man, surpassing the limitations of created being (against John Damascene). He who participates in this light, becomes light, living in communion with the Trinity. This departure out of history and thus out of time, is an entrance into the eternal light of the "Eight Day", the eschatological age to come, prefigurated "in the beginning", namely with the creation of wisdom.

These essential inspirations of the Byzantine tradition show two major areas had been transformed into dogma :

1. Trinitarism : God is one essence in three Persons, and each Person is consubstantial with God, i.e. draws its essence from the Divine unity, the nature of God as He is. Thus, in essence, each of the Persons is God. As differentiations of unity, each Person has specific attributes which are unique and not shared with the others, although the Three always operate together and refer in their dynamism and differentiations to each other as well as manifesting the theo-ontological unity which is the fundamental characteristic of the One God and His "perichoresis".
2. Christology : the second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, is God insofar as He is the perfect image of the Father, reflected back to the Father by the Holy Spirit. The dynamism of the Son of God (His process) defines three stages :

  • FIRST STAGE : the Son of God as the Divine Person of the Logos ; this stage has two substages :
    1. before creation : before the eternal act of Will to create the universe emerged, the Son of God enjoyed the Divine "perichoresis", the Divine dance of the Persons around their own essence. The Divine Person of Christ is precreational and hence before time & space ensued. The act of Will causing creation is shared by the three Persons : the Father is the intent, the Son the grand architect and the Holy Spirit the animator ;
    2. after creation : with the creation of historical time, the economies of construction (Son) and evolution (Holy Spirit) were initiated. God created the human being in His image, pushing His consciousness to emerge in matter (the likeness of God). Again two substages prevail :
    2.1 before the Fall : Edenical humanity had no need for salvation, for physical necessity, sin and death were not part of its will and communion with the presence of God was continuous, but not "face to face" ;
    2.2 after the Fall : humans on Earth are in constant conflict with themselves and their environments and only prefigurations of the right order are glimpsed and all of them perish. Powerless, man is chained by the fallen angels to become the debased and abused slave of Satan, the "prince of this world" ;

  • SECOND STAGE : the Incarnation of the unique Logos of God as Jesus Christ, the God-man : "ex nihilo", the Father sent His Son "in the flesh" to reclaim fallen human  nature from the powers of evil & darkness. In Jesus Christ, the communion between His Divine Person (as Logos) and His human nature, unsullied but accepting the human condition insofar as evil is not voluntarily willed, is complete : two natures and two wills act as one, namely in terms of the economy of the Son of the Father. Christ penetrated created nature, recuperated the human genome and opened the way for the raised human person to see God "face to face", namely through the perfect image of the Father and the deifying Holy Spirit who makes us enter the order of grace ;

  • THIRD STAGE : the Ascension of Christ, the light of the world, to His Father : the promise of the Father is fulfilled when the Resurrected Christ "ascends" the created order and the Holy Spirit "descends" upon the Christians.

3. Pneumatology : the third Person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father (but sent by the Son), manifests the perfect image of the Father as the Son. The Spirit manifest as Divine light to the sons of Christ when the Risen Christ returns to the house of the Father. Hence, by the Son, they experience God in the uncreated energies of the Holy Spirit and are deified, to become "God by grace". Clearly, this happens "at the end", when the whole of creation has been deified or this "eschaton" is vehemently anticipated.

the schism in the universal church of Jesus Christ

Ecclesiological problems increasingly determine the preoccupations of the three dominant Christian institutions of today : the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church. And not without reason.

Anno 2004, in the secular, socio-liberal & democratic West, an alarmingly decreasing number of Catholic priests celebrate in their quasi empty churches, while in the South, the "spiritual" hierarchy of Rome refuses to liberate the poor from the barbaric social, economical and political injustices which chain them, smilingly using Jesuit trickery to maintain the status quo, and this despite the evident wrongdoings of the owners of the lands. Worldwide, Catholic bishops are asked to defend overtaken positions on contraceptives, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriages, euthanasia, gay parenthood and married priests. Gross suffering is tolerated and made to thrive for the sake of the principles of their lukewarm & outdated "modern" Vatican II philosophies.

In the East, the fall of communism has allowed Russian Orthodoxy to take its place (again) in the coulisse of power. The survival of faith under the joke of the atheist Sovjets is a remarkable historical fact. Will, after communism, the Orthodox Church take care for all its people ? Is this Christianity more than just the survival of the spiritual art of churches, icons, prayers and rituals ? Will their pneumatological advantage be finally implemented and the too prominent focus on sorrow be surpassed ?

Finally, the Anglicans, the protestant church of Henry VIII, after wholeheartedly having accepted women priests (Why not priestesses ?), are divided on gay bishops !

Let us concentrate on the sole and irreducible dogmatic ground for the separation of the Eastern Orthodox and the Latin Roman Church : the procession of the Holy Spirit, the true head of the true universal church of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, with the end of the Christological phase ("Who is the Son ?"), the pneumatological question : "Who is the Holy Spirit ?", caused a deepening schism between the Greek and Latin churches. The experience of God (the vision of God) was intimately linked with this issue, for who had privileged access to God and thus the authority to rule the affairs of men in His place ?

Each variant view on one of the Three Persons of the Trinity defines a different triadology and points to a fundamental, unbridgeable difference in outlook on God's operations, energies, differences, attributes, in short : God's existence (as opposed to God's essence, "ousia", "eidos" or "substantia"). If the Greek and Latin churches had been troubled concerning the Son -the "consensus catholicus" being the ideal-, they never found unity insofar as the Person of the Holy Spirit is concerned. This obstacle was and is the crucial divide, which can only be surpassed by the dogmatical refutation of one of both positions.

Both Greek and Latin traditions affirm the Holy Spirit has no name of His own, being anonymous. For both Father and Son are called "Holy" and "Spirit". The Holy Spirit has no personal character or type, and His image reveals His dynamism rather than His name. The Father has His image in His Son and the Son in the Father, while the Holy Spirit has His image in none but Himself. He conceals His invisible indefiniteness (as do Air and Fire), while Father and Son underline their positive, strong, "hypostatic" character. Both traditions also subscribe to the view the mode of origin of the Holy Spirit is "procession", while the Son is "generated", an abstract (not essential) distinction, indicative of diversity in the Trinity. But both traditions fundamentally differ on how to conceptualize this diversity, resulting in an overt, institutionalized schism.

The Catholic, Filioquist triadology, states the Holy Spirit proceeds "a Patre Filioque tanquam ab uno principio", i.e. "from the Father and the Son as from one principle". Hence, the Holy Spirit denotes a Person related to the Father and the Son in respect to what they have in common (cf. Augustine & Thomas Aquinas). The relation of the Father and the Son together serves as the basis for the Third Person. The diversity in the Trinity is deemed established by an "oppositio relationis", the logic by which the Holy Spirit proceeds from two terms together as a unity : Father and Son ("as from one principle of spiration").

Procession of the Holy Spirit "ab utroque" (from both sides, i.e. from Father and Son) presupposed relations to be the basis of the Persons. They define one pair of oppositions : the Father to the Son and the two together to the Spirit. So here, two Persons give rise to a further relation of opposition. The conflictual tensions within this triadology force it to ground the Persons in the "ousia" or essence of God, i.e. in impersonal unity. Indeed, then, and only then, does this diversity by internal relations of oppositions not divide the Trinity, reducing the triad to the dyad.

In fact, in the Latin theologies, the Trinity is surpassed (escaped) by plunging into the undifferentiated & absolutely absolute, the nature or "ousia" of God. Thus the personal character of God is made impersonal, which is (ironically) a return to Greek intellectual theology. Nature ("ousia") is anterior to the Trinity, and so the latter is the natural efflorescence of God's essential unity. By doing so, the Latins missed the outstanding feature offered by Christ's Resurrection & Ascension. They were still too fascinated by a Greek logic the Greek Fathers had long surpassed ...

In the Orthodox tradition, the Holy Spirit proceeds "ek monou tou Patros", i.e. "only from the Father". Relations are not the basis of the Trinity, but the Father is. He is the plummet of the scales, maintaining the perfect equilibrium between the "ousia" and the Trinity. He is the principle of the common outgoing (as generation & procession) of the same one essence of God. The Trinity has a common essence, and the unity of the Three Persons is part of the monarchy of the Father. The Father, who is unbegotten and without beginning, is not the Son or the Holy Spirit. The begotten Son is neither the Holy Spirit or the Father, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Apophatism (un-saying) befits mystical theology. For it is the distinction between God's essence and His Trinity which allows for a harmonious, graceful and serene triadology (one devoid of internal conflicts).

The Father is the personal principle of unity of the Trinity, the source of their common possession of the same content, of the same one essence of God. But this "ousia" of God is not subject to the Person of the Father. The Father is the basis of the common possession of the same "ousia" by the Trinity. If the Father were a logical monad, He would be identified with the essence or nature of God. But He is a Divine Person who eternally begets the Son and eternally causes the Holy Spirit to proceed, equal to Him in possession of the same essential (or superessential) nature, so they are the same nature of God, but unequal to Him regarding their mode of origin and energy (and economy). He is the cause of their equality within Himself, setting up irreversible relations of diversity. Ergo, for mystical theology, the name "Father" is superior to the name "God". The former opens the pneumatological factor, for the Father proceeds the Holy Spirit who allows us to share in the Divine life of the Trinity. The latter refers to the ever closed, incomprehensible, unknowable and ineffable "ousia" or essence of God.

The Latin monadic view of God is philosophical, and reflects the limitations of the intelligible domain. Because they are limited, mind, reason and intellect do not move out of totality ({0}) into infinity (1 + 1 + ...), out of the nameless into numbers, out of timelessness into history. The spiritual capacity of human beings -by virtue of the Divine image bestowed "in the beginning"- transcends creation. Moreover, the first and last image of God is the personal Trinity and the experience of God is the sole work of grace, i.e. the direct & personal intervention, in casu of the Person of the Holy Spirit.

These elements (transcendence, personhood and grace) mark a decisive rupture with the Late Hellenistic heritage. By accepting the Filioquist triadology of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the Latins Hellenized Western Christianity and created a "pagan" Christian philosophy, engendering (centuries later) the God of the philosophers, deism and atheism. Typical in all these systems is the essentialist approach of God, focusing on His "ousia", i.e. His essential unity at the expense of His Persons. By killing off the vision of God, they made the concept of God obsolete.

As Christianity has no meaning without the Son of God, manifested by the Holy Spirit and manifesting the love of the Father to humanity, Christian philosophy is impossible as long as the standards of an impersonal essentialism are used, for God is one essence in three Persons as revealed by Jesus Christ. The word "God" remains an abstract concept as long as philosophy is identified with the Late Hellenistic frame of mind.

To avoid modalism (Sabellius, ca. AD 220 saw the Persons of the Trinity as three modi of the one, impersonal, essence), the Latins introduced relations of opposition within the Trinity, but these underline God's essence rather than maintaining the crucial and pivotal balance between God's essence and His Persons, as revealed by the monarchy of the Father in the Holy Spirit, without any procession of the latter out of the Son and His economy. How can these postulated relations of opposition within the Trinity be personal, if these oppositions call for the impersonal essence of God to safeguard the unity of the Trinity (for the Persons are not three individuals) ? In the light of the highly personal good new of Jesus Christ, this difficulty must entail the shipwreck of (neo) Thomist philosophy and the edifice of "modern" Catholic theology as a whole.

Orthodox theologians focus on the Father, for He is the source of the Trinity without that the essence of God is subject to Him. He is not the essence, because He is not the sole Person of the Godhead. The generation of the Son is a definite, defined, singular, unique eternal act. The procession of the Holy Spirit is an indefinite, undefined, multiple eternal act. Because of the totality of these "duae processiones", each Person fully shares in their common essential nature (are consubstantial), and so each Person is "God". Hence, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not a degree lower than the Father, but in essence identical. There is no subordinationism at work, for the Son and the Holy Spirit are "God" in the same way and for the same reasons as the Father is "God" (namely their common "ousia", or the Divine essence of unity of God). The monarchy of the Father conditions the personal diversity of the Three Persons and expresses their essential unity. He is the principle of principle which no man can surpass.

For the (neo) Thomists, the Holy Spirit is relation of the essence, differentiated by the logic of the dyad, submitted to the laws of numbers and relations of oppositions, which serve as a basis for the diversity of the Three Persons, confusing them with each other and/or with their common nature (the "ousia" of God). What is most unwanted, besides this conceptual confusion, is the reduction of the triad into a dynamical dyad (the opposition between Father and Son and the opposition between both together and the Holy Spirit) and the unbalance this brings into the Divine Trinity, reducing the role of the Holy Spirit, diminishing His Person. Indeed, the Latins imagine diversity as a relational conflict. This notion is projected upon the Trinity, cut into two pieces : the "fundamental" opposition between the Father and the Son and the "lesser" opposition between both and the Spirit. The impact of this turbulent "solution" is enormous ...

The Greek fathers iniate the theological discourses with the distinction between "ousia" and "hypostasis", between the essence of God in the Trinity, between what is unknowable (hidden) and what is knowable (present to our senses and our mind). The Kantian idea that our cognitive apparatus is limited and thus a priori unable to know the essence of anything (the "Ding an sich" remaining ineffable), is to be found in the writings of Basil the Great, the brother of Gregory of Nyssa. Apophatism was taken for granted ...

The second step, is the Byzantine focus on the Father, the source or origin of the two other Persons. This is the monarchy of the Father, who as principle of principle, differentiates (in operations) while uniting (in essence). He is the plummet of the scale, the pivot between "ousia" and "energeia". The Persons wholly penetrate each other (for the same common nature is shared and thus all are consubstantial) but the Three remain divided by virtue of their shared personal dynamism, mode of operation, participation or relation. The unity of the latter is guaranteed by the Father's gift of the Divine essence to the Son and the Holy Spirit, however without making the essence subject to Himself. The Father is thus the monarch of the Trinity, not of God as He Is.

The third step, is a genuine understanding of the personal dynamism of the Trinity, defined by the distinction between "generation" and "procession". Father and Son indeed share their perfect image. In a way, the Father is the Son and the Son is the Father. The balance for this mutual relationship is clear : the Holy Spirit, who only proceeds from the Father, to compensate for the latter's intimate relation with the Son. This third step is apophatic, for the essential characteristics of the Three are unknown. The two scales of the balance : the Son and the Holy Spirit are held in equilibrium by the Father, who eternally makes them possess a common Divine essence.

Lastly, it should be remarked the procession of the Holy Spirit is an infinite passage beyond the dyad, a moving away from singularity into plurality and infinity. This is not into an infinite number of persons, but the infinity of the procession of the Third Person, animating and sanctifying the human persons.

The monad (1) opens out into the dyad (2) and from there into infinity (3). There is no necessity of return to primordial unity  (3 = 1). The triad is more than just a return into the simplicity of the essence, for this simplicity is found in the absolute diversity of the Three, and not in any metaphysical need to retire in God's essence. The triad does not represent unity but unity-in-variety (compare this with the unity-in-conflict of the dyad). With the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit, eternal creativity is launched, and Divine evolution is made possible.

This procession can not be "ab utroque" because the dynamism of the Trinity is not dualistic (Father/Son versus Holy Spirit) but triadic (Father/Son, Father/Spirit & Spirit/Son). To downgrade the triad to the dyad is conflictualize theology. This is precisely what the Latin West has done, and on this crucial & confusing issue, no hotch-potch compromize is possible. Ergo, the Orthodox and Romans commune in schism and try to downplay the importance of this fact. And has Pope John Paul II not spoken against this communion ?

the imprisonment of Christian ethics

The fallen angels play an important part in the New Testament. He or they are mentioned 188 times, 62 times as "demon", 37 times as "beast", 36 times as "Satan", 33 times as "devil", 13 times as "dragon" and 7 times as "chief of demons". Although the effects of demonical action are described, we are not given any knowledge about their nature or fate, with the exception of James & Jude. In Q1, these destructive spiritual entities are not mentioned. Paul identifies them with the Pagan deities ... (1 Cor 10, 19- 21).

"Do you believe that there is one God ? Good ! The demons also believe - and tremble with fear."
James, 2:19

"As to the angels who did not stay within the limits of their proper authority, but abandoned their own dwelling place : they are bound with eternal chains in the darkness below, where God is keeping them for that great Day on which they will be condemned."
Jude 6

"God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell, where they are kept chained in darkness, waiting for the Day of Judgement."

2 Peter 2:4

The New Testament remains silent about the nature of the demons, suggesting this issue was not a point of Christ's revelation. The knowledge of the difference between good and evil is approached from the side of goodness alone. The good God reveals His good news : the end of the reign of the fallen angels through the economy of the Son of God. Repent and be saved !

This merged well with Greek emanationism. Evil was defined as "privatio", the absence of being (cf. theodicy). Matter, at the bottom, was nonbeing on the edge of complete nothingness. Evil as privation "existed" only in the sense of exclusion, as the "holes" in the cheese. Evil is then unformed matter, the lowest degree separated from the One : perfection, goodness and being.

"In a system such as that of Plotinus, the status of the principle of evil is unclear. On the one hand it is the lowest order of being or lacks being altogether. Ontologically it scarcely exists. But when the moral element is introduced, it is possible to conceive of a being of high ontological status making a choice for evil. This idea, although an implicit possibility in Plotinus, was never an explicit option for him, but it eventually became part of Christian tradition."
Russell, J.B. : The Devil, Cornell University Press - London, 1977, p.166.

The Latins incorporated evil as privation in their Christian philosophy, as it were imprisoning Christian ethics by Hellenistic thought (cf. "soma sema", the body as the "prison" of the soul) and Greek ascetism (cf. Paul and Peter on the body and its passions). By denying evil its proper place
, the fallen angels remained a priori outside their theological scope (except eschatological), while the presence of evil in this world remains undeniable (cf. Chaostheory).

Demonology is an integral part of the narrative gospels. For example : Christ's infernal descent to ransom His souls. In hell, He did not save the demons (for His economy did not include them), but He liberated the just but powerless human souls these fallen angels had chained (by means of the unfulfilled economy of bloody offering) and which He, as the fulfiller of the law, forgave. Demonology sheds light on the ways evil works by nature to entrap heart, mind, passions and body. For the demonologist, fallen angels are positive entities, not holes in the cheese. They are a perverted positive nature. 

In the West, the demonology has been largely ascetical (monastic), not theological (catechetical), although the existence of Satan and his demons was and is acknowledged. Because of this blatant ignorance (the dogma of the "mysterium inequitatis"), even Divine angelology seemed suspicious (cf. the fate of John Dee in 1555).

In the last century, Protestant theologians ousted the devil from the exegetical plane, delegating the evil angel to psychopharmacology. Demons were complexes and possession was a form of psychosis (schizofrenia & manic-depressive disorder). Jesus Christ and His good saints had a multiple personality disorder in common ! Christian historians concede the "prince of the world" was a personalizing projection of what we dislike in ourselves, but especially in others. Depth-psychology reduced Satan to a psychomorph phenomenon. His myth was nothing more than the expression of one of the archetypes of the human collective unconscious, the principle of evil itself (Jung). Away with the religious image of a powerful, yet fallen angelical being, an anti-god who looks down from his majestic material throne, horned with sin and death, enjoying to be fixated in his own evil will, which is the sadistic cause of endless suffering by inversion of what is good.

"All reservations considered, however, I do believe in the existence of a personification and principle of evil, call it what you will."
Russell, J.B. : The Devil, Cornell University Press - London, 1977, p.260.

On the one hand, Orthodox theologians accept the notion of privation (evil as the absence of being) and thus share in the problems. On the other hand, they stress the personal character of the fallen angels. There is no evil being, but only the evil will to bring about what is wrong. Hence, evil only exists in the will (of demons and fallen humans). The evil of demons is fixated, whereas the evil willed by humans exists when it is done. Only through sedimentation can human evil endure.

Satan was the first of the fallen angels to turn away from God. He dragged a third of heaven down in his fall. Being a person created by God, this archdemon exists as human persons exist. So just as humans, Satan and his gang belong to the created order of being (for absolute nonbeing is a mental construction). Out of ill will, the devil creates evil effects which he may call his own. Because in essence the dragon is an angelic, spiritual person, he is intelligent. And it is the darkness of his intelligence which defies any attempt to negate the existence, the personality and the economy of pain of "the Beast 666".

Today, the argument of evil (Why evil, if God is good ?) is considered to be a strong atheist reasoning. And it is. As philosophy can not accept demonology, theodicy (or the attempt to explain in rational terms why there is evil in God's creation) is not able to explain the suffering of the innocent. Without the order of grace, the savage laws of the natural order (of the demons) can not be placed in a spiritual context of continuous emancipation and evolution. This is the impotence of reason of which Hellenism was already the victim.

God, in His absolute freedom, created angels & humans as persons. This implied the command of enduring goodness and the gift of free will. For as God created the "other" than God, there had to come into being a goodness excelling through freedom. Because creation has a Divine origin, the deification of creation is its final end. Meanwhile, evolution calls created beings to contribute to this deification of creation, the "Mystery of the Eight Day".

the redemption of Satan ?

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning ! How art thou cast down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations ! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exhalt my throne above the stars of God ; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north : I will ascend above the heights of the clouds ; I will be like the most High."
Isaiah, 14:12-14

For the Christian ascetics, monastics & apocalyptists, the bankrupting economy of the demons is invoked to explain the massive presence of wickedness in this world. Indeed, besides the sedimentations of human evil, which is the cause of enduring moral evil, demons sustain the "natural" evils of this world and cause -to satisfy their sadistic pleasure- the just & innocent to suffer. Through the five unprotected gates offered by the frailty of human nature, they bestow the feeling of spatiotemporal and geosentimental material (not spiritual) superiority to their willing human slaves, to wit : unsavoury sexuality, a perverted lust for power and the gratification of greed, assisted by causing, witnessing and taking great pleasure in abject poverty, famine & infamous pain.

The body of man as well as his mind are the chosen targets of the devil and his hords. Materialism and individual indifference are the winning tickets to block out the Divine image in the human person. The active cooperation of humans with demons is the cause of the sedimentation of the evil intent in stable forms, of which the ultimate frenzy is the establishment of the kingdom of Satan on Earth (is this a ruthless global capitalism ?).

In all of this, the Passion of Christ remains the outstanding example of the extent of the sardonic principle : even the Lamb of God is denied, trampled upon, humiliated, rediculed, tortured and slowly murdered. Because of the symbols of Christ concerning Satan (the desert, exorcism, banishing, driving out, rebuking, etc.) and the definition of evil as "privatio boni", an in-depth theological approach of malice has not been possible in Christological terms, and the complete dispensation of the Trinity for humanity (both regarding his nature and his person) not made part of theology. Indeed, the churches have focused on their Christological foundation, the objective basis of revelation, and disregarded personal multiplicity, their subjective root.

In line with the Latin tradition, the mystic Ruusbroec wrote that the unity of Satan is eternally broken, while his archangelical beauty remained part of God's thought (his despair defined his "vanquished" and eternally damned state). Why assume Satan's ill will "broke" his being ? Can the joy of vengeance upon the wicked be harmonized with the good news arrived with Jesus Christ ?

"But to you who hear, I say : love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you."
Q1, 4.

Besides the eschatological problem (the nature of the Last Day), "privatio boni" confuses the ontological order with a moral (voluntaristic) choice. Even in the Essene Books of Enoch, the concept of the Day of the End can not be reconciled with eternal, absolute division (with the dyad instead of the monad or the triad), although the spirits of evil were kept apart and finally destroyed.

"And in those days shall the Earth also give back that which has been entrusted to it, and Sheol also shall give back that which it has received, and Hell shall give back that which it owes."
Books of Enoch, Second Parable, LI,1.

Diabology conjures a diabolical psychology in which Satan's ill will is opposed to his undeniable angelic origin (causing the devil to be internally split or schizoid). And this opposition between the Divine and the fixation in ill will lasts as long as this ill will lasts. Hence, emancipation is possible ... Is therapy ? Can the devil be psychoanalyzed and healed ?

"Que Satan existe, la question est résolue de manière affirmative part la foi chrétienne. (...) Le développement de l'esprit critique et l'avènement de la psychiatrie ont provoqué une indulgence nécessaire. L'homme pervers est-il vraiment coupable de son intensité maléfique ? Peut-on toujours se dépasser ? (...) Après la présentation de la thérapeutique elle-même, une sorte de psychoanalyse du diable à travers les formes sera pratiquée."
Satan, Études Carmélitaines, Desclée de Brouwer, 1948, pp.9-10.

The order of grace shields, but grace is not a "deus ex machina", and so can not be commanded or anticipated by a rational system alone. It exists through hope, faith and love. Demonology enables us to understand the mechanism of the evil one. Can a demonology lead to the restoration of Satan ? Is Satan-saving possible ? Does his eternal lapidation benefit humanity and creation more than the attempt to turn him around ? These questions can not be answered on the basis of the objective dispensation of God, i.e. the economy of the Son of God Incarnate, Jesus Christ.

"Well, then, pay to the Caesar what belongs to the Caesar, and pay God what belongs to God."
Matthew, 22.

Only the Alexandrians have argued Satan must be able to change his will. Clement of Alexandria admitted the devil had sinned in the beginning and had persisted in his sin ever since. But the limitless nature of God's mercy as well as the indelibility of free will suggested to him that Satan had retained the capability of repentance at any time. Otherwise, Divine mercy would not be limitless. Moreover, his ontology forsaw the ultimate fulfillment of the potential goodness on the part of every created thing, in accord with the "all in all" formula. Finally, at the end of time (on the "Eight Day"), Christ would wish to extend his redemption to all. Clement was rather unclear on these points, and it was Origen who developed the notion of the ultimate return of all beings, Satan included (the so-called "apocatastasis").

For Origen, the devil existed because he was made by God. Insofar as he gives himself completely to the evil in which he (out of lust & pride) willingly fixates his iron will, his demoniac nature exists as the outcome of the free-will choice to do the wrong thing and celebrate it.

Satan's evil exists in this ill will. Now Origen reasoned that however much we may sin, humans and demons alike, in the course of time, God will grant us such desire for repentance ("metanoia"), eventually letting us make the good choice. His contemporaries rejected his theory, because Origen saw salvation as recurrent cycles. Later authors, as well as the canons of the Latin Church, rejected Origen's mutability of the demonical choice, proclaimed the eternity of Satan's separation from God and therewith underlined the impossibility of a restoration or deification of creation, not even on the Last Day (when heaven and hell abide for all of eternity). In the same movement, the order of grace, God's Glory, was deemed created ...

By which dispensation (or economy) may God give the demons this desire for repentance ? For mystical theology, there is only one dispensation, namely the economy of the Holy Trinity, which is accomplished by two Divine Persons brought into the world by the Father, who is the source giving these Two Himself as their common nature, the ineffable essence ("ousia") of God. The economy of the Son is of Redemption, the pre-condition of the economy of the Holy Spirit, initiated with the mystery of Pentecost, i.e. after the work of Redemption was finished.

"Jesus drank the wine and said, 'It is finished !' Then he bowed his head and died."

The Holy Spirit sent by the Son has a double function : He manifests the Son and sanctifies each person in a unique way.

As He who manifests the Son, the Holy Spirit participates in the economy of the Son, establishing the objective head of the universal church of Jesus Christ. Historically, the centrist churches have always stressed this canonical, dogmatical, scriptoral & liturgical manifestation of the economy of the Holy Spirit, His objective side. The "processio ab utroque" of the Filioquists serves the same purpose, for the Holy Spirit administers the relational oppositions of Father and Son.

To the Greeks, the Holy Spirit, within His objective dispensation, is the Spirit of Jesus. He proceeds from the Father alone (and is sent by the Son) and His dispensation is thus vaster. When one adheres to the common Christocentric conception, there is (paradoxically) a dogmatic disregard for the human person as a unique communicant with the Holy Spirit and His gifts (cf. mystical experience & prophesy). The constant reformation of theology has thus been made difficult by the traditions. Because the redemptive economy of the Son is otherworldly, both Greek and Latin soteriologies have incorporated a disregard for the natural world. This led to a sacramental determinism, an Divine automaton "de opere operato".

In the latter capacity, the Holy Spirit manages a larger dispensation, namely the deification of all beings made after the image and towards the likeness of God, i.e. persons. Who is a person ? In relation to individual nature, personhood seems to be this sublime quality of the individual, namely his perfection. But this is answering the question What is a person ? Such an sensible and/or intelligible approach would put personalism on its head, for persons are not individual gods (excellent individual qualities & relations). Indeed, there is no element in individual nature (not even the "nous" and its faculties of self-determination & liberty), which would be able to root the full dignity of the person, for personhood is not something, but someone. The someone of my person is called to commune with the Person of the Holy Spirit distinct from but not in conflict with the communion of the church(es) of Jesus Christ. A person is distinct from his or hers individual, biopsychological nature, while still containing it. The person constantly exceeds the nature of the individual and ecstacizes it. It belongs to the subjective side of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit to commune with all human persons at the same time. This is the "mystical spirit" of the "mystical body" of the Christians living on Earth.

The dispensation of the Trinity is one economical activity accomplished by the Son and the Holy Spirit together. As both come forth from the Father, the differences in these economies are independent insofar as their operation is concerned, but effective and distinct. The Son Incarnates to incorporate our single human nature dispersed in individuals into the united humanity of Christ as the Logos of God. Baptism is conformity to His economy, the objective sign of adherence to the economy of the Son Incarnate. The Holy Spirit manifests the Son and sanctifies our persons, so that we may become God by Divine grace, not individual gods by our own right, but Divine persons by the Holy Spirit.

In the East, the part of the Holy Spirit, the head of the true universal church of Jesus Christ, is not reduced to that of an auxiliary, deputy or assistant of the Son and His economy. Proceeding from the Father alone (but sent by the Son), the Holy Spirit and His personal economy, although manifesting the Son and sent into the world after the Son, is vaster than the economy of the Son. His pneumatic dispensation, or the distribution of God's eternal treasures by the Holy Spirit, is universal and has created persons a such as its object, while the Son's economy -Incarnating as a human being- involves a dispensation towards fallen human nature alone.

In this universal economy of the Holy Spirit, created persons of all possible states & stations are invited to realize deification freely. This in order to fulfill the final cause of creation : that God may be "all in all" (final and infinite nonduality).

This ultimate vision of redemption, which is eschatological, is the "mystery of the eight day", the union with God of (a) the individual human natural souls ransomed by Jesus Christ and (b) the created persons that answered the call of the Holy Spirit to share in the Divine nature of the Holy Trinity.

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initiated : 16 V 2004 - last update : 27 IX 2004 - version n°1