Christ is How You are Doing This

When Christ says in John 14:6 that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, he does not only mean that he is the Way to the Father. He means also that he – and the Father, and the Holy Spirit – are the way we are each doing whatever it is we are doing at any given moment. This is also, likewise, an aspect of what Paul means in Acts 17:28, when he says that in God we live, move and have our being. The being and power I am and have right this moment came just now from God, not per accidens, but per se (this origination per se being the forecondition for any causal origination per accidens). I certainly didn’t arrange for the existence and potentiality of this moment of my life to happen. I just find myself right here, right now. Which, when you think about it, is totally inexplicable, on creaturely terms. Thus all the power I exert right now, all the ways that I can act, are provided to me by God.

Everything that I am and have is derived from God’s creative act.

What will I do with this little bit of his being and power that, in making it out of nothing, Christ has given to me?

______________________

Why do I say that Christ has given me some of his own being and power? Because, this moment of my existence having been created by him out of nothing at all, it derives only, and wholly, from him. Thus, while I am certainly not the same thing as he, nevertheless everything that I am comes from him; my being and power are confected from his being and power, and from nothing else whatsoever.

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6 thoughts on “Christ is How You are Doing This

  1. Paraphrasing Sertillanges’ ‘Foundations of Thomistic Philosophy’

    -Creation is not a change.
    Change requires changeable being, which is yet to exist;.
    -Cannot come from nothing, as a bridge with one pier and no span can’t be crossed.
    -Can be no intermediary between God and the Creation.
    No infinite regress of universes in any via from God to world.
    -Creation is an action of God, cause is in eternity, effect is in time.
    Time is a creature along with everything else.
    -Taking away from the notion of creation all idea of passage, movement and becoming, it remains nothing but a pure relation.
    -God has given a sort of extension of His being, which we call the world, therefore the world depends upon Him: from the creature’s standpoint, time is coextensive with (dependent also on) God. From God’s standpoint his creation includes duration while he is in eternity and outside time.
    -God created the world at the beginning of time and that since then he keeps it in existence.
    -God’s action is God.
    His only possible motive in acting is to show forth his goodness, and communicate his perfection. Every other primary motive is excluded from him . . He needs nothing, His only act is to give, and what He gives must in some way be Himself, since there is nothing beside Him.

    -Relation analogous to musician playing music rather than engineer maintaining a machine.

    • Relation analogous to musician playing music rather than engineer maintaining a machine.

      What a remarkable image! I have long loved Tolkien’s Ainulindalë in The Silmarillion as a mythic way to recount the fall and to show the character of salvific providence in a fallen world. Until today, however, I never considered creation-as-music as a fitting image to illustrate the faulty assumptions of deism. Superb!

      • Probably because I was a cathedral chorister from age seven, the musical analogy was the very first that made sense to me. I was delighted to encounter it in the Silmarillion. Tolkien seemed to know all about the things I had learned were needed to produce good choral music: most of them summed up in the dictum, “it’s not about you ( your voice, your solo, your ego, your standing, etc.)”. When we got ourselves out of the way and paid proper attention to the service and its music, there was unutterable beauty, a transport of ecstasy, profound joy, intense friendship.

        Imagine how terribly pleased I was, then, to discover the Orthodox concept of the nature of the relation among the Persons of the Trinity: perichoresis. It is often translated as mutual indwelling, not inaccurately. But literally it means “dance about.” Chore is of course the same word as chorus and choir. It means “dancing ground.” It is Plato’s Receptacle. The archetypal chore is the firmament, the archetypal dance is the battle dance of Sabaoth, the host of the angels in their armour, the stars; and the archetypal music is their war song: “Who is like the Lord our God?”

        So we choristers, earthly types of the angel choirs, jointly formed the field in which the Logos was projected into the created order, an intensification of the very procedure that renders creation orderly in the first place.

        I am convinced that it was this experience – of pure Platonic Forms pouring forth from one’s head and joining with all the other Forms pouring out of one’s friends in a wonderful diapason that shook the very bones, made the stones hum and raised every hair in the building – that convinced the Levite choir of the Temple that their liturgy, joined as it was with that of the angels in Heaven, was the glue that held together the whole world.

  2. Ilion writes:

    Thus all the power I exert right now, all the ways that I can act, are provided to me by God.

    This is part of what I mean when I say that Christ has *always* been giving his Life for his creation, that his creation has *always* been feeding off him. This is part of what I mean when I say that it wasn’t only in the Passion that Christ delivered himself into the hands/power of his creatures, but rather that in the act of creating the world at all, he had delivered himself in the hands/power of his creation.

    Thus all the power I exert right now, all the ways that I can act, are provided to me by God.

    And this includes not just the moral or the morally indifferent things we do, but also the wickedness we do. Our sin, even those sins we are so willing to overlook, at least when it is our own particular sin, is so terrible and wicked becasue it always involves God, necessarily.

    In creating the world, and in creating creatures who are free agents, Christ has given those creatures some limited power over himself — specifically, he has given us the ability to compel him, the sinless one, he who is truth itself, to experience sin and self-contradiction or self-disintegration. He who is Whole, by creating and sustaining us, gives us the ability to break him … and we do it.

    It seems to me that even if no creature had ever sinned, it would still be the case that the nearest analogy to our own experience we can draw in attempting to comprehend how God experiences upholding the very existence of the created order is as being painful. For, the created order lives by eating God.

    An analogy of a mother nursing her child might also be a way of understanding how the creation draws its life from the Creator, and one that wouldn’t seem to imply that God experiences our very existence in a way that we can only understand as painful … except, there is still Calvary to take into account, and the fact that Christ, whom the NT identifies as the Creator, told his disciples that no one who did not consume him could enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Concerning Calvary, I wonder whether Christ’s murder, whether that human sacrifice, was necessary not directly because of the fact that we humans are sinners, but rather because of the collective choices mankind has made over time.

    For instance, Adam and Eve apparently thought that Cain was the promised redeemer. Now, clearly, Cain wasn’t Christ; he wasn’t God incarnate. Yet, might salvation history have been very different had he heeded God’s warning over his growing hatred of Abel?

    Rabbis say that it was Cain’s idea to offer sacrifice to God, rather than being God’s command or suggestion. And, it wasn’t that Cain offered grains while Abel offered blood/lives that made Abel’s sacrifice pleasing. But rather, it was that Cain’s attidude was one of trying to put God into his debt, of trying to manipulate God.

    Anyway, what if, in a way of speaking, it was that initial shedding of human blood that made Abel’s sacrifice, rather than Cain’s, the primary template for all sacrifice to God, including the Sacrifice that takes away our sin?

    • Those ideas about Cain and Abel are fascinating. Any recollection where you encountered them? I am particularly intrigued to hear about the rabbinic tradition that Adam and Eve thought Cain was the redeemer. The notion that the defect of Cain’s sacrifice is that it was a form of sorcery is also striking. That would make Cain’s sacrifice the template for all idolatry, no?

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