Thursday, 10 December 2009

Homo Factus Est

I am an avid reader of Faith magazine. I like the depth of issues covered and I think the whole Faith organisation is worthy of supporting. However that doesn't mean I agree one bit with their basic philosophy. I had penned a letter to their editor about my misgivings, but I feel far from brainy enough to get involved with this on a theological level (I got cold feet about sending my letter) and would therefore be grateful if someone could assist me in my meandering thoughts via this little blog.

This post of mine certainly doesn't intend to be a "my idea of the Trinity is better that your idea of the Trinity" post. I would however dearly like some clarification on the Scotist idea that Christ was predestined to come into the world before the creation of the universe and ...Christ would have become incarnate even if there had been no sin to give us the fullness of salvation and grace that we need (words taken from the editorial). I must be a Thomist because I find the second part of this statement worrying.

I would like to pose some questions in regards to this statement.

Should Christ become incarnate and be revealed to an unfallen Adam, the first question I ask is why this didn’t actually happen anyway? One is assuming the cosmological battles have already begun between the angels and fallen angels. When Adam arrives, surely the appearance of an Incarnate Christ to guide him away from the wiles of the Devil would have been a good thing. God obviously didn’t deem this necessary, after all it is God that gave us freewill.

Unfallen humanity did not know death. Death is a scandal, it is the separation of the eternal soul from the body. Sinless man was meant to be assumed intact into heaven when the earthly body grew tired, as happened to the Immaculate Conception. Christ in an unfallen world would be subject to the same rules as the other creatures who were without sin, and as he wouldn’t have got murdered, he would have known old age. Being incarnate means being subject to the constraints of time. How can we justify Christ knowing old age? How could He be around for all, locked into one earthly lifetime as God made Man?

I simply don't get the concept that Christ's coming would still be necessary in a sinless world to provide us with the fullness of salvation and grace. We wouldn’t need saving if we were sinless, or am I missing something?

The Incarnation has to be a unique event. If always destined to happen, but happening in an unfallen world, how would God have chosen/crafted his handmaid?

The editorial goes on to suggest that we should reach out to scientists with the Cosmic Christ as opposed to Christ Our Redeemer. Reaching out to scientists with the eternal, cosmic Christ seems somehow silly if the rest of the population find Christ primarily through His passion (love, suffering and death), why should Scientists be steered away from engaging with Christ Crucified? Seriously, I do worry that the Cosmic Christ is just not lovable. We are fallen beings and we love Christ as our Saviour. It is the only way we can begin to grasp at the pure love that flows from and through the Trinity. Our perspectives and feelings are inherently part of the world we live in.

The Physicist Earnest Rutherford once said, all science is either Physics or stamp collecting. Surely Adam, before he was exiled from Eden, was the first stamp collector. Adam was happy and content to be naming things in the garden, well botanist rather than stamp collector, but it really is the same thing. Questions of why and wherefrom, would not have occurred to him. He was a cataloger and gardener. I wish to argue (as a Physicist myself) that natural philosophy (physics) is a product of the Fall. It is our exile from the garden makes us feel the need to put purpose into our existence, or atleast question our existence, the yearnings of the natural philosopher are not the yearnings of an unfallen creature. Therefore pure science is a human construct to try to grasp some understanding of the created universe. This would imply theologians should engage with scientists through their combined lack of understanding.

Whilst I would unswervingly support the movement to promote the primacy of Christ in Creation. Is it not the case that because as we are poor, frail beings, destined to die, trapped by gravity and time, we simply can not get close to the Cosmic Christ, though He is just that, we will only meet Him through His Passion, that is the whole of His encounter with the fallen world?


berenike said...

There was some discussion about the Faith thing on our blog a while back:

the Faith Movement

much to be said, but I should have been in bed an hour ago!

Rita said...

Thanks, I had a look at your stuff on this. There seem to be some deeper causes for concern than my own.

The point of this blog posting really is to see if there might be some dialogue over this. I'm not wanting to say they are wrong, I'd just like to know what they really are saying, and some answers to my questions.

I may have to post my letter....

Joe said...


I'm a bit busy at the moment, but hope to engage with your post at some point.

Now, I remember that quote from Rutherford. I only ever saw it once - in an Oxford entrance examination, I think it was - followed by the immortal word: "Discuss".

Anonymous said...

I have heard the view that the Incarnation could have happened even without the Fall- but I have to say it seems a little silly. Aren't we taught that God is outside of time? Therefore He knew Adam would fall and He knew the Incarnation would be the answer.
There is a rabbinical legend I believe that God created angels on the Second Day and showed them the possibility of the Incarnation through Mary and it was that vision that led Lucifer to announce "Non Servam" and thus hell came into existence. Hence, said the rabbi's, the words "And He saw that it was good" do not appear at the end of the Second Day.
I am therefore unsure how an "If" argument works with and All Seeing All Knowing kind of God.
But I don't know.

Rita said...

The problem is so many intelligent people seem keen on promoting it, Fr Tim Finigan for one....

I want to understand what they are saying and why it is so important. I fail to see it as important in our proclamation of the primacy of Christ.

berenike said...

I've not read it, but I am sure David Bolan's new CTS booklet on Evolution will be worth reading. He's also got some posts on the subject on his blog, at Paths of Love.

I wish there were more "movements" and things like Youth2000, that may have a "flavour" of their own, but don't make any claims for the superiority of their style of doing things, or proclaim the church-saving importance of their theses. (There's a long blog post in this, but I'll shut up for the mo.)