Sunday 6 January 2019

Why *must* we (all) strive for Final Participation?

Although it will strike many as implausible, including myself at some times; I think it is accurate to say that all modern people must strive to become more divine, more god-like; must organise their life around theosis.

'All' meaning all in The West, all who have moved out of the unconscious, taking-it-for-granted type of Christianity of earlier generations (including all who have been atheists) - all who have at any point been materialists, or put socio-political issues in a position of primacy...

All such people have no viable alternative but to strive for theosis (for the divine mode of consciousness, as well as salvation. To put it another way; here-and-now, and for everybody reading this, salvation is not enough. More exactly, if we strive only for salvation, a 'simple' salvation without theosis; then we will not get salvation.

This is because of the times; over the past 200 years a situation has developed in which the modern consciousness has an absolute need for theosis; such that when it is lacking, then salvation is sabotaged.

There is perhaps a brief time window in the new convert of Christianity when salvation is 'enough'; but the modern materialism, atheism, evil - is so pervasive, that we cannot just hold-on to salvation. We are compelled either to move on towards a move divine consciousness; or else to lapse back out from real Christianity, and into a secular worldly materialism that implicitly, or explicitly, rejects salvation - does not even want life everlasting in Heaven.

We moderns need to know about life everlasting, we need to know about Heaven in order to want these things enough to resist the temptations to let them slide. The kind of vagueness on such matters that sufficed in the remote past will no longer suffice. Negative theology is useless. Modern Christians must be clear, simple, explicit about Heaven and the divine consciousness.

In a sense, we must all strive to be 'saints' - but not saints in the medieval pattern. The greatest saints were not those who did good works, but those who attained to a divine consciousness while mortal - those who 'had their heads in Heaven even as their feet walked on the earth'.

And that task is now universal; we all most strive (each is our own and unique fashion) to move towards that goal.

The divine mode of consciousness is what Barfield has termed Final Participation, and I have discussed under the name of Primary Thinking. It can only be effective within the Christian framework - although it does happen spontaneously to many secular, materialist people and those from other religions - who inevitably misinterpret the experiences, because only the Christian framework is both true and sufficient.

(An individual may not be fully aware of, or able coherently to articulate, their Christian framework - often because they try to express it in a false metaphysical system - but that framework must nonetheless be in-place.) 

Of course we will not succeed in becoming saints in any permanent and complete fashion, because that is the nature of mortal life; change, decay, disease, weakness... these prevent perfection; or rather, mortal perfection is attainable but always temporary.

But the success is in the striving, and the outcome in in resurrected life eternal; mortal success is in the experiencing of momentary and infrequent successes, and in the value we place upon these experiences.

Conscious experiencing of the divine consciousness is what makes the qualitative difference between salvation and self-chosen damnation.


Anonymous said...

Would you consider that becoming more like Jesus Christ is Theosis?

If so, and considering that this exhortation is and has been an integral part of the doctrine of all Christian Churches, do you think that being Christ-like meant then something different from what we need now? So that our focus on who and what Christ is needs also to change, as a way of allowing us to focus on the correct aspects of what it is to become Christ-like?

William Wildblood said...

I agree with what you say here, Bruce. One of the consequences of our new, more intellectual form of consciousness is that we cannot sit on the fence. Our more developed will means we must make a choice. We either turn to God or away from him and if we turn to him then we must advance towards him. We cannot just stay where we are.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gary - Yes, but probably not in the usual way that is meant. I see no indication in the fourth gospel that Jesus wants us to become like him in terms of modelling life and lifestyle (no kind of 'imitation').

I think the 'what would Jesus do?' idea is an error; since when/ if we become fully divine, we will be different people from Jesus and have a different destiny; and would therefore do differently.

But since Jesus was fully divine while a man and a mortal, then yes - that is that state towards which we should strive, as the fourth gospel seems to be telling us. Since we are not meant to copy his behaviour, we need to ask what about him we do need to copy?

Not his supposed sinlessness - because I think that is also an error; Jesus was not supposed to be sinless (whatever that might mean) and was indeed a law-breaker by the religious standards of the time. He was a very real character, susceptible to human irritability, anger, sorrow etc.

So what then? We should strive, I believe, to emulate Jesus's perfect alignment with his Father's will, his perfect adherence to his own (freely chosen) destiny.

Because Jesus was perfectly aligned with creation, he participated in creation - even as a mortal Man. That is what we should try to become more like.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Glad you agree! I think the neglect of theosis (for all sorts of reasons) is why real Christians keep falling away in our society. Probably, even the Archbishop of Canterbury was once a real Christian - but look at him now!