Sunday 23 February 2020

Salvation and theosis compared - why there is, ultimately, no System

God aims at our salvation and also at our theosis. For God's ultimate goals to be achieved, that is the reason behind Creation, both salvation and theosis need to happen in as many individuals as possible.

(The plan works no matter how few individuals, but each individual who does Not choose salvation and theosis is a loss compared with what might have been possible.)

Salvation is when someone chooses Heaven: that is, chooses to follow Jesus Christ through death to immortal resurrection. 

Theosis is the process of raising the level of consciousness - from the immersive and passive to the free and agent.

There can be salvation without theosis, as when someone chooses Heaven but chooses to remain spiritually 'a child'.

Theosis can occur without salvation, as when a mortal Man rises in freedom and agency, becomes truly creative as an individual, 'grows-up' to some extent; but rejects Heaven.

Theosis is to develop consciousness of a divine nature, towards the goal of reaching a level of participation in the work of divine creation.

But without salvation, the attainable level of theosis cannot be high - because the individual's creation must be harmonious with divine creation in order to be taken-up into it and to exist eternally. Otherwise, individual creativity is a temporary and labile thing of men's minds only.

Harmony-with divine Creation comes from Love of God, Good and God's Creation - which for mortal Men can be simplified to love of, faith in, trust in, the (always potentially present, as the Holy Ghost) person of Jesus Christ.

The fullness of creation from a Man is when creation comes actively, personally, originally, as a product of our divine selves, in harmony with God's creation, that harmony coming-from our love of God and creation.

There is no System, ultimately. And we are coming to realise that.

System and Symbol were important to our ancestors; but for us they are losing their power and generality - a spiritually-effective system nowadays is likely to be personal, idiosyncratic - and that in itself limits the effectiveness of the system.

In practice, now; system increasingly equates with bureaucracy; so that dependence on any system will usually (and eventually certainly will) be captured and turned; bureaucracy will subvert then dictate symbol; insistence on specifci symbolism will lead to monitoring and control systems... And any specific system will converge onto/into 'the single linked bureaucracy' of Global totalitarianism.

So, for us, we must cease to depend on system - on pain of being drawn into the instrument of purposive (demonic) evil...

As bottom line, all system and symbol must be disposable; there should eventually be no system; because there is no system of creation (nor of love).

Individual creativity (like love) is a 'product' of A Being, not a system.

True, everlasting and universal creativity is an overflow of the self, motivated by love; harmoniously enhancing God's original and continuing Creation.



SPDI said...

Well, simply, and beautifully stated.

The part on system is especially valuable, though subject to misinterpretation. For the novice, "system" is not necessarily a terrible guide, as the mistakes are so glaring that they can be corrected without nuance. But once the simple and obvious errors have been corrected, there are fast-diminishing returns to Rules---because to be accurate and helpful, the rules and their interactions must multiply at an alarming rate. The problem becomes human-complete --- that is, requiring a human to solve --- or worse, Divine-complete. At that point seeking the will of the Lord is the only path forward---which can be further complicated because sometimes divine will is that the seeker have the experience of making a choice in ambiguous circumstances and learning from the consequences, both good and bad!

The chain securing us to Heaven is made of people and relationships, chief among them Christ.

Francis Berger said...

Great post. I was flipping through my notes on Berdyaev today, and I happened upon this, taken from The Divine and the Human. I thought I would share it here:

"The opening of a new epoch of the Spirit, which will include higher achievements of spirituality, presupposes a radical change and a new orientation in human consciousness. This will be a revolution of consciousness which hitherto has been considered as something static. The religion of the Spirit will be the religion of man's maturity, leaving behind him his childhood and adolescence...."

Berdyaev believes Christ represents the second epoch of human spiritual development - redemption and salvation. He predicted the last epoch, the one of the Spirit, will not come from above, but from below - through a creative upsurge within Man. He also believed that salvation, though important and necessary, was not the final purpose of religious life. Salvation entails life being "saved from something". The ultimate purpose of religious life is to be "for something." This, in essence, is theosis.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SPDI - Thanks for the comment. I agree.

@Frank - I am never really confident of what Berdyaev means - Russians have such a different way of thinking than me, that I am never sure I'm not missing the main point, extracting something different from what what intended. Plus, I think that Russians are headed somewhere different than me, anyway! I imagine Hungarians can bridge the gap between East and West Europe, but I can't! (I can bridge to central Europe, but no further!)

Francis Berger said...

@ Bruce - I don't know - I admire the Russians to a degree, but they are also beyond me in many ways. To use the old clich├ęd chiasmus-format joke - "In Russia, you don't study theology; theology study you!"

In any case, I see many parallels between your Romantic Christianity and the beliefs Russian thinkers like Berdyaev, but especially Berdyaev, have expressed. Nevertheless, I am sure Berdyaev would agree with you for he certainly saw two very separate and distinct destinies for Russia and the West.

Still, at the individual level, I find the similarities between someone like Berdyaev and Western thinkers like Barfield, whom I know only through your writings, both intriguing and comforting. Berd also knew salvation and theosis could only happen outside of a system, not inside one, which is the key issue you raised in your post.

Jared said...

I really liked this post. As a latter day saint, I have thought about what it means to be saved, and also theosis. I think we all have our limits, and I have experienced difficulties. But we can adapt and sometimes its easy to think about how we are fitting in, but it may be more important what we contribute.
I think how Bruce presented these concepts is important to consider, that they are independent to some extent, but they are both important.
There is a great level of independence associated with modern life, because of great affluence, for the most part. With this comes cultural thought influences which are debilitating. As we look to God, we need to learn from him and see through the mists of darkness to the true light.
I am convinced that the path to both salvation and theosis is repentance. To follow Jesus Christ in his example, we must be willing to lose our life to be able to find it.
And in order to change habits of irresponsibility, we need to be willing to be easily entreated and to repent.