The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [3]

The first and the second part

1. 2. Rational and spiritual foundation of the visible world and the inner relation with the human salvation and the transfiguration of creation

The second premise of our deification and of the sight of God is internal related with the first, with the existence of the creator and savior Logos. For He, who created the world, is the Logos of the Father, for this reason the cosmos and the man are full of rationality, and the man and also the cosmos have their existence and remain in existence through His work and grace.

This thing is one very important in the orthodox theology, fundamental, because „the rationality of creation in Christ goes beyond dilemma between man and creation, showing that Christ as creator and savior Logos came to save not only the humans, but the whole creation.

The salvation brought by Christ is a cosmic dimension. From Pentecost, the Church constitutes the way by which Christ goes forward with man and creation towards the new heaven and earth of the God’s Kingdom”[1].

The fact that all creation is destined to the transfiguration tells us Rom. 8, 19, 21: „For the creation awaits with eagerly the revealing of the sons of God. […]

For that and the creation itself will deliver/ release of the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” [acc. GNT and GOC].

With other words, when the Saints will be filled with glory and the creation in its entirety will be filled with the glory of God, because through the body of Christ, whom He deified and which is taken up by the right hand of the Father, comes to us all shine of God’s glory.

Speaking about the consequences of Christ’s resurrection in human life and in the existence of the cosmos, Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae writes in his Dogmatic:

„Through the resurrected body of Christ shines, untrammeled, the power of Him who made the incorruptible body, leading all who will share with Him in resurrection and incorruptibility, and more leading all creation to incorruptibility and transparency, ie the maximum transfiguration and comunicability between people through the Ghost and a complete personalization of the cosmos, in Christ and the people; because there is an ontological continuity between the material body and material cosmos[2].

Based on the ontological link between our body and the materiality of the cosmos is based the future transfiguration of creation.

Rev. 21, 1 speaks to us about the sight of a „new heaven and new earth” [acc. GNT], namely about a heaven and earth transfigured by the glory of God.

Philip. 3, 21 says that the Lord „will change the appearance of the body of our humiliation after His glorious body, by His power and He will subject all to Himself” [acc. GNT].

Because the creative Logos created our body and the matter is open to His eternal radiation, therefore we can deify. And for that by His grace we can cleanse the soul and body of passions, therefore we can see God, if we are „pure with heart” [Mt. 5, 8, acc. GNT].

Talking about what it means for man and cosmos this transfiguration of body, Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae says:

„The body will not cease [to exist], but it will be transparent, that we see through him directly to God in His glory, being totally spiritualised, all and all will belong to all, beyond the division into subjective and objective, beyond the reasons of nature, the passionate struggle for to master nature and seen others as the external objects, fighting to defend each other.

Single the resurrection opens us the perspective of escape the fatality of nature that leads to death, it opens to a worthy plan for us and our aspirations; and once with it, the perspective of a deeper sensitivity and delicacy”[3].

Our deification and the sight of the glory of God are actually the ones that give us our status of the spiritualised beings in eternity. Once with the resurrection of the dead and the transfiguration of all creation begins the mystic wedding of the Son of God with His creation.

Speaking of this moment, Father Professor Dumitru Popescu writes in his Dogmatic: „the coming of Christ and the transformation of the world means a lifting of it into a new state, transfigured by the Ghost who is in Christ. The Ghost will not work in the secret mode in the world, but will bring to sight the effect of His work.

The entire creation is pnevmatic, incorruptible, deified, transparent by the light and the glory arising from the essence of the Trinity, that the fullness of the uncreated energies. In her state of resurrection, the matter remains still matter, but a matter entirely transfigured. The light of the risen body of Christ will fill the world and will overwhelm it.

This change of the creation in the Ghost will bring the world an unspeakable beauty. The lighted face of Christ will shine light on all and all. The things will not appear as independent to the persons, but as a medium for expression of the love of Christ and of the persons of angels and men, into a personalism of  the perfect communion.

The face of the new world will be the result of the event of the ultimate power of the universal Pentecost, and glory on Tabor will extend to the whole world as generalized Tabor[4].

But the matter can be deified because „is not amorphous uniformity but plasticized rationality, which can be transformed by the power of the Ghost”[5].

Saint Maximus the Confessor, speaking about the creation and the human role in Ambigua says that „the man was made by God, from His goodness, from soul and body, for that He gave him the rational soul and mind, being after the image of He who made him, by desire and by his entire love tends strongly and from all power to God and to His knowledge and the deification through the likeness”[6].

The dynamism of the relation of the faithfulness and love between man and God represent just the advance of man towards the likeness of his Creator.

For that the human body is always personalised to his soul, by the grace of God, therefore we can be „mystically guided, in an unspeakable and unknown mode, towars God’s power and glory that for of all creation is incomprehensible”[7].

But we talk about salvation and deification of man in Orthodoxy for that we do not divide, in this synergistically work, the man from nature[8]. If we separate the man from the cosmos we can not explain how it occurs, in fact, the deification of man, that is a personal reality.

Because, says Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae, „the whole nature is destined to the glory for the people who will share in the Kingdom of Heavens and even now is felt the silence and the light what radiating from the holy man.

The glory of Christ on Tabor covered and nature. But it can remain hidden for the eyes and the many feeling and the nature can be debased and affected of the wickedness of some people.

At its turn, nature may be a medium by a man who believes receives the divine grace or the uncreated beneficial energies, but and the place which exercising over him influences that pushing to evil”[9].

This way, the cosmos is destined to be filled with the glory of God and so man is destined to be a medium irradiated by the glory of God and then to radiate from him.

But the rationality of the cosmos and of human nature can be perverted, as long as we infecte with our passions own nature and the environment in which we live. We can personalise our environment through our spiritual irradiation, as we can, just as easily, to infecte it through our passions or to vitiate our relations with our neighbors.

From here returns and „our responsibility to nature given to us by God…as a duty to use the resources with mercy and not altered by pollution. This thing protects us also from the passions and from the searching of an infinite satisfaction in the world”[10].

Discussing the problem of the existent relations between the reasons of the things and the human reason, Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae talks about the creation of the things as „the plasticisations and the awarenesses of His reasons” [11], of the divine Logos.

Reporting the man to the reasons planted by God in the things must be a gnoseologic one, because God „created man with an adequate reason [12] for the knowledge of the world.

Because he observes the fact that the things that were created by God have rationality and flexibility[13], for that our theologian says: „Everything is rational in the things and in the component energies, as well as between them”[14].

But the rationality of the world is not a reality closed in itself but „is for man and culminates in man, [and] not the man is for the rationality of the world”[15].

But the reasons of the things have for Father Stăniloae a double importance in human life, bodily and spiritual at the same time, because they are „for the help of man to maintain biological, but [they have]…and…the scope to enhance the spiritual [the man] by knowing the meanings and of the conformity ever higher of them with him and of the last sense of them that is God”[16].

In their spiritual sense, the reasons of the things „are seen as a meaning of God’s love, so the dialogue of God with us and of the dialogue between us”[17].

Thus, in the perspective of the knowledge of God, the deification of man is the reality in whom we discover the unexpected extensive virtualities of the material of our body and our soul’s spirituality. The sight of the glory of God is, on the one hand, a filling of us with the glory of God and, on the other hand, a rise of us at the communion with the Most Holy Trinity, to live godly lives.

But where the matter is seen closed itself there is  confused „the transcendence of God with His absence from creation[18] and the man is understood as having an independent existence, without „his roots planted deep in the transcendent reality of the Creator and in the immanent reality of the cosmos”[19], in the same time.

But where the man is seen as dependent to God it is possible the advance in the communion with God, for that the man is created to fulfill in God and for that the souls of men and the matter are open to God’s glory.

In conclusion, if the matter has not a rational and spiritual foundation, planted in it by the creator Logos, we could not talk about the deification of man, that relation always progressive in the knowledge of God, nor the sight of God as the brightness of the divine light in our lives.

[1] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Jesus Christ Pantocrator [Iisus Hristos Pantocrator], op. cit, p. 15-16.

[2] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology [Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă], ed. a II-a, vol. 2, Ed. IBMBOR, Bucharest, 1997, p. 119.

[3] Idem, p. 120-121.

[4] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Jesus Christ Pantocrator [Iisus Hristos Pantocrator], op. cit, p. 419-420.

[5] Idem, p. 420.

[6] Saint Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua, with translation from greek, introduction and notes by Rev. Prof. Dumitru Stăniloae, Ed. IBMBOR, Bucharest, 1983, p. 93.

[7] Idem, p. 158.

[8] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology [Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă], ed. a II-a, vol. 1, ed. cit., p. 223.

[9] Idem, p. 224.

[10] Idem, p. 226.

[11] Idem, p. 240.

[12] Ibidem.

[13] Idem, p. 241.

[14] Ibidem.

[15] Ibidem.

[16] Idem, p. 243-244.

[17] Idem, p. 244-245.

[18] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, The Man Without Roots [Omul fără rădăcini], op. cit., p. 15.

[19] Ibidem.

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