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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

St. Maximus The Confessor - On Jesus Christ & The End of the Ages

St. Maximos the Confessor has been quite the enlightening read for me personally. So much so I wish to share it with you the reader. Ad Thalassium 22 has quite the interesting stuff in it. As an eschatology nerd this is exciting to read. Enjoy!

On Jesus Christ & The End of the Ages

Q: If in the coming ages God will show his riches (Eph 2:7), how's it that the end of the ages has [already] come upon us (1 Cor 10:11)? 

R: He who, by the sheer inclination of his will, established the beginning of all creation, seen & unseen, before all the ages & before that beginning of created beings, had an ineffably good plan for those creatures. The plan was for him to mingle, without change on his part, with human nature by true hypostatic union, to unite human nature to Himself while remaining immutable, so that he might become a man, as he alone knew how, and so that he might deify humanity in union with himself. Also, according to this plan, it's clear that God wisely divided "the ages" between those intended for God to become human, & those intended for humanity to become divine. 

Thus the end of those ages predetermined for God to become human has already come upon us, since God's purpose was fulfilled in the very events of His incarnation. The divine Apostle, having fully examined this fact [...], & observing that the end of the ages intended for God's becoming human had already arrived through the very incarnation of the divine Logos, said that the end of the ages has come upon us (1 Cor 10:11). Yet by "ages" he meant not ages as we normally conceive them, but clearly the ages intended to bring about the mystery of his embodiment, which have already come to term according to God's purpose. 

Since, therefore, the ages predetermined in God's purpose for the realization of his becoming human have reached their end for us, & God has undertaken & in fact achieved his own perfect incarnation, the other "ages" - those which are to come about for the realization of the mystical & ineffable deification of humanity - must follow henceforth. In these new ages God will show the immeasurable riches of his goodness to us (Eph 2:7), having completely realized this deification in those who are worthy. For if he's brought to completion his mystical work of becoming human, having become like us in every save without sin (cf Heb 4:15), & even descended into the lower regions of the earth where the tyranny of sin compelled humanity, then God will also completely fulfill the goal of his mystical work of deifying humanity in every respect, of course, short of an identity of essence with God & he will assimilate humanity to himself & elevate us to a position above all the heavens. It's to this exalted position that the natural magnitute of God's grace summons lowly humanity, out of a goodness that's infinite. The great Apostle is mystically teaching us about this when he says that in the ages to come the immeasurable riches of his goodness will be shown to us (Eph 2:7). 

We too should therefore divide the "ages" conceptually, & distinguish between those intended for the mystery of the divine incarnation & those intended for the grace of human deification, & we shall discover that the former have already reached their proper end while the latter haven't yet arrived. In short, the former have to do with God's descent to human beings, while the latter have to do with humanity's ascent to God. By interpreting the texts thus, we don't falter in the obscurity of the divine words of Scripture, nor assume that the divine Apostle had lapsed into this same mistake. 

Or rather, since the Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning, middle, & end of all the ages, past & future, [it'd be fair to say that] the end of the ages - specifically that end which will actually come about by grace for the deification of those who are worthy - has come upon us in potency through faith. 

Or again, since there's one principle of activity and another of passivity, [we could say that] the divine Apostle has mystically & wisely distinguished the active principle from the passive principle respectively in the past & future "ages". Accordingly, the ages of the flesh, in which we now live (for Scripture also knows the ages of time, as when it says that man toiled in this age & shall live until its end [Ps 48:10]) are characterized by activity, while the future ages in the Spirit, which are to follow the present life, are characterized by the transformation of humanity in passivity. Existing here & now, we arrive at the end of the ages as active agents & reach the end of the exertion of our power & activity., But in the ages to come we shall undergo by grace the transformation unto deification & no longer be active but passive; & for this reason we shall not cease from being deified. At that point our passion will be supernatural, & there will be no principle restrictive of the divine activity in infinitely deifying those who are passive to it. For we are active agents insofar as we have operative, by nature, a rational faculty for performing the vitrues, & also a spiritual faculty, unlimited in its potential, capable of receiving all knowledge, capable of transcending the nature of all created beings & known things & even of leaving the "ages" of time behind it. But when in the future we're rendered passive (in deification), & have fully transcended the principles of beings created out of nothing, we'll unwittingly enter into the true Cause of existent beings & terminate our proper faculties along wiht everything in our nature that's reached completion. We shall become that which in no way results from our natural ability, since our human nature has no faculty for grasping what transcends nature. For nothing created is by its nature capable of inducing deification, since it's incapable of comprehending God. Intrinsically it's only by the Grace of God that deification is bestowed proportionately on created beings. Grace alone illuminates human nature with supernatural light, &, by the superiority of its glory, elevates our nature above its proper limits in excess of glory. 

So it doesn't seem, then, that the end of the ages has come upon us  (1 Cor 10:11) since we've not yet received, by the grace that's in Christ, the gift of benefits that transcend time & nature. Meanwhile, the modes of the virtues & the principles of those things that can be known by nature have been established as types & foreshadowings of those future benefits. It's through these modes & principles that God, who's ever willing to become human, does so in those who are worthy. And therefore whoever, by the exercise of wisdom, enables God to become incarnate within him or her &, in fulfillment of this mystery, undergoes deification by grace, is truly blessed, because that deification has no end. For he who bestows his grace on those who are worthy of it is himself infinite in essence, & has the infinite & utterly limitless power to deify humanity. Indeed, this divine power isn't yet finished with those beings created by it; rather, it's forever sustaining those - like us human beings - who have received their existence from it. Without it they couldn't exist. This is why the text speaks of the riches of his goodness (Eph 2:7), since God's resplendent plan for our transformation unto deification never ceases in its goodness toward us. 

St. Maximus the Confessor. Translated by: Blowers & Wilkin. On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ. SVS Press. Crestwood, NY. 2003. Pgs 115-118

St. Maximus the Confessor on Col 2:15

The Church Fathers have interesting commentaries that we'd all benefit from if we'd just be willing to read them. Here's one from St. Maximus the Confessor I wished to share from Ad Thalasium 21: On Christ's Conquest of the Human Passions: 

Q: What's the meaning of the scripture, He put off the powers & principalities, & so on (Col 2:15)? And how indeed had he "put them on" at all when he was begotten without sin? 

R: The Divine Logos assumed our human nature without altering his divinity, & became perfect man in every way like us save without sin (cf Heb 4:15). He appeared like the 1st man Adam in the manner both of his creaturely origin & his birth. The 1st man received his existence, & was free from corruption & sin - for God didn't create either of these. When, however, he sinned by breaking God's commandment, he was condemned to birth based on sexual passion & sin. Sin, henceforth, constrained his true natural origin within the liability to passions that had accompanied the 1st sin, as though placing it under a law. Accordingly, there is no human being who's sinless, since everyone is naturally subject to the law of sexual procreation that was introduced after man's true creaturely origin in consequence of his sin.

Since, therefore, sin came about on account of the transgression, & the liabililty to passions connected with sexual procreation entered human nature on account of sin, & since, through sin, the original transgression continued unabately to flourish right along with this passibility of childbirth, there was no hope of liberation, for human nature was deliberately & indissolubly bound by the chain of evil. The more human nature sought to preserve itself through sexual procreation, the more tightly it bound itself to the law of sin, reactivating the transgression connected with the liability to passions. Because of its physical condition, human nature suffered the increase of sin within this very liability to passions, & it retained the energies of all opposing forces, principalities, & powers - energies which, in view of the univeral sin operative in human passibility, used the unnatural passions to hide under the guise of natural passions. Wherefore every wicked power is at work, amid human nature's liability to passions, driving the deliberative will with the natural passions into the corruption of unnatural passions.

Thus, in His love of humanity, the only-begotten Son and Logos of God became perfect man, with a view to redeeming human nature from this helplessness in evil. Taking on the original condition of Adam as he was in the very beginning, he was sinless but not incorruptible, & he assumed, from the procreative process introduced into human nature as a consequence of sin, only the liability to passions, not the sin itself. Since, then, through the liability to passions that resulted from Adam's sin, the evil powers, as I already said, have hidden their activities clandestinely under the law of human nature in its current circumstance, it merely follows that these wicked powers - seeing in God our Savior the same natural liabitity to passions as in Adam, since he was in the flesh, & thinking that he was necessarily & circumstantially a mere man, that the Lord himself had to submit to the law of nature, that he acted by deliberation rather than true volition - assailed him. These evil powers hoped to use natural passibilty to induce even the Lord himself to fantasize unnatural passion & to do what suited them. They tried to do this to him who, in his 1st experience of temptation by pleasure, subjected Himself to being deluded by these evil powers' deveits, only to put off those powers by eliminating them from human nature, remaining unapproachable & untouchable for them. Clearly He won the victory over them for our sake, not for his own; & it was for us that he became a man &, in his goodness, inaugurated a complete restoration. For he himself didn't need the experience, since He's God & Sovereign & by nature free from all passion. He submitted to it so that, by experiencing our temptations, he might provoke the evil powers & thwart its attack, putting to death the very power that expected to seduce him just as it had [done] Adam in the beginning.

This, then, is how, in his initial experience of temptation, he put off the principalities & powers, removing them from human nature & healing the liability to hedonistic passions, & in himself cancelled the bond (Col 2:14) of Adam's deliberate acquiescence in those hedonistic passions. For it's by this bond that man's will inclines toward wicked pleasure against his own best interest, & that man declares, in the very silence of his works, his enslavement, being unable, in his fear of death, to free himself from his slavery to pleasure.

Then, after having overcome & frustrated the forces of evil, the principalities & powers, through his 1st experience of being tempted with pleasure, the Lord allowed them to attack him a 2nd time & to provoke him, through pain & toil, with the further experience of temptation so that, by completely depleting them, within himself, of the deadly poison of their wickedness, he might utterly consume it, as though in a [refiner's] fire. For he put off the principalities & powers at the moment of his death on the cross, when he remained impervious to his sufferings &, what's more, manifested the (natural human) fear of death, thereby driving from our nature the passion associated with pain. Man's will, out of cowardice, tends away from suffering, & man, against his own will, remains utterly dominated by the fear of death, &, in his desire to live, clings to his slavery to pleasure.

So the Lord put off the principalities & powers at the time of his 1st experience of temptation in the desert, thereby healing the whole of human nature of the passion connected with pleasure. Yet he despoiled them again at the time of his death, in that he likewise eliminated from our human nature the passion connected with pain. In his love of humanity, he accomplished this restoration for us as though he were himself liable; & what's more, in his goodness, he reckoned to us the glory of what he'd restored. So too, since he assumed our nature's liabillity to passions, albeit without sin (cf Heb 4:10), thereby inviting every evil power & destructive force to go into action, he despoiled them at the moment of his death, right when they came after him to search him out. He triumphed (Col 2:15) over them & made a spectacle of them in his cross, at the departure of his soul, when the evil powers could find nothing at all [culpable] in the passibility proper to his human nature. For they certainly expected to find something utterly human in him, in view of his natural carnal liabiliity to passions. It seems that in his proper power &, as it were, by a certain "first fruits" of his holy & humanly begotten flesh, he completely freed our human nature from the evil which had insinuated itself therein through the liability to passions. For he subjugated - to this very same natural passibility - the evil tyranny which had once ruled within it (within that passibility I mean).

It'd be possible to interpret this text differently, in a more mystical & sublime sense. As you know, however, he must not commit the ineffable truths of the divine teachings of Scripture to writing. Let us rest content with what's been said, which should assauge our curiousity about this text. With God's help, & as long as it'll be found worthy in your eyes, we shall still inquire, with a zeal to learn, into the apostolic thinking on this.

(St. Maximus the Confessor. Translated by: Blowers & Wilkin. On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ. SVS Press. Crestwood, NY. 2003. pages 109-113)

Monday, April 22, 2019

12th (?) Response To Preston

Linked below is this pitiful, what is perhaps, his 12th response to me.

Here linked is the original article I wrote against Preston:

Nowhere in Preston's latest article, nor the previous ones before, does he ever address any of the points I wrote.

In debate we would call this a victory for Lazarus Conley. The opponent willingly gives no answer  & decides instead to continue running on rabbit trails.

No answer given. Literally just an advertisement for his book (which isn't the first time he's done this).

I explained multiple times in past articles in Conley's Blog why I didn't push Romans 8.

This is all a diversion tactic from Preston to not answer the points that were raised.

His article doesn't merit a response to be frank but alas here it is.

Til Preston bothers to answer questions that were raised (& he can't & won't) the debate's over.

Gospel of John - Chapters 16-21 Notes

Chapter 16 16:1-4 [Scripture and Tradition go hand in hand and agree with one another saying the same thing] The Church will be persecuted. ...