Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ectasis of Being.

According to the Christian account of reality, being is inherently ecstatic.  Foundational to the Christian worldview is the Trinitarian account of the divine being.  In this description of God, the divine being is constituted by the mutual definition of the persons of the Trinity.  The Father is only the Father because he is the Father of the Son.  The reverse is also true.  Hence, the account of the being of the persons of the Trinity offered by such a description is one in which the reality of each person finding its reality in the other.  The Father is only the Father because external to himself he finds himself in the reality of the Son.  

This goes hand-in-hand with the narrative of Genesis 1 and its account of created being.  First, in this narrative created being is radically de-centered from earlier ANE accounts.  There is no suggestion, for example as in the Enuma Elish, Hesiod, or Plato, that there exists some sort of pre-existent matter that God imposes his will on.  Rather, it is the Word of God and God's own narration of reality that constitutes its being.  Therefore the being of creation is external to itself in God's own effective address.  Much as the persons of the Trinity find their reality external to themselves in the other persons of the Trinity, creatures find their reality external to themselves in the Word of God.

Moreover, such narration of reality takes the form a narrative structure.  This narrative structure suggestions that creation is actually a story.  This is reflected in how we normally talk about the identity of a thing.  If you ask me, "Who are you?"  I will, as a rule, tell my life story.  Even the identity of an infant is defined by the narrative reality they are born into.  A German baby born in 1950 cannot escape the reality of the Nazi regime from at least somewhat determining his or her reality.  Therefore, creation must have a story to begin with or it will lack identity.  It would have no identity if it were simply plopped down by God as a series of distinct substances in a particular order.  This in part helps us answer Augustine's question regarding why God took 6 days and didn't simply create everything at once.  Creation is a story, that possesses its narrative reality external to itself by God effective narration.  

This ultimately helps us bolster the account of justification offered by the Lutheran confessions.  What the Thomistic account of justification falsely assumes is that humans are centered in themselves.  It assumes that for God to recognize me as just, I must have justice as a predicate internal to my being.  If though, creation is ecstatic and is constituted by Christ, who as the New Testament authors state, is both God's final narration of reality and the a human being living perfectly in accordance with God's narration, then this cannot be correct.  Rather, what forensic justification proposes is that my being is not centered in myself but external to myself.  My life is, as Paul puts it, "hidden in God in Christ."  Therefore, my righteousness is not to be found within myself, that is as a predicate of my being.  Rather as the Bible's ecstatic account of created being shows, it is to be found in external to me in Christ and his narrative.  

1 comment:

  1. I've read all of Plato and the Pre-Socratics in Greek, as well as chunks of Aristotle (including the Categories and half of the Metaphysics). While a classics grad student I also helped a philosophy grad student work through the Latin of a number of passages of Scotus. Despite all that, your four paragraphs are some of the clearest and most helpful thinking on ontology that I've ever come across.