Friday, 11 October 2013

4. First light

A thought worth pursuing from the discussion of kenosis. What is it to be a person? For the theologians, the term is theological not psychological, and indeed derives from the theological controversies surrounding the definition of the Trinity and the meaning of the Incarnation in the early councils culminating in Chalcedon. A person, theologically, is simply a relation of origin – so that the Father is unoriginate, the Son is begotten by the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son (if you accept the filioque).

The relationships are reciprocal and circular, so that the Son and the Spirit "return to" the Father also. A relationship has two poles. But this is all. In every other respect the Persons are simply the divine Essence, from which they do not differ and from which they cannot be separated. They do not divide it nor do they multiply it. They differ only with respect to each other.

This is the clue to the answer about human persons too. We are individuals, each with our own share in human nature, but we are called to become persons in a theological sense. We are called to be "hypostatized"; that is, to become persons – relations of origin. There is no particle in us that is not called to be "from" and "to" others. To become a person is to be poured out, to be given, and so to become relation by being poured out and given. Everything that is in us must be given, nothing held back, if we are to become entirely person. (This is the opposite of becoming a personality in the sense of a "celebrity", a focus of attention that requires to be constantly fed by the attention and admiration of others.)

Causality, too, can be understood in terms of kenosis or self-gift. It is simply a form of self-sharing, self-diffusion of the Good. It is the same act we call love, and Trinity, and Being, from another point of view. Completely fulfilled within itself as Trinity, it also "overflows" into creation by a perfectly free choice that creates not only the thing, but the possibility of the thing, which is therefore entirely from nothing, ex nihilo, in the deepest sense. (See Radiance of Being.)

In the beginning (Arche = Principle) when God created light, it was first of all the spiritual light, an imitation of Uncreated Light, that he made. This diffuses itself instantly and is everywhere present without casting any shadows. It is the form of things or the source of their form. The second light only arrives when God separates the light from the darkness. The first light is the light of angelic consciousness, the light the angels transmit between them, that is their life. It is this light that is the dawn of God's glory, the beginning of the eternal Day of creation.

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