View Full Version : Perfectibility of Man

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, 05:10 PM
Most Christians I come across today don’t believe in the perfectibility of man, but this was part of the Catholic doctrine and is found in the Athanasian Creed. The creed tells us to keep the faith whole and undefiled; it speaks of a “perfect God and perfect man”; “Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.” And Christ was “not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God,” through his death, descent into hell, and rebirth or ascent into heaven. His crucifixion is a symbol of the redemption of man which at the deepest level is the union of man and God, “Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.”

Now, the question whether Jesus was man or God or both caused one of the first great schisms of the Catholic church. And all schisms are caused by ignorance and an evil attempt to hide the mysteries behind an impenetrable veil. Worship of Christ was once a mystical practice whereby man seeks to transform his self into God, but has ultimately degenerated into sentimentalism in which Christ is stripped of his mystical nature or to mere idol worship in which all emphasis is placed on a simple history and anthropomorphism.

Jesus, it goes without saying, is not a mere man who performed miracles nor a God who became man nor a man who was deified, rather we would like to say that he is a symbol of the perfectibility of man, of his union with God, which was not a moment in history but forever and eternal, so long as one keeps whole the faith and practices it completely to the deepest level of his being, which must involve prayer as sacrifice, or the prayer of the heart, or another ascetic rite (by which I do not mean self-flagellation); in other words, a theosis (which includes catharsis, theoria, theosis).

One then cannot view Christ in terms of a mere historical person, but as relative to a divine mystery which every true Christian must make happen in one’s self. To say that man cannot become Christ is to say that man cannot be Christian. And it is a grave error to think that it is only after one’s physical death that he may be united with the divine for a Christian must also believe in the resurrection of the flesh just as the resurrected Jesus walked the earth before ascending into heaven. Again, to view this as history or an event is to rob Christianity of its mystical nature and to rob man of his chance to realize the union with God.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, 06:52 PM
Cutsinger wrote about this as well,

You object to my saying that “Jesus was not a human being”, but I am afraid this has led you at least to the fringes of the Nestorian heresy. For Orthodoxy, the humanity of Christ is not hypostatic, which means that, though He was an “individual”, He was not an individual man. His humanity was anhypostatic as such, but “enhypostasized” in the Logos, which is the “who”, or “individuality”, of Jesus of Nazareth. To say otherwise is (1) to do violence to Chalcedon and (2) to forget that the Logos is fundamentally the Self of all men (”In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” [John 1:4]).


Sunday, April 12th, 2009, 10:32 AM
I will not go into depth in response, but I think this is a most excellent post and position on the subject from a christian perspective.