“The Eros that is crucified lives again and the Eros lives after a new style”

The new heresy of Manichaeanism which was intruding from the East might indeed exclude matter and the world from its consideration. But the orthodox Faith, based on the union of very matter with very deity, could not do so. Its survival, its success, had partly been due to its interlocked charity, its habits of exchange of all wealth, its intense knowledge of the community. Its doctrines were defined precisely by the common belief; its bishops, for all their quarrels, were a federal college, half-appointed by the specialists, half-elected by the crowd; its problems were problems of the organization of time and the world. To know God it was necessary to love the brethren—first, as it were, from predilection and choice, but afterwards from him and through him. “We love, because He loved us.” “If a man say that he love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar and the truth is not in him.” Felicitas had asserted the divine order—“Another for me and I for him.” Clement had defined it among the faithful: “He demands of us our lives for the sake of each other.” What the martyr and doctor declared another voice also proclaimed out of the desert. During the reign of Diocletian St. Antony, the first of the Christian hermits, whose life was to be written by Athanasius, took up his dwelling between the Nile and the Red Sea. Alone, ascetic, emaciated, he gave to the Church the same formula: “Your life and your death are with your neighbour.”

Yet perhaps the greatest epigram of all is in a more ambiguous phrase. Ignatius of Antioch in the early second century, had tossed it out on his way to martyrdom: “My Eros is crucified.” Learned men have disputed on the exact meaning of the word: can it refer, with its intensity of allusion to physical passion, to Christ? or does it rather refer to his own physical nature? We, who have too much separated our own physical nature from Christ’s, cannot easily read an identity into the two meanings. But they unite, and others spring from them. “My love is crucified”, “My Love is crucified”: “My love for my Love is crucified”; “My Love in my love is crucified.” The physical and the spiritual are no longer divided: he who is Theos is Anthropos, and all the images of anthropos are in him. The Eros that is crucified lives again and the Eros lives after a new style: this was the discovery of the operation of faith. The Eros of five hundred years of Greece and Rome was to live after a new style; unexpected as yet, the great Romantic vision approached. “My” Eros is crucified; incredible as yet, the great doctrines of interchange, of the City, approached. “Another is in me”; “your life and death are in your neighbour”; “they in Me and I in them.”

Charles Williams

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