Seeking Theodicy: Sergius Bulgakov and the Apoktastasis

We seek theodicy. We seek  justification for the suffering, privation, violence, futility, and death of this world. We desire assurance that this world is good and our Creator is good. We need hope that Christ will triumph over every evil and our final destiny will be glorious. We read the biblical expositions and philosophical treatises, but none satisfy. Only apokatastasis, avers Sergius Bulgakov, provides the needed theodicy:

In the apocatastasis, the final destinies of creation are realized—both in the world of spirits and in the human world—and its final goal is divinization, God all in all [1 Cor 15:28]. What is revealed is the love and the goodness of God, manifested in creation. In the apocatastasis, the eternal plan of God is completed. Wisdom is justified in her deeds (Matt 11:19, “by all her children,” Luke 7:35), “theodicy” is unveiled.1

The final healing and transfiguration of the cosmos in the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit manifests the divine theodicy accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Evil and death are conquered, suffering redeemed, history rendered coherent and meaningful. All becomes theophany, ecstasy and joy. As Bulgakov declares: “Only deifica­tion is capable of justifying creation. It is the only theodicy.”2

What then of the evil and suffering that marks our present existence? Can it be reconciled with the Christian confession of God as absolute and perfect love? Only if it represents a relative, contingent, and redeemable violation of God’s original purposes:

Human consciousness can reconcile itself neither with the self-sufficiency of evil nor with its finality and unconquerability as expressed in the failure to eradicate evil, which is what the allowance of eternal perdition would represent. If evil does in fact have a place in creation, then this can be only as a relative and thus transitional principle, as a path and a means, but not as the final completion and much less as the primordial state. That is why this state is understood as one of innocence and sinlessness alone, both in relation to the world of spirits and the world of humans; the Manichean confession of the primordiality of evil would represent a satanic blasphemy against the Creator.3

The projection of evil into the protological beginning of the world posed a serious challenge to orthodox Christianity during its early centuries, particularly in the person of Mani and the movement he generated. The Church quickly recognized that Manichaeism could not be reconciled with the biblical confession of the good Creator and the goodness of his creation. Numerous theologians wrote against the dualistic heresy, including St Cyril of Jerusalem, St Epiphanius, St Ephrem, St Augustine of Hippo, and St John of Damascus. Yet despite this dogmatic rejection of Manichaeism, its spirit nonetheless seeped into the doctrine of the Church, projecting evil not into the world’s transcendent origin but its eschatological consummation:

But neither does religious consciousness reconcile itself with the invin­ci­bility, and in this sense the “eternality,” of evil as included in the general plan of the world’s creation, insofar as in this plan the guilt and res­pon­sibility for the final perdition of creation—in the persons of Satan and the fallen spirits, together with fallen humanity—falls on the Creator himself, who, while not having created evil, has nonetheless permitted it for eternity. The world could only be created, of course, if it contained freedom (for a world of mannequins would be unworthy of the Creator), yet this freedom is only creaturely free­dom. And creaturely freedom encompasses either the inevitability or at least the possibility of a fall. To admit the first option is obviously not possible because it would mean blaspheming the Creator, to whom would be ascribed the desire to create the world precisely as fallen, or at least to create a world predestined for a fall. But it is equally impossible to to admit the creation of a world in which the fall, although only possible, would nonetheless be final and irremediable, for this would indicate the world’s absolute self-determination for evil despite the complete relativity and limitation of its created existence. Similarly, admitting an absolute confirmation in evil, given the relativity of the very foundation of created being, contains in itself an ontological contradiction, yet this hardly troubles those defenders of “eternal” torments who also thereby defend the eternity of evil. But at the same time this view imputes to the Creator the creation of a world in which no longer just the possibility but rather the inevitability of evil is actualized, insofar as the latter takes on not just relativity but absoluteness and “eternality” as well.4

The divine goodness requires both a good beginning and a good end. Evil may not be present in either, lest the divine identity be called into radical question. God emanates the cosmos in love and consummates the cosmos in love—in love, by love, with love, always love. This we believe and proclaim. Yet God, precisely because he is God and not a god, cannot escape responsibility for the story he has co-written with angels and human beings. The divine author may permit the admission of evil into the historical in-between, but only if he has made provision for the liberation of both its victims and agents. But if evil and suffering perdures into the eschaton, then it takes on an absolute character from which not even God can be absolved. The conclusion reveals the eternal truth of God. And if one, some, or many are condemned to everlasting suffering, then we are compelled, not only to question or qualify our belief that God is absolute love, but also to speak of a divine determination to perdition: for it is this final end that God foreknew and eternally willed at the moment of creation. Hell eternalizes evil. Hell deifies evil. As David Bentley Hart has incisively noted, at the final judgment the antecedent will of God collapses into his consequential will:

Given the metaphysics and logic of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, any distinction between what God wills and what God permits necessarily collapses at creation’s eschatological horizon; so too any distinction between God’s antecedent and consequent wills. . . . If God creates the world from nothingness, under no compulsion and with no motive but the overflow of his own infinite goodness, it is only in the finished reality of all things that the full nature of God’s activity will be revealed. What will be disclosed, more­over, cannot be only the nature of creation, but must necessarily touch upon the divine nature as well. If it is true that creation in no sense adds to, qualifies, or “perfects” God—if, that is, the God who creates from nothing is always already the infinite God who neither requires nor is susceptible to any process of becoming—nothing proper to creation is beyond his power and intention. Inasmuch as creation is not a process of theogony, by which God forges himself in the fires of the finite, it is a genuine theophany, and its final state—intended as it is in the very act of creating—must reveal something of who God is in himself. . . . While it is true that creation does not modify or qualify God, much less determine what he is in himself, and true also that creation is instead entirely determined by him, for just this reason—creation’s total depend­ency upon God’s will—the final reality of creation will reveal God for who he is in himself.5

If the doctrine of hell is true, then either God is not infinite love or he is not omnipotent and omniscient. In either case he is not the God whom the Church proclaims in the gospel. Consider the creation of Lucifer:

God creates the supreme archangel, Lucifer, endows him with the very highest of his gifts, making him the anointed cherubim, the “seal of perfection, the fullness of wisdom and the crown of beauty” (Ezek 28:12), places him on the “holy mountain of God” (v. 14), and he is “perfect in his ways from the day of his creation, until lawlessness is found in him” (v. 15). Is his very own perfection, given to Lucifer by God, a temptation that is manageable and conquerable for him, or does his very fall become his inexorable fate? Furthermore, if this fall is also irremediable and the evil from it remains forever, do we not then arrive at this con­clu­sion: that in the original plan for creation such an error was permitted, which, of course, could not have been concealed from the Creator, and for which he is therefore responsible?6

The possibility that Luci­fer should become Satan is inherent to the gift of freedom. That Lucifer fell into disobedience and rebellion is ter­rible enough; but if his sin is beyond even the divine power to repair, and if God condemns him to eternal dam­nation, then the logic of the cre­atio ex nihilo dic­tates that God necessarily shares in Luci­fer’s sin and all of its consequences. Regarding the fallen angels and human beings who found them­selves powerless to resist the Satanic temptations, Bul­gakov asks: “Are they not also, as it were, pre-condemned by virtue of the very plan of creation itself?”7

Nor will Bulgakov allow us to retreat into “mys­tery” in our defense of the traditional doctrine of hell. “Here we must not dissemble,” he writes. “If what we have been given on this matter is in fact reve­la­tion, then that presupposes that our reason and conscience can be satisfied with this reve­la­tion.”8 Bulgakov will not accept theological pro­­nounce­ments that do not satisfy the judgments of Spirit-formed conscience, and con­science cannot affirm eternal damnation as an action of the good God. By the revelation of Christ we know that God wills the salvation of all. We may invoke mystery when speaking of how God accomplishes his salvific will in history; but we are not permitted, says Bulga­kov, to doubt the goal and final fulfillment of his plan: “‘God all in all,’ universal pan-en-theosis.”9

If God wills the deification of the cosmos and his will cannot fail, how do we assess the role of evil within history? Ponder this provocative paragraph:

Evil is temporary and relative, accepted by the Creator on the paths of creaturely being in its history, as a fact of anthropology and cosmology, but it suffers failure in the end; it is not in fact evil but rather goodness insofar as it turns out to lead to a good end. Let us grant that evil possesses no natural necessity of its own on the paths of created being and that it arises only as a possibility of the latter. Still, evil is in any case connected with creaturely freedom as one of its modes, and freedom is the most great and inalienable gift of God; it is also the very foundation of created being, its royal privilege, and its value, however we may appraise it, cannot be overestimated. At the same time, freedom does not exist in an ontological contradiction with the divine plan of creation, which, obviously, cannot encompass an eternal perdition predestined even for just a portion of creation. To allow this would effectively mean the failure of creation, and not just in part, but as a whole, and we must not reconcile ourselves with this loss as easily as the partisans of eternal hell do.10

No matter how horrific or heinous, evil may, can, and will be redeemed. By cross and resurrection Christ has gathered and will gather all of history into himself and transform wickedness into goodness. Here is genuine mystery. The Russian theologian even goes so far as to argue that the two paths—“1) the path of a good without sin and 2) the path of a sinful departure from good, coupled with sin’s eventual overcoming”—must ultimately be judged as equivalent.11 Their outcomes are identical; only the respective paths differ. Bulgakov acknowledges the paradox—“the ultimate goodness of evil insofar as it turns into good”12—yet insists upon it:

The latter cannot ultimately be wrested from the hands of God, as it were, and wholly surrendered to the decision of the creature on whom the final determination of the destinies of creation would therefore completely depend. To assume this would be to ascribe to creation the power to truly alter the destinies given by God. This is, of course, as impossible as the admission of the (even partial) failure of creation, as eternal torments and eternal perdition for even a part of creation cannot be counted as creation’s success, even by the most fanatical of the doctrine’s proponents. It remains for us to accept that the final destinies of the world on the paths of God remain independent of created freedom despite that freedom’s ineradica­bility on the paths of their accomplishment. There occurs here a certain free necessity: the simultaneous ontological immutability of the foundation alongside the modal diversity of freedom in its emergence in life.13

God is not a prisoner to the freedom of his creatures. All is comprehended in his good and wise providence. The conclusion of the cosmic story will justify God in his justification, rectification, deification of his creation. Apokatastasis—the true and only theodicy!

Footnotes

[1] Sergius Bulgakov, “Apocatastasis and Theodicy,” The Sophiology of Death (2021), p. 92.

[2] Sergius Bulgakov, The Bride of the Lamb (2002), p. 501.

[3] Bulgakov, “Apocatastasis,” p. 92.

[4] Ibid., pp. 92-93; emphasis mine. Also see my 2013 article “Bad Endings Ruin Good Stories.”

[5] David Bentley Hart, “What God Wills and What God Permits,” Public Orthodoxy (5 May 2020); emphasis mine.

[6] Bulgakov, “Apocatastasis,” pp. 93-94; emphasis mine.

[7] Ibid., p. 94.

[8] Ibid., pp. 94-95.

[9] Ibid., p. 95.

[10] Ibid., pp. 95-96.

[11] Ibid., p. 96.

[12] Ibid., p. 97.

[13] Ibid., p. 96.

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108 Responses to Seeking Theodicy: Sergius Bulgakov and the Apoktastasis

  1. dianelos says:

    Bulgakov wrote: ”And creaturely freedom encompasses either the inevitability or at least the possibility of a fall. To admit the first option is obviously not possible because it would mean blaspheming the Creator, to whom would be ascribed the desire to create the world precisely as fallen, or at least to create a world predestined for a fall.”

    The assumption here is that God first created a good creation which then fell because of human sin. This is the usual literal interpretation of the Old Testament’s Genesis story (which I think suffers from several conceptual problems not least the premise that God of perfect goodness, power and knowledge would create a world which would promptly go astray). I would like to point out that there is a third alternative: That God created the world in a fallen state. In this interpretation the “fall” is not a fall from a previous good state, but a fall from its good end state. Creation is fallen in that it has not yet matured into its perfect end; and thus the fallenness of creation does not entail that it is not good. An acorn is not an oak tree, but this fact does not entail that the acorn is “bad”; it is a good seed that has not yet grown into an oak tree.

    I agree with the proposition “The divine goodness requires both a good beginning and a good end” – but (as DBH explains in his “That All Shall Be Saved”) the beginning lies in its end. It is in the end of creation where the reason for its beginning is grounded, and it is therefore the goodness of its end that grounds the goodness of the beginning. To judge creation’s beginning while ignoring its end is like judging whether an acorn is good while ignoring the oak tree.

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    • Tom says:

      Dianelos,

      I don’t think what you’re describing is a third alternative, not as you describe it at least. I don’t know any Orthodox thinker who wouldn’t agree with you that that our beginning is not our end but is rather a state of infancy destined to mature as it travels the distance from origin to end in God. But – and this is my complain with your view – this doesn’t make the beginning a ‘fallen’ state (to use your term). It’s not even fallen with respect to the end, any more than an infant is ‘fallen’ with respect to the adult thing it is destined to become. On the contrary, what infants are is ‘good’ so far as beginnings are understood teleologically (which is not a third option, at least not for the Orthodox). Infants are also good so far as they are all they require to be to become what God intends. As you say, an acorn is not a full-grown, mature oak tree, which doesn’t make the acorn bad. I would just add, it also doesn’t make the acorn ‘fallen’.

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      • David says:

        Hi Tom! Could I please check whether this means you would basically deny the fall as an event or condition that pertains to humanity at all? Or are you just saying that – fall or no fall – humanity begins immature, but that, in addition to this immaturity, humanity also contingently happened to fall? If that’s right would you be able to say a little more about how, in your view, the fall came about and how we can distinguish its effects on the human condition as compared with plain old immaturity?

        Not to put you on the spot or anything! 🙂

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        • Tom says:

          David, not trouble at all.

          I’d join you in your latter description, not the former. There’s no denying our fallen condition, obviously. I’d just deny that this fallen condition is, as Dianelos describes, our God-given origin. But with your latter option (and with Dianelos too), I’d agree that though our beginning (however we imagine it) is the beginning God intends and gives, it’s not the end he intends. We have to move, freely and precariously, from one to the other. I just don’t see this distinction as grounds for thinking such a beginning is ‘fallen’. For me the language of ‘fall’ can describe neither origin nor end, properly speaking. It can only comprehend an intervening departure of will, or misrelation – and since God cannot give ‘misrelation’, I can’t suppose our origin to be fallen, as Dianelos does.

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      • dianelos says:

        Tom,

        I think that the great majority of theists believe that God made a good world which then went astray because of the choice of the firstborn: God’s good creation fell, but it’s not God’s fault. So, for example, Bulgakov discusses the question whether the good world that God originally made would certainly fall or was merely amenable to falling. He assumes a literal understanding of the Biblical story which (it seems obvious to me) makes no sense.

        From where I stand it’s frustrating to see how slow theology advances, and I think the main reason is *lack* of faith: People want to hang on to ancient texts and tradition thus converting them into graven images. But if theism is true then God is here, present and alive. We should take what is fruitful from our tradition and reject what is misleading.

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        • Tom says:

          Dianelos: I think that the great majority of theists believe that God made a good world which then went astray because of the choice of the firstborn: God’s good creation fell, but it’s not God’s fault. So, for example, Bulgakov discusses the question whether the good world that God originally made would certainly fall or was merely amenable to falling. He assumes a literal understanding of the Biblical story which (it seems obvious to me) makes no sense.

          Tom: I’m not competent to speak with any authority regarding Bulgakov, though I’ve read him. But I don’t think he posits an original bliss or perfection convertible with our end. He knows the beginning can only be right and good ‘as a beginning’. But he doesn’t at all suppose (as many theists do) that the end will be a return to that original Eden.

          Dianelos: From where I stand it’s frustrating to see how slow theology advances, and I think the main reason is *lack* of faith: People want to hang on to ancient texts and tradition thus converting them into graven images. But if theism is true then God is here, present and alive. We should take what is fruitful from our tradition and reject what is misleading.

          Tom: No real disagreement here. But isn’t that beside the point of discussion, I mean, how best to imagine our origin and our end?

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          • dianelos says:

            Tom,

            I don’t pretend to speak with any authority about Bulgakov either, I was only using the quotes provided in the OP by Al Kimel.

            [Bulgakov] knows the beginning can only be right and good ‘as a beginning’.

            Oh I completely agree with that proposition. Indeed, one can only judge a beginning *as a beginning*. To judge the actual state of the world as the whole of creation is a fundamental mistake which explains much of the confusion that exists about the existence of evil. It is because of that mistake that many find it evident that God’s creation is not perfect, or that evil “mars” God’s creation. But this makes as much sense as suggesting that failing the have any leaves mars an acorn.

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          • Tom says:

            I totally share your concern for that ill-conceived view of Eden as a kind of pain-free, primordial bliss which we ‘fell from’ and which our final end is thought to be simply a ‘return to’. There never was a pain-free primordial bliss. I agree, except I think it as ill-conceived (as the view you want to correct) to describe how we ought to view our origin/beginning as “fallen.” No, it’s not fallen at all. It’s just the infancy of finitude. We ‘fall’ when we ‘misrelate’ to the truth of our finitude and ‘depart’ from the dependency and faith which infancy requires of us. The beginning isn’t a ‘fall’ because finitude and infancy aren’t a misrelation or a departure; they’re God-given as such and thus good and proper.

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          • dianelos says:

            Tom,

            You write:

            “There never was a pain-free primordial bliss. I agree, except I think it as ill-conceived (as the view you want to correct) to describe how we ought to view our origin/beginning as “fallen.””

            So it seems we agree on the facts about the beginning of creation, but disagree on the word we should use to refer to these facts. I choose to keep using the traditional word “fall” while explaining that it is not a fall from a previous good creation but only in comparison to creation’s given end. You disagree arguing that to use the word “fallen” confuses and misleads peoples’ understanding about the beginning of the creation we currently inhabit.

            Well, you may be right – there are no clear rules about how words should be chosen when describing a new idea. I remember in my universalist days before reading DBH’s TASBS I used to say that hell does not exist, given that by “hell” people usually understand an eternal and hopeless condition, where in universalism the afterlife state of even the worst person is neither eternal nor hopeless. Now I have adapted to DBH’s choice of wording, and tend to think he was right in so choosing. Theological ideas are difficult to convey and perhaps it is didactically better to keep the wording but embed it into a more truth tracking conceptual matrix. To be a linguistic purist and insist that there is no fall or that there is no hell – risks pushing honestly seeking people away.

            Finally please observe that this not about playing with words. Both DBH’s use of “hell” and my use of “fall” do respect the essential content of the respective common meanings. So DBH’s “hell” does refer to a place of suffering by the unrepentant, and my “fall” does refer to a temporal reality that is not as it should be. Contrast this to peoples’ use of “compatibilist free will” which directly contradicts the essential meaning of what people commonly mean by “free will”.

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          • Tom says:

            Dianelos, since topics like this one tend to turn into extended conversations, people always get to qualify and clarify their meaning. So that’s good news for us all. However, my problem with describing our God-given origin as “fallen” is that there is ‘no’ qualified meaning I can give to the word (even in comparison with our end) that would make any sense to me.

            It’s not at all like the term “hell” for which thoughtful, studious Christians have always known patristic universalism used the word to describe temporal, not eternal, suffering. And the word “hell” doesn’t entail a meaning that’s lost when you suppose its sufferings are temporary. It’s still a tortuous mode of being. But the concept of a “fall” does entail a meaning that’s lost when you suppose it’s our God-given origin, for to “fall” necessarily implies a height (or origin, status, or position) ‘from which’ one falls.

            To qualify this by saying our God-given origin is fallen ‘only in comparison to our end’ is a poor use of language, for we don’t employ the term “fall” to describe proper, necessary beginnings compared to their ends. Runners lined up for a race aren’t fallen in comparison to winning, nor are infants fallen in comparison to adulthood, nor is a blank canvass fallen in comparison to its final image – and neither is creation fallen with respect to final union with God. On the contrary, all these are true, good, and beautiful beginnings in comparison to their ends. Instead of using ‘fall’ to describe what God does, my sense (hey, I could be wrong) is that it ought to be employed to describe what creatures do.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Very well stated Tom. And I for one am thoroughly confused about dianelos protology. What is evil, what is its origin?

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          • dianelos says:

            Tom,

            You write:

            “to “fall” necessarily implies a height (or origin, status, or position) ‘from which’ one falls.”

            Yes but only if one uses “fall” in a literal sense.

            Our disagreement here is semantic. Do think we should say that there is no Fall? That the Genesis 3 account is simply false?

            Which brings me to one more reason why I prefer to keep using the “fall”. I think there is a way to interpret Genesis 3 as referring to humanity’s assenting to its being. A text which on literal reading makes no sense can be interpreted as referring to a very deep truth.

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          • Tom says:

            Dianelos: [“To “fall” necessarily implies a height (or origin, status, or position) from which one falls] only if one uses “fall” in a literal sense.

            Tom: I’m going to disagree with you here and say the metaphorical extension remains grounded in literal meaning. Metaphorically one is still positing a height from which one falls, an origin from which one departs (even if that origin is not the full plenitude and innocence of our end; even if the height is, as on your view, the future end we start out having to achieve).

            I don’t deny a fall. We have to talk about a “fall” (as in Gen 3). But it cannot be that this “fall” is original and God-given. In that case Genesis 3 would be as false as were we to suppose it to describe a pure fiction.

            Dianelos: I think there is a way to interpret Genesis 3 as referring to humanity’s assenting to its being. A text which on literal reading makes no sense can be interpreted as referring to a very deep truth.

            Tom: I agree. That’s basically my view. But this makes the human failure to assent (to the givenness of its being) the “fall,” not the divine gift of being as such. Again, the fall (however we construe it) is something ‘we’ do, not something God does. I don’t think any metaphorical use of “fall” will justify your attribution of it to God, as a creative act, rather than to creation.

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    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      Isn’t there, though, a hard way and an easy way for the acorn to become the tree? The beginning not being the end state perfection doesn’t really encompass all the horrors and tribulations that have, in fact, occurred along the way.
      Isn’t the problem the idea of a single, once and for all “fall”? The Bible sets its first described “fall” in a garden protected with walls against the rest of creation (why, if the world outside is as perfect as the garden within?) and introduces a serpent which has already “fallen” before the story of our “fall” begins.
      The Genesis story has been seen as a prefigurement and allegory of the repeated “falls” by Israel, who are set up in their garden / kingdom and then ejected from it again due to sin. Adam and Eve are first shielded from the world in their garden and then, when they sin, sent from it out into the world. It’s not at all clear to me that the entire world is intended to be understood as also a sinless pristine Eden pre Adam’s fall: Eden is a separated-out place to nurture the newly nascent human being, not a description of the entire cosmos.
      The story of the Bible to my mind is a story of *repeated* falls, with first mankind generally and the Israel specifically repeatedly falling away, suffering, repenting and being called back to God. The Bible starts this story with mankind’s fall but our now knowledge of the history of “red in tooth and claw” nature pre mankind means we should understand that the cycle of sonehow going wrong and restoring again to have not commenced with this. I wonder if, on a cosmic scale, we are to see mankind as having the same salvific, God-representing function within the cosmos as Israel and then Christ’s has for mankind (which may mean why we are described as the “image of God).

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      • David says:

        Hi Iain. I completely agree that the Bible sets out a series of repeated falls, but I’d say it still reduces either to the idea of a single fall, whether inevitable or contingent. That is, if humanity’s many falls are inevitable, I would describe this transtemporal tendency to fall as ‘the fall’; and if humanity’s many falls are not inevitable, but only occur because of some contingent decision, that would imply that this aboriginal contingent decision would constitute the ‘first’ fall (whether that’s a chronological first or just a logical first, depending on your theory of time and taste for the idea of a supratemporal fall vs. plain old Adam and Eve), with all other falls functioning as repetitions or recapitulations or remembrances of that first fall, which again leaves us with the idea of a primary single fall.

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        • Iain Lovejoy says:

          I wasn’t sure about the idea of the start of creation being “fallen” because it isn’t in its end state, and it seemed to me that this came from seeing the “fall” as a single event / state existing from a fixed point in time rather than an ongoing and repeated part of a continuous process.

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    • David says:

      HI Dianelos. Thanks for these insights. I see your point, but I’d argue that your third option is functionally reducible to Bulgakov’s first option. Whether chronologically a ‘better’ state preceded our fallen state, with it being inevitable that a temporal fall from this state should occur – or, as you suggest, the fall is more a kind of eternal truth of human nature that points to our fundamental immaturity, rather than some historical fall from grace – it still seems that God has consented to create under conditions in which fallenness is an inevitability.

      By the by, DBH is clear elsewhere our fallen state is *not* inevitable. I believe that he holds creation really could have gone another way and passed from immaturity to maturity in total peace and sinlessness had humanity not undergone some kind of inexplicable transtemporal fall.

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      • dianelos says:

        Hi David,

        You write:

        “it still seems that God has consented to create under conditions in which fallenness is an inevitability.”

        I often find that the choice of words matter. Why say “inevitable”? To fill a glass with water entails that the glass was empty, but from this it does not follow that the emptiness of the glass was “inevitable”. So (I say) God chose to create a fallen word – an immature, unformed, germinating world. That was not inevitable – indeed since God is prior to everything there is nothing inevitable for him. So the question to ask is *why* God chose to create the world in such a state. That’s the only question that makes sense.

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        • Robert Fortuin says:

          I have to call you on your definition of “fallen” – few would agree with you that in this context fallen means, “immature, unformed, germinating.”

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          • dianelos says:

            Robert Fortuin,

            few would agree with you that in this context fallen means, “immature, unformed, germinating.”

            I agree that very few would agree with my understanding of the “fall”. But there are some, for example Syrian fathers (such as Theodore of Mopsuestia in the 4th century), as well as recent great theologians such as John Hick (whose so-called “Irenaean” or “soul-building” theodicy entails that the world is a place of gestation).

            Still, I claim that this is the correct understanding, and truth is not a matter of popularity.

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      • Tom says:

        David, can I jump in on a comment you made to Dianelos?

        You write “…it still seems that God has consented to create under conditions in which fallenness is an inevitability.”

        I don’t know about others, but I acknowledge this inevitability, though I want to qualify its historical, not its ontological, sense. Take a poorly chosen analogy; the inevitability that some car accident will eventually occur today on our roads. This inevitability is derived from conditions shared by a wide range of drivers, though it imposes itself upon no particular driver. Any driver on the road today, we may say, faces the real possibility of an accident-free day. But nobody doubts that some driver will manage to be in an accident.

        It’s a curious sort of inevitability, one which I don’t have problems acknowledging is inherent in the terms in which human beings must proceed from origin to end in God. We’re going to fall, period. It’s not an ontological necessity, certainly, and I’m guessing that’s Hart’s point (i.e., evil is privation and thus cannot make its own positive contribution to the manifestation of the good, the truth, and the beautiful in created natures).

        I could be wrong, but I suggest that while evil is entirely ‘ontologically’ contingent (which I take to be Hart’s point), it’s not ‘historically’ contingent (about which I’m not sure what Hart would say). Historically speaking, evil is inevitable – not because of some flaw in the God-given design at its beginning, but because the term in which finitude must move from origin to end is the very precarious and risky sort of agency without which we cannot ascend to the personal, loving, mode of existence which is our end.

        What of theodicy? Well, it all depends upon (a) the worth and value one attributes to God and to human participation in God. Is the final good of that participation worth the shitty mess along the way? Per Rom 8, Paul thinks it is; i.e., the end is “more than worth” the evil and suffering we encounter along the way. And (b) are any finally excluded from that participation? If yes to (b), then the Xan faith itself fails (as Hart rightly argues). But if ‘no’ to (b), then all who are equally loved are finally redeemed, and I don’t have any problem accounting for the historical inevitability of all the evil and suffering we find strewn along creation’s path from origin to end. For the end is so glorious as to render all combined evil meaningless (in the sense of “not worth comparing to” the glory revealed in us). It’s this final meaningless of evil (and mind you, if evil is ever meaningless, it’s always meaningless) that finally brings John Hick’s project to ruin.

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        • Robert Fortuin says:

          I would take exception to any definition of “historical inevitability” as you use the term, to make the point clear that this does not entail necessity whatsoever – in other words, evil is not necessary ontologically nor historically. The car accidents, after all, are just that, accidents.

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          • Tom says:

            Hi Robert,

            I can find an event with a better name (other than “accident”) if you like, but I doubt it will help. That we call accidents “accidents” doesn’t mean their occurrence (in my analogy) cannot be ‘inevitable’ in the sense I described. But in any case, I find the distinction between ‘ontological’ and ‘historical’ meaningful, and in this case quite helpful, but I appreciate the difficult others have with it.

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          • Tom says:

            But I find your objection to the inevitability curious, since you don’t admit counter-factual realities or truths into God’s knowledge of the world anyhow. So what exactly is at stake for you in granting a certain inevitability to our falling if in the end that fall (a) contributes nothing to the end, and (b) doesn’t diminish our final, universal beatitude? So we as a race never had any chance of successfully traversing the distance between origin and end in God – so what? There’s no ontological necessity to ‘walking’ which requires that an infant ‘fall’ as it learns to walk, though its falling is certainly inevitable. Not all inevitabilities embody an ‘ontological’ necessity – so I don’t see the problem.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            What’s at stake Tom is attribution of necessity to the fall (evil, sin, corruption, etc.) – I categorically reject it based on Nicean/Chalcedonian Christology. The whole house of cards of anthropology and soteriology will come falling down if we admit to the necessity of darkness. Falling isn’t necessary – to be clear, I am not tracking back on our agreement of the necessity of the gnomic. The gnomic is necessary in the historical sense; but not, categorically not, the misuse of it.

            BTW. Counter-factual realities or truths into God’s knowledge of the world are completely irrelevant as this pertains solely to the adiastematic mode of God’s knowing and not to the unfolding of events over time as we experience and come to know these events.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Tom says:

            The distinction between a ‘necessity of nature’ per se (or of created ontology as such) and a ‘historical inevitability’ makes good sense to me. I’d never attribute the former sort of necessity to our falling, of course. But the latter sort seems fairly obvious – i.e., create sentient beings who have to resolve themselves gnomically/deliberatively (as well as socially, developmentally, etc.) over time, and I think the inevitability of screwing up is undeniable. But this doesn’t undermine Chalcedon so far as I can see (since the Orthodox don’t attribute gnomic willing to Christ anyhow).

            Liked by 1 person

          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Agreed, it doesn’t undermine it, however it does mean that we make sure to be clear about what is necessary and what is not. We certainly don’t want to end up making the catastrophic error of dianelos (tongue somewhat in cheek). We are getting into the obvious here, but to draw it out for the sake of the conversation, the inference of the Christological affirmation of Chalcedon is that humanity, or the human, does not require the fall to be (human). Humanity requires of us to overcome the fall by means of its gnomic volition, to do away with what was not needed. To misuse the gnomic is never a requirement to progress towards our humanity – “shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Chalcedon does make clear what is needed for our salvific progress – participation in divinity.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Robert Fortuin says:

            And, I should add, lest we stray too far from Fr Sergius, the flourishing of the human, the salvific progress which is wholly without need of the darkness, is that Sophia. the theandric creation.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Tom says:

            I wrote: “So we as a race never had any chance of successfully traversing the distance between origin and end in God….” I meant “…of traversing without falling….” Just to be clear.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dianelos says:

            Robert Fortuin,

            You write:

            ” the inference of the Christological affirmation of Chalcedon is that humanity, or the human, does not require the fall to be (human)”

            Well, some disagree with the inference you claim. For example David Bentley Hart points out that humanity could not have been created from the beginning in a perfect state, for such would be a fiction akin to the creation of marionettes. He mentions the “ontological condition of being created ex nihilo as a genuinely free agent, rather than as a mere dramatis persona already defined by God at a particular stage of (fictional) development” (see the comment section under this post https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2021/08/11/dbh-on-created-spirits-and-the-possibility-of-evil/#comment).

            What’s more I don’t see any conceptual stress let alone contradiction between Chalcedon and my understanding of the fall. Could you elaborate and explain the inference you claim?

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Simply and succinctly put as I am short of time, to be human does not require a lapse as Chalcedon affirmed that not only is Jesus human, he is also without sin. Far from requiring a lapse, rather to become fully human, the Nyssen’s ideal and fully created human, requires a progressive participation in the divine life, which entails among other things a learned and habitual exercise of one’s free agency, the use of the gnomic will for the one, the good, the true and the beautiful. We need to put to bed the idea of the so-called dramatis persona as no one here at least is making an argument for such.

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          • dianelos says:

            Robert Fortuin,

            You write:

            “to be human does not require a lapse as Chalcedon affirmed that not only is Jesus human, he is also without sin.”

            I agree, but I still do not see the problem you suggest between my thesis and Chalcedon. My thesis is that God created the world in a fallen state, not that to be a human entails to sin. Of course not. The incarnated God, Jesus from Nazareth, is our model for we are called to transform ourselves into His likeness. And indeed He is both sinless and fully human. Had He failed to be either He wouldn’t be our model. If to be human entailed to sin then salvation would be impossible.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            “My thesis is that God created the world in a fallen state” – then for us to become human would mean to lapse, and furthermore, it would be so according to God’s express intention and rationale, his Logos. I can understand you in no other way. What then is the reason, the necessity of the Fall, if not as the intentional, God-given means to bring us to perfection? Is a, or the, lapse a step forward to perfection, a progression towards our fulfillment, healing, salvation? I see now too how you would need an immaculate conception for the Theotokos!

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          • JBG says:

            If humanity is not convertible with sinfulness, then it was not inevitable that the world was to be as painful as it is, even if some measure of pain was altogether unavoidable. I speak principally of moral evil, but even the consequences of “natural evil” could have been attenuated to a greater extent in a world where humanity had a different focus.

            Yes, we have the example of Christ, not to mention the example of saints and enlightenment beings from every tradition and culture. What is possible for one human being is theoretically possible for all. That message is universal.

            In another world, humanity might have been able to pass through this difficult and painful stage of development with the balm of being immersed in a loving, supportive human family—a world where the easing of suffering for all was a primary aim rather than the relentless lust for power, profit, status, and self-gain. This just adds insult to injury.

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          • dianelos says:

            Robert,

            Responding to my thesis you write:

            “My thesis is that God created the world in a fallen state” – then for us to become human would mean to lapse, and furthermore, it would be so according to God’s express intention and rationale, his Logos.

            In my understanding there has never been a “lapse”. God chose to create us immature and thus metaphysically certain to sin, and designed our experiential environment (the “world”) in a way that would be conducive to our spiritual advancement namely with natural evils in it.

            But why? – you ask. What might God’s rationale, his logos, be? John Hick answers that God in his perfect love chose to create the greatest possible creatures. And even we (here and now in our fallen condition and possessing only weak cognitive faculties) directly see that a personal creature who became perfect by freely choosing the good and overcoming all evil is greater than a personal creature made perfect from the beginning. Recently DBH argued that the latter is an ontological impossibility in any case, that there is no such thing as a personal creature “already defined by God at a particular stage of (fictional) development” (see https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2021/08/11/dbh-on-created-spirits-and-the-possibility-of-evil/#comment-36541 )

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Of course a personal creature made perfect from the beginning is an impossibility – but no one makes such an argument (dang, I had thought we put that dramatis persona to bed)! What I do argue is that deification, that process over time by free volition to become perfected, never ever requires falling into sin. You, however, make failure, sin and evil the means – the very necessary and divinely inspired method – by which we are made God-like.

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          • David says:

            I think I’d agree with Robert on this one Tom (thank you both for your answers to my initial question btw).

            Whether or not the distinction between ontological necessity and historical necessity is valid, ultimately isn’t it either the case that the act of Creation has a 100% chance of the creation emerging as fallen, or it doesn’t? If the conditions of the system are indeed such that a car accident will definitely and inevitably occur, then surely we must say that the design of the system necessarily involves accidents and that in consenting to the creation of this traffic system one is consenting to certain evils that inevitably result from it. I don’t think your view allows us to say that fallenness is genuinely contingent or a decision taken by humanity.

            Having said that, I’m less convinced than Robert about the Christological case for this. I understand the point that, if we make fallenness constitutive of human nature, it appears to imply Christ must either be fallen or not truly human. I’m not sure this holds though – couldn’t one just say that fallenness is inevitably parasitic on every human nature *unless* it happened to be God-incarnate?

            If that sounds like special pleading, I’d suggest there are other instances of this that we all accept. For example, the aboriginal union of body and soul that marks the first moment of our human temporal existence ordinarily results in – or consists in – the creation of a distinct hypostasis. But in Jesus’ case, the union of body and soul that marks the first moment of his human temporal existence does not result in such a new hypostasis, as the hypostasis is always already that of the eternal Word.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            David,

            It does create a new human, namely Jesus. And Jesus’ humanity cannot be fully human if the humanity of his mother was constitutive of sinfulness. Fallenness therefore I surmise cannot be what it means to be human, if Chalcedon is right. But I am a Christian platonist as really everyone should be. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          • David says:

            Robert, I take your point, but the only point I am making is that there are various things that we affirm of every single human nature but with the single exception of Jesus – who seems to get a special ‘carveout’ – but that we do not normally suppose that, because Jesus lacks such properties, he is not fully human. From this I infer that there are some properties which we think of as being essential to human nature, but upon further investigation actually turn out to be more like ‘essential to human nature IF the hypostasis of the human nature is not divine’ or ‘properties which automatically follow from being human UNLESS one is also divine’ – and so that, if one were to adopt Tom’s position that sin is historically inevitable, one might see fallenness as this kind of ‘present in every human nature but God incarnate’ property.

            But are there such ‘carveouts’? Well, the example I gave was that ordinarily human nature is such that a single instance of a human nature results in the corresponding existence of a human hypostasis (or supposit or person if you like). If it did not, it would undermine the notion that human beings are substances – a human being is a single, unitive reality. So the fact that a human nature ordinarily grounds a human supposit is not accidental to human nature.

            Yet clearly Christ’s human nature does not ground a supposit: it does not involve the coming into being of a new hypostasis. To affirm otherwise would surely be Nestorian. Certainly the incarnation results in the existence of a new instance of humanity, a new human nature, but it does not result in the existence of a new hypostasis. On that basis I would argue that there are indeed ‘present in every human nature but God incarnate’ properties – and so one could hold that fallenness is one such property. This wouldn’t exactly be to say ‘to be human is to be fallen’ (to paraphrase your criticism) but ‘to be human is ordinarily to be fallen’ or ‘to be a non-divine human is to be fallen’.

            That doesn’t mean I think it is acceptable to hold that this kind of ‘ordinarily fallen’ idea – I think there are probably other very good reasons not to hold to this. But it does seem to me that we cannot resolve the issue purely by pointing to the fact that Christ’s human nature did not result in fallenness – because it also did not result in the creation of a new hypostasis, despite this being the case in every other human being.

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        • JBG says:

          The rift lies between those who hold to the notion that our state of immaturity might necessarily equate with evil/or suffering and those that do not. Can immaturity be innocence rather than evil? I don’t know.

          I am very sympathetic to the soul-making hypothesis, yet I wonder if it is consistent with a conventional interpretation of Christianity. If evil and suffering are simply the concomitants of our embryonic stage of being, then it would seem that we aren’t actually saved from anything. The resolution of the problem of evil simply lies in our ongoing development rather than a salvific intervention from without.

          John Keats seemed to make the same observation.
          __________________________________________________

          Call the world, if you please, “the Vale of Soul Making”. Then you will find out the use of the world….

          There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions but they are not Souls ‘till they acquire identities, ‘till each one is personally itself. Intelligences are atoms of perception. They know and they see and they are pure—in short, they are God. How then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them , so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to each one’s individual existence. How but in the medium of a world like this?

          This point I sincerely wish to consider, because I think it a grander system of salvation than the Christian religion…

          Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul? A place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways….

          As various as the lives of men are—so various become their souls, and thus does God make individual beings, souls, identical souls of the sparks of his own essence.

          — John Keats

          Liked by 3 people

          • Tom says:

            JBG, I agree our God-given origin make unavoidable a painful path of suffering and loss toward our end in him. I don’t imagine we could travel the distance form origin to end in God without encountering the truth of our finitude (our absolute dependence upon God, the Void or ‘nihil’ from which came, etc.) and that means some measure of pain and loss even if it doesn’t entail ‘sin’ and ‘evil’ as such. So I’m fine with attributing a sophianic role to pain/suffering as such, though not to ‘sin’ or ‘evil’. And I may be all alone in that. It has connections to soul-making approaches (ala Irenaeus and Teilhard but not Hick), but is very careful to note the distinction between suffering pain or discomfort as such and suffering the consequences of evil per se.

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          • JBG says:

            Tom: “I agree our God-given origin make unavoidable a painful path of suffering and loss toward our end in him.”

            Yes, I tend toward this belief as well. Since the Spirit must pass through the discontinuity necessary for the genesis of an individuated spirit, some degree of pain seems inevitable.

            But as Iain Lovejoy said, “Isn’t there, though, a hard way and an easy way for the acorn to become the tree?”

            That of which I am unconvinced, and where I differ with Dianelos, is the idea that this is a Goldilocks world as far as suffering is concerned, or even that augmented suffering might be ideal.

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          • dianelos says:

            JBG,

            You write:

            If evil and suffering are simply the concomitants of our embryonic stage of being, then it would seem that we aren’t actually saved from anything.

            I’d say we are saved from the embryonic stage with all its negatives 🙂

            “Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul? – Keats”

            Oh, great. I wonder if John Hick was inspired by Keats.

            But as Iain Lovejoy said, “Isn’t there, though, a hard way and an easy way for the acorn to become the tree?”

            Who’s Iain Lovejoy? In any case it’s nice to discover that others have followed the same train of thought up to and including using the same metaphors.

            and where I differ with Dianelos, is the idea that this is a Goldilocks world as far as suffering is concerned

            Yeah, that’s the question, isn’t it. I think it’s easy to see that the two extremes (either a world filled to the rim with suffering or else a world completely empty of it) are not at all conducive to spiritual maturing. Whether the world we find ourselves inhabiting (which includes how we are) is the optimal Goldilocks region is difficult to acertain. But it certainly seems so, or at least I can see no argument why a world with significantly less or significantly more evil would be more conducive to spiritual maturing.

            or even that augmented suffering might be ideal

            Ah, perhaps you refer to Durrenmatt’s “The Mission of The Vega”, but this is just a lighthearted play meant to make us think about how much more natural good than evil exists in the actual world.

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          • JBG says:

            Dianelos: “But it certainly seems so, or at least I can see no argument why a world with significantly less or significantly more evil would be more conducive to spiritual maturing.”

            You are still assigning a constructive role for evil, even though you have claimed that to be a human (whom you call an “empty glass” prior to being filled with God) does not entail evil/sin. If this emptiness does not equate to sinfulness then human evil is unnecessary, which is to say that the process of spiritual maturing would occur in the absence of human caused evil.

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        • dianelos says:

          Robert,

          You write:

          If we want to make Jesus an exception (i.e. we require the fall to reach perfection, but he doesn’t) we risk making Jesus a dramatis persona and not consubstantial with us in regards to human nature. We run afoul of Chalcedon.

          Chalcedon plainly says that Jesus was fully God and fully human.

          What to be fully human means is clear enough: Jesus was subject to all limitations present in the human condition, so He was subject to temptation, ignorance, doubt, fear, despair, pain. As the EOC has long recognised the incarnation of God entails kenosis of his divine attributes.

          (As to what in the context of Chalcedon to be fully God means, the answer seems clear enough to me: Jesus was fully God in that He was truly the incarnation of God, He was unlimited God entering limited creation. So you there are created Robert, I here am created Dianelos, He in first century Galilee was uncreated God. To be a person entails being a subject; well the subject that was He who walked among us and whom we crucified was God.)

          Now being fully human does not entail that one must necessarily sin. Of course not. So that Jesus while being fully human Jesus did not sin does not any way run afoul of Chalcedon. Perhaps the difficulty stems from the proposition that “we require the fall to reach perfection”. Indeed, but here the “we” refers to the whole of the human race not to each single member. Being made fallen – that is spiritually immature – does not entail that a particular human must necessarily sin. Even though made in a fallen condition one is of course free not to sin. By being born into this fallen creation no human is condemned to sin – and indeed this is the Orthodox understanding.

          Here’s a thought: There have been tens of billions of humans until now, and perhaps there will be tens of billions more in the future. We believe that Jesus was sinless. The Catholic Church believes that His mother Mary too was sinless. Can we be certain that there aren’t other humans who have been or who will be sinless? Is it impossible that some campesino living today in Ecuador is sinless? I don’t think so. The mere fact that we have no problem contemplating the question of other humans being sinless suggests that it is possible. Having said that, in the context of the whole of creation and given the fallenness of human nature it was for all practical purposes certain that moral sin would enter the world. Perhaps that’s the difference that Tom is making between historical and ontological inevitability.

          This discussion has led me to contemplate the following question about the historical Jesus: We believe that He was sinless because that’s what our tradition teaches. But suppose it should be the case that Jesus from Nazareth as a young man did commit a sin which He then repented and outgrew. If that were the case would it make Jesus lesser or even greater? Would it make Him more or less lovable? It seems clear to me that perfection does not necessarily lie in never having sinned but may equally lie in having overcome sin. Until now I have followed tradition and believed that Jesus was sinless. Had you asked me why, I’d answer that it is an ontological absurdity to hold that a human who was God would sin even once. But now I think that this is not a good answer. If it is not an ontological absurdity for God to become human, why exactly should be an ontological absurdity for that human to sin? So, I now think, on the issue of Jesus’s sinlessness we can’t know one way or the other. Speaking for myself, should I learn (say in the afterlife when I believe human history will be like an open book to us all) that the young Nazarene did sin I wouldn’t be disappointed. On the other hand I can’t really visualise the historical Jesus sinning, so I am truly agnostic about this. It’s not important one way or the other. For the call to transform ourselves into the likeness of Christ remains equally urgent.

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  2. Counter-Rebel says:

    “If there is a God, He will have to beg my forgiveness.” — A phrase that was carved on the walls of a concentration camp cell during WWII by a Jewish prisoner.

    God replies: “Apokatastasis. Please forgive me.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • JBG says:

      Haunting.

      Yeah, I’ve always said—the question is not whether God can forgive humanity but whether humanity can forgive God. Forgiveness will only come with the knowledge that there was no other way.

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  3. Very, very good! I think it was in “Bride of the Lamb” that Bulgakov again raises the question of why evil was ever permitted as a known possibility. Out of his profound sophiological sensibilities, he posited that for any creature to love and to live, it had to freely participate in that love and life. It is not that a creature was forced into a chiasmus between yes or no (as that seems to presume a “created negative,” which is ontologically impossible). It is rather that the creature is called to say yes, and that creature may fail to do so. The tragic and unnecessary duration of evil is precisely a failure for the noetic creature to participate in grace. Grace is never one-sided. It is necessary for life, and it may even be inevitable, given God’s infinite persuasive beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Roberto de la Noval for translating these essays. It has been such a joy to read Bulgakov’s occasional pieces to see how they elucidate his overall theological program. What makes apokatastasis such a viable theodicy, even if we cannot fully articulate the reasons why evil has been allowed to mar creation, is because it alone of all theistic accounts offers a coherent and compelling case that evil will be thoroughly and finally overcome.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Tom says:

    Fr Aidan, Brian M, and Robert F.

    Bulgakov told me to pass on a note to you. He wanted to tell you:

    “Freedom is the most great and inalienable gift of God; it is also the very foundation of created being, its royal privilege, and its value, however we may appraise it, cannot be overestimated.”

    ;o)

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Alex says:

    Fr. Kimel, thanks for this post. Can clarify one point for me? As concise as I can be… I think I remember DBH defining freedom as something like the unencumbered (by blindness, sin, slavery, etc.) ability of a creature “to choose the good” (i.e. God), not simply “to choose” without qualification. But in your post above, you and Bulgakov both seem to define freedom as the ability “to choose” without qualification.

    Here, for example is Bulgakov from above: “Creaturely freedom encompasses either the inevitability or at least the possibility of a fall.” But wouldn’t freedom (by DBH’s definition) specifically exclude even the possibility of a fall? After all, if you’re not blind, you can see, and in theory you’ll inevitably choose the good.

    Here, for example is you from above: “The possibility that Luci­fer should become Satan is inherent to the gift of freedom.” How can the possibility of slavery be inherent in freedom? After all, that’s like saying sickness is inherent in health.

    Since it seems central to your’s/Bulgakov’s argument, I thought it’d be helpful to have this clarified. I could be wrong about the centrality of it, but this is at least a pressing question more generally I think.

    Thanks!

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Great question, Alex. I honestly do not know how Bulgakov would answer. I recall him somewhere making a distinction between the all of the angels, which he describes as irrational madness, and the fall of human beings, which he thinks took place under the condition of ignorance and weakness; but I may be misremembering. Hopefully those who know the works of Bulgakov far better than I can give you a reliable answer.

      And do remember that in a post like this, I am mainly summarizing the author (in this case Bulgakov) and not necessarily presenting my own view. Personally, I think that the fall of both angels and human beings imply what Tom Belt has called an “epistemic distance.”

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    • dianelos says:

      Alex,

      I’d like to suggest that there is no real tension between these two understandings about human freedom: The power we are given to choose which of possible futures will obtain is indeed what we commonly mean by “free will”. But such a freedom by itself is not worth much. What is good is not freedom simpliciter but *rational* freedom; that is to use that power for the good, to use it for repenting and becoming more Christ-like, for realising the end for which God has made us, for moving the world towards universal atonement. It is here that true life and joy, and indeed liberty and power, is found.

      I have the impression that the confusion stems from the fact that the ancient fathers spoke of rational freedom (which entails to obey God and thus realise our end), which on superficial reading may give one the impression that they were talking about some kind of “compatibilist” freedom, as if creation is such that God determines our choices. Nothing could be further from the truth. The “compatibilist” understanding of free will is not only a contradiction in terms (for there is nothing free in this kind of freedom) but renders incoherent Christ’s call that we should repent, and indeed makes nonsense of all the ethical teaching of Christianity.

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  7. Milton Finch says:

    Hey Al! Have you done any digging into Nicolas (Nikolai) Berdyaev and his book, Destiny of Man? Dealing with creation, ethics, good and evil, and the Fall, he goes pretty deeply into meonic freedom. Peace to you!

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    • Milton Finch says:

      From Wikipedia:
      “Berdyaev affirmed universal salvation, as did many important Orthodox theologians of the 20th century.[27] Along with Sergei Bulgakov, he was instrumental in bringing renewed attention to the Orthodox doctrine of apokatastasis, which had largely been neglected since it was expounded by Maximus the Confessor in the seventh century,[28] although he rejected Origen’s articulation of this doctrine.[29][30]“

      Liked by 1 person

  8. robertdln says:

    Bulgakov certainly thinks that creation could have mounted its ascent from infancy to perfected deification without the interval of sin and ignorance. There is still a ‘distance’ to be crossed, since the initial state is not the final state (else, why would we be spending out time theologizing and instead not just contemplating the Trinity face to face, right now?).

    Bulgakov believes that since God creates rational nature as essentially free (there is no unfree rational nature), and since that rational nature is a striving after God, to have created free creatures is in a sense to have created creatures that assent to their own being in the very act of making them. If this sounds like a contradiction to you – assenting to being created as you are created – then Bulgakov would say, “Hey, we’re talking about the aeon here of aeviternitas: our temporal categories don’t work here.'” Whether you agree that this view is coherent or not is a further question, but that is at least Bulgakov’s view.

    In many, many texts, he seems to speak of this assent to creation as being logically distinct from the final assent to full deification. If this first ‘yes’ were not distinct, I find it inexplicable how Bulgakov can accommodate a fall into his system; what explains the aeonic tragedy of the fall away from that primordial assent? Perhaps no theological system can explain this lacuna; at least no theological system that thinks there is a real event called a ‘fall,’ whether in some aeonic sphere or in the spatiotemporal world of chronological events. Bulgakov certainly thinks there is some event in the aeons that occurs for rational creatures who are all ‘in Adam’ while also being distinct from the individual ‘Adam,’ the first human. Between him and the later Augustine on this question the only difference is that the fall is not temporally located; it’s not ‘pre-temporal’ but ‘extra-temporal.’ Again, whether you find this compelling or not depends on a lot of other judgments about the nature of consciousness, whether consciousness can ever ‘begin’ or must have always, in some sense, existed.

    I think DBH would ultimately not agree with Bulgakov’s rendering of this primordial and aeonic ‘yes’ to existence that happens by rational spirits, since for DBH this aeonic yes to existence is fundamentally identical to the ‘yes’ of deification. That will produce its own issue of ‘locating’ a metaphysical fall, which both DBH and Bulgakov are committed to. I think it’s respectable to say that on this question we simply have no epistemic access other than the fact that 1) God is good, 2) the material world as we experience does not perfectly reflect in its finite limitations a perfect goodness (cancer, tsunamis, etc), 3) the failure of material creation to manifest God’s goodness cannot be God’s fault, 4) therefore it is our fault; mind at some point shaped the nature of matter as we know it, and so physical bondage will be abolished when mind returns to its Prototype (cf. Romans 8). This general scheme is all we can know, and that to ask for an explanation of how a fall could have happened – besides admitting there must be some ‘epistemic distance’ between rational nature in its primordial state and God – is to ask too much of speculative theology. Once again, I think that’s a respectable position. Bulgakov pretty much admits this is as far as we can go when he says that the reality of the fall is 1) what we know from our state of willing sin from our very origins, even though there is no historical time in our consciousness life in which we could have made a choice to have an ‘evil will’ [he is developing Schelling here who is developing Kant]), and 2) therefore the ‘fall’ can only be described in myth, for liike the Eden that depicts it, that utterly unique event is sealed off and guarded by the flaming sword.

    So yes, for Bulgakov, creation is as it is because of an aeonic fall, and it really could have gone otherwise. He does not use the language that DBH does to describe any state of a rational nature besides full deification as that of bondage, as Alex pointed out.

    If you find Bulgakov’s position unsatisfying, you could go the route that dianelos indicates: consider ‘fall’ as simply a description of what the original/current condition of the world looks like in light of the eschatogical promise. This would be a massive reinterpretation of the symbolic matrix of mainstream Christianity for the past two millenia, basically equating creation with fall. I think there’s a lot to commend this position, if you make judgments about the nature of conscience’s eternality than DBH or Bulgakov do. Deification, then, is making gods, form, out of chaotic potential that exists in material reality as we know it. It’s a “Soul-Making” theodicy of the Hickian sort. What this solution gains through adopting a more typical notion of human existence as arising in *time* and not “before” time it simultaneously loses in terms of defending God’s goodness, some would argue. For if God chose to create free creatures through the mayhem of a world of evolutionary progress and disasters, genetic mutations like cystic fibrosis and so forth, then God must not be able to make gods out of nothing without using evil, and so Good is determined by evil and limited by it. But that doesn’t seem to be the God of classical theism. I imagine DBH would balk at this and so reject it, as did Bulgakov, though I’m not saying that *only* this consideration is what drives their embrace of the ‘aeonic’ view: both of them have other philosophical commitments about consciousness that impact their position here.

    I happen to think there’s a way out of that dilemma, but I’ll save it for the book chapter I’ll write on this for the volume Jordan Wood and I have toyed with developing on “Creation as Fall.” 😉

    In any case, I think these are the fundamental options for folks who want to deny a concrete fall in *history*; either you go Bulgakov/DBH route or you go a ‘creation as fall’ route, with costs associated with either. For those who embrace the ‘creation as fall’ view, the former view seems like so much Euclidian thteological math: something that follows necessarily from some basic theological axioms about God’s goodness and a clear moral assessment of this world. For those who embrace the aeonic fall, the ‘creation as fall’ view is morally horrific and unacceptable, and so the former position is better, even if it seems more outlandish (assuming you are not convinced by the idealist arguments for the eternality of rational consciousness).

    I hope this helps clarify Bulgakov’s view in relation to DBH, and helps lay out some fundamental options.

    Liked by 4 people

    • dianelos says:

      robertdln,

      Thanks for that clear exposition. Pity that DBH is not contributing to this discussion, it would be interesting to have his take.

      Criticising my (actually John Hick’s) thesis you write:

      “For if God chose to create free creatures through the mayhem of a world of evolutionary progress and disasters, genetic mutations like cystic fibrosis and so forth, then God must not be able to make gods out of nothing without using evil, and so Good is determined by evil and limited by it.”

      I understand the sentiment, but would like to point out that this is like saying that God is not able to fill a glass with water without the glass being empty before.

      Suppose that God values creatures who will freely choose to fill their soul with charity, who will freely choose the good, who will freely chose to transform themselves into the likeness of Christ. Creatures who will “assent to their own being” (from beginning to end if I may add) as Bulgakov and DBH say. And which, it seems to me, is fitting of God. If this is what God values then there is no incoherence whatsoever in him making spiritually immature creatures with souls empty of charity – yet making them in his image and thus with a natural longing for the good, and indeed with end of repenting and becoming the greatest possible creatures in the end. (I say “the greatest possible creatures” and not just “the kind of creatures God values” because, I would like to claim, this is also the kind of creature *we* mostly value – which makes sense given that we are made in God’s image and thus with a direct sense of the good.)

      Now above you mention natural evils, evils that are necessarily present in the world given its physical laws. I think that if you contemplate the matter you will see that a world in which such random natural evils obtain is optimal for soul building. Or at least that a world in which no natural evils would ever obtain (say God would supernaturally stop any such evil from obtaining) would be an absurdity. For starters if the only source of suffering would be moral evil that our neighbours create then we would all tend to try to put as much distance between them and ourselves as possible. So the only question to ask is whether the quantity and quality of natural evils in this world comport with the soul-building theodicy. There is much to be argued here (after all there are many versions of the problem from evil, such as the problem from animal suffering, from horrendous evil, from unequal grace, etc), but I claim they are all solvable within the framework of John Hick’s theodicy. What’s more these solutions open our eyes to metaphysical truths of great beauty.

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      • Danielos,

        I believe Fr John Behr shares your views. Bulgakov’s view seems to contradict itself because in his newly translated “The Eucharistic Sacrifice,” he speaks of the cross as being able to not NOT happen. But the cross presupposes death, suffering and pain. So that would then imply that those are intrinsic to the cosmos as well. Yet above, he says the opposite. I myself am unsure of what to do about any of this. Saying the INCARNATION is built into the fabric or the cosmos is different from saying that the CROSS is built into the fabric of the cosmos since the incarnation could occur without death and sin. The cross could not.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Robert Fortuin says:

          Part of the problem is the linearity of successive events and cause/effect. If God is bound to linearity, then indeed the problem as you describe is a very difficult one to overcome. I don’t see how this is so from an adiastematic POV. The lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.

          Liked by 3 people

          • brian says:

            The true Genesis is the time of the Paschal Triduum.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Yes Brian I believe that to be indeed the breaking through, in time, of the timeless Kingdom, that original and ideal created-uncreated Sophia. In my response below to Mark, that ideal creation, I surmise this is that Sophia which was from before the beginning (cf Bulgakov) the intention of the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit.

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          • Interpreted that way though, doesn’t that mean evil was ordained to exist from the foundation of the world? I’m not saying you’re wrong. I think Bulgakov and Behr and a lot of the Church fathers all speak this way. I spoke this way as well, and in some ways, it’s very beautiful. But how does the non-linearity of time help this? If we take Irenaeus’s famous quote literally, this would mean that God purposefully made people evil and sinful so he could save them.

            On the other hand, I don’t have a huge problem with saying that evil and temporary suffering very well may be an inevitable result of God’s creation of a world with free creatures. And in THIS WAY, the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. This may be Fr Behr’s position. I think Hart’s is that evil and suffering are possible but not inevitable and so I doubt he would say the cross is inevitable though the incarnation perhaps. If that’s the case, both Hart and Behr are consistent (and Hick and Swinburne, for that matter). But I just think dear Bulgakov seems to contradict himself here. I’d like to be proven wrong, but either way, I would still much rather read Bulgakov than any his contemporaries. An incredible thinker but also very holy person, from what we can tell. Can’t wait to finish the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Mark – no I do not believe that evil and temporary suffering are the inevitable results of God’s creation, while I yet also maintain that the slaying of the Lamb was from the foundations of the creation. I surmise this is so following the “two-fold” creation as held by St Gregory of Nyssa, two- fold in the sense of the ideal creation as God intends creation on the one hand, and on the other hand the actualized creation as it unfolds in history. The two diverged, split in the middle if you will, and shall come together once again in the end as it was from before the beginning. The sacrificial cross then has always been the life giving tree of creation and is original and central to it. God makes the cross and the world, but it is not fully created until it is fulfilled in the Eschaton when all will be in All, the historical completed by and in and for the ideal.

            Liked by 2 people

        • dianelos says:

          Mark,

          You write:

          “Saying the INCARNATION is built into the fabric or the cosmos is different from saying that the CROSS is built into the fabric of the cosmos since the incarnation could occur without death and sin.”

          Well if by CROSS you mean the crucifixion then I’d like to point out that from God’s point of view the loving sacrifice was the incarnation and not the crucifixion. Many appear to believe that the crucifixion itself is what matters, but I think it is absurd to hold that without Pilate’s unjust choice God would have failed to save creation. That the salvation of the world depended on Pilate sinning.

          If by the CROSS you mean the fallenness of creation (the “death and sin”) then I think that the incarnation has no meaning without the cross. If creation were just paradisiacal then God’s incarnation in it would not be sacrificial and much of its beauty would be lost.

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  9. Doug S says:

    On the Sunday after the September 11th attacks, Tim Keller preached a sermon to his Manhattan congregation entitled “Truth, Tears, Anger, and Grace”:

    https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/truth-tears-anger-and-grace-5247/

    In this moment when he and his flock craved a theodicy capable of encompassing the horrors they had just witnessed, what sprung from Keller’s heart was a vision of apokatastasis . . . one to which his formal theological commitments simply cannot be reconciled.

    It was this sermon that first planted in my mind the ineradicable hope that, in the final redemption, everything bad would become untrue like the phantoms of a nightmare unmade in the moment of waking (a close paraphrase of Keller’s actual words).

    I would love to ask Keller how this could be so if Hell and the evil it punishes are eternal, how it could be so if even one soul were forever lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert Fortuin says:

      can you explain what Keller means by, “bad would become untrue”?

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      • Doug S says:

        The sermon is well worth listening to — still one of the most moving I have ever heard. The focal text of the sermon is John 11, the death and resurrection of Lazarus, which Keller takes as a portrait of the fall and restoration of the cosmos. Here are some highlights relevant to the question of what Keller means by “everything bad coming untrue”:

        1. Jesus is angry at death: Keller points out that the word euphemistically translated “deeply moved” actually describes fuming anger; thus, at Lazarus’ tomb, we see the Lord enraged at something or someone, and Keller says that the object of Jesus’ anger is death itself. He intends to make no treaty with it.

        2. Keller quotes from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov (Ivan’s discourse in “Rebellion”):

        “I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”

        3. Keller says that the resurrection that Jesus declares himself to be — of which the temporal raising of Lazarus is only a shadow — is not merely compensation but restoration. It is not (my elaboration, not Keller’s words) like the compensation received by Job, whose recovered prosperity did not undo the death of his sons and daughters. It is an utter restoration that leaves no remainder.

        4. Keller implies that this restoration is not only sufficient to “justify all that has happened”, but that it is in fact a higher good than a hypothetical world that never fell. He cites Isaiah 25:8 — “…he will swallow up death forever” — and argues that resurrection life is greater for the death it swallows up. I think he makes a mildly funny joke about people growing larger in proportion to what they swallow up.

        5. The phrase about “everything bad coming untrue” comes near the end, if I recall correctly. Keller describes a recurring nightmare he has in which his wife dies. Then he says that the nightmare has, over the years, taken on a surprising sweetness, because all the terrors of the dream are transformed — in proportion, as it were, to their terror — into the ecstasy of relief in the first moments of waking. During these moments, the terrors that were “true” in the nightmare become untrue in the face of a higher reality, that of the waking consciousness, and all that was lost in the dream is instantly restored without remainder. This, says Keller, is what the final resurrection will be.

        It was after hearing this sermon that I first believed that the Gospel was good news. But it took a while to work through the implications, and I suppose I am still doing so.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Matthew Hryniewicz says:

        It’s also a very similar phrase to a quote from Tolkien in The Return of the King. “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?” I haven’t listened to the sermon yet. I wonder if Keller is a LOTR fan.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Doug S. says:

          Keller is a LOTR fan, and I’m sure that’s where he got the phrase. He might even reference it explicitly in the sermon — I haven’t listened to it for a long time, so I can’t remember.

          Like

  10. Owen-Maximus says:

    The span of human existence finds its meaning in making preparation for the feast, in making ripe that privileged instant in which mankind takes part in the universal return to the center of existence. The rituals of the feast…are the rhythms of a universe that has no other substance than to be a symbol of the invisible, a multiform theophany.

    ~Olivier Clément, Transfiguring Time

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robert Fortuin says:

      That theophany, I would add to Olivier (and I hope he would agree), has from eternity been cruciform and sacrificial. Such is love, such is God.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JBG says:

        I’ve long pondered the meaning of sacrifice in Christianity. What exactly did God eternally surrender via creation, considering that nothing can be added or subtracted from God?

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        • Robert Fortuin says:

          JBG –

          I suppose that the maxim “to create is to redeem” holds and points to the sacrificial nature of the love of God. To give of oneself – ecstatically, erotically, kenotically – is “what” God is and is “what” God is in tri-unity, hypostatically and naturally. The maxim imperfectly yet truthfully describes the cost of loving the other for the sake of the other, a cost which is from before eternity and which in time manifests in the old covenant and finds its fulfillment in Jesus, who obtains a more enduring covenant with his own life giving blood. The divine ecstatic extra-triune movement to create is the very act also to redeem, to suffer with and for the creature in time. Triune aseity, perfection, immutability, the eternal pure act for whom no unrealized Potenz exists, does not foreclose divine suffering, change, neither makes impossible the movement of the eternal exitus et reditus which also, one may say “supernaturally naturally” in a nod to David Hart, unfolds in the temporal diastema. This is how things naturally are.

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      • Owen-Maximus says:

        I think Clément would agree, Robert. The Passion proceeds and inhabits creation, “already present in the heart of history like a seed of fire.” He writes,

        “The sacrifice of Jesus accomplishes the Father’s eternal plan to unite humanity with divinity, to bring alive and deify the depths of human nature, of the universe, of being. Never again should we be alone, shut out or lost…. The Son’s ‘passion of love’ precedes his incarnation and instigates it. It is inseparable from the Father’s own mysterious ‘passion of love.’ For in giving his Son, the Father gives himself…. This divine ‘passion of love,’ which will cease only when the Kingdom has manifestly come, does not in the least impair the joy felt by the Father and the Son in the depths of their divine nature (and this joy is itself not impersonal, it is the Holy Spirit).” The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 45

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  11. brian says:

    Mark,

    I can only offer a brief response. I am unhappy when Jordan Daniel Wood and Roberto De La Noval, for instance, drop intriguing hints that one must wait for publications that may appear years down the line for further elucidation. Nonetheless, I am somewhat in the same situation. I am working on a long novel that attempts to draw out more of this. The terse answer is that
    1) Agapeic giftedness and kenotic love is the way of the Immanent Triune perichoretic dance.
    2) The Paschal event is the way Immanent Triune love registers in created being.
    3) Incarnation would have happened whether or not there was a Fall. It is not reactive, it does not require Fallenness.
    4) Here is perhaps the trickiest bit. I would reference William Desmond’s work, especially his writing on the passio essendi which is the gift of coming to be out of the nothing, distinct from the striving of becoming, the determinate will of conatus essendi. I think, but I’m not certain, there is some parallel with the way Jordan Daniel Wood is thinking about Maximus the Confessor’s thought. The passio essendi is agapeic gifting. It is not a prior cause; it is not in the timeline. The “horizon” of Creation stands outside temporality and is not dependent on affirmation or rejection by the creature.
    5) Nonetheless, the agapeic giftedness becomes the condition of possibility for consent or refusal. There is an ontological realism to the claim that the devil is a liar and a murderer from the beginning. This essentially is the Pascal drama.
    6) This plays out in the paradox that an event in the middle of history is the prior condition that makes possible historical events both prior and afterwards.
    7) One is confronted with an unavoidable duality “for us.” Our gnomic wills produce idols, idols beget fallen time. Christ destroys these idols and redeems the time: this is an act both metaphysical and also something seeded into language and engendering a healing poetics . . . but all that is something I cannot sketch out with brevity. I suppose the pithy answer is that the Cross is a manifestation of Triune Love that is “always already,” so it is incorrect to think of it as strictly requiring Creation and Fall, though without the Fall the kenotic love of the Incarnation would have manifested differently.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robert Fortuin says:

      Brian – regarding the horizon of creation outside of time I have found Bulgakov’s work very helpful and is apropos to your points 4-7 above. Sophia is from before creation (yet also not uncreated, this must be stressed), and thus independent from reception/rejection, while in creation she is the personification of that agapeic giftedness. The acceptance and refusal plays out in history as it unfolds in that duality of time. I see Sophia as the”complete man” of whom Gregory of Nyssa speaks, the human with all of creation which is not fully created until the end, while yet has been in Sophia from before its very beginning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David says:

        Falleness is not necessary, so not being fully created is not convertible with fallenness (I don’t think you’re saying this but just clarifying!) – so without the Fall, historical time would have proceeded in a different way that still involved progression but without the propensity and possibility of individual sins which mark our current existence as a result of original sin. While the refusal that is the Fall may ‘play out’ in history, in order for that ‘playing out’ not to be ultimately deterministic and inevitable, there must be pre-historical/ahistorical logical moment at which creation as a whole – free, at that logical/temporal moment, from the snares of original sin that give our historical selves the propensity to sin – chooses the Fall. I assume this is why Bulgakov, DBH and most everyone else who I’ve seen utilise Gregory’s ‘dual creation’ notion see Fallenesss as arising from some supra-temporal Adam-as-humanity-as-a-whole decision. So rather than appeal to paradox per se, I’d prefer to think that the nature of human consciousness and inter-connectedness is just pretty wacky.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Robert Fortuin says:

          Not so wacky I surmise from a Christian platonic perspective.

          In the first seed of an oak tree were contained all oak trees that were, are, and will be, All oak trees are thus connected to that one seed. That seed is the sophianic idea of the oak tree. But then, in the land of becoming and time, some seeds fell on the ground while other seeds were planted in rocky ground; some other seeds were sown among thorns and some in good soil. Only some seeds reached their sophianic potential. Yet all, even those who failed, have Sophia as their foundation and their logos for being.

          Liked by 1 person

        • David says:

          Absolutely. I would only add that we should not reduce the origins of fallenness to being present in the ‘idea’ of humanity alone, yet we must also avoid reducing it to any individual historical sin. That is, fallenness runs throughout time, the ‘land of becoming’, yet its origins are found nowhere within the temporal order – and so we must posit some kind of supratemporal fall that results in the world of becoming being fallen where it might otherwise have been unfallen. If this supratemporal fall is the fall of an ‘idea’ alone, then it wouldn’t appear to be the result of any (at that moment logically unfallen) creaturely agency, which undermines its genuine contingency and creaturely origin. The nature of this fall of Sophia is mysterious, but I would suggest we perhaps catch glimpses of it when we consider the ‘depth’ of our human experience, the collective unconscious and the like, in which we observe that the background of every human choice is a wider departure from the Good (saints and sinners make different choices, but they both participate in a wider choice to implicitly consent to fallenness and so to preserve the possibility of evil throughout history… the possibility of individual sins is the result of a logically prior emancipation from the Good, our supratemporal choice to hang on to the possibility of sin throughout our earthly lives)

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            David I don’t think the individualization of a nature (e.g. one such human nature in Jesus, another such human nature in you or me) changes that nature essentially, hence the carefully parsed Chalcedonian wording, “the Self-same co-essential with us according to the Manhood” and then followed by, “like us in all things, sin apart.” Unlike us, he didn’t sin; but like us, Jesus has the same essence, the same human nature. If you want to say that his human nature is essentially unlike ours, I surmise you run afoul Chalcedon. Surely Chalcedon could have made it clear, if they shared your position, that Jesus’ sinlessness changed his man-hood essentially and thus is not “co-essential with us according to the Man-hood.”

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            To complete my thought: Surely Chalcedon could have made it clear, if they shared your position, that Jesus’ sinlessness changed his man-hood essentially or that our sin changed our human nature essentially and thus is not “co-essential with us according to the Man-hood.”

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          • David says:

            Sorry Robert, I am now extra confused – did you mean to post this in response to the other chain of comments with Tom? (as that is where we are talking about natures and individuation re: fallenness – but checking as I can see some relevance to this comment too – and confusingly I’d intended my comment to be in response to your ‘wacky’ comment, rather than further up the chain. Oh well!)

            If that’s the case, I’ll clarify again that the view I’ve sketched is not my position – it’s just a position I am suggesting one could possibly adopt if one wanted to hold that human nature was such that every non-God-incarnate human is fallen. To repeat, that is not a position I hold.

            As to whether individuation of a human nature changes the nature essentially – well, I have not claimed that it does, and your argument that it does not seems sound to me. I’m afraid I don’t see how this fact changes things. The only point I making is that human nature is such that, where there is a human nature, it grounds a supposit – except for the single unique case of Jesus. Yet we do not say that this is making Jesus’ human nature essentially unlike ours, despite the fact it lacks the ordinarily essential feature.

            Why does this lack of supposit-grounding, despite this clearly being a component of human nature, not mean that Jesus does not share a human nature like our own? Not because Jesus lacks an essential feature – but rather because the relevant properties of human nature are actually not quite as simple as ‘grounds a supposit in every case whatsoever’ but rather the more nuanced ‘grounds a supposit unless that nature is hypostatically united to the Word’. A bit like how it is human nature to have two arms, but really that is shorthand or ‘has a head *unless* it is chopped off’. Those without arms do not a possess a human nature that is essentially unlike that of those of us with arms, because one and the same human nature allows for both states to be present in humans.

            So human nature is such all individuated humans will have arms *unless* it is chopped off, and that all human natures will ground a supposit *unless* they are hypostatically united to the Word. So why couldn’t one hold that human nature is also such that one will be fallen *unless* one is hypostatically united to the Word? This would wouldn’t be that human nature is intrinsically sinful and that somehow Jesus escapes this, but rather that human nature is a blank as to whether one is fallen or not, but that the relevant variables that govern whether or not one is fallen are reducible to the presence or lack of presence of a divine hypostasis (again, I don’t hold that human nature actually is like this, but that’s because I want to say that fallenness is a genuine contingent for non-incarnate-creation)

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            sorry I am not sure either, I am lost in the whacky sequence of the comments now too

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          • David says:

            Ha ha. Well glad to hear I’m not the only one that’s lost!

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    • dianelos says:

      Brian,

      You write:

      an event in the middle of history is the prior condition that makes possible historical events both prior and afterwards.

      I think that’s an interesting way of putting it. One way or the other the incarnation is an act of creation, a foundation of all there is. Even though it obtained in the middle of historical time.

      the devil is a liar and a murderer from the beginning

      In the beginning there is only God, so I assume you mean the devil’s beginning. But if the devil was made sinful by God then it follows that God not only created fallen creatures (as I hold) but some already evil creatures (which, it seems to me obvious, is not the case). It is one thing to create spiritually immature creatures that will certainly choose sin, but quite another to make sinful creatures from the beginning. The moral evil in humans is because of our choice and thus of our making. I have impression that you suggest that the moral evil in the devil is because of God’s choice and thus of his making.

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      • brian says:

        Just quoting Christ in John 8:44 — the beginning as I interpret the text is outside of time, ontologically “prior” to our existential condition which I denote as “Fallen” time. Speculative theology must accept a certain amount of obscurity, but I would not assert that Lucifer was created as “the Devil,” nor would I reduce the diabolic to a representation of psychic or cosmic disorder or restrict meaning to the holder of a kind of legal office (as he appears in Job.) The latter might implicitly incorporate evil into the Godhead, a sort of Jungian union of opposites. The “beginning” refers to a primordial drama outside time and proposes an aetiology for evil that is something more than metaphor, but resistant to pinning down to any easy concept of univocal literalism.

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        • dianelos says:

          Brian,

          Just quoting Christ in John 8:44

          I believe that the gospels are a living miracle one experiences when one lets the good message sink in. But this goes for the whole of the gospels; to wonder what every single passage (or single sentence or single word) means is a way of deception. Having said that, in relation to John 8:44 I have no trouble imagining Jesus in the respective context and given His cultural time and place saying something like that. But I think it is an error to assume that in uttering these few words He must have been expressing some eternal metaphysical truth.

          The gospels, I say, is a door through which one meets Christ. But having met Him it makes no sense to continue to study the door in minute detail. What now matters is to follow Him. Even for the theologian what matters is go beyond the gospels and indeed beyond all past tradition into seeing and expressing the truth that is God. It makes no sense to say that God is infinite yet fits, or is at least codified, in some given texts.

          Speculative theology must accept a certain amount of obscurity.

          I wonder about that. Now there is no question that theology is hard. It is the hardest cognitive task possible, for the simple reason that by definition it refers to the deepest and most overarching order and explanation there is – to what binds literally everything together. I think it is evident that in the last three thousand years our theological understanding has been developing, albeit in fits and starts and in general at a glacial pace. Undoubtedly the completely unexpected experience of God incarnating and then dying the most humiliating death shook the very roots of theology, and no wonder it required centuries and some of the best minds to make some sense of. On the other hand, from where I stand it is not shocking nor unexpected that theology – meanwhile administered by imperial church organisations – should commit some fundamental mistakes or else fail to outgrow previous errors. In my judgment the doctrines of infernalism and that God failed to create the world he intended are erroneous, as are the gnostic ideas according to which the world around us has been designed by evil spirits or that the path to salvation comes with holding true beliefs about God (everybody it seems fancies themselves holding the keys to paradise – that Christ is the way is a mantra mindlessly repeated).

          But from the fact that theology is very hard it need not follow that theological truths must be obscure. Quite on the contrary: If we are made for God then truth once found must strike us as simple. And even though I can’t of course be certain that my understanding of the beginning of creation is correct, please observe that it is certainly simple: God created his creatures as true persons who assent to their being by freely choosing the good, and in this way become at the eschaton the greatest possible creatures. Thus the fallenness of the world was God’s intention from the beginning. In my understanding creation is perfect from beginning to end in that it perfectly embodies God’s most loving intention. Compare this image with the opaque mess of the traditional understanding, which creates one level of obscurity after the other trying to explain the fallenness of the creation in a way consistent with God’s perfection: So God originally (indeed prehistorically) made a good creation free from evil but which promptly fell because of the firstborn sinned by disobeying him. But there can’t be any sin before one knows good from evil, and the firstborn disobeyed by choosing to learn about good and evil (an incoherence if there is one). Moreover, whence the evil of the serpent in the Garden who tempted the firstborn? Ah, that was a fallen angel – but then there are at least two events of creation going astray and falling. Now angels are supposed to have full knowledge of God from the beginning but nevertheless some rebelled against him – which is an existential absurdity. And in any case who tempted them? Is there a third even deeper level of creation falling? Is creation falling all the way down in prehistory? Or else, if nobody tempted the angels into rebelling against God, what is the origin of the evil intention in their soul? No lesser theologian than Thomas Aquinas resorted to metaphysical acrobatics to answer the latter question, but only succeeded in obscuring even more the issues. I conclude that the traditional explanation makes no sense whatsoever, yet after the 4th century when some Greek and Syrian theologians tried to understand how come there is evil in God’s creation the rest of Christianity seems to be pretending that the traditional story makes some sense. What worries me is that some people may come to believe that obscurity counts as some kind of theological insight. Well, I say, obscurity is a fruit of deception. It is much better to say “I don’t understand this” than to say “Here is the explanation but it is so obscure that one shouldn’t worry if one doesn’t understand it”.

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          • brian says:

            Terms like “mystery” and “obscurity” may simply be evasions, though I don’t think you are correct if you assume such to be the case when the “answers” don’t satisfy your own proclivities or judgment. Lucidity is equally subject to alternate understanding. One could just as easily equate fundamentalist literalism with univocal clarity. Your objections could be posed as Enlightenment and rationalist. The Cartesian “clear and distinct” ideas are products of a method that reduces the human to thinking substance and the world to res extensa, so quantification becomes the measure of precision and a bifurcation of qualities into objective, “so-called primary,” and subjective, “secondary” qualities removes the qualitative as messages from the “other” bearing congitive value. Apophatic theology is not misology; it is not a retreat from reason. If it becomes such, it degrades into what David Hart calls “theological nihilism.” The rhythmic dynamism of Przywara’s analogy of being is a continual progression driven by the “ever greater” darkness of divine light. So, in my view, your anxiety about theology institutionalizing bad answers has to be balanced against presumptions to know that refuse the distance between finite conditions and divine plenitude. Certainly, I do not wish to exacerbate any neuralgia for referencing the biblical text on your part, but it seems to me the Pauline assertion that we “see in a mirror darkly” remains in effect. Naturally, this does not mean throwing up one’s hands before aporetic quandaries. It may, however, require theologians to accept the discomfort of antinomies that await the eschaton for the discovery of what can only now be touched by speculative finesse and respect for the opacity of plenitude that imbues the biblical image with revelatory power.

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  12. Tom says:

    Robert F,

    I’m posting this back out here flush left. I hope you eventually (inevitably even! lol) find it.

    There’s an interesting paragraph in a DBH post here (“Theodicy and Apokatastasis,” Sept 2019) that I think sheds some like on the distinction I was trying to make between difference modes of necessity relative to the inevitability of evil (we were talking about creation’s good origin relative to the inevitability of sin/evil eventually intervening). I was saying that the emergence of evil was inevitable, but this inevitability can’t be attributed to particular individuals. It applies to the whole of humanity (the way, say, that some auto accident occurring in the US today is inevitable even though no particular driver constitutes or embodies this inevitability.

    Discussing the theodicy question (of intervening sin and evils), Hart writes:

    “…in terms of set theory, many things can be predicated of a set that cannot be ascribed to the individual contents of a set. More simply, it is one thing to attempt to judge the relative goodness or badness of a discrete evil in relation to final purposes we either can or cannot see, but another thing altogether to judge a supposed total narrative that pretends to describe the whole rationality of all its discrete events. The former can never be more than conjectural and inductive; the latter is a matter of logic. There may logically be such a thing as an evil that is redeemed in the greater good toward which it leads; there is no such thing as an unredeemed evil that does not reduce the good toward which it might lead to a mere relative value. In the former case, it is logically possible that evil may be non-necessary in the ultimate sense, but may necessarily be possible in the provisional sense. In the latter case, evil figures as a necessary aspect of the eternal identity of whatever reality it helps bring about.”

    I don’t know that Hart would word things as I have (i.e., saying sin and evil are ‘historically inevitable/necessary’ given the God-given conditions of our origin, even if it is ‘ontologically contingent’). But for me, as I’ve said, the necessity defines the ‘set’ of humanity as it moves from origin to end in God. It does not attach to particular human beings. I recall Hart (Biola lectures) describing our origin in terms of ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ (‘A’ being the sin-free, evil-free route to our end, while ‘B’ was the fallen route we took), but his terms were part of an impromptu response to a question, not from his text. So I dunno.

    For me, ‘Plan A’ (the sin-free, evil-free path) describes a truth inherent in the ultimate contingent nature of sin and evil with respect to our final end; that is, the truth and beauty of the end will be in no way dependent upon or shaped by sin’s inevitability (any more than the joy we experience at a wedding is ‘made possible’ by the speedbumps we had to drive over on our way to the venue – the bumps are inevitable, but entirely beside the point and irrelevant per se to the joy we end up experiencing). ‘Plan A’ doesn’t (and I don’t think can possibly) mean ‘Plan B’ wasn’t the ‘inevitable’ path creation would take to its final end. In this sense I hold sin and evil to be inevitable. But contra Dianelos, this does not mean God created the cosmos fallen.

    Hope that helps!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robert Fortuin says:

      There’s a lot that can be said for that. I suppose one can say then too that the speed bumps are accidental to the wedding party? But doesn’t this analogy break down as it presumes the only path to the venue is one with the speed bumps, thus making them a necessary and integral (albeit undesirable) part of the wedding? In what way is possible then for the first and the final cause of the wedding to exclude the speed bumps? Seems problematic.

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      • Tom says:

        You are a hard nut to crack, Sir. Haha.

        Try not to dissect an analogy like an analytic philosopher, abstracting off into infinity the metaphysical implications imaginable for every incidental part of a story. All good analogies have incidental features that help compose the story (because we take the analogies from our everyday life) but which do *not* have a share in the overall point. Just attend to the point.

        Robert: I suppose one can say then too that the speed bumps are accidental to the wedding party?

        Tom: They’re completely irrelevant (accidental) to the joy and life and goodness we celebrate at the wedding. We know this to be true. But they’re not accidental to ‘getting to’ the wedding. That final joy as such doesn’t require ‘speed bumps’, but we’re not getting to the party without driving over them. I’m just saying, it’s coherent (and not theologically objectionable as far as I can tell) to recognize the inevitability of sin and evil intruding upon our journey while also affirming the absolute irrelevance of sin and evil to our final beatitude; hence, sin and evil are ‘historically inevitable’ but ‘ontologically continent’ (with respect to constituting/shaping our end).

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        • Robert Fortuin says:

          The only way I can see that work is in the two-fold type of creation – the ideal vs. the actual creation. Otherwise I don’t see how you can avoid making the Fall not only the only means by which beatitude can be obtained but also intended to be such from the divine act of creation. And that would make Goodness not so good.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Tom says:

            Hey, I tried! ;o)

            Are speedbumps inevitable to getting to the wedding? Yes.
            Do they share in constituting the wedding’s beatitude as such? Absolutely not.

            It takes no great imagination to see (from the perspective of the God-given conditions under which we must move from origin to end in God) the historical inevitability of sin while acknowledging sin’s ontological contingency and sheer irrelevance our final beatitude. Being ‘inevitable’ does not preclude being also ‘irrelevant’.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            yes Tom there’s no problem with that, but the question is one of divine intention – problematic given omnipotence and omniscience. Accidental as the speed bumps may be, and we all agree they are there, the question is if they are accidental then why feature them at all? My answer is that they are accidental and as such not needed – wholly superfluous to human flourishing. The bumps harm, are contrary to, human flourishing. And it turns out, if Scripture is to be believed, the bumps are so huge, you won’t get to the wedding. The only reason you will get to the wedding is because the bumps are trampled upon by death-destroying life — not because we need the bumps to get to the wedding. Mind you we are not talking about some harmless bumps, no – we are speaking of unimaginable evil, destruction, despair, darkness, void, sadistic perversion etc. etc.

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          • Tom says:

            Robert: …the question is one of divine intention – problematic given omnipotence and omniscience. Accidental as the speed bumps may be, and we all agree they are there, the question is if they are accidental then why feature them at all?

            Tom: They’re not “featured.” Omnipotence doesn’t mean a way was open to move creation toward its end without countenancing the possibility of sin and evil. God is the author of this possibility, and there is no other way (no risk-free way that omnipotence could make). And given the nature of that possibility, there is no way for omnipotence to move us from origin to end in God while foreclosing upon creaturely misuse of that capacity. Omnipotence has nothing to do with it.

            Robert: My answer is that they (sin and evil) are accidental and as such not needed – wholly superfluous to human flourishing.

            Tom: I completely agree and haven’t suggested otherwise. And to say sin and evil are historically inevitable (in the sense I’ve suggested it) doesn’t make sin and evil anything other than wholly superfluous.

            Robert: The bumps harm, are contrary to, human flourishing. And it turns out, if Scripture is to be believed, the bumps are so huge, you won’t get to the wedding. The only reason you will get to the wedding is because the bumps are trampled upon by death-destroying life — not because we need the bumps to get to the wedding.

            Tom: Of course sin and evil are contrary to human flourishing. That they are, historically speaking, inevitable doesn’t make them otherwise. And of course, there’s no risk of anyone not making the wedding. We’re universalists, so that risk is off the table. And yes, sin and evil must be trampled by Incarnate Life. None of this means sin and evil are not inevitably to emerge in the movement of created sentience from its origin to its end in God.

            Robert: …not because we need the bumps to get to the wedding.

            Tom: But I haven’t said we “need” the speedbumps to get to the wedding. I’ve been explicitly denying that sort of necessity. But (and for some reason you don’t see this) to be inevitable is not to be needed.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Tom: “But I haven’t said we “need” the speedbumps to get to the wedding.”

            You are right, you haven’t said so indeed. Perhaps I am stuck on the analogy and it is misleading me. These bumps are there but not part of the design and have no bearing on the wedding bliss. The fall is unavoidable, like the bumps, so all must fall in order to enter into joy awaiting them. But no you are are denying that. Not all have to hit those bumps. Jesus doesn’t. Mary doesn’t. Elijah doesn’t, the saints don’t. So they are only inevitable if we ride over them, but not all need to take that route, for them the bumps are not only not necessary they are also not inevitable.

            It works I think. Sophia neither requires nor knows the fall. Creation, however, in its sophianicity has to work through the fall to reach with Sophia the heavenly wedding. This path was never the intention, and while it is a departure from God’s intentions it also is the inevitable path from the beginning of creation.

            Bulgakov is helpful here as he makes a distinction between the generation of Sophia, and the beginning of creation.

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          • Tom says:

            Robert: The fall is unavoidable, like the bumps, so all must fall in order to enter into joy awaiting them. But no you are denying that. Not all have to hit those bumps. Jesus doesn’t. Mary doesn’t. Elijah doesn’t, the saints don’t. So they are only inevitable if we ride over them, but not all need to take that route, for them the bumps are not only not necessary they are also not inevitable.

            Tom: I need access to gif insertion right now! ;o)

            The beatitude and joy of the wedding doesn’t require anyone to encounter sin/evil. Nobody “needs” to do so. Nothing about our final end requires or needs sin/evil to ‘play its part’ or ‘make its contribution’.

            Nevertheless, sin and evil will inevitably emerge; they’re not “inevitable IF we [encounter them]” as you say. They’re inevitable ‘if God endows us with that precarious capacity to shape and determine ourselves’ (which he has done, and which alone can be the terms in which sentient-spiritual creatures make the journey from infancy toward final union with God). There’s no “if,” i.e., no ‘historically plausible/imaginable’ pathway (to our end in God) that doesn’t include sin and evil eventually showing up.

            I’m all for excepting Jesus (as the Incarnate Son), obviously. He’s the only one who takes the human journey sans any sinful misrelation. If you want to except others, that’s fine. I don’t.

            I’m at the bottom of the barrel, Robert. I don’t hold my position with an absolute certitude, of course. If I seem to be stating my view matter-of-factly, it’s only because I hope to clearly distinguish it from what I’m not saying.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Robert Fortuin says:

            It’s helpful Tom and thanks. I say the fall is inevitable, but sin is not. Would you agree with that? This allows for exceptions.

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          • Owen-Maximus says:

            A helpful dialogue! Is it possible for humanity to partake of Glory without first falling short of it? The world may never know, because it didn’t happen that way. Christ didn’t fall short, but even he tasted death—voluntarily, in order to explode it.

            Yet it’s difficult for me to see how sin and evil are absolutely irrelevant to our final divinization; that is, how the “speed bumps” are wholly superfluous to human flourishing. Would this not mean, in some sense, that Christ’s death is irrelevant to Resurrection?

            If the the Lamb was slain before the foundations, it seems the divinely intended path of deification was always cross shaped. As you noted above, Robert, God’s theophany—refracted in creation—has from eternity been cruciform and sacrificial.

            Perhaps the terms “eternally cruciform creation” and “sin’s absolute irrelevance to divinization” can be reconciled, but I cannot see how. “Was it not *necessary* for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”

            Forgive my butting in…

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            Thank you for participating – hopefully it is worthwhile and we are all learning something here…

            To my mind the fall and sin, death and the like etc., are absolutely and in principle unnecessary to full actualized humanity. If these were necessary to human flourishing, then Jesus would require the fall and sin and death also. If we want to make Jesus an exception (i.e. we require the fall to reach perfection, but he doesn’t) we risk making Jesus a dramatis persona and not consubstantial with us in regards to human nature. We run afoul of Chalcedon. So I hold that no, we don’t require to fall into sin in order to become perfect.

            I don’t think the cruciform nature is the ideal Sophia, that divinely intention for creation from before the beginning of creation. It is cruciform because of the fall, and the fall was known from before the beginning. But it is not intended as such to be cruciform, while yet the sacrificial redemptive accommodation was made for creation also to be redeemed (to be at last fully and truly created). But the image of God does not require the fall, it does not need evil, it is requires only participation in God to become and to be. What we see now is a shadow of what it means to be human, marred and dimmed as it is by the fall, not yet created.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

            At this point I need to ask, is there a real disagreement between Robert and Tom? 😎

            Liked by 1 person

          • David says:

            Robert, forgive my intrusion but I am beyond amazed to see you sign up to the statement ‘the fall is inevitable, but sin is not’. Before I finish my spit-take, could I check a few things? 🙂

            I was about to make a point I’ve made before – that there is distinction between directly intending an evil as an intrinsic element of some supposed good, vs. indirectly intending evil as the unavoidable ‘side effect’ of some good.

            An example of ‘type 1 inevitability’ would be killing a man in order to acquire and otherwise unobtainable cake – not good. Another example would be giving someone cancer in order to ‘gift’ them the ‘good’ of bravery of compassion or whatever. Obviously neither of these things are morally acceptable.

            An example of ‘type 2 inevitability’ would be baking a cake to eat – despite the fact that, as a tragically inevitable consequence, as well as being tasty the cake will also contain calories and (if consumed in sufficient quantitates!) be liable to cause stomach aches. Clearly this is morally acceptable.

            I was going to suggest that Tom might argue that God creating the world – despite knowing that it has a 100% chance of being fallen – is an example the second kind of inevitability, and morally justifies it on that basis. Whereas I’d thought that you, Robert, would not agree with either kind of necessity to fallenness, and would hold that humanity really did face a decision as to whether or not it would be fallen, and we chose wrongly – it was a totally chance contingency, as DBH holds, and no 100% about it – humanity as a whole made a supratemporal decision to fall.

            From our past interaction I thought you’d been explicit that you’d accept neither type 1 or type 2 inevitability, the fall is non-inevitable full stop – but I thought I’d check as I’m thoroughly confused by you embracing ‘the fall is inevitable’ language. Any clarification please? 🙂

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            It seems the discussion turned to the “historical” turn of events – which I understand to mean that in the case of the Fall (evil, sin, death) such is now from our perspective a fait accompli and as such inevitable. I can go along with that. I do understand Tom to mean that as well. But I do not understand this to mean that this was God’s intention – it was then avoidable had it not been for the moral (pre-temporal??) lapse. As history unfolds, perhaps from the very beginning of non-being coming to be, that lapse was – as a consequence to the departure from divine intention – intrinsic to creation. Does this clarify?

            As to the speed bumps analogy – it appears I conflated, failed to make a distinction between, the state of fallenness and specific instances of personal intentional departures from God’s will (i.e. to commit sin). There’s a huge difference between the two. I suppose it is possible to be “of the race of fallen Adam” while yet to be personally without sin. Hopefully that clarifies.

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          • David says:

            To clarify further some of the language I’m confused about… the ‘speedbumps’ analogy makes it difficult to interpret your thought because, if the speed bumps stand for ‘fallenness’ then many of the characters you mention (Elijah, the saints) do not actually avoid them – they may avoid some or even all individual sins, but they certainly don’t avoid being fallen, the tendency/propensity towards individual sins – although you claim they avoid the speedbumps. To me this suggests that, when referring to the speed bumps, whatever Tom meant by them, you Robert see the speedbumps as standing merely for the possibility of individual evils/sins – in which case I am still wondering whether you think fallenness itself is inevitably present in creation or not)

            Similarly, when you say:

            ‘To my mind the fall and sin, death and the like etc., are absolutely and in principle unnecessary to full actualized humanity. If these were necessary to human flourishing, then Jesus would require the fall and sin and death also. If we want to make Jesus an exception (i.e. we require the fall to reach perfection, but he doesn’t) we risk making Jesus a dramatis persona and not consubstantial with us in regards to human nature.’

            This could be interpreted ambiguously because I think someone like Tom could agree that fallenness is not necessary inasmuch that it doesn’t actively contribute towards our beatification – so it’s not ‘type 1 inevitability’ — but nevertheless still hold it’s inevitable in the sense that all non-Jesus non-Mary humans will automatically and unavoidably be afflicted by fallenness (so ‘type 2 inevitability’ holds ). i.e. one could hold that, yes, fallenness is not an intrinsic part of ‘actualised humanity’, but that nevertheless as all humans must start out underdeveloped, and that fallenness is automatically parasitically present on pre-fully-actualised-humans… or, to word it differently again, one might hold that falleness is not intrinsic to the true creation, but still hold that for anything to ‘become’ the new creation it must first pass through a state of ‘shadow creation’ or ‘non creation’ and that non-creation is (type 2) inevitably afflicted by fallenness)

            Hope that is helpful! But probably not 🙂

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          • David says:

            Thanks Robert, yes that clarifies and is very helpful – thanks for indulging me!

            So I think I’m right in saying that, in your view (and mine – I think!) neither type 1 nor type 2 inevitability holds. Fallenness isn’t really inevitable per se, it’s just inevitable ‘after the fact’ – but ‘the fact’ which it is after, the metaphysical fall, ‘was’ a real contingent that really could have been avoided had humanity chosen differently, and this really was within humanity’s power.

            Whereas I have a feeling Tom would argue that the ‘fact’ is not a true contingent but inevitable. While I appreciate you both are willing to sign up to the ‘historically inevitable’ language, I think that you Robert mean that only in the ‘after the fact’ sense – it’s only inevitable as a result of a contingent avoidable lapse – whereas Tom perhaps means it in a kind of ‘practically inevitable’ sense – that the hypothetical ‘ideal’ human would not sin, but that the hard practical limits of the constitution of human nature mean that, in any possible world that God could create, humanity would fall. Apologies Tom if that’s not correct! I just thought it important to clarify that ‘historically inevitable’ needs quite a bit of unpacking as it can mean quite a few things.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Robert Fortuin says:

    We have sufficiently bracketed, nay evacuated of meaning, “inevitable” and “unnecessary” to my satisfaction 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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