Thursday, June 12, 2008

Incarnational Theology - the Perpetual Refutation of Gnosticism

Good Catholic theologians always have a systematic theology which stems from the Incarnation. Our systematic doctrine must start here. The Incarnation is the ultimate slap in the face to all things Gnostic - and we like slapping Gnostics in the face :D

From the Incarnation we see that God Himself INCARNATED (not dressed up in) flesh. From this we can derive almost all of Orthodoxy (and where we're not smart enough, the Church can help us). We can see that Christ had a real Body and truly Suffered, we can see that Mary is the mother of God (not only Christ's humanity), we can see that the Eucharist is truly the Flesh of God (as opposed to being spiritual since Jesus wasn't only spiritually a man or wasn't just a spirit indwelling a man - He is a Man) and we can take it much further.

This doesn't mean that we can merely dress up nice and suddenly our hearts are made right of course. But if it weren't for fallen nature, the body or the external would always reflect the internal.

The only reason we know what a soul is, is because the body can die. The body isn't supposed to die. If it weren't for the fall, we'd just know "man" and "woman" not "bodies" and "souls".

In the realm of accidents and substances, we don't know "accidents of wall" and the very substance of a "wall" because the two cannot be separated as far as we know. We do know accidents of "bread" and substance of "bread" because in a unique miracle (consecration) the substance can be changed. It cannot be changed (or at least never is) of a "wall". In the same way, we only know of the separate entities of "body" and "soul" because of the unnatural fact that they can be separated. It was never intended to be that way.

But what I'm getting at is this systematic theology. You can see it clearly in writers like Bryan Cross. We start with a thoroughly and uncompromising embrace of Incarnational-theology and we follow that through -wide open- into whatever truth that will lead us. Actually, the Church did this for us and what she discovered on our behalf is what we call orthodoxy.

It impacts every area of theology and philosophy. It equips us to deal with questions ranging from the proper title of the blessed virgin to whether or not we should dress up to Church and whether or not our Church buildings ought to be beautiful or ugly.

We end up with a stubborn refusal to think of the physical as evil or even inferior. God loves physical things! He made them! When we say God looks at the heart, we forget that He's not blind. Just because He has X-ray vision, doesn't mean He doesn't have normal vision also.

If God doesn't care about exterior appearances then why did He create light? Now this isn't to say that God judges based on appearance or that He has any sort of petty opinions like we do. It is to say though, that God delights in beauty and He even likes three dimensional objects like statues! He likes trees and frogs. He likes rocks and even snails. He saw creation and He saw that it was good. When He said "it is good", He denied every tenant of Gnosticism.

1 comment:

japhy said...

That's interesting, to think of "accidents" and "substance" as, loosely, "body" and "soul". It's an imperfect analogy, but it helps to see that in the consecration of the Host and Chalice, the "body" of the bread and wine remains, but the "soul" is Jesus Christ.