The Grand Synthesis of Christ
Again, it is a little shocking to realize that it took some 600 years for human beings to fully "get it" -- to arrive at a theology that was equal to the trans-linguistic event of the Incarnation.
Obviously, Jesus left a lot of loose ends. He didn't reduce anything to a written formula. Truly, he was an event first and foremost. And it is critical that we describe that event as accurately as possible, even while not confusing the event with the words.
I'm not enough of a scholar to know, but if Balthasar is correct, then Maximus was the first to survey all of the previous partial descriptions, all of the various doctrinal disputes "that had torn the Church apart for centuries," and resolve them into "a final, conclusive synthesis." For truly, if Christ is the "principle of unity," then it is simply a scandal that man cannot reflect this unity in his theology and within his own being.
And if this christological formulation is correct, then it should apply to all reality, not just "church politics," so to speak. Indeed, Balthasar asks why this formulation cannot, "seen in its deepest implications, also serve as the right model for the world?" It's just that it took a number of centuries to work out all of the implications, to dot every ʘ and criss every Cross.
Remember, the early Christians were not confused by our contemporary division between a secular world and a "supernatural" world. Rather, for them, there was just the one world. Which is why they had no problem taking the best of Greek thought and blending it with Christianity -- not in order to reduce Christianity to worldly thought, but to elevate Greek thought to a truly meta-cosmic status.
Thus, for Maximus, a synthetic understanding of Christ applied to the diverse "structures of being," or what Wilber calls the "spectrum of consciousness": "All things for him had become organic parts of ever-more-comprehensive syntheses, had become themselves syntheses pointing to the final synthesis of Christ, which explained them all." Seen in this light, a Hegel -- who came over 1000 years later -- is simply "a secularized derivative of biblical theology."
Which, if you're following me, is precisely how we end up with the upside-down theology of leftism, which is first and foremost a political religion. As we know, Marx "turned Hegel on his head." But as you may not know, he also turned Hegel inside-out, resulting in a "materialization" of Christian metaphysics.
In this diabolical formulation, the Kingdom of Heaven is immamentaized, and we will all live on Sugar Candy Mountain when the Obamessianic state forces us to be equal -- not equal in the eyes of God, but equal in the eyes of Marxist bean counters. "Administered equality" is just another name for tyranny. Just ask the lion who was forced to eat grass to make him equal to the sheep. Choking smokers don't you know the Joker taxes you? (Ho ho ho, he he he, ha ha ha, see how they smile like pigs in a sty, see how they snide. I'm crying.)
Now, it is critical to bear in mind the distinction between Jesus -- the Word made flesh -- and the "pre-incarnate Word," i.e., Logos, which always was and is. Clearly, the Logos was accessible to a Plato or Socrates or Lao Tsu. It's just that it was an abstract principle instead of a concrete one. It never occurred to anyone that this principle could take on human form.
Indeed, this would have been considered a kind of insult to the Principle. Rather, for neo-Platonists such as Plotinus, the task of this life was to leave our humanness behind and ascend to the Principle. It necessarily involved an element not just of world denial, but of world detestation.
Remember Porphyry's famous description of Plotinus, that he "had an inherent distrust of materiality (an attitude common to Platonism), holding to the view that phenomena were a poor image or mimicry of something 'higher and intelligible' which was the 'truer part of genuine Being.' This distrust extended to the body, including his own; it is reported by Porphyry that at one point he refused to have his portrait painted, presumably for much the same reasons of dislike."
Maximus did not fall for this gnostic (in the gnaughty sense of the word) duality of spirit and flesh. Rather, for him, "the natural law, the written law, and the law of Christ are one and the same." For in the final analysis -- or synthesis -- we are talking about the unification of horizontal and vertical, however you conceptualize them (and you cannot be human without conceptualizing them in some manner, for man is precisely the being who equally inhabits, or manifests, the vertical and horizontal worlds).
Thus, "for Maximus, the reality of this synthesis is best conceived by the image of a right angle, in which two lines meet" (emphasis mine). This is a synthesis of "sensible reality and mind, of earth and heaven... of nature and idea" (Maximus). It is also the synthesis of "theoretical and practical reason, of wisdom and prudence, of contemplation and action, of knowledge and virtue, of immediate vision and faith."
In each case, the "whole" is not a product of the synthesis; rather, it is the prior reality, which bears within itself "the unmixed difference of the parts that make it up." Yes, unconfused but inseparable. This mystery "of the presence of a whole in its parts, from whose synthesis it comes to be, is not, for Maximus, simply the object of disinterested contemplation." Rather, for him "it is the direct way to God." For if the Logos became man, we must then ask ourselves, "by virtue of what principle?"
Probably a good place to stop for today. But the whole thing reminds me of another synthesis, Aurobindo's Synthesis of Yoga, in which he writes that
"In the right view both of life and of Yoga all life is either consciously or subconsciously a Yoga. For we mean by this term a methodized effort towards self-perfection by the expression of the potentialities latent in the being and a union of the human individual with the universal and transcendent Existence we see partially expressed in man and in the Cosmos."
Sounds difficult, but don't worry, for my yoga is easy, my burden light.