The Future is Now Because Now is Not Yet
This gets a little complicated, but the fact that we are created simultaneously introduces the possibility of hope and of hopelessness, depending upon whether we turn toward or away from our source. Ironically, the man who imagines himself to be wholly self-sufficient turns away from this source and necessarily falls into a kind of loveless nihilism (or at least that is its tendency and end). The existential price for this denial and refusal is what we might call hell.
Let me see if I can back up and explain this more clearly. As it so happens, I'm reading another important book at the same time, Being as Communion. Pieper's Faith, Hope, Love was so fraught with implications, that I needed to put it down for awhile and assimilate what I'd read so far.
But this book is equally profound, plus it is resonating with the other one in such a way that they are feeding off one another and creating a luminous arc in the space between them, i.e., in my melon. Thus the need to post on Saturday and Sunday to try to keep up with the flow of (n). As always, this verticalisthenic exercise is as much for me as it is for readers. It's probably a little sloppy as well, but at least it's completely half baked.
Anyway, Zizioulas writes that "the being of God is a relational being," so that "without the concept of communion it would not be possible to speak of the being of God." It seems that many theologians have failed to properly draw out the implications of the Trinity, for its immediate implication is that God cannot be a "substance"; or, to be precise, the substance would be posterior to the essence, which is pure relation -- a relation that ultimately reduces to love.
I remember when I was a child and forced to attend Sunday school, on the wall in large gold letters was the statement GOD IS LOVE. Of course it made no sense to a child, and as I grew older it just seemed like sentimental nonsense.
But in reality, this conclusion was a result of the daring and sophisticated thinking of the early fathers, which transformed God from a remote and abstract substance to the very essence and possibility of personhood. The latter is in sharp contrast to mere biological humanness, which is given to us by nature. Real personhood is intrinsically transnatural and can only be conferred from on high (which is why in order to progress along the path, one must be "born again from above").
I'm not sure if Zizioulas' ideas are controversial, but they absolutely resonate in me, vis-a-vis my own ghostly spookulations regarding the intersubjectively trinitarian nature of the developing psyche. A human being is irreducibly intersubjective. I'm not going to make a rehash of the entire argument here, as it is covered in detail in the book. Suffice it to say that our own mysterious intersubjectivity is an analogue of God's interior life, so that to be means to be in relation. There is no being without relation, not even in God:
"There is no true being without communion. Nothing exists as an 'individual,' conceivable in itself. Communion is an ontological category" (Zizioulas).
To turn it around, to deny this ontological communion is to eradicate the person at the root. Thus, any kind of materialistic metaphysic that crudely regards man as a self-enclosed thing is nothing less than ontological genocide. There is no scientistic way to get from the biological human to the unique person whose being is loving interior relation.
The latter conception frees man from the "ontological necessity" that bounds him in the closed system of biology, and instead renders him an open system, both horizontally and vertically. Again, the Person is not "an adjunct to being, a category we add" to a supposedly more fundamental biological entity.
Rather, Personhood is itself the substance of being, both its principle and its (vertical) cause. Our substance -- and God's substance -- "never exists in a 'naked' state," the result being that we may affirm that real personhood is an uncreated mode. It is intrinsic to God, and given to us -- if we accept it. (Interestingly, Zizioulas derives our own absolute uniqueness from the uniqueness of the only begotten Son.)
If we choose not to accept it, we are essentially choosing our own ontological self-sufficiency. But again, the existentialists are correct that this radical freedom necessarily ends in nihilsm, so that the person becomes the negator of his own ontology, which is ultimately loving relation. Zizioulas:
"It thus becomes evident that the only exercise of freedom in an ontological manner is love.... Love is not an emanation or 'property' of the substance of God," a "secondary property of being." Rather, love constitutes God's being, and is his very "mode of existence." Which in turn introduces the human dilemma, which is "either freedom as love, or freedom as negation."
So, what is the proper relation between the biological human and the post-biological person, or between the old man and the new? As Zizioulas suggests, it implies a "movement, a progress toward realization" rooted in hope.
You might say that for vertical man, his personal roots are aloft, his biological leaves and branches down below. Thus, the person is "maintained and nourished, by the future. The truth and the ontology of the person belong to the future," and "are images of the future."
This speaks to the paradoxical position of vertical man, that of "already but not yet." For to draw our substance from the above is to draw it from the future, so that both are in a sense already here -- as they say, the kingdom of heaven is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it. Not with their biological eyes, anyway.