God Becomes Asymmetric So that Man Might Become Symmetric
Rather, it is the second Person of the Trinity who does so. It is this Person who makes "unconditional use of the one unrestricted power and nature," and who enters "into a finite human nature."
This reminds me of something I heard Bill Buckley say many years ago, before I knew much of anything about Islam or Christianity. He pointed out that Islam has a simplistic and rather primitive theology, compared to the richness and sophistication of Christianity. Under the assumption that all western religions were equally products of magical thinking, I thought to myself, "what's the point of bragging about a more convoluted fantasy?"
Suffice it to say that I have since then understood his point. Islam begins and ends with the tautology that "there is no God but God." True enough, but it's like reducing science to the statement that "there is no matter but matter." Thanks for the tip! In orthodox Islam (we're not talking about Sufism, a la Schuon) there is no way to "enter" God, only to slavishly follow his external dictates.
But Christianity -- among other things -- invites us to enter into, and participate in, God's very interior reality. Instead of rendering us slaves, we can actually become children and brothers of God. Perhaps I'm being unfair to Islam, but it seems to me that there is a considerably lower level of divine intimacy. And of course, the Koran specifically denies that God could in any way be "three," (unsophisticatedly) confusing the Trinity with polytheism.
Thus, ironically, in the Muslim mind the Koran serves as a correction and progression from a more primitive and error-prone Christian polytheism. But in reverting from the intersubjective God of Christianity to an interobjective one (in which we are reduced to mere objects of God), I think it's the other way around.
I might add that the two metaphysical conceptions have obviously led to very different forms of civilization. Many ideas that underpin western civilization are unthinkable in the Islamic world, e.g., political liberty, freedom of conscience, and separation of secular and religious law.
At any rate, in the same appendix we've been discussing, Spitzer has a brief section called Making Sense of the Incarnation. Is that even possible? Well, it ought to be, since they say that nothing in Christianity should run counter to the highest gift God has given us, our reason.
Why would God's highest revelation violate his most precious gift? If it did, then God would be analogous to the "crazy-making" parent who places the child in a double-bind from which there is no escape.
Of the Incarnation, Spitzer notes that "if self-consciousness inheres (makes use of) a finite nature," then "it will be subject to the limitations of that nature." On the other hand, if it inheres in "an unrestricted power and nature, then there is no limit to the power of its understanding, creativity, freedom, and will."
So, with the Incarnation of the Son in the man Jesus, there are two vectors, as it were, one unrestricted and the other restricted.
I'm trying to come up with a useful analogy. Probably not a good one, but I'm thinking of how, as a psychologist, one must empathically "enter" the restricted world of the patient, even while another part transcends the limitation. Just as the second Person of the Trinity will really and truly know what it is like to be a man -- with all its limitations, conflicts, and suffering -- another "part" has unrestricted access to the divine relationship that transcends the finite. And he wants us to participate in the same power, which is none other than being fully in the world without being of it.
Spitzer: "Christianity holds that the second Person (self-consciousness) did not stop using the divine nature when He took on the limitations of human nature, but rather continued operating through His divine nature so that the one self-consciousness had the perspective, understanding, and will of both an unrestricted nature and a finite nature" (Spitzer).
Ah ha! This sounds a little like the bi-logic discussed a couple of posts back. Indeed, in searching for an (admittedly disanalogous) analogy, Spitzer suggests that our own dream state might illuminate "how a single self-consciousness could have two such different perspectives." (Again, it is not the dream state that illuminates Jesus's consciousness so much as vice versa.)
Note that in the dream, it is as if our consciousness is bifurcated into the "unrestricted" power of the Dreamer and the restricted power that we have as subjects in our own dream. I wonder if Bomford discusses this in The Symmetry of God? Let's have a look.
Yup: "The doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, particularly, are dominated by symmetric logic and become virtual expressions of its laws." "In terms of bi-logic every effort seems to be made to make it rational and consonant with asymmetric logic: yet, at its heart, is irresoluble paradox " -- i.e., the co-presence of two forms of logic, and of a self-consciousness inflected through each.
To cite just one conspicuous example of symmetric logic, we could say that "because God has become human, humanity has become divine." "Symmetric logic makes unities out of things apparently different.... Many of the historic controversies of Christianity may be resolved by accepting the necessity of expressing them through paradox and myth, by recognizing the symmetric logic implicit in all talk of God."