Sunday, September 17, 2023

The Answer Becomes the Question that the Question Might Become Answer?

One more post on Foundations of Karl Rahner, and we're done. This chapter is on the Incarnation, and let's see what we can make of it. Apologies up front: the post is rather loose and free-associational, because the material is. We'll start with this:

By becoming incarnate, the Logos made the human reality God's own reality. When God took a human nature, human nature reached the goal toward which it had always tended. God "became" the human nature that God had prepared for the Logos, so that human nature might be divinized.

In this scenario, human beings must have evolved to the point that this two-way movement was possible; obviously, the Logos could not incarnate as a cow or chimpanzee, so there must already exist something about humans that makes them a fit receptacle for this divine indwelling. 

Humans must be sufficiently aware of reaching toward the transcendent before the transcendent can reach down to us. You can't have an answer if you don't have the question. 

It seems that the whole durn cosmos is evolving toward this point:

The ground of being becomes the one toward whom the person strives. It is a magnet that draws us, enabling us to transcend what we were and to become what we are called to be.... Persons are not just a product of the cosmos, but their union with God is the very goal of the cosmos.

So, we definitely got that going for us: "Because God became a human being, the gulf between divinity and humanity collapsed." It's a circular thing, with both ascending and descending currents, so to speak.

When we think of God assuming human nature, this implies that God also assumes the human being's very orientation toward the infinite mystery of God. "God has taken that orientation as God's own reality," as if to say that in assuming human nature, () assumes (). Come to think of it, why else would Jesus pray to his Father?

The potential to obey God is the human nature that God becomes. 

Now, how can the immutable "become" something? It is as if Being becomes becoming that becoming might become Being:

the Logos assumes the reality of something that is capable of becoming. That "something" is the human reality of Jesus. The one who is not subject to change (i.e., the Logos) can be subject to change in something else (the man Jesus of Nazareth). 

I call it metacosmic circularity: 

In the Incarnation, God "becomes" what has come from God... God "creates the human reality by the very fact that he assumes it as his own. "


God creates in order to make creatures who are capable of being assumed by God. God creates human beings who can become part of God's own history. 

Which I suppose goes to the finality of both creation and Incarnation; or rather, the Incarnation is the final cause of the creation, Bob asked?

Rahner makes the point that, prior to the Incarnation, man is already an "abbreviated word of God." Humanity is the "cipher" of God, which is to say, a sort of secret message. Of what? 

Well, for one thing, a capacity to "bear" the Incarnation. Again, cows and reptiles and monkeys couldn't very well bear the strain, but we are already the image and likeness prior to the Incarnation, so we definitely got that going for us. 

In other words, humans qua humans exist "because there was to be a Son of Man," and "are a 'shorthand' expression for God's Word." Well, cool. But the (longhand?) Word then "shows us the human nature to which we are called," such that "the human being 'participates' in the mystery of God." Specifically,

we participate in God's mystery in the same way that a question participates in the answer to that question. 

We said in the previous post that man is a Question -- an open-ended one that can never be exhausted by any finite, terrestrial, scientific, or manmade answer. No, this is truly a Question that is superior to any answer we could ever provide.

But is there even an answer to this Question we are? For Rahner, 

God answers that question in the Logos. The question (i.e., human being) participates in the answer (i.e., God's Logos).

This Question (Bob) has a question: it seems that anthropology is theology, and vice versa? In a manner of speaking?

Anthropology is the theology that God speaks by uttering the Word as human flesh. Anthropology is our theology when we seek Christ and God via the human being. In Christ the finite has received an infinite depth.

So, Christ is the answer to the infinite question we are? "God has spoken the ultimate word as the truth of human life," so there you go.

It seems it's a matter of inserting ourselves into the metacosmic circle by means of faith. There it is again: 

Jesus leads us back to God in an ascending motion, a motion initiated by God.

God is one of us?! Or, God becomes the Question that the Question might become Answer? "Humanity finds in Jesus the one by whom God intended from all eternity to reconcile us to the divine self." But

The Christian is always in the process of becoming a Christian.... A person is always a Christian in order to become one.

And Christ is "not only the eternal Logos, but also the 'first fulfillment' of humanity. He was the first to fulfill the promise which life with God holds for every person." 

I think I strained a muscle in my head. The end.


julie said...

obviously, the Logos could not incarnate as a cow or chimpanzee

True; even so, a large number of pagan religions believe something very much like that.

By becoming incarnate, the Logos made the human reality God's own reality.

Going back to Job, it occurs to me that while he longed for God to come down to man's level, I don't know that he ever thought of the reciprocal movement - at least, beyond the desire to confront his creator face to face.

In other words, humans qua humans exist "because there was to be a Son of Man," and "are a 'shorthand' expression for God's Word."

Makes sense; what would be the point of creating the image and likeness otherwise?

Gagdad Bob said...

My losing streak of bad or mediocre books continues. Until a good one falls into my hands, I got nothing. Yesterday I tried reading a book on theosis, but it's totally pedantic, of no interest to Raccoons. Before that I read a book on the Catholic mystic Angelus Silesius with the opposite problem: full of new age woo woo. Today I'm delving into an interesting looking book on the community that formed around the apostle John, which may or may not prove blogworthy.

I usually take for granted that random reading is guided by holy happenstance, but sometimes the cosmic system breaks down, leaving me stranded without inspiration.

julie said...

There's always the Source material...

Gagdad Bob said...

I think about that a lot, hence the book on John. Doesn't get more foundational than his witness.

Gagdad Bob said...

"This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning."

julie said...

John will always be my favorite. It's interesting going back and reading the OT in light of the new, as well - while the Gospels stand on their own, the OT adds a few extra dimensions.

Randy said...

"We participate in God's mystery in the same way that a question participates in the answer to that question." Now I'm thinking Rahner was also familiar with Marcel! Once you grasp the importance of the distinction between problems and mysteries you start noticing it everywhere.

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