Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Meaning of History

A quotation from Fr Georges Florovsky:

The meaning of history consists in this — that the freedom of creation should respond by accepting the pre-temporal counsel of God, that it should respond both in word and in deed. In the promised double-naturedness of the Church the reality of created nature is affirmed at the outset. Creation is the other, another nature willed by God's good pleasure and brought forth from nothing by the Divine freedom for creation's own freedom's sake. It must conform itself freely to that creative standard by which it lives and moves and has its being. Creation is not this standard, and this standard is not creation. In some mysterious way, human freedom becomes a kind of "limitation" on the Divine omnipotence, because it pleased God to save creation not by compulsion, but by freedom alone. Creation is "other," and therefore the process of ascent to God must be accomplished by her own powers — with God's help, to be sure. Through the Church creaturely efforts are crowned and saved. And creation is restored to its fulness and reality. And the Church follows, or, rather, portrays the mystery and miracle of the two natures. As the Body of Christ, the Church is a kind of "plenitude" of Christ — as Theophan the Recluse says — "Just as the tree is the ‘plenitude’ of the seed." And the Church is united to Her Head. "Just as we do not ordinarily see iron when it is red-hot, because the iron's qualities are completely concealed by the fire," says Nicholas Cabasilas in his Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, "so, if you could see the Church of Christ in Her true form, as She is united to Christ and participates in His Flesh, then you would see Her as none other than the Lord's Body alone." In the Church creation is forever confirmed and established, unto all ages, in union with Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

(from "Creation and Creaturehood," in On Church and Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View)