On the concept of Christian perfection
In the book Toward the Future, Teilhard de Chardin throws in some nice little illustrations that have become very helpful to me in graphically showing that the kingdom of God is not some separate club that you must join and detach yourself as much as you can from the world, as in the first illustration.
But this is not the way it is according to Teihlard. “We used to think that mankind was fully mature; in fact, it is very far from being adult – very far from being fully created: and this is true not only of its individualized values but also, and most of all, of the collective term torwards which it is making its way as a result of the great phenomenon of ‘convergence of spirit’. We may represent this ‘natural’ evolution of spirit which creation still awaits by a cone, with apex K.
Teilhard continues, “If we wished to retain the old formulas literally, we should obviously have to say that when souls are striving towards holiness they do not have to concern themselves with the formation of the cone K: their perfection consists solely in detaching (separating) themselves as much as possible from that cone, in the direction of God.
But Teilhard shows two problems with this model (1) if the ‘natural’ development towards K include “a new form of nourishment, spiritual in substance” then we need to be a part of it; (2) more seriously according to Teihlard is the fact that this model is counter to the “dogmatic magnitude of the Incarnation”.
Some notes on this adjusted model in Figure 4 …
(1) It helps provide us with “a powerful, and perhaps essential, ‘credibility motive’. Today, to place God out of tune with human progress is to undermine the reasons for belief in the minds of believers and to shut the door of faith in the face of unbelievers.”
(2) If saints of the past knew what we know today they would have followed this formula.
(3) “…what now influences our views on the mechanics of spiritualization is that spirit has ceased to be for us ‘anti-matter’, or ‘extra-matter’, and has become ‘trans-matter’. As we now see it, spiritualization can no longer be effected in a breakaway from matter or out of tune with matter: it must be effected by passing through and emerging from matter. ‘He descended, and ascended, that he might fill all things…(Eph 4:9-10) – there you have the very economy of the Incarnation.”
This brings to mind, for me, other “cosmic” passages from New Testament writings:
– “With all wisdom and understanding, he made know to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Eph 1:8-10)
– “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col 1:19-20)
– “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 22:12-13)