Neoplatonism and Incarnational theology

“Now, however, with God’s full transcendence and creation’s inherent integrity both established, as it were, it was on longer necessary to think of this world as a distortion or dilution of divine reality, which must be negated or forsaken if the divine is to be known in its own nature.

It is difficult to exaggerate, I think, how great a difference this vision of things made at a purely personal and psychological level. In a very significant sense, it freed spiritual longing from that residue of melancholy that I spoke of above: that tragic if glorious sadness that followed from believing that the journey of the soul to God requires an almost infinitely resigned leave-taking, a departure from all the particularities of one’s finite identity and all that attaches thereto, including the whole of creation and all those whom one loves.

In the older metaphysical scheme, the reverse of the metaphysical descent of God’s power along the scale of beings, from the purity of divine existence down into the darkness of mutable nature, was the mind’s ascent to God along that same pathway, which necessarily involved the methodical stripping away of everything truly “personal” within the self.

For the devout Neoplatonist, for instance, the longing for spiritual liberation was also a desire for emancipation from one’s “lower” identity, as well as from time and all lesser associations. The pure inner core of the self -the nous- needed to be extracted from the pollutions and limitations of the vital soul and the animal flesh.

For Christians, by contrast, even the most ascetically inclined or temperamentally Platonist among them, personality could not be viewed simply as a condition of distraction from eternity. It is the image of God within us and truly reflects that interior life of knowledge and love that God is.

It is, moreover, the place where God meets us, not only in the drama of sin and redemption, free will and grace, but in the incarnation of the eternal Logos…”

Atheist Delusions. Pg 208

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