Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Incarnation, Jews, Covenantal People

Pray to be known, to be understood and to be welcome -- Anthony Gittens

Throughout the many religious traditions the world has known, the idea of both incarnation and covenant have been frequently embraced. Looking at these as a sort of continuum one is able to see the relationship between them. Writing on both these subjects, the author, Peter Kreeft, discusses them in his book, The God Who Loves You. Proclaiming "G-d is love, the incarnation," Kreeft acknowledges that this topic is perhaps one of the most difficult in Western thought to grasp.

The subject, in its knowable, yet untouchable mystery, is the trinity of creation, where all is love. There is the Lover, the beloved and their creation, together forming a tri-partite relationship, one to the other. Kreeft writes:

  • G-d is love.
  • Love is G-d's essence.
  • Love is one with G-d's personhood and being.
  • Love requires a lover, a beloved, and the act of love.
  • G-d is three parts of one.
  • The three know and love each other.
  • The processes of love are without beginning or end.
  • The Creator loves by knowing, and by his will.
  • The Creator loves both in time and in eternity.
  • The Spirit is love between the Creator and his beloved creation.
  • There is holiness, sacredness in human sex. Two make three.
G-d is love. Nowhere in the Tanakh does it say that G-d is justice or mercy itself, or that he is anything, but love itself. Love is G-d's essence. This is absolute; as the Tanakh tells it, everything else is relative to this love. "Love necessarily means three things: there is a lover, a beloved, and the act or creation of loving.

Thus for G-d to
be love, he must somehow be all three. The Creator knows and loves his creation; his creation knows and loves his Creator. The Spirit which proceeds from this act of loving is sometimes called the Holy Spirit, or the Incarnate. This Spirit is the love between the Creator and his creation. Their knowledge of each other is through, and by this Spirit of love.

As the Creator knows his creation, he generates himself, his love by knowing him. So it is through knowing and the will that love comes into being. Thus the trinity may be also thought of as being, knowing and loving [by the will].

Creation loves both in eternity and in time. The relationship of the three is one of equality; creation is equal in love to creator and love, the spirit is equal to both. That is the force and power of love. In two come three; the Spirit of love is the ultimate origin of holiness or sacredness of human sexual love, says this tradition.

"The love of G-d has invaded our world, and we see with new eyes."
The love of the Spirit is a mystery, modern man has, tragically lost easy access into, or indeed, conception of. There is another ultimate dimension that ancient man found far easier to access. In this realm there is not science, empiricism, nor quantification, but rather it is a place of myth, imagination, analogy, and
Since "G-d is the Creator, and since creation reflects and reveals the Creator, and since G-d is love, all creation somehow reflects and reveals this love," this Spirit.

Unlike ancient minds, "modern" man is
enveloped by an overweening atmosphere of science and tangible proofs; in earlier times, the connections between individual and Creator were more obvious, for the simple reason that the ancient mind believed. The ancients viewed a beautiful landscape, sunset or night-time sky and were filled with the awe of the creation. Or for example, human sexuality was easily seen to be a part of the universal dimension, the wholeness or oneness of the world.

In today's English language, the pronouns he and she have been nearly stripped away. They are avoided, dis-used. Left in their place is a socio-political idea that rejects this very principle of universal oneness. There are labels and divisions, parsing the world into diverse units.
To the ancient mind, this is akin to tragedy. What could take the place of the Chinese idea of the
yin and yang? Or the Hindu wedding ceremony in which bride and groom pronounce one to the other, "I am heaven, you are earth;" to which the bride responds, "I am earth, you are heaven."

Many modern minds, especially in the West will find these ideas unintelligible, in part thanks to science. Our rational mind does not allow us to go there. It is all myth, we say. Science, in its aims to reduce things to quantifiable matter fails, it cannot see cosmic love.

Rather, science
ignores the "final cause" of creation. It cannot rationalize what something or someone was made for, its purpose, its goal, its end. This reason is the most important to creation. The Tenakh tells us that both the historical and in the ultimate dimension, G-d is the final cause, creation the ultimate end; it is the alpha and the omega, both the beginning and end.

In this ultimate dimension, we are freed "of the dirty little dungeon of a universe that the Enlightenment thinkers" of past centuries have placed us into wholesale. Enlightenment thought, thought in which rationality and science are the reigning sovereigns gives to modern minds, "a universe in which love and beauty, praise and value are mere subjective fictions," invented by the self spinning aloneness of a human mind.

And yet
science through all its triumphs has not been able to extinguish an ancient, almost primordial instinct from the deepest places in our soul, to realize love as the highest wisdom and meaning in a life. So then the Judeo-Christian Bible, or Tanakh, in its entirety is then to be read with imagination, with myth and analogy as a divine love story, says Peter Kreeft.

In both the Jewish and Christian telling of the story, the Word contained in the book is a covenant, an agreement between G-d, the Lover and his beloved; the persons he created, the Jews and all who come to him in the Spirit of the Oneness (adonai echad).

The word of G-d is the Christ, the unity of G-d, the Creator. And to the Christian mind, among other names we may call this oneness, the Christ, love incarnate. Christ has proved G-
d's love for his creation by the example of the Cross. He has come because of, and for love, alone. He comes out of love.

Other manifestations of love
are found in the connection between the "fall" from the garden of Eden. The connection here is found between the fall and freedom. Love does not enslave; love makes free. Because you are the Beloved, you are free. We are not the Creator's pets; we are meant to be G-d's lover.

In the redemption, love manifests. G-d's love is powerful and in full display as soon as Adam falls. He makes a mistake, he falls away from the covenant that he made in free will with G-d to obey.
as covenantal people, Jews traditionally see the "law" of the Torah as an expression of G-d's will. It is their joy to learn, to know this will. Thus they see their holy book as a love making manual, if you will.
In the ten commandments, the main covenants presented to creation by G-d, the Creator, are laid out. In essence, they form the whole of the "covenant-contract." G-d is to have this agreement with his people, who in free will grow to abide by this contract, or rule. In following the way of G-d in divine law, more love is made. Human-kind is "fruitful and multiplies."

Caring for the garden, the world of Creation, is so that human persons may learn to be more like Creators. G-d wishes to teach love through loving the world and the soil it comprises, to raise a crop to the benefit of all of creation.
The Creator starts small and then moves through the world until his love reaches the ears of his perhaps, most complex creation, mankind. As a lover, G-d is not jealous.
Sharing in oneness is the essence of all.

"And the forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve is to teach the Beloved the reality of pure, "blind," love." If they had been told that the reason (a rational idea) was that the fruit was poison, would not Adam and Eve have obeyed; not from a trusting, free love, but from a selfish fear?
Yet G-d did command them, and asked for their love in return for no other reason than love itself. This is covenant. When we "fall," we lick our wounds, we gain a sense of the real, we dust ourselves off and remain in the moment, rather than a self-serving, spinning mind.
Thus we again realize the fall as a direction back to the source, back to the Creator and we, are his Beloved. This love is not sentimental, it is not cheap, easy or compromising. This love is in totality.

You are the deepest secret of G-d's heart. --Peter Kreeft

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