Saturday, August 22, 2015

The world as means of dialog with the Logos

I have been reading through Dumitru Stăniloae, Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology) vol. II, which addresses matters of the person and work of Jesus Christ as well as ecclesiology. One particularly fascinating aspect of Stăniloae's thought is his conception of the created world as the medium for a dialog between the λόγος, the Word, and human beings created in his image. 

To begin, human beings are themselves images of the Logos through the fact of their living rationality. Because they can understand the world, consequently they share a profound a resemblance with the Logos, whose thoughts and reason brings the world into existence. Indeed, for Stăniloae, the rationality and intelligibility of the world presupposes a supreme and personal Rationality which brings them into existence through its thought. The human person, through the use of her reason to discern the existential-ontological dependence of the rational created order on a supreme rational Person, subsequently enters into a free fellowship and dialog with this Person, who is the Logos. 

Important for Stăniloae is the distinction of human beings as free rational agentts, which is a result of their resemblance to the ultimately free Logos. This Word brings human beings into dialog with him but never as mere objects, which might be understood to mean in a deterministic and guaranteed fashion. On the contrary, human beings are irrevocably subjects, who have the freedom and autonomy to act on their own. Take this freedom away and the dignity and mystery of humans as images of the Logos are undone. 

This dialog between humanity and the Logos is not merely a cerebral or intellectual one. On the contrary, through the material and spiritual goods of the created order, the Logos shows himself loving and kind and desirous of fellowship with his creatures. This dialog also has an ethical aspect, because the understanding of the world is a collaborative project undertaken by multiple free agents who must work together in love. We are all in it together, so to speak, and this is the way the Logos would have it. 

At the bottom of Stăniloae's theological anthropology, therefore, are the following: rationality, subjectivity, freedom. The relationship between humans and the Logos is an I-Thou one, in which two subjects in their impenetrable, mysterious freedom come before one another for dialog. 

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