Concept of “Person” 5

“The demand of the person for “absolute freedom” involves a ‘new birth’, a birth ‘from on high’, a baptism.”

So, Yannaras adds to our concept of “person” the necessity of “personal immediacy” and “direct personal relationship”.  At the zenith of this immediacy and relationship, of course, is love.

In his book, “Being as Communion”, Studies in Personhood and the Church”, Orthodox theologian Metropolitan John ( Zizioulas) of Pergamon (1931-    ), maintains that the theology of the person would not have been possible without the mystery of the Church.  Zizioulas maintains that humanity, being made in the image of God, has an inherent God-given drive for “absolute freedom”.  However, existing as an “absolute freedom”, completely free and independent of its nature, is humanly impossible.  He tells us that, “the being of each human person is given to him; consequently, the human person is not able to free himself absolutely from his “nature” or from his “substance”, from what biological laws dictate to him, without bringing about his annihilation.”   To Zizioulas, deification and union with God involves escaping this “given” and sharing in the “absolute freedom” of divine existence; not after death, but beginning in this life.

Zizioulas tells us that escaping our “given” being, or nature, can only be accomplished through a “new birth”:  “The demand of the person for “absolute freedom” involves a ‘new birth’, a birth ‘from on high’, a baptism.  And it is precisely the ecclesial being which ‘hypostasizes’ the person according to God’s way of being.  That is what makes the Church an image of the Triune God.”  God’s way of being, Zizioulas notes, includes that “absolute freedom” which humans seek, and the Christian shares in this way of being even during his/her earthly pilgrimage.

This is the way in which a concrete, free “person” can emerge. Our “person” can emerge due to the fact that Christ deified our human nature through his incarnation.  His perfect human nature deified humankind’s fallen nature.

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