Posts Tagged John Zizioulas
“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.
“…because humanity is created in the image of God with the drive for “absolute freedom”, it ‘is able to carry with [it] the whole of creation to its transcendence’.”
The Incarnation of the Logos, the Son, the Christ, created the possibility for humankind to attain by adoption, what Christ is by nature. Zizioulas tells us:
“Thanks to Christ man can henceforth “subsist”, can affirm his existence as personal not on the basis of immutable laws of his nature, but on the basis of a relationship with God which is identified with what Christ in freedom and love possesses as Son of God with the Father. This adoption of man by God, the identification of his hypostasis with the hypostasis of the Son of God, is the essence of baptism.”
“The ecclesial hypostasis exists historically in this manner as a confirmation of man’s capacity not to be reduced to his tendency to become a bearer of individuality, separation and death. The ecclesial hypostasis is the faith of man in his capacity to become a person and his hope that he will indeed become an authentic person. In other words it is faith and hope in the immortality of man as a person.”
Zizioulas concludes his thoughts on the concept of “person” with the vision of humanity in communion and in an intimate love relationship with humankind, all creation, and with God:
“It becomes a movement of free love with a universal character, that is, a love which, while it can concentrate on one person as the expression of the whole of nature, sees in this person the hypostasis through which all men and all things are loved and in relation to which they are hypostasized. The body for its part as the hypostatic expression of the human person, is liberated from individualism and egocentricity and becomes a supreme expression of community – the Body of Christ, the body of the Church, the body of the eucharist.”
Zizioulas tells us that the concept of person, “implies the ‘openness of being,’ and even more than that, the ek-stasis of being, i.e., a movement toward communion which leads to transcendence of the boundaries of the ‘self’ and thus to freedom.” Moreover, because humanity is created in the image of God with the drive for “absolute freedom”, it “is able to carry with [it] the whole of creation to its transcendence.”
This is some pretty awesome spiritual thinking and imagery, isn’t it?