Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eckhart on the Created World as a Precondition for Revelation

Another journal entry of mine--from 25 March 2005: 

Meister Eckhart says, 

If the soul could have known God without the world, then the world would never have been created.

That says to me that the effort of the theological enterprise to interpret and explain is endless, contra those neo-orthodox theologians who believe all is Word and proclamation.  The suppression of open and free (and, above all, critical if also faithful) theological discourse by the controlling centers of churches in reaction to modernity runs against one of the most significant impulses in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.  This is the venerable recognition that God must always speak, pour forth, even enflesh, the divine nature, in order to communicate that nature to the world.

Hence creation itself as a precondition to receiving revelation: as Eckhart notes, without the created world, we would not be able to know God at all.  And without the theological enterprise running through Judaeo-Christian history, we would not be able to appropriate, receive, and understand what is being communicated to the created world by divine revelation.

Rumi makes a similar point with his poem “Asylum,” which says (The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems, trans. Coleman Barks [NY: Harper, 2002]),

This mud body is dear epiphany/Angels wish they could move as I move (p. 118).

Mud bodies that angels envy: if revelation, if God's self-communication to the created world, is dependent on  incarnation, then built into incarnational religions is also an inbuilt principle of the need for ongoing theological reflection.  Theological reflection that is not curbed, subordinated to doctrinal and ecclesiastical strictures, as it is today in the Catholic church in its restorationist mode . . . .

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