The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church

Creation and Purpose

The fifth chapter of Lossky’s ‘Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church’ takes a sharp turn now, to the topic of cosmology. More specifically, an initially dry chapter on the nature of creation ex nihilo (interestingly noting that the first mention of creation ex nihilo is in 2 Maccabees 7:28, an apocryphal book), turns into a fascinating one on the nature of humanity, and it’s relation to ecclesiology.

The first interesting point, is on the nothingness of creation, and in particular those very special created, humanity:

“All creatures are balanced upon the creative word of God, as if upon a bridge of diamond; above them is the abyss of the divine infinitude, below them that of their own nothingness.”

As we were created from nothing, we are stretched between two extremes; the overwhelming allness of God, and the nothingness from which we came. A humbling concept indeed. But how were we created? The Eastern Church has a concept, ‘thought-will’, to describe what exactly God does to create us: We are more than just the imagination (a thought) of God, but are intention. And these intentions, these ideas, are no the same thing as our selves: In the same way the image of a work in a craftsmans’ mind is not the same as the work itself, even though the work is a physical manifestation of that image. There is ourselves. And God’s idea of ourselves.

We are called therefore to cooperate with God in finishing his creation (us); a agreement between our wills and the thought-will of God. One could say that creation is an uncompleted perfection, and our cooperation with God is necessary for its completion. Whilst Lossky does not go on to speak of our role in ‘finishing Gods’ creation’ outside of ourselves – our role in stewardship of the universe, creation of art, etc. – I feel like this too, is part of our cooperation with God necessary for the completion of creation.

A problem them: What is the will of God? Incomprehensible, that’s what. (We’re reading  a book that is about the mystical theology of the Eastern Church) However, a working definition is that whatever that will is, it is the point of contact between the infinite (God) and the finite (us); and every created thing has a point of contact – a relationship, a will or an intention – with God; and these intentions are all contained within the Logos, the first principle and final end of all things.

All of this means that any distinctions we try to make between first states (of creation as a whole, or of our personal experiences) and what is conferred upon us by an ever increasing participation in Gods’ intention is somewhat fictitious: That intention is our point of contact with God, and it is present from beginning to end. It is only the conversation between our will and Gods’ that matters. That conversation was the entire point of our creation; it is what brings creation to completeness.