a) How “God is Love”
notion of love in reality constitutes the
cornerstone of Christian thought, both at a dogmatic
(theological) level as well as a social one. To be precise,
it is not actually a notion, but an experience; and not only
of mankind, but of God Himself! In John’s Gospel, we find
the following, succinct definition of God: “God is Love”.
Unfortunately, the frequent repetition of this phrase and
especially it’s mishandling by orators whose speeches proved
to be inconsistent (to the practices that those words
dictate), rendered the content of these words a coined
expression. In this unique, affirmative definition of
divinity that is recorded in the New Testament, John is
actually providing the existential way of the divine, as a
community of free persons.
given that man is a creation made “in the image and the
likeness of God”, dogmatic theology cannot therefore be
a dictatorial system of thought; it is essentially a form of
sociology, because it underlies a concept
of man analogous to God (proportionately of course),
inasmuch as it is a free person who lives historically “in
communion” with other free persons.
b) Love and Freedom. The philosophical ground
of everyday speculation
is the concept of Love in John’s above phrase, and what is
its relation to the essence of God? Orthodox
Patristic theology perceives love, not as a simple
expression of sentiments, but as a voluntary
experiencing of the divine persons of the Christian
Trinity. Given that these persons have chosen love, they come together as a unity. The God of Christianity is
not One as a unit, but as a unity!
Every one of the divine persons with its particular
freely chooses to love the
other two; it is in this way that “God is”, that God
“exists” as “one”. Therefore, the essence
of the One divinity consists of love as a personal
experience, since it is through love that each of the divine
persons is enraptured and united, thus constituting God as
an inseparable whole.
Freedom - in this specific,
existential relationship -
plays a leading role. First of
all, it constitutes a composing element of the person,
because the absence of freedom annuls self-government
–responsibility- and leads to a state of bondage. Freedom
may of course be a necessity, but freedom per se is not
sufficient, because Satan is also free, per se.
spiritual level, the freedom of the person –while
comprising an expression of its essence- does not actually
guarantee it, because it is nothing more than a façade
when the person is no longer self-confirmed through it. If the freedom of the person is limited to the boundaries
that it alone defines, without involving other persons, it
is led to self-enslavement and is eventually converted to
“fate”. The person, being free to be what it wants,
cannot “not be”. In other words, it is obedient to a role
that cosmic Order has pre-designated for it.
this futile type of freedom that the (atheist)
existentialism (Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus) denounces,
by moving away from it –as an existential element of man- to an
Jean-Paul Sartre’s quote is both characteristic and tragic:
«Man is condemned to be free. If he
transcends his natural (essential) necessity, he is
Excerpt from the magazine “TREETO
MAHTI”, December 2004 edition No.128, pages 22-26. Article
written by V. Bakouros, with the general title “Socialistic
Social Solidarity and Christian Love”.
continuation of this enlightening article can be found in
the article: “Freedom
and Divinity in Ancient Greek thought and the Fathers”.