Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Christian Dogmatics

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Up. to this point, we have seen how Man’s Fall became possible. His Fall became possible, on account of his freedom.  Evil, therefore, entered the world on account of freedom. If freedom didn’t exist, there would be no evil, no sin.  Animals do not sin. They may perform the same acts that are characterized as “sins” by Man, but they are not sins for an animal. This is because it is not the act -per se- that renders something sinful; it is the exercising of freedom. An animal does not have freedom. Consequently, when Man exercises his freedom, he either sins, or he doesn’t.

We mentioned that freedom is necessary for a created being. We also mentioned that Man has this freedom exclusively within his created hypostasis - in the form of a link between the material world and the Uncreated God (and not just the immaterial world) – and that because it is a freedom that was bestowed on the created and not the Uncreated, it is exercised in the form of acceptance or rejection of a given event, a given situation.  Because the created being is precisely this: it is that which confronts given situations.  The difference between the created and the uncreated is that the uncreated naturally- has nothing given about it; everything that exists originates from its volition, it was not made by “someone else”, otherwise, it would not have been an uncreated being.  A created being would not have been a “creation”, if its existence was a given fact and subsequently the existence of the one who gave it its existence.  This, therefore, causes it to need to exercise its freedom through “Yes” or “No” – through the admission or the rejection of given situations.

Now, remember what we said earlier: that it is necessary for the created to survive, to escape from nil, and to be in a union with the Uncreated; that it cannot survive otherwise. Remember also, that Man was created precisely for the purpose of materializing this union of the created with the Uncreated.  Now, let us come to the matter that we touched on previously, i.e., that Man, when addressing this calling from God, decided to exercise his freedom in a negative manner, saying “No, I will not unite the created to the Uncreated. I will unite the created to myself.”  This was the deeper meaning of the Scriptural passage in which Adam succumbs to the temptation to state that he will become god. He thus transferred the focal point of reference of that union, from the Uncreated God to his own, created self. He deified himself. In other words, he rejected God; he said “No” to the given God: “No, You are not a given God for me, so, I shall create my own god, i.e., my own self. Everything shall therefore have me as a point of reference, instead of You.”  This is the way that we portray the Fall of Man.  All of Creation fell.   Why? Here is the analysis that we must now make, on the event of the Fall.

We mentioned that Creation can be saved, only if united with God, and that this could only be achieved through Man.  We also explained why. Now that Man had decided to divert all of Creation towards his person and make himself a god – the ultimate point of reference – the following consequences were generated:  The first consequence was that Man came to believe that he can dominate over all of Creation as though it were his own creation, subsequently causing a conflict, an opposition between Man and Nature – a veritable enmity.  This enmity rendered Nature a place of misery for Man, because he was no longer in harmony with it. This disharmony between Man and Nature was the disharmony – the contrast – between the person and nature, between freedom and necessity, and consequently, man could no longer survive in this world, except only through combat - by fighting against nature.

On. the other hand, one could say that Nature also took on personal dimensions; in other words, it took on divine dimensions for Man. Seeing how, during this battle with Nature, Man came to realize how much weaker he was by comparison to Nature, he immediately formed an impression of Nature’s superiority over him. When Man suffered defeat during this battle, when Nature overwhelmed him, Man automatically felt its supremacy, and, having ousted God as the ultimate point of reference, he began to make – to absolutize – the forces of nature, as his ultimate point of reference.  Thus, the next consequence of Man’s Fall was idolatry; his fight with Nature finally led to the deification of Nature. When a lightning bolt -for example- appeared threateningly and he realized it could not be controlled by his own power, Man deified it.  And that is how the Scriptural observation of “they exchanged the Creator, with the creations” is comprehended; this is how Creation became deified......  Now you can understand how we arrived at the deification of Creation; which path led to the consequences (which are truly tragic for mankind, but also for Nature itself).  In view of the fact that Man was created and Nature expects Man to make God its point of reference in order for it to survive, and given that Man has now taken God’s place and the only point of reference that Nature now has is Man, all of Creation has thus become subjected to deception as regards life and existence.  In other words, Man and all of Creation both became confined to a life that is dictated and directed by the laws of Nature, by the biological life that gives the impression of an actual life, of a transcendence of death, when in fact it leads to death.

Thus, Man’s fall had, as its outcome, Man’s loss; Nature overall lost the meaning of truth, the meaning of true life, and was deceived into an impression that the thing called “life” is actually life, when in fact it is death.  Thus, death enters the scene as synonymous to life.  Note here, that this could well be the most tragic consequence of the Fall, i.e., that death enters the scene as a synonym of life. What do I mean with this?  Well, we are under the naïve impression that “death” is a point located at the end of Man’s “life”.  We say that someone died “at the age of 90”, as though death suddenly made its appearance during his 90th year. In reality however, this man began to die from the moment he was born.  Biology sees death as a process that begins simultaneously with birth.  Moreso modern Biology and the latest theories on ageing, link ageing to reproduction.  At least in beings with organs – especially mammals – the ageing cycle begins from the moment that the organism reaches the point of reproductive maturity. And this is characteristic, precisely because it is linked to the mystery, the phenomenon of life. The phenomenon of life bears inside it the phenomenon of death. The deception, the clouding of the truth here, is that we are under the impression that we are actually living (and when I say impression, I mean the existential, the experiential kind; an impression that we are all influenced by).

We shield our eyes from the truth of death; We are speaking here of biological, existential categories. When we go to the psychological   categories, things are even more evident. We don’t even want to think of death, or, we are unable to, psychologically. But the psychological aspect is not the most important aspect; the biological, the existential one is. These are fermentations that already exist inside the organism. The fermentations of deterioration exist, but we cannot see them.  Biological existence is structured in such a manner, that it cannot see the truth; and even if it does see it, it will see it only psychologically – it cannot see it ontologically. It is not possible; this is the way that things are: out of our control.

We have therefore entered into a circle that is a fake life, which is why the Gospel speaks of the “real life”. Why was this distinction necessary here?  We say “real life”. What is “real life”?  We seem to have de-spiritualized the term.  These modern perceptions are not Biblical. When one speaks of the “real life”, he is not implying another life – the kind that we call “spiritual”. He is implying a life that does not die; a life that is not subject to this deception of the so-called life that leads to death.  Consequently, real life is the life that is not proven false, because it is not defeated by death.  Real life springs from the Resurrection of Christ, from Christ Himself, precisely because that is where biological death was actually transcended. This is not a matter of ignoring biological death in favor of another life. No.  The everyday expression of “other life” which we use is the extension of this life – it is the real side of this life. Thus, death (i.e., this deceptive life that carries death inside it), is the outcome of the Fall and it is a bad, unacceptable thing. The Christian view can never regard death as something good.

The transcending of death, therefore, is –par excellence- the Gospel, which the Church offers us.  With His Resurrection (which signifies the transcendence of biological death), Christ provides us with the conviction, the hope, that it is possible for this admixture of the real life with the false that we are subject to can be cleared, so that the element of death may be removed, leaving only the element of life. This is the real and eternal life, because a “real” life is also an eternal life. As for the word “eternal” in the New Testament, it has no other inference, except that it is an extension of this life.  It is only in Platonism that the term “eternal” is juxtaposed to the term “current”, i.e., an entirely different level of thought. We do not find this kind of level in the Biblical perception. In the biblical perception, we have straight lines. Time, and consequently History, the corpus and the course of matter- of the material world - is a blessed part of Creation. In Platonism however, this is a negative point of reference, since one must escape from Time in order to be released and move on to another level; i.e., to fly beyond Time.  Unfortunately, many Christians interpret things in this Platonic manner, when they say:  “Did he die? Consider him blessed. He has departed from this fake world. He has slipped away from Time.  He has gone to eternity, where Time doesn’t exist. These ideas are not Christian.  The expectation therefore of the Resurrection is precisely an expectation of the transcendence of death and the catharsis of existence, so that the false and the deceptive element is taken out of the way.

I shall revert therefore to the manner in which the deceptive and the false element appeared, which is directly related to the “nil” from which Creation began. Imagine that we have a world that originates from nil; a world that did not previously exist.  We therefore have an entity “A”, which has nothing behind it as support; i.e., it has no pre-existence. This entity constitutes a multiplicity in Creation, because Creation is not one thing – God didn’t create one being; He created many.  Creation began with multiplicity, therefore “nil” had infiltrated everything; it exists between “A” and “B” because “B” is also a creation, just like every single creation that has been created, thus, there exists a dimension between beings.  The dimension between beings in Creation is expressed by two elements: space and time.  Between “A” and “B” or “B” and “C” there definitely is space and time.  Between them is space and time, which is what gives them their hypostasis; it connects them between each other, but it also keeps them separate. In other words, time and space act (this is yet another deception that is created) simultaneously as a connective element and as a differentiating factor.  Take for example the space that we have between us; it is the element that unites me with you. If space didn’t exist, I couldn’t be united with you – we couldn’t communicate between us. This same space, with the same, uniting energy, also acts differently and divisively upon us, because, thanks to this space, I am able to separate myself from you and be divided from you.  Time does the same thing. The time between my father and myself is that which unites me to my father, but, the fact that my father used to exist at one time, whereas I exist now – this space of time that intervened, is what separated me from my father.  This intervention of space and time - as a unifying and simultaneously dividing element - is what renders every created being (and they all began from the original “nil”) perishable.  What do we mean by “perishable”?  We mean “divisible” and “subject to deterioration”.  Time and space therefore compose beings, and decompose them simultaneously; and in this way, what we said earlier about the deception we call “life” is verified.  A “life” is created, which is imbued with death on account of a division; because, what is death? It is a separation; it is deterioration, the decomposition of existence.  We have here a composite world, which breaks up with death.  “A” and “B” no longer communicate with each other and “B” doesn’t communicate with “C”.  However, “B” itself is also composite, because it is composed of smaller elements; thus, just as in the death of a person –for example- we have two sides to the separation, i.e., one separation is the separation between “A” and “B” (the personal separation), and the other separation is when the whole – the person we call “A” – disintegrates into his composite elements; these disintegrate, and thenceforth, we have the dissolution of a unity that had originally been secured by time and space. In other words, all of these beings are subject to the influence of “nil”, from which they originated.  This whole, therefore, which is called “world” and which originates from nil, must unite itself to the whole that doesn’t have these kinds of processes. Since God didn’t have a beginning from “nil”, and by not living within space and time, He is not subject to this fate.   And that is where the real life is: where death doesn’t exist.

I would like to draw as a conclusion that, upon severing his bond, Man was left to this fate.  He was therefore deceived - and continues to be deceived - by believing that he lives when in fact he is dying, and by believing that with time and space, he can accomplish something. This is how deception appears in History, i.e., that within time - during the progress of History - eternicity can be secured. But, this cannot be achieved, unless one shuts his eyes to the problem of death, and shows disinterest in whether all beings become deteriorated and destroyed; when he shows concern whether humanity will survive, but not whether certain specific people will survive.  Christian Dogmatics however must seriously consider the issue of deterioration, the issue of death of each single person, each single being, and believe that the world is indeed subject to deterioration, and thereafter, the solution that can be provided is another matter.


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Transcript by N. R.

Translation by A. N.

Article published in English on: 9-12-2006.

Last update: 11-12-2006.