Monday, 5 May 2008

God, Salvation and Materiality

We take bodiliness and materiality very seriously. The 'stuff' of creation is not evil, but good. Nor is it something to escape from. We are our bodies in the sense that there isn't some real me hidden inside my body. Which is why, of course, we recite belief in the resurrection of the body in the Creed. Salvation in the Christian schema is not 'spiritual', if we mean by that immaterial. God had to become part of creation (and remain God) for creation to be saved. Reflect on that and the world, and our mission within it, becomes more Christlike, more real, and more comprehensive.

There is a tight nexus between creation, Incarnation, sacraments and the resurrection of the body. Start with any one of them and you end up with all the others; unpick any one of them, and the whole lot will, eventually, disappear. There is a consistency here in the way in which God relates to the 'stuff' of creation. Intimately, and without antagonism. Indeed, exactly the opposite to antagonism. While there is no direct proportionality between God and creation, creation is made to find its home in God. If it were not so, and if salvation were just a matter of escape from our materiality, why did God become human? Surely a meditational technique would have sufficed! Or if something a bit more were needed than just a meditational technique, maybe the appearance of an avatar to proclaim some secret knowledge for the initiated and those to be saved. (Sounds like some forms of 'Christianity' doesn't it!) But God becomes human for the salvation of the good creation, and this salvation is the union of creation with God . We call it resurrection, and it is not the destruction of our materiality, but the transformation of our materiality into its final form. Which is why we have sacraments. The Eucharist can truly communicate God. (Remember, the non-competitive God of true transcendence can be 'in' the sacrament without compromising or diminishing the integrity of the 'stuff' of the sacrament.) The final form of bread as a complete and holistic nourishment of the human body and soul is anticipated in the bread of the Eucharist. And it does this precisely as bread.


  1. A meditational technique? Don't you mean 'mediational'? But what forms of Christianity. And are you suggesting that there's something intrinsically wrong with a mediator? So many questions...

  2. No I mean meditational. (Perhaps it is not a word?) The contrast I am making is between a 'spiritual' salvation that could be effected by say, the practice of meditation alone without the Incarnation, to a salvation that is effected through a God who becomes truly human.

    So, nothing wrong with a mediator. Especially one who is the mediator in person, that is, a mediation effected in the very being of the mediator, Jesus Christ.

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  4. I wonder Warren though if Creation is more than just designed to find a home in God. I actually believe that Creation has been designed to receive God's outpouring of God's expression of God's self. So that it is not just a relationship coming from us to God and God tolerating our existence but that Creation is designed to be able to be totally open to God and thus receive God. Not in the sense that God is less than Creation but that in Creations dependence upon God it is open to God and can relate with God. So rather than a parasitic relationship it is one of Love. More like a mother carrying a child in their womb.

  5. Dear Stephen,

    The metaphors you mention to speak of our final end are good (pouring out and pregnancy). We have a lot of others that can be used (messianic banquet, beatific vision, etc), although my favourite is union, for I think it picks up the best of the lot. None of them should be understood as parasitic, and all should find their best expression in the Incarnation. Coming home does this well enough, as does pouring out.