CHAPTER 14 - Three Epochs: Creativity & Culture; Creativity & the Church; Creativity & Christian Renaissance
In this world, the Triune Deity, God in three persons, is coming to expression. And the whole differentiated, many-sided world is a revelation of Divinity. The Trinity is internal movement within Deity, and the dynamic of the Trinity creates the world.
The world is passing through three epochs of divine revelation: the revelation of the law (the Father), the revelation of redemption (the Son) and the revelation of creativity [the Spirit]. It is not given to us to know the definite chronological limits of these three epochs; they are all co-existent. Today, we have not fully lived out the law, and redemption from sin has not yet been completed, although the world is entering a new religious epoch.
The three epochs of divine revelation in the world are three epochs of the revelation about man. In the first epoch, mans’s sin is brought to light and natural divine force is revealed; in the second epoch man is made a son of God and redemption from sin appears; in the third epoch the divinity of man’s creative nature is finally revealed and divine power becomes human power.
The revelation about man is the final divine revelation about the Trinity. The final mystery is hidden in this, that the divine mystery and the human mystery are one, that in God there is hidden the mystery of man and in man the mystery of God. God is born in man and man is born in God. The ultimate revelation of man means the revelation of God. Not only is God in man but man is the image of God; in him divine development is realized. Man is a participant in the Divine Trinity.
Man bears within himself a double image and likeness: that of the universe and that of God. The final revelation of man is the final revelation of the universe and of God. The anthropological revelation, the revelation of man in the creative religious epoch, is at once a cosmic and a divine revelation. Through man’s creativeness, God in the world is finally revealed.
And in it religious depths the anthropological revelation is only the revelation of Christ as Absolute Man. With the appearance of Christ in the world, man’s sonship with God, his likeness to God and his participation in the divine nature are all revealed.
But Absolute Man is not complete and finally revealed in the appearing of Christ the Redeemer. Man’s creative energy is directed towards the Coming Christ, toward His appearing in glory. The creative revelation of man is a continuing and completing revelation of Christ, the Absolute Man.
The anthropological revelation of the creative epoch is at once fully human and fully divine. In it, humanity is deepened to the point of divinity and divinity is made visible to the point of humanity. The divine-human nature of revelation must become completely evident and this is possible only in the creative act of the revelation of man, himself. The whole meaning of our epoch is in the fact that it is passing over to the revelation of man.
The basic problem (of contemporary life] is the problem of the relationship of creativeness [culture] to life [being]. At the peaks of culture, man is tormented by the antithesis between creating something and being something. The geniuses have created, but they were less; the saints have been, but they created little. There is a tragic antagonism between the perfect man, as a result of God’s creativity, and perfect human creativeness, as the work of human activity. Religious creativity leads through the sacrifice of both personal perfection and the perfection of culture for the sake of building new being, the continuation of the work of God’s creativity.
It is infinitely important to make clear the three-fold antagonism: the antagonism between the building up of cultural values and the achievement of personal perfection; the antagonism between creativity and culture; and the antagonism between creativity and personal perfection. Only the creativity of the religious epoch will overcome all three antagonisms. Creativity will escape from the vice of personal perfection and the perfection of cultural values. Creativity will pass over to cosmic perfection in which man’s perfection and the perfection of what he creates will become one.
Hitherto, the world has known chiefly two ways: either the perfection of one’s own soul or the creation of perfect culture. In creative experience, man will get away from the physical plane of the world and its laws. The whole fullness of man’s life must become a creative act.
All the achievements of culture are symbolic rather than realistic. In culture, men have achieved not knowledge but symbols of knowledge; not beauty but symbols of beauty; symbols of love rather than love itself; not the union of people but symbols of union; not power over nature but rather symbols of power. Culture is a religious failure—failure to achieve communion with God. It is only a symbolic expression of the final mysteries.
Culture is eternally and tragically unsatisfied. The crisis of culture is man’s final will to pass over from symbolic and conditional attainments to the attainment of the real and absolute. Man has desired not symbols of truth, but truth, itself; not symbols of beauty, but beauty, itself; not symbols of love, but love, itself; not symbols of power, but power, itself; not symbols of communion with God, but that communion in very truth.
The creation of eternity means bringing all culture to the very end, to the ultimate limit…. And we must admit that in the very nature of science, philosophy, morals, art, the state, economics, and even the visible church, there is latent (a) very evil endlessness, [a] poor kind of plurality.
The creativeness of the new epoch will overcome culture from within rather than from without. The world-creative epoch can be only super-cultural rather than pre-cultural or extra-cultural; it accepts the positive religious meaning of culture, recognizes the great truth of every culture as over against all nihilism.
Culture is always opposed to anarchy or nihilism, to savagery or barbarism. The very failure of culture is a holy failure, and through this failure lies the way to a higher being.
The world’s culture must come to a new religious life, freely and immanently. Coming out of religious guardianship means entrance into religious maturity, the full expression of a free religious life.
There is a thirst for creativeness that will bring about a new life and a new world. The lover of truth desires nothing less than the complete transfiguration of life, the salvation of the world.
The west is facing a crisis of creativity and a culture crisis. The west is bowed beneath the greatness of its ancient culture. Free flight is difficult for the western man. The western man is constantly returning to the riches and values of his great past, and his new quest all too easily takes the form of restoration and resurrection of the past. The constantly returning romanticism of the west bears the stamp of incapacity to create.
In the ultimate and secret depths of its being, creativity is of the Church. In religious creativeness, the divine-human body of the world is created. And only in creativeness are the cosmology and anthropology of the Church finally and wholly revealed. In the historic Church, which corresponds to the early, infant stages of the development of the new man, there has not as yet been a revelation about man. A creative revelation about man is the only way to a rebirth and new development of the Church’s waning life.
Christianity has remained an unfinished revelation about the absolute significance and calling of man. The anthropological revelation of the creative epoch will be the finished revelation of God-manhood, the complete disclosure of Christ in the life of the world, of Christ uniting Himself with humanity.
Christianity in history has fallen into the most terrible sin, sin against the Holy Spirit. Christianity has blasphemed against the Spirit whenever it has recognized the Church as finished, Christianity as complete, creativeness as something forbidden and sinful. For life in the Spirit can be only eternally creative, and every stop or stay in the creative development of the Church is thus a sin against the Spirit. The life of the Church has ossified, has cooled, almost to the point of death, and it can be reborn only in man’s religious creativeness, only in the new world epoch.
Christianity has grown old and wrinkled. Christianity is a gaffer, two thousand yeas old. But the eternal cannot grow old. And neither can the eternal religion of Christ grow old. In the cosmos the redeeming sacrifice of Golgotha is consummated in all eternity, and in all eternity lives the mystical body of Christ. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against this true Church of Christ.
It is only the temporal in Christianity which has grown old, it is only a certain epoch of Christianity which has been outlived. The infant stage of the first education of man, the epoch of guardianship and religious fear, has grown old and wrinkled, has lost its vivacity. The abnormality in Christianity is just this wrinkled old age of the infant. But the immature and childish religious consciousness dug a deep abyss between God and the world, between the Creator and the creature.
But now man is turning to the spiritual body of the Church. The Christian renaissance of a new humanity, matured in the Spirit, moving out of the epoch of fearfulness and guardianship, can take place only under the sign not of the the Church of Peter, but of John and the mystic Johannine tradition. This is the mystical and eternal Church of Christ, the visage of the Church, itself, revealing itself to man in ascent towards the heights rather than an adaptation to the lower depths of humanity.
Man has now matured into readiness for the new religious church, not because he has become sinless and perfect, not because he has fulfilled all the commandments of the Church of Peter, but because man’s consciousness at the height of culture has attained mature and final acuteness and man’s nature has been laid open to the point where its ultimate, first bases are revealed. For modern man there can be no return to childish or infantile religiosity, he cannot return to religious tutelage.
The historic Church of Peter is unable to satisfy the modern man; it cannot cope with his religious tragedy; it is always answering questions which have not been asked; it soothes the wrong suffering, heals the wrong wounds; it has helped to save men from childish sins, but is powerless to help with the sins of maturity; it does not want to know anything new in man. The answer can be given only by the revelation of the mystery of the eternal, mystical Johannine Church of Christ. In this form the Church opens to mature man, convulsed in religious torment, the boundless, measureless freedom of creativity in the Spirit. The secret will be revealed to man which has been concealed from infants in the period of tutelage—the secret that submission is not the ultimate in religious experience but only a temporary method; that in daring and sacrificial initiative this childish security must be overpassed, that sin will finally be conquered by heroic creativity. The security and cosiness of historic, everyday churchliness must be sacrificed to the heroic daring of creativeness. Churchliness has hidden from man the heroic, sacrificial mountain way of Christ, Himself.
To overcome this religious servility is the first task of a Christian renaissance. Man must know himself religiously not as the slave of God but as a free participant in the divine process. Christianity has not yet been fully revealed as a religion of love. Christianity has been a religion of the salvation of “these little ones” and of tutelage over frightened children. Christian humility, throughout its history, has not accomplished love, the life of grace in the Spirit. Love has remained the esoteric, unrevealed secret of the religion of Christ, its mystical tradition: love has only been glimpsed in the lives of a few chosen ones.
Love is new, creative life, a life of grace in the Spirit. It can never ben an object of education or morality. Love is not a law, and no one can be compelled to love.
It is shameful to speak and embarrassing to hear of the Christina state, the Christian family, Christian society so guarded and protected. This is a deception which modern man cannot and should not stand. The religion of love will yet come in the world. This is the religion of the measureless freedom of the Spirit. The Church of love is the Johannine Church, the eternal, mystical church, being within itself the fullness of truth about Christ and about Man.
With the third, the creative epoch, there is closely related a sense of the end, an eschatological perspectives on life. In the third epoch, the epoch of religious creativeness, all ends and limits of the world’s life and culture will be manifest. The creativeness of that epoch will be directed essentially towards the final, rather than the penultimate; all its achievements must be not symbolic but realistic, not merely cultural but of the whole of life. The religious center of gravity will be transferred from the clerically-protective to the prophetically-creative.
But a prophetic religious experience cannot be an experience of passive expectation—this is an experience of active, creative striving, of great anthropological tension and effort. We cannot merely passively await the coming of Christ, we must be up and go toward Him. The sense of the apocalyptic will lead to a new religious life only if it becomes actively creative instead of passively expectant. The coming of Christ, in which the absolute Man will be fully revealed in all His power and glory, is connected with mans’s creative act, with an active anthropological revelation. Man’s Christological nature will be revealed in man’s creative act.
The Coming Christ will come only to a humanity which courageously accomplishes a Christological self-revelation, that is, reveals in its own nature divine power and glory.
Christ will never come in power and glory to men who are not creatively active—they will never see the second face of Christ. He will eternally turn toward them His crucified, tortured and sacrificing face. To see the face of Christ in power and glory, man must reveal power and glory in himself by a creative act.
The epoch of redemption, where only the crucified Christ is visible, will never end for those who do not perform the creative act which completely reveals human nature. They will ever remain in the Church of Golgotha, will never know the Church of the Coming Christ. Defensive hostility toward religious creativeness is confirmation of an evil endlessness in redemption, itself, resistance to the completion and the fullness and the end of redemption. Religious opposition to the third, creative epoch desires a permanent endless redemption, resists the final solution of earthly life and the appearance of the Coming Christ, mighty and glorified. The Church or Golgotha in which Christological truth is not completely revealed stands over against the church of the integral Christ, where He is revealed completely. The coming of Christ and His full revelation of the whole truth about absolute Man predicates that in creative activity man shall take his glorious and royal place in the world. To transform the Golgothan truth of redemption into a force hostile to creative revelation about man is a sin, a human falling-away, which gives rise to world-religious reaction; it is hindering the all-resolving end of the world, the setting up of a new heaven and a new earth.
The sum of all the world’s life and world’s culture is the problem of creativeness, the problem of the anthropological revelation. All the threads come together at this point, everything comes to focus here. But we have not yet known true creativity in the final and ultimate religious sense of the word. Our philosophy is as yet only an introduction to the philosophy of creativeness rather than that philosophy itself. And our present life is only a transition to creative life rather than creative life, itself.
What creativeness is is inexplicable. But our initiative towards a full realization of the creative life must be bold and our clearing of the way for it must be merciless. And man today, hesitating before his creative task and refusing creative initiative from a false sense of humility, cradled in passive obedience as the highest virtue, is not fulfilling his religious duty; he is not fulfilling the will of God.
Today, at this cosmic turning point, this movement is changing the world so profoundly that reordering of panes is taking place, a division into layers, an atomization of the world, and a transition to another dimension. Truth and beauty can never triumph on the plane of the world, on the broad field of life; they will be lifted upon the cross, and only through the mystery of the crucifixion will the rose of the world’s life be resurrected.