Vladimir Lossky: Is the Mystery of Pentecost as Important to You as the Mystery of Redemption?

Feast of the 40 Martyrs of Rome

Lossky_Square_2.jpegTHE MYSTERY of our redemption leads up to what the Fathers call the recapitulation of our nature by Christ and in Christ. This is the Christological foundation of the Church, which expresses itself above all in the sacramental life, with its quality of absolute objectivity. But if we wish to safeguard another aspect of the Church, which has a quality of subjectivity no less absolute, it must be based on the dispensation of another divine Person, independent, in His origin, of the Person of the Incarnate Son. Without this, we risk depersonalizing the Church by submitting the freedom of her human hypostases to a kind of sacramental determinism. On the other hand, if the subjective aspect alone is stressed, we will lose – along with the idea of the Body of Christ – the “logical,” objective basis of the Truth and will fall into the vagaries of “individual” faith.

The point is that the Incarnation and the redeeming work of Christ, considered apart from the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, cannot justify the Church’s personal multiplicity – something which is as necessary as her natural unity in Christ. The mystery of Pentecost is as important as the mystery of the Redemption. The redeeming work of Christ is an indispensable pre-condition of the deifying work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Himself affirmed that when He said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk. 12:49). But, on the other hand, one may say that the work of the Spirit serves that of the Son, for it is by receiving the Spirit that human persons can bear witness in full consciousness to the divinity of Christ. The Son has become like us by the incarnation; we become like Him by deification, by partaking of the divinity in the Holy Spirit, who communicates the divinity to each human person in a particular way. The redeeming work of the Son is related to our nature. The deifying work of the Holy Spirit concerns our persons. But the two are inseparable. One is unthinkable without the other, for each is the condition of the other, each is present in the other; and ultimately they are but one dispensation of the Holy Trinity, accomplished by two Divine Persons sent by the Father into the world. This double dispensation of the Word and of the Paraclete has as its goal the union of created beings with God.

Considered from the point of view of our fallen state, the aim of the divine dispensation can be termed salvation or redemption. This is the negative aspect of our ultimate goal, which is considered from the perspective of our sin. Considered from the point of view of the ultimate vocation of created beings, the aim of the divine dispensation can be termed deification. This is the positive definition of the same mystery, which must be accomplished in each human person in the Church and which will be fully revealed in the age to come, when, after having reunited all things in Christ, God will become all in all.

~Vladimir Lossky, “Redemption and Deification”


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