Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Godmanhood V. Mangodhood

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov saw his current social situation, early 20th century Russia, as a division between two directions: Godmanhood and Mangodhood. The former represents the accomplished work and person of Jesus Christ and the latter is the constructed formulae of certain thinkers that sought to divinize Mankind in the absence of a god. The father of this movement was Ludwig Feurbach, who believed that "Man is the god of Man", and that culture must replace religion as a secular religion, a faux-transcendence that, in its fabrication, is transcendence.

The opposition might not be as stark, and there may be more than this one opposition, but he is right. But before I say more about that, let me speak of the merits of Feurbach. I believe Feurbach is the father of a secular theology that became epitomized in the atheist trifecta of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche. All three of these philosophers, and Feurbach as well, are enemies of Christ, and they are very powerful. But the Community of God's People need these men. Why?

Unlike the very nervous and psychologically fragile Christian ghettos of today, the God revealed in Scriptures has no problem appropriating the evil of men for His own purposes. The prophets reveal an Assyria that is both wretched, but a tool in God's Hand. The polluted injustice of Israel and Judah came home to roost, it was to be wiped clean. This did not vindicate Assyria's warpath, but reveals something beyond the politics of men.

In similar form, the Trifecta properly attack Christendom. Feurbach's critique that Man makes gods in his own image is devastating. Bourgeois Christendom, Medieval Kingly Christendom, etc etc. all fall under the ban and are reveal as the twisted visage of corrupted men's fantasies. The Trifecta sought to make the World a better place. I'm not speaking in some Utopian liberal vision. These Three are not in agreement with one another about what the World ought to be (we have the Communist, a Bourgeois, and a Redeemed, Conservative Nihilist). Yet all believe in the destiny of the Mangodhood of Man, that one day Humanity will transcend its own limitations (whether Marx's Communist Paradise, Freud's elevated Civilization, or Nietzsche's Ubermensch).

Yet what Christ reveals is God taking Flesh. Rather than Man being responsible to invent God, God sees to it to be present among Men. The Trifecta eradicate any Christianity that seeks to diminish the Incarnation. Yet the reality of Incarnation, and the subsequent works of the Godman, lights the hope of glorification, of theosis. As Athanasius put it: "God became a man, so Man may become a god". Lest this be misunderstood, this is not a Return to the One, a Pantheism, or a breakdown of the Creator-Creation divide.

If we do not have the sure hope of bearing God's likeness, the attractiveness of Feurbach's thaumaturgical anthrotheology is a liberative medicine. One might stumble upon atheist conversion stories (e.g. Dan Barker) who speaks of liberation. The burden of an endless slaving after God becomes a prison. Marx could look at oppressive socialized Christianity as a mere opium for the masses, a hope for a neverland beyond the grasp of the senses to dull the pain of the moment. I am not saying the hope of Paradise is foolish. Rather, Marx was right that such a promise, when Christologically detached, becomes a justifying reason for social control. It's not for no reason that many ancient philosophers believed the unwashed masses should be taught the old fables. Since one cannot be enlightened by philosophy, crude myths keep people in fear of an ever-watching Fate.

Godmanhood is a determined, fixed eschatology. What is to become of Man is already accomplished. It is this hope that Christ's People should cling to. It is a future we work towards by embodying His Life, living by repentance and the fruit of the Spirit. We are to, individually and corporately, be personally bearing God's likeness. That is the light we bring into all our social interactions.

The intoxicating effects of Mangodhood extinguish before the Infinite Mind of Christ, who expands all boundaries and creates new realities out of nothing, yea, even raises the Dead. May we thirst for the Godmanhood that the Godman has set before us. May we walk as He did and share in the Glory of the Only Begotten Immortal King, forever blessed,

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