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Philosophy of Religion

Philosophical Theantropy as the
Principle of Religious Ecumenism

Andrew Woznicki
University of San Francisco

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ABSTRACT: One universal constituent element of human consciousness is belief in the existence of a divine reality that is experienced by persons as the most intimate and essential part of human life. Belief in transcendent reality, which is an immanent part of human nature, constitutes an awe-inspiring mystery (mysterium fascinans et tremens) — that is, a theantropy. Strictly speaking, ‘theantropy’ is a theological term which is used to express the "union of the divine and human natures in Christ" (as defined by Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary). The novum of my understanding of theantropy consists in the application of the concept to the phenomenological experience of the religious consciousness of humanity. Henceforth, I designate theantropy to mean an ontic union and an inherent disposition of the ‘human’ and ‘divine’ constituents in/of every human being. I will examine and reflect on theantropy as the philosophical principle of religious ecumenism as well as compare various solutions of theantropy not only with regard to a particular system of beliefs, but as it is experienced in each and every human being by following Augustine’s principle: "In interiorem hominem redi: ibi habitat Deus" (or in "intimor intimo meo").

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In each and every human being, there is a specific polarization between the human and the divine dimensions, which one can call theantropy. In the strict sense 'theantropy' is a theological term, and is employed to express "the union of the divine and human natures in Christ." The novum of this author's understanding of the term 'theantropy' consists of the application of this concept to the phenomenological experience of religious consciousness of man. Henceforth, in this paper, 'theantropy' means "an ontic union and an inherent disposition of the 'human' and the 'divine' constituents in/of each and every human being."

Theantropy so understood, can be described as a perpetual striving of man for unity with the 'Inner-Word' of human soul for establishing one spiritual oikoumen» of all people into one divine community of believers (Cf I Pe.:2,5; Eph.:2,19; I Tim.:3.15; He.:3,6; etc.). Referring to the Gospel of St. John, St. Augustine writes:

I implore you to love with me and, by believing, to run with me; let us long for our heavenly country , let us sigh for our heavenly home, let us truly feel that here we are strangers. What shall we then see? Let the gospel tell us: 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.' You will come to the fountain, with whose dew you have already been sprinkled. Instead of the ray of light which was sent through slanting and winding ways into the heart of your darkness, you will see the light itself in all its purity and brightness. It is to see and experience this light that you are now being cleansed.

Therefore, the religiosity of man consists in/of experiencing one's own theantropic 'Inner-Word' by building an ecumenical community of all the believers of the Divine Word who come from Beyond.

I

The theantropic 'Inner-Word' of religious consciousness of man is by itself neither entity nor nothingness, neither being nor becoming, but the very beyondness of his own existence, thus encountering it both as his immanent and his transcending divinity/God. In the negative mysticism of FarÓd al-DÓn 'Att‚r, this divine presence in man's existence is described in terms of transcendent experience: "His beauty if it thrill thy heart / If thou a man of passion art / Of time and of eternity, / Of being and non entity, / Ask not:/ When onto this sublime degree / Thou hast attained, desist to be: / But lost to self in nothingness / And, being not, of more and less / Ask not."

The theantropic 'Inner-Word' of religious consciousness of man is, therefore, the inward and the outward manifestation of the Divine Word from beyond of the human and the divine nature in man, and the principle of developing various forms of divine images by/in the spiritual powers of man. In general, the spiritual powers of man are based on a bifurcation process within human thoughts which takes place in the form of a cognitive polarization of intelligibles of both physical and psychical forms. In the former, theantropic nature of man is experienced by him through his senses as physical, and in the latter by his mind as psychical phenomena. This twofold bifurcation of theantropic 'Inner-Word' of religious consciousness consists in a natural assimilation process of different cognitive forms of the human mind, i.e., in a process of intellectual assimilation which takes place between sensitive and intelligibles forms, thus unfolding various modes of alteration of the human consciousness.

In view of the mutual transformation of sensitive and intelligible forms in/of human mind, the theantropic consciousness by means of a natural assimilation process of different cognitive forms of the human mind will be constituted in/of a virtual reality of sacrosanct representations of the Divine Reality, that is experienced by man either in the form of a factual genuine World-Spirit or an actual surpassing Transcendental God. However, in both theantropic forms of sacrosanct representations of some specific Deity, their virtual presence invokes in man's consciousness such an experience of the Divine Reality, as if it were a manifestation of an independent existing spiritual entity, and with whom man enters into an intimate encounter and mutual confrontation, thus manifesting themselves in both their conspicuousness and concealment, but always appearing as verifiably transparent by an act of transcendental believing and ecstatic admiration.

The ground for the variety of theanthropic experiences is the existential fact of human doubleness which each individual human being can resolve in various forms, depending on both dispositions (diathesis) and division (diastasis) of the individual man towards himself and God. Therefore, the virtual reality of believing in and worshipping of a particular Deity/Spirit is the »lan vital of the human soul, and the virtual reality of sacrosanct representations of the Divine Reality in/of theantropic consciousness gives man a direction to establish a dynamic and vivid diathetical disposition to the divine, by experiencing it through a confidence of existing of a specific communal bound with a particular deity, by a spiritual communication with it through meditations and prayers, and by a communion within given spiritual entities which are concealed in each and every individual human mind and heart, which link the physical organic body with its psyche.

The very structure of community, communication and communion of a virtual reality of sacrosanct representations of the Divine Reality, however, point to the existence in the human mind of some sensible and/or supersensible images as if they were both sub- and supra-spiritual entities, and that with whose entities human beings are entering into a mutual interaction. In general, these various sensible images of the mutual intelligible nexus between men and spirits, consists of sharing and participating in the same visible universe (kŘsmos aisthetos), which is the divine manifestation of the intelligible forms in human soul in a reflected manner (eikonikos), though not as their 'mere' but their 'real' radiation (emphaseis) of the Divine.

In general, any theantropic consciousness understood in terms of a virtual reality of sacrosanct representations of the Divine Presence, is based on a conception of a world of manifold dualities: there is no bright side without a dark one; pleasures and pains are inseparable twins, and one has no meaning without the other; the intensity of light varies with its counterpart of darkness; life is a struggle and the more fortitude a person acquires for steering of its ups and downs, the better fitted he is to live in it. Every inch of pain permeates human feelings, and is experienced as his weakness. In such existential situation, man realizes a need to turn not only to the Divine for help, but to become strong in overcoming the existential fragility of a world of manifold dualities.

Man ought to be strong, because God is not realizable by the weak, as it is taught by the Upanishad. The reason for this is the fact that God being Almighty and Omnipotent, His Supreme Power will destroy rather than resolve human existential frailty. Therefore, man must gain strength from deities or God, and make himself worthy of His union, by checking the constant dissipation of his energy through vain wanderings of his mind and heart. Bhakti has to surrender unconditionally to a chosen deity, and yoga has to develop the sense of harnessing oneself to god, seeking union with his god. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says: "With self-control and having equal regard for all, they too, who are attached to the service of all beings, attain Me."

Moreover, although the Divine pervades the whole reality and shines everywhere, nevertheless man has to discipline his body and soul in order to not dissipate the divine energy by wanderings of his mind and heart. Mind must be freed from all disturbances and becomes filled to the brim with calmness of tranquillity, thus becoming content, neither desiring nor detesting, but accommodating to all conditions of life. The rising tide of Bhakti sweeps away all other kinds of emotions and desires, and displaces all other worldly attachments, detestation and fear, bringing in a happy sweetness of divine blissfulness. God as a source of the ultimate happiness is according to the Upanishad: "The Lord of the Universe past, present and future. From Him is nothing hidden. Knowing HIM one knows Himself and is freed from cares. Verily such is the Lord, of the size of a thumb resembling a smokeless glow of light residing within the heart." Deities and God, according to the Rigveda, resides in the heart of every human being from the very beginning of their birth, like twins with one body.

II

In his religious consciousness of the divine virtual reality of his theantropic nature, man experiences his reality by both the natural environment, composed of the variety of living and non-living things with which he coexists in a particular place and time, and his human existential conditions which compel him to actualize himself in a unique way. In other words, in his self-reflection man experiences his divine virtual reality as double, i.e., as entity existing in a unity with the remaining visible reality, which is by the same token his natural habitat, and as an incarnated being which enforces him to actualize his distinctive nature among the plurality of other solitary human beings.

Theantropy so understood is the ultimate foundation of religious beliefs through which man hopes to realize divinity in his life, and which manifests the human and the divine in man's consciousness in a form of communication, community and communion, both in individual and in social life. In his commentary on Haggai, St. Cyril of Alexandria writes:

Haggai, therefore, declares that peace will be given to all who build. One builds the Church either as a mistagog of the sacred mysteries, as one set over the house of God, or as one who works for his own good by setting himself forth as a living and spiritual stone in the holy temple, God's dwelling place in the Spirit. The results of these efforts will profit such men so that each will be able to gain his own salvation without difficulty.

Theantropy, then, as the existential experience of the Divine Word is a phenomenon of crossroads of the human and the divine in man's consciousness, and it consists in a process of trans-revelation of the Divine Word in various spiritual experiences of each and every person, thus constituting an ecumenical movement which has a transcultural character of different religious beliefs. In general, the Divine Word is transcendent in His own nature, but revealed as immanent reality in human consciousness, namely, the Divine power is residing under the human conditions, though as a capax Dei who is able to "save his soul and guide his mind to carry out exactingly the demands of virtue."

The theantropic experience of man so understood, unfolds its ecumenical nature and transcultural character, thus manifesting different modes of the divine image according to a twofold motion of ascendancy and descendency of the human being towards the divine. As a matter of fact, the ecumenical nature and transcultural character of theantropic experiences is based on a principle of complementarity, through which the human and the divine components of man's consciousness constitute different modes of a specific synergetic resemblances.

The reflections on religiosity of man takes shapes in his various forms of theantropic 'self-realization' of each and every individual human being, as they are experienced in different cultures and civilizations. The theantropic experience of man, then, unfolds its ecumenical nature and transcultural character, thus manifesting different modes of divine image according to a twofold motion of ascendancy and descendency of the human being towards the divine.

The ecumenical nature and the transcultural polarization of theantropic experiences of man, however, do not consist of a simplistic evolutionary development of various possible religious speculations nor of a syncretic deliberations of different pseudo-religious systems, such as anthroposophy or theosophy, gnosticism or occultism, cabalism or esoterism, panpsychism or spiritism, etc. In general, the authentic and genuine theantropic experiences of human beings consist in the trans-revelation of the Divine Word to all people and as it is "manifested in his own proper time" (Tt: 1,3).

III

The trans-revelation of the Divine Word within the theantropic experiences of the human beings consist in the ontic parallelism between the human and the divine in man, and in various religious beliefs is manifested according to different modes of diastatical separation and diathetical disposition of human religiosity. Now, the revelation of the Divine Word takes place in different times and in various forms, and "will be written upon the human heart" (Rom: 2,15). Referring to the Judeo-Christian tradition, Aphraates writes:

God established a law for Adam, that he could not eat of the tree of life. He gave to Noah the sign of the rainbow in the clouds. He then gave Abraham, chosen for his faith, the mark and seal of circumcision for his descendants. Moses was given the Passover lamb, the propitiation for the people. Every covenant was proved firm and trustworthy in its own time, and those who have been circumcised in heart are brought to life.

Now, the ontic parallelism of the human and the divine in man with its trans-revelation nature consists, first of all, in the diathetical disposition of the Divine Word to be coequally distributed to all adherents of any religion whatsoever, because the Divine Word of God cannot contradict itself, or be restricted only to a particular group of people. On the contrary, the Divine Word of God is offered to all men of faith, as can be seen in the case of both sons of Abraham of the Old Testament, or the obligation to spread the Gospel to all the nations of the New Testament. As an illustration of such an ontic parallelism the theantropic experience of the human and the divine in man can serve the promise of God to grant the covenant to both sons of Abraham, and the kerygmatic order to proclaim the gospel to all people.

But, the ontic parallelism of theantropic experience of the human and the divine in man, on the one hand, and the trans-revelation of the Divine Word in various religious beliefs as "manifested in his own proper time", on the other hand, explains the different modes of both diastatical separation and diathetical disposition of human religiosity. However, since the manifestation of the Divine Word is found in various religious systems of belief differently according to a given time and place, then the nature of the trans-revelation of the Divine Word of God requires that the ontic parallelism of theantropic experiences of man is developing gradually, thus taking various forms of beliefs in different religions. The reason for this is that the Divine Word cannot contradict itself, and as such it must be reciprocal within each and every religious system of beliefs and thoughts. In other words, no religion can claim to be the only legitimate heritor of the Divine Revelation, and to have the exclusive legitimate rights to the Divine Word in its entirety. Even in the Judeo-Christian Bible the Divine Word of God is universal and is addressed to people of all nations.

The ontic parallelism with the trans-revelation of the Divine Word in man, is based on absolute Truth, but always realized in his consciousness in a complimentary manner amidst different religious systems of belief. Therefore, the ontic parallelism with its trans-revelation of the Divine Word in man, presupposes that there is an ontic complementarity of the Divine Word, both from within and from without, in all the genuine religious systems of beliefs, and any authentic theantropic experience of man mustůby its very natureůbe ecumenical, and as such be based on an allosympathic feelings towards each and every authentic Divine Inspiration. In other words, the principle of complementarity of the Divine Word consists of the allosympathetic dialogue, thus making any religious ecumenical movement consistent with the Divine Revelation in its entirety and abundance. As a matter of fact "there is no one alive today," Arnold Tonbee once said, "who knows enough to say with confidence whether one religion has been greater than all others." Commenting on the need to follow the principle of complementarity of the Divine Word in the totality of the whole of the Divine Revelation, Cyril of Jerusalem describes the symbolum fidei as follows:

This summary of the faith was not composed at man's whim; the most important sections were chosen from the whole Scripture to constitute and complete a comprehensive statement of the faith. Just as the mustard seed contains in a small grain many branches, so this brief statement of the faith keeps in its heart, as it were, all the religious truth to be found in Old and New Testament alike. That is why, my brothers, you must consider and preserve the traditions you are now receiving. Inscribe them across your heart.

Anyone, then, involved in an ecumenical dialogue with an allosympathetic feelings, has to evaluate his religious convictions, as if they were contrasted to each other, and evaluated not from the point of view of the Divine Revelation alone, but as it is held within a particular religious system of beliefs as well. Now, the 'allosympathetic dialogue' can be defined as an ecumenical encounter between two minds, who are finding themselves in an existential confrontation of their divergent meanings of the same Divine Word, but unveiled at different stages in the history of the Divine Revelation, yet simultaneously approaching to disclose the common ground of both opposition and resemblance of their beliefs. In this sense, allosympathetic dialogue consists of a parallelism of the same Divine Truth, which is experienced ecumenically according to different cultural and religious traditions.

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