The touch of Totality

Advent thoughts about the knowledge of God
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1. A life distancing itself from Totality will not be fulfilled. Man is an animal especially sensitized for novelties. This leads to insatiability, anxiety and a need to increase our possessions. A life without knowing Totality remains unfulfilled and restless. That is why the attempts to fulfill such a life will never end. (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. Having a life, which thinks that it "knows" Totality is a trap. The history of mankind is full of such attempts which wanted to possess Totality. Making an idol, creating dependence and attempts to "get to know" Totality were all ways to achieve possession. If we think that we got to know Totality, we squeeze Totality into the narrow conceptual framework that we have been able to create. This is a trap. With all this I do not want to say – by far – that the efforts to increase our knowledge on God would be harmful. However, we must see that the more complicated way we describe God, the more far away we get from the fulfilling, infinite simplicity of God’s permanence, totality and magnificent Silence. The "theology of glory" based solely on the compliance with the law is not only a trap because it places the law above Christ and God and its compliance creates pride and presumptuousness in us, but also because it puts ourselves above God, too, by the fact that it presumes that Totality is likely to be fully known. To strive for the knowledge of Totality is a trap. There is only one way to "know" Totality: if we dedicate ourselves to it – entirely. If we become open to the call of Totality: Totality will embrace us. IT IS what has been made available by Jesus’s incarnation and sacrifice of the Cross. IT IS what we celebrate at every feast, and at Christmas, too. IT IS what we are preparing for during Advent. (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. On the way to the touch of Totality. To become open for the call of Totality can be a consequence of a moment. Accepting Totality is very often a long process of an entire life that will only be fulfilled by seeing the Kingdom of God "face to face". Real life starts when man can see Christ. Real life becomes fulfilled at the moment of seeing Christ. Starting from this moment, this moment becomes a part of our life forever. I wish all my Readers that this year’s Advent would give more openness for all of You to embrace Totality. (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

 


 

Introduction. This essay is published for the third Sunday of Advent. Advent is the season of becoming silent and listening to our soul. My previous essay was written about this. Advent is also the season of preparation. It is important to give ourselves a chance for that Jesus is born also within us – not only besides us. Advent may increase the purity in ourselves which may accept Jesus and in which God’s voice can be heard. This “self-impoverishment” prepares the most important enrichment in our lives. I hope that this essay will help You experience this year’s Christmas, being better prepared for really knowing the incarnated God.

 

1. A life distancing itself from Totality will not be fulfilled

 

"Conversion is the greatest possible satisfaction
of man’s most comprehensive feeling of deprivation."

(Aladár Gáncs,Hungarian  Lutheran priest, 1930)

 

"I only possess what I can give away,
because if I cannot give a certain possession away,
this proves that, in fact, this possession possesses me"

(Pope Francis, 7 November, 2018)

 

 

Man is an animal especially sensitized for novelties. That is why we have become insatiable, because everything new turns to old quickly. Novelties cause distress, too. We can overcome our anxiety only with knowing, controlling and possessing these novelties. A life without knowing Totality can never end the useless circles of the “have more and more” and anxiety. A life without knowing Totality remains unfulfilled and restless. That is why the attempts to fulfill such a life will never end. In a life without knowing Totality, such a comprehensive lack of peace becomes permanent, in which most moments remain unsatisfied desire and unsettled unrest.

 


 

2. Having a life, which thinks that it "knows" Totality is a trap

 

"The things which are in part can be apprehended, known, and expressed;
but the Perfect cannot be apprehended, known, or expressed by any creature as creature."

(Theologica Germanica, Chapter 1)

"God escapes all conception rather than being affirmed to be something.
For in the realm of creatures that which escapes the condition of creation is not found."

(Nicolaus Cusanus: De Deo abscondito, 15.)

 

If we have realized that a life without knowing Totality remains unfulfilled, then the solution is quite simple: let’s know Totality. The history of mankind is full of such attempts which wanted to possess Totality. A simple way of acquiring possession of something has been making an idol. "Totality" stands here in my tent, it has a beginning and an end, I have prepared it, I can smash it, so I “know Totality", "Totality" is mine. A more sophisticated way of acquiring possession of something is creating dependence. I offer a sacrifice for Totality, for which Totality becomes my "debtor", because I have gained its grace. An even more sophisticated way of acquiring possession of something is "knowing" Totality. I came to know Totality and I have an increasing, close to complete knowledge about it. This is why I do not have to be afraid of Totality, since I already know it.

 

"I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it."
(Thomas à Kempis: Imitation of Christ 1.1.)

 

We have to realize that Totality is Totality because it cannot be possessed, cannot "be obliged", and cannot be known. That is why the Old Testament’s approach is immensely honorable, as, realizing this, it has not even named Totality, and has made it clear that meeting Totality exceeds man’s comprehension so much that man getting an unrestricted experience of Totality dies (Exodus 33:20; 1 Kings 19:11-13). If we think that we got to know Totality, we squeeze Totality into the narrow conceptual framework that we have been able to create. If we think this over thoroughly we can realize that by limiting Totality we have made a much bigger trouble than if we had not been aware of Totality at all. By not being aware of it we would "only" restrict the course of world passively with excluding "only" ourselves from the essence of it. But with "domesticating" and "enchaining" Totality (no matter how chanceless it is) we do actively against the omnipotence of Totality.

 

With all this I do not want to say – by far – that the efforts to increase our knowledge on God would be harmful. It is beautiful, how the Old Testament summarizes the knowledge about God’s nature: God is just, merciful, gracious, faithful, long-suffering and permanent (Psalms 33:4; 86:15; Malachias 3:6). But I would like to emphasize that we have to handle the "knowledge" gained about God with immense humility. We continuously have to be aware of the fact that our entire "knowledge of God" can reach neither the smallest bit of Totality nor even its conceptual framework. With the more "knowledge" and the more complicated way we describe God, the more far away we get from the fulfilling, infinite simplicity of God’s permanence, totality and magnificent Silence.

 

"The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life,
cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him."

(Martin Luther, Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 1)

 

Here we can understand the first thesis of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation from a new point of view. The law given by God prevents man to its way to righteousness also because any kind of approach of God’s totality that can be comprehended by a man (also God’s laws themselves, which were phrased understanding and respecting our quite strong limitations) takes something away from God’s totality and the omnipotence of His will. If we are not aware of this continuously and deeply (if we do not have fear of God), it is a much bigger sin than committing a real sin. (I write about the fear of God here in more details. You will find more about the theology of the cross and glory in my essay published on 19th April, on Good Friday.) Not any system of law will ever be able to reflect the complexity the will of God fairly because the total reflection of Totality can only be Totality itself. That is why it is also true that in all such cases when mercy and law conflict each other, respecting the example of Jesus it is very important to consider whether mercy overrides the law in the given situation or not. The "theology of glory" based solely on the compliance with the law is not only a trap because it places the law above Christ and God and its compliance creates pride and presumptuousness in us, but also because it puts ourselves above God, too, by the fact that it presumes that Totality is likely to be fully known. Law is a by far not total reflection of God’s will. It is an important element of this that "law is not able to produce or induce what it demands." (Gerhard O. Forde: On Being a Theologian of the Cross). So as a central element law requires love but love is created by the Trinity in us and not by compliance with the law.

 


 

To strive for the knowledge of Totality as an ultimate goal is a dead-end.
Moreover! It is even worse: a trap.
There is only one way to "know" Totality:
if we dedicate ourselves to it – entirely.
If we become open to the call of Totality:
Totality will embrace us.
IT IS what has been made available by Jesus’s incarnation and sacrifice of the Cross.
IT IS what we celebrate at every feast, and at Christmas, too.
IT IS what we are preparing for during Advent.

 


 

3. On the way to the touch of Totality

 

"At last there is a path where you can look for God within yourself:
the path of abolishing the borders. ... If we have accepted the Word of God,
the power of divine filiation is conceived in our logical souls. ...
So for the mind to know everything is nothing else
than to see yourself as a reflection of God, which is the Divine Filiation itself."

(Nicolaus Cusanus: De Deo abscondito, 50, 53, 87.)

 

To become open for the call of Totality can be a consequence of a moment. Accepting Totality is very often a long process of an entire life that will only be fulfilled by seeing the Kingdom of God "face to face". To become open for the call of Totality is the most important, Essential moment of our lives. The closing sentence of the lecture of Emese Bódi, professor of the Lutheran Theological University, recently given at the Luther College meant a lot to me. Emese was born sightless. Thanks to a surgery taken at her early childhood she has gained sight but only to a very limited extent. She has graduated the university learning the teaching materials recorded on thousands of audio tapes. Having this background it was a life changing moment when she said: "From the perspective of the Essence, does it count that Apostle Paul regained his sight after returning from the road to Damascus?" Let us think this over very thoroughly... Emese has phrased the miracle standing in the center of our faith beautifully. Real life starts when man can see Christ. Real life becomes fulfilled at the moment of seeing Christ. Starting from this moment, this moment becomes eternal. Amen.

 

I wish all my Readers that this year’s Advent
would give more openness for all of You to embrace Totality.

 

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