2010, An-Nahar, Articles

Christ the Mediator / 29-05-2010

Why and in what sense Paul had said, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”? (1Timothy 2: 5) The main idea is that “God… through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2Corinthians 5: 18), since we, as the children of wrath, were set aside from filiation to God. As we, similar to Adam, have inherited Adam’s deficiency and were banished from the paradise. The word ‘paradise’ means generally to be in the presence of God without indicating the enjoyment of the perfect bliss; neither referring to a place. In addition to this, in Eastern Christian terminology ‘paradise’ refers to our condition after death, whenever God receives [our souls]. In Orthodoxy, it is only after resurrection that the righteous ones arrive at heaven. However, they are near God, waiting for the final blessings that we inherit with all the saved ones.

We were in the order of the prophetic word and the prophets and we were spared after the Mosaic Law has exposed our misery and disclosed sin to us, and this was its only benefit. However, we approached the hope with the coming of the divine words, which we have attempted to make our home. Yet, we needed an integral home where we could stay forever, and that is the Word that “became flesh and dwelt among us … we have beheld his glory” (John 1: 14). As we were children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son calling out: “Abba”, i.e. Father. In His putting on humanity, Christ has assumed the human nature and He said, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends” (John 15: 15). Our sonship to God has been revealed through God’s manifesting of His Son as human, while He has carried, physically, the fullness of divinity. Because of these two dimensions in His being, He could be the mediator between God, as He is God’s begotten, and humanity, as He is also their begotten. Christ’s mediation between God, as He has God’s essence, and humanity, and He is [also] from their essence, became possible since the Son became human while remaining in unity with God. In His humanity, clothed by divinity, He could become a mediator. This is why the apostle had said that the mediator is the man Jesus Christ. Mediation is then the salvation that has occurred once at one time in the economy accomplished in death, as we chant on the Vigil of Great Saturday. Since this is how [salvation] is, there is no sense in the prevalent saying in the West that Mary is a co-Redeemer. She is unable to be efficacious concerning salvation, since she is pure human, rather she has been saved. The ‘poetic’ speech concerning her participation in the salvific work denies the confinement of salvation to the Lord.

Whenever the Byzantine Church calls: “Most Holy Theotokos, save us”, and what resembles it, this is also poetic speech denoting that Mary caries to us the salvific work which is given to us by the grace of Jesus Christ alone, since she asks for salvation in her prayer rather than she accomplishes it as its maker. [However,] prayers are not necessarily a source of dogma. Devout people have written them with the thrust of their adherence to the saints and sometimes without theological precision.

Whenever we use mediatory expressions in relation to the Virgin and the saints, this does not mean anything more than our belief that by participation in the divine powers they supplicate for us. What does this supplication mean and what is its biblical or traditional basis; do not concern our reflection today. It expresses the unity of the people of heaven and earth in their orientation toward the one God. In our apprehension of the Evangelical churches, we see that they are heedless of the feeling of this unity, which we call the community of saints. Christ’s resurrection implies that it is efficient today, i.e. at the time between its occurrence and the End-time. We look at those who are in glory and we converse with them, since “he is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Luke 20: 38). We believe that the present time, the Church’s time, is a real range of salvation that is actually given, and not only delayed to what might become. We do not imagine that time is void of Christ’s presence neither that time is governed by death alone.

When we chant, “Christ has risen” we believe that this resurrection wraps our dying body and stings it by the paschal sting. I admit that Paul had mentioned only the two resurrections, since some of his Greek readers doubted in the second resurrection. Concerning the emerging of the human nature, i.e. its carrying out the living Christ, this is what we referred to [about the continuous presence of Christ], otherwise, what is the meaning of his speech about the new creation? The paschal reality of the human being is very clear in John: “he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6: 47) “And this is eternal life, that they may know You” (John 17: 3). [This reality is contemporary], it is now.

I think that in relation to ‘mediation’ we must understand the saying of the Lord in John: “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14: 6) This statement is about the mystery of economy, which has been realized on the ground through the inclination of the divine Mystery, and on this disclosure and the Christian revelation are grounded. You came from the earth, from redemption, which has occurred on the earth and the heaven has approved it. You transcend to heaven since you have descended from heaven through the Holy Spirit. The person’s journey to the Father starts with baptism, which is the expansion of Christ to us through His Spirit. This is drawn out from the mystery of economy and it is associated with the preached Word. You proceed toward the author of the Word, whenever you hear it and this takes place within Christ’s movement to the Father. [However,] this statement does not apply on those who were not preached by the Gospel and have not heard it.

Here on earth, Christ “the Christian” did not reveal Himself to all creation. Over thousands of kilometers, far and wide in China, no one has heard about Jesus of Nazareth. How shall they come to the Father? The claim that the Gospel has been preached everywhere is nonsense. The Christian Church has a limited presence, in the West, the Near East and some few regions in Asia. Many African regions have not heard about the Gospel. How shall they come to the Father?

Proclamation is the condition for faith, and whoever believes after the proclamation is saved. However, proclamation is not about what reaches one’s ear, but what reaches the heart. And the question, that why this happens to some without others, is a mystery that is not revealed to us. When the Scripture says: “those who do not believe are condemned” (John 3: 18), this statement assumes that proclamation has occurred and it has reached the heart, thus, the person announces it with his/her tongue.

Christ revealed the sonship of the human being to God. There are some who are aware of their sonship, and others who are not. Does this make their sonship inactive?”

There is a faith-assumption I put it here in the form of a question: Does Christ reveal Himself to every dead person in order to fulfill his statement: “No one comes to the Father except through Me”? (John 14: 6) Nothing has descended upon us from heaven in this concern. However, I believe that triumphant Christ embraces all whom God receives, every soul whose possessor has died. I am not intending to deal with an attestation which has not appeared in the Gospel. Can the human being be saved regardless of the religion one belongs to? Here is the role of Hope. We hope that Christ is beyond all spiritual affiliation in this world, so that He might gather all the children of God, from all the folds to His Father. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.” (John 10: 16)

I am not talking about the equality of all religions in the truth. My hope is that God’s love may conquer all limitations, since God is love. God does not denounce what God has said. However, is what has been revealed by God the whole revelation, or God’s compassion is the final word, though I said what Christ has said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me”? Whenever I say that Christ’s statement is relative and not absolute, I would have disbelieved. However, His word is associated with the mystery of His death and His triumph through death. That is to say that we must read the words of the Master in the light of that which has occurred and in the light of forgiveness for the entire human race.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “المسيح الوسيط” –An Nahar- 29-05-2010

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