Q & A 10

Catechism

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About God

5. Members of EMMI-FAICL should have a profound knowledge of the Cosmic Christ. [Not Biblical and not Dogma]

In the John prologue, the gospel identifies Christ as the Logos or Word. In Ancient Greek philosophy, the term logos meant the principle of cosmic reason. In this sense, it was similar to the Hebrew concept of Wisdom, God's companion and intimate helper in creation. The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo merged these two themes when he described the Logos as God's creator of and mediator with the material world. According to Stephen Harris, the gospel adapted Philo's description of the Logos, applying it to Jesus, the incarnation of the Logos.

Another possibility is that the title logos is based on the concept of the divine Word found in the Targums (Aramaic translation/interpretations recited in the synagogue after the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures). In the Targums (which all post-date the first century but which give evidence of preserving early material), the concept of the divine Word was used like Philo, namely, for God's interaction with the world (starting from creation) and especially with his people, e.g. Israel, was saved from Egypt by the action of "the Word of the LORD," both Philo and the Targums envision the Word as being manifested between the cherubim and the Holy of Holies.

In the beginning, was the Cosmic Christ, and the Cosmic Christ was with God, and the Cosmic Christ was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through the Cosmic Christ, all things were made; without the Cosmic Christ, nothing was made that has been made.  In the Cosmic Christ was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light so that through him, all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gave light to everyone was coming into the world.  The Cosmic Christ was in the world, and though the world was made through the Cosmic Christ, the world did not recognize him.

In the modern period, a renewed interest in the cosmic Christ would arise among a number of Western scholars interested in developing an eco-theology.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was among the first to speak again of a cosmic Christ in the 1920s and 1930s. He understood the Incarnation as bringing the historical Christ into the material world and, through evolution, leading all creation towards perfection in the Omega Point (Omega-Christ).

Later scholars, such as Joseph Sittler, Matthew Fox, Richard Rohr and Jürgen Moltmann, would likewise speak about the need to reclaim a cosmic Christology to speak about Christ's concern for creation.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ, 1 May 1881 – 10 April 1955, was a French Jesuit priest, scientist, paleontologist, theologian, philosopher and teacher. He was Darwinian in outlook and the author of several influential theological and philosophical books. He took part in the discovery of the Peking Man. He conceived the vitalist idea of the Omega Point. With Vladimir Vernadsky, he developed the concept of the noosphere.

 His posthumously published book, The Phenomenon of Man, set forth a comprehensible account of the unfolding of the cosmos and the evolution of matter to humanity, to ultimately a reunion with Christ. In the book, Teilhard abandoned literal interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favour of allegorical and theological interpretations. The unfolding of the material cosmos is described from primordial particles to the development of life, human beings and the noosphere, and finally to his vision of the Omega Point in the future, which is "pulling" all creation towards it. He was a leading proponent of orthogenesis, the idea that evolution occurs in a directional, goal-driven way. Teilhard argued in Darwinian terms with respect to biology, and supported the synthetic model of evolution, but argued in Lamarckian terms for the development of culture, primarily through the vehicle of education.

The Holy Office did not, however, place any of Teilhard's writings on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Forbidden Books), which still existed during Teilhard's lifetime and at the time of the 1962 decree.

Shortly thereafter, prominent clerics mounted a strong theological defence of Teilhard's works. Henri de Lubac (later a Cardinal) wrote three comprehensive books on the theology of Teilhard de Chardin in the 1960s. While de Lubac mentioned that Teilhard was less than precise in some of his concepts, he affirmed the orthodoxy of Teilhard de Chardin and responded to Teilhard's critics: "We need not concern ourselves with a number of detractors of Teilhard, in whom emotion has blunted intelligence." Later that decade, Joseph Ratzinger, a German theologian who became Pope Benedict XVI, spoke glowingly of Teilhard's Christology in Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity:

It must be regarded as an essential service of Teilhard de Chardin's that he rethought these ideas from the angle of the modern view of the world and, in despite of a not entirely unobjectionable tendency toward the biological approach, nevertheless, on the whole, grasped them correctly and in any case made them accessible once again.

Over the next several decades' prominent theologians and prelates, including leading cardinals, all wrote approvingly of Teilhard's ideas. In 1981, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, wrote on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, l'Osservatore Romano:

What our contemporaries will undoubtedly remember, beyond the difficulties of conception and deficiencies of expression in this audacious attempt to reach a synthesis, is the testimony of the coherent life of a man possessed by Christ in the depths of his soul. He was concerned with honouring both faith and reason, and anticipated the response to John Paul II's appeal: "Be not afraid, open, open wide to Christ the doors of the immense domains of culture, civilization, and progress."

On 20 July 1981, the Holy See stated that, after consultation with Cardinal Casaroli and Cardinal Franjo Šeper, the letter did not change the position of the warning issued by the Holy Office on 30 June 1962, which pointed out that Teilhard's work contained ambiguities and grave doctrinal errors.

Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, incorporates Teilhard's vision as a touchstone of the Catholic Mass.

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