Yesterday we considered St. Augustine’s role in establishing the introspective conscience of the West at the expense of the idea of divinization as taught in Eastern Christianity.
And how Mother Earth and indigenous peoples around the world have paid a frightful price for that neglect. Today we will dig deeper.
Augustine’s emphasis on introspection brings more guilt and shame and diminishing of the self into religion. A fall/redemption tradition that ignores the cosmos can readily exaggerate individual sinfulness while often ignoring societal injustices and evil itself.
Augustine has no Cosmic Christ (though there is one in Paul and in the Gospels). Theologian Leo Scheffczyk writes:
The stress which Augustine lays on the immanent Trinity and its metaphysical and psychological interpretation helps to explain why he fails to develop the notion of Christ’s cosmic role or arrive at a vision of the world in the framework of the economy of salvation.
An exaggerated individualism poses the question: “Am I saved?”–which, as Stendahl points out, is not a Biblical question.
Philosopher R. A Markus comments on Augustine’s attitude toward nature.
The world of nature was not in itself an object of particular interest in Augustine. In Cosmological thinking of the kind to be found in Aristotle’s Physics, for instance, he had little interest.
Esteemed scientist Michael Polanyi writes:
When St Augustine denied the value of a natural science which contributed nothing to the pursuit of salvation…his ban destroyed interest in science all over Europe for a thousand years.
This makes all the more exciting and important the new cosmology that Webb Telescope and other findings invite us into today. They awaken us to the larger context of where we come from and when the cosmos began its 13.8 billion year journey (or more) that brought Earth and us into existence. A healthy religion invites a grateful response.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, pp. 75-77.
See also Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
Also see Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.
Banner Image: “Am I saved?” Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
What is your response to the news of the universe being shared by Webb Telescope and the new cosmology and cosmogenesis? Does it include gratitude and wonder and awakened reverence for existence?
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
“Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.
Stations of the Cosmic Christ
By Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus.
This is a book of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, accompanying the images of 16 wonderful clay tablets by Javier Ullrrich Lemus and M.C. Richards. Together, these images and meditations go far beyond the traditional Stations of the Cross to inspire a spirit awakening and understanding of the cosmic Christ Consciousness, Buddha consciousness, and consciousness of the image of God in all beings, so needed in our times.
“A divinely inspired book that must be read by every human being devoted to spiritual and global survival. It is cosmically brilliant.” — Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit