Posted by: gcarkner | April 19, 2013

Transcendence & the Good…3

Transcendence & the Human Good: the Incarnation

Transcendent divine goodness is present and accessible in the human sphere through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Transcendence does not therefore mean aloofness and indifference, or a burdensome or unreachable standard of perfection, but rather a creative, fruitful engagement with the world, society and its institutions. Transcendent divine goodness takes on an historical and christological determination in order to impact the human moral world.

By reading the moral life through the life of Christ, one cannot espouse a minimalist and juridical conception of the moral life that merely acts on what is permitted and forbidden. We find a moral life that makes sense in the light of a Christ who is full of goodness, who incarnates goodness in human flesh, and articulates it historically and culturally with integrity. D. S. Long (2001) appeals to the moral normativity of the life of Jesus.

“In Christian theology, Jesus reveals to us not only who God is but also what it means to be truly human. This true humanity is not something we achieve on our own; it comes to us as a gift … The reception of this gift contains an ineliminable element of mystery that will always require faith. Jesus in his life, teaching, death and resurrection and ongoing presence in the church and through the Holy Spirit … orders us towards God. He directs our passions and desires towards that which can finally fulfil them and bring us happiness … [and] reveal to us what it means to be human.” (pp. 106-7)

This immanence offers the option of life of the self, lived not autonomously but in cooperation with divine wisdom and goodness. In the incarnation of Jesus Christ, goodness is made accessible, personal and real; it is not left as an abstract unattainable ideal, or a wholly other reality alone; it is transcendent goodness expressed in immanent reality.

Within this plausibility structure, the roots for the ethical life, the transcendent condition for this life, lie in God, not in a mythological ontology of freedom (Foucault). Jesus and his followers, the church are the dynamic unity between the transcendent and the temporal, the absolute and the contingent.

The relational goodness of God is discovered not by means of a mere abstract speculation but in human lives oriented toward God, subjectivity engaged and inspired by the needs of the human Other, as well as by the goodness of God. Therefore, the first human life to consider for this position of hope is the life of Jesus.

This trinitarian goodness is a gift, and profoundly it is the gift of Jesus Christ. He is God’s goodness embodied, God’s own self. The big shift from Foucault’s interpretation is that the human self, in this case, is constituted by its engagement with the divine self in the process of discovering spiritual and moral epiphany. This is an encounter which provides transformation of the self. The focus is on love not power. One does have a relationship with one’s own self, but one can also have a relationship with a transcendent self who is goodness, love in communion.

~Gord Carkner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: