I believe in a divine Creator who exists outside of his creation and yet is actively involved in it. I believe this Creator, though he transcends historical time and space, is the prime mover of history—both sacred and secular. I believe this Creator created the first man and woman in his own image to live in a state of grace, but that they disobeyed the Creator and fell from grace. I believe that at a precise moment in time this Creator, out of his love for fallen humanity, entered into his creation in the form of a man. I believe this man, Jesus Christ, to be fully human and fully divine and believe that through his sacrificial death on the cross the reconciliation of God and man was effected. I believe Jesus resurrected bodily from the tomb, is alive today, and can be known personally and intimately by those who open their hearts to him. I believe the Creator and Jesus exist eternally in the relationship of Father and Son and yet share in the same God-head. I believe the Holy Spirit also shares in this God-head. I believe the Holy Spirit is active both in the Church and the life of each individual believer and that he endows each believer with gifts. I believe history is moving unswervingly toward a telos (a purposeful end), at which time Christ will return to establish his kingdom and judge, finally and irrevocably, all of humanity. I believe both that the soul is immortal, and that, at the Final Judgment Day, we will be clothed in glorious Resurrection Bodies like the one that Christ wore when he ascended to the Father. I believe that, after the Final Judgment, those who have received unto themselves Christ's free gift of grace will spend eternity in the presence of God (heaven) while those who have closed their hearts to this gift will be cast forever out of the presence of God (hell). I believe the Bible is a faithful and wholly trustworthy account of God's interactions with and interventions in human history, that, like Jesus, it is fully human and fully divine, and that it holds absolute authority in the life of the believer. I am a humanist. I believe man is a free and rational creature who possesses innate dignity and value, and whose life and achievements on this earth are of intrinsic and lasting worth. I believe in the power of human reason and creativity to shape and change the world, to delve into the mysteries of nature and of the human psyche, to order human society through the establishment of laws, institutions, and ethical codes, to perfect nature through the cultivation of the arts and sciences, and to preserve a record, in various mediums, of these accomplishments. I believe the proper study of man is man, and, as the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome constitute the root and first flowering of humanistic thought, I believe that Greco-Roman art, literature, history, philosophy, and religion must form the basis of any true education. I believe it is the duty of every enlightened individual to seek to know and to participate in the flow of human ideas through a study of and a grappling with the major expressions of the human imagination. I believe such a study must lead in the end to the creation of good and noble citizens who seek both to enrich their society without and to fulfill within the Socratic mandate: Know Thyself. I am a humanist Christian. In my mind, I imagine the Colossus of Rhodes, with its legs stretched out across two shores: its right foot stands poised atop Golgotha (Jerusalem); its left upon the Acropolis (Athens). Although I yearn within for the day when those two colossal legs will be drawn together in a geographical consummation that will leave both planted firmly in the good soil of Zion (New Jerusalem), I do not perceive that the opposing shores of Jerusalem and Athens are either hostile or alien. I do not hear, as Matthew Arnold did, the sound of ignorant armies clashing by night. I hear rather the low rumble of deep calling out to deep, as though the


Eastern shore were calling out to the Western like a lover wooing his beloved. And I sense, as even Arnold did in a moment of illumination, that the two shores are but torn halves of a single continent. Once unified, now divided, they are yet joined by two crisscrossing lights, two beams in darkness. The guiding light that flows from the one (Jerusalem) illuminates and dignifies the other (Athens), while the searching light that gropes outward from the other loses itself finally in the one. I am a humanist Christian. Though I admit the euphonic superiority of the alternate phrase, Christian humanist, I must still insist on the grammatical precision of the former phrase. Christian is the substantive; humanist the descriptive. I am a humanist Christian in the same sense that I am a Greek American. I, like my parents, was born and raised in America. My selfidentity, my allegiance, my very reason for being are linked to America. But my grandparents were born and raised in Greece, and there is a something in my soul that yet responds to this ancestry, that resonates with the legacy of three millennia. My firm citizenship in the one frees me to explore those elemental ties to the other that even now flow along my blood like the sound of Derwent water flowed along the dreams of the young Romantic poet, William Wordsworth. My participation in my Greek heritage individualizes and strengthens me, a strength and an individuality that I carry with me into my primary and fuller citizenship. Christian is the substantive; humanist the descriptive. Of the two, Christian, and all that it implies, is the more real, the more concrete term. In my own experience, it is the "evidence of things not seen" that forms the firm foundation of my life and thought. The Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, these are my verities, the touchstones against which I measure all earthly manifestations. I am aware that I have just switched the poles. Like Plato, I have suggested that what we loosely term heaven is, in fact, the home of the real, the essential, the actual (the Forms) while this world is but the haunt of shadows: indeed, of the shadows of shadows. Like Descartes, I have suggested that I have more proof—more real proof—of the existence of God and the soul than I do of the physical world of matter. And to some extent I mean to suggest this. The final locus of reality must belong to the one who created reality, to the cause, not the effect, to the mover, not that which is moved. The one who, though outside time, initiated, controls, and will bring to an end human history must be more truly historical than any mere facet of the historical process itself. The Incarnation is not a mere aesthetic expression of the human need for cosmic reconciliation; it is the historical and meta-historical reality that is both the source of and the answer to the deepest needs, aesthetic or otherwise, of mankind. Christ incarnate, crucified, resurrected seizes the mind with the power of reality, not of myth. It is rather those sublime expressions of humanistic thought that resonate with mythic force and that point, forward and backward, to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. # I agree with Descartes (Meditation III): "we must in the end reach a first idea, the cause of which is, as it were, the archetype in which all the reality or perfection that is in the idea only objectively, by way of representation, is contained formally [i.e., actually]." But this is as far as I go in my agreement. I stop short of any Cartesian dualism that would divide body and soul. For the very essence of reality is the Incarnation, the two-in-one, the perfect fusion of spiritual and physical, soul and body, Christian and humanist. As a humanist Christian, I refuse to mortify, denigrate, or ignore the flesh. As Christ was (and still is) fully God and fully Man, so is mankind 100% spirit and 100% body. And we will continue, like our Risen Lord, to be so when we don our Resurrection Bodies in the New Jerusalem.


God's heaven is filled with purely spiritual beings; they are called angels. Man is not such. He is not an angel, but neither is he a beast. He is a two-in-one, a fused double. As the Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of this fusion. Indeed, the controlling metaphor (and reality) of the humanist Christian vision is the Incarnation. To downplay or reject the spiritual nature of Christ—and by extension the spiritual nature of man—is to fall into stoicism, deism, and materialism. To downplay or reject the physical nature of Christ—and by extension the physical nature of man—is to fall into pantheism, gnosticism, and legalism. Each of these six "isms" marks a breakdown in that spiritual/physical fusion that is the very essence of man's nature and that, revealed and perfectly effected in Christ, is God with us, the salvation of the world. They are symptoms of a malaise, a dis-ease that sickens mind and will when the elemental harmony of body and soul is lost. The first three offer examples of what happens when what purports to be true humanism is divorced from the Christian beliefs in a real and personal Creator who controls, enters into, and redeems history. The second three offer counter examples of what happens when what purports to be true Christianity is divorced from a humanistic faith in the innate dignity of man and the redemptive potential of the flesh and its pursuits. In both cases, we are left with a paltry, ineffectual philosophy/religion that can neither fully save nor fully dignify. When carried out to its logically insane end, the former "isms" yield a frightening totalitarian world of Nazi death camps and Communist correctional facilities, a lowest-commondenominator world in which man is terrorized from without and within by what George Orwell called the Thought Police. When carried out to its insanely logical end, the latter yield an equally frightening world of inquisitions and witch hunts that kill from without and obsessive internalized feelings of guilt and self-hatred that kill from within. As a humanist Christian, it has long been my belief that when either side of the spiritual/physical make-up of man is downplayed or ignored, when true humanism and true Christianity—phrases that are, in their highest sense, equivalent—are stripped of their full import and integrity, the result is neither an expansion of human autonomy nor an exaltation of man's capacity for spiritual growth, but a lessening, a shrinking both of humanity and the human project. Indeed, I would argue that an integrated humanist Christianity provides the only firm foundation for the assertion of human dignity, the assessment of human potential, and the achievement of human goals. In what follows, I shall attempt to clarify such an integrated humanist Christianity by clearing the ground, in Socratic fashion, of all those "isms" that so often disguise themselves as true humanism or true Christianity. Like John the Baptist, I shall make bold to lift up the valleys and throw down the hills that a straight path might be laid for the coming, not of the Messiah, but of a vision of man and his universe that was made possible only by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. # This fright, this night of the mind must be dispelled, Not by the rays of the sun, nor day's bright spears, but by the face of nature and her laws. So writes Lucretius in his philosophical epic, De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things). These three lines form what is essentially the refrain of De Rerum Natura and appear in the opening passages of Books I, II, III, and VI. They are the impetus behind Lucretius' task: to found the nature of all things upon material grounds, and thus free all humanity from the irrational grip of superstition and empty ritual, the stifling fear of cruel priests and retributive deities, and the


mind-benumbing terror of eternal torment in the afterlife. Lucretius, like his Greek predecessor, Epicurus, taught that all things in the universe were composed of either atoms or void. Modern technology has shown that an entire symphony or epic film can be converted into a series of ones and zeros; Lucretius argued that everything—from music to mountains to the human soul—could be similarly reduced to a binary of atoms and void. On the basis of this atomic theory, Lucretius felt that he could explain the nature of all things and account for the variety and complexity of the universe. Like his evolutionist heirs, he believed that time + chance + the swerve of the atom was all that was needed to initiate and sustain life; like his empiricist heirs, he believed that whatever knowledge we might have of this process must come fully and solely from the senses. T. H. Huxley, defender of Humean skepticism, popularizer of Darwin's theory of evolution, and grandfather of the great agnostic, Aldous Huxley, believed, like Lucretius, that all of life can be resolvable into material building blocks. Huxley called these building blocks "protoplasm, a term that, though it may be more scientifically precise than "atoms," is philosophically and ontologically equivalent. In his well-known 1868 lecture, "On the Physical Basis of Life," Huxley agrees with Lucretius that "the order of Nature is ascertainable by our faculties" and urges his audience to eschew spiritualistic terminology that is "utterly barren" and that "leads to nothing but obscurity and confusion of ideas" and to adopt instead materialistic terminology that will "help us to exercise the same kind of control over the world of thought as we already possess in respect of the material world." For all confirmed evolutionists (from Huxley to Sagan to Gould to Dawkins), the theory of evolution performs the same function as the atomic theory did for Lucretius, namely, to provide a natural, concrete explanation for all phenomena and thus free us from dependence on any and all supernatural theories of existence. The laws and models of the atomists and evolutionists provide their adherents with a firm but illusory sense of control and autonomy, releasing them from any degree of obligation or accountability toward forces greater than themselves. This is not to say that all such theorists are atheists; it is to say, however, that the relative existence or non-existence of the supernatural has no direct bearing on their calculations, their theorems, or their cosmologies. Thus, though the existence of a deity (or deities) may be allowed, this deity is most often reduced to an idea of the mind (skepticism), to a removed, impersonal, uncaring force (stoicism), to a divine watchmaker who set the universe in motion but neither involves himself in nor reveals himself to that universe (deism), or to a concept of which nothing can be known for certain (agnosticism). As a group, these thinkers are generally disciplined people: believers in science, in order, in rationalism. Though they may attend religious services, they are, in their actions, more Hellenic than Judeo-Christian; they are followers not of the golden rule but of the golden mean: nothing in excess; everything in moderation. They live, in short, like Chaucer's "Doctour of Physik": "Of his diete mesurable [moderate] was he, / For it was of no superfluitee, / But of greet norissing and digestible. / His study was but litel on the Bible." They are generally decent chaps, propelled by simple, practical definitions of personal happiness and impelled, through the dissemination and/or implementation of these definitions, to expand personal contentment into societal well-being. Thus, if they are a Stoic, like Seneca, they will judge human happiness as the ability to live in conformity with nature, and will then go out of their way to teach this "good news" to anyone who will listen. If they are a Utilitarian, like Jeremy Bentham, they will judge human happiness as the ability to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, and will then go on to establish the rudiments of a societal plan for effecting the greatest good for the greatest number. If they


are heirs of both, they may, like John Stuart Mill, devote their whole lives to the betterment of society and the spreading of liberty and equality. They will lament, as did Mill, that Rome was converted to Christianity, not by the wise, gentle, stoic Marcus Aurelius, but by the cruel, rather barbaric Constantine; and they will do their best to ensure, through their research, their writing, and their public service, that their age, usually one of transition, will find the right leaders and the right systems to usher in a better, juster, more efficient state. # No, I neither condemn nor despise these "half-humanists" (if I may coin an admittedly prejudicial phrase). Though I do accuse most of them of traces of moral cowardice in their refusal to deal fully with the claims of an omnipotent yet personal, transcendent yet incarnate deity, I cannot fault their twin desire for personal growth and societal development. They are committed to the apprehension and propagation of truth and justice, and they believe firmly that if man could only free himself from error, superstition, and ignorance, he could establish a utopia on earth. Considered as a generic group, all these thinkers are progressives; they put their faith in the future and in the perfectibility of man. And therein lies the tragedy. For humanism without Christianity is finally a dead end; it can offer no final answer for the yearning within, at least no real, concrete, historical answer. To the Stoic (and his various heirs), Christianity rests on a series of myths. The truth, of course, is quite the opposite. Biblical, orthodox Christianity rests firmly on a real Eden and a real Fall, that, because of a fleshly Incarnation, a bloody Crucifixion, and a physical ("flesh and blood") Resurrection that occurred in historical space and time, will one day give way, not to a pale, cerebral enlightenment, but to a glorious metamorphosis, a transfiguration of our present bodies that is as magical and real as the transformation of a chrysalis into a butterfly or a seed into a mighty oak tree. Next to these awesome realities, the myths of humanism without Christianity (the laws of nature, the inner light, the one world government, the perfectibility of man) fade like flowers beneath a hot, dry August sun. I do not say these things with gloating and self-satisfaction, but with sadness and regret. Indeed, had Christ never come to this earth, I would myself be a Stoic like Marcus Aurelius, an Epicurean like Lucretius, or, like Virgil, a little bit of both. I would dull slightly my feelings, control my emotions, and temper my joy so as to bring it in line with the vast, unstoppable forces of history and the cosmos. I would seek, above all things, order and equilibrium; like a good Apollonian, I would turn up my nose at all manner of Dionysian revelries, with their irrational longings and ecstatic joys. My final goal would be to move forever beyond pleasure and pain, to spend eternity discoursing philosophy in a chatty Elysian Fields. And, of course, I would end up in limbo, in that first circle of Dante's Inferno wherein dwell the virtuous pagans, that long green field of asphodel that promises rest without peace, contentment without joy, and fulfillment without hope. C. S. Lewis has argued that it is often positive, constructive emotions (like patriotism and maternal love), rather than negative, destructive ones (like greed and lust) that keep us away from faith in Christ. Those caught in the grip of greed and lust, like those addicted to alcohol, know that there must be more to life than these enslaving, self-tormenting emotions, but those who devote themselves to patriotism and maternal love can easily come to believe that these emotions represent the pinnacle of humanity, that they are all-sufficient as the final goals of human existence. But, of course, they are not the pinnacle. They are attractive, sociallyacceptable counterfeits to that fuller love and duty that beckon us into communion with our Creator and Redeemer. Worse yet, like the "isms" discussed above, they are impostors that do


not know that they are impostors, false, dispassionate messiahs that dissuade and anaesthetize their followers from extending their search beyond the limited boundaries of the material world. And indeed, at its lowest level, all the glories of stoicism wither and fade into the seared harvest of materialism, of which, in our post-Romantic world, there have been two main crops: one futile and benign, the other rapacious and malevolent. "As an explanation of the world," writes Chesterton in the second chapter of Orthodoxy, "materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. . . . we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out. . . . [The materialist] understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world." As the true Christians (and true humanists) have long pointed out, materialism knows nothing of final causes; it deals only with the simple (efficient) causes and effects of an impersonal, clock-work universe. In the beginning, this self-limitation was a method, a tool for reaching toward truths that the superstitious multitude were reluctant or afraid to pursue—in the hands of Francis Bacon, this approach came as close as it could to true humanism. Since the late nineteenth century it has itself become a superstition, an internalized taboo that most modern thinkers are psychologically incapable of violating. In the name of rationalism, they will (quite irrationally) begin and end their inductive, a posteriori researches into the nature of reality by asserting a priori that the supernatural does not exist. Anything that violates that groundless major premise, that suggests the possibility (if not necessity) of a final cause, is rejected out of hand. Even if that suggestion of a higher reality offers the only foundation for human dignity and purpose, it must be rejected in the name of "truth." Of course, the irony here is two-fold, since all the "isms" discussed above, all those vain strivings after truth and justice, have led, in the end, to relativism. The pathos, the hollowness, the futility that is the upshot of this constrictive and finally anti-human approach to wisdom is perhaps best captured in the agonizing death-throes of Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich. In Tolstoy's story, Ilyich is a vain, self-satisfied judge who, despite youthful bouts of genteel hedonism, is at heart a stoic. He lives a life of dispassionate equilibrium that manifests itself in his just but totally impersonal treatment of his clients: in the modern worlds of business, health, and academia we would call him, simply, a professional. As the tale progresses Ilyich falls prey to a painful, deteriorating disease which eventually cuts him off from his family and his society. Isolated in his sickness, Ilyich reflects back on his life, which now appears to him to be "trivial and often nasty." In terror and despair, he begins to question how life can be so senseless and horrible: "Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done," it suddenly occurred to him. "But how could that be, when I did everything properly?" he replied, and immediately dismissed from his mind this, the sole solution of all the riddles of life and death, as something quite impossible. In its relatively benign form, materialism is a dismissal of the central riddles of humanity; it refuses even to acknowledge them. Like Ivan Ilyich, it declares both them and their solutions to be impossibilities, and, by so doing, robs humanity of its spiritual dimensions. Then, having effected this spiritual amputation, it turns its focus to the physical world of measurable sense perceptions, to progress, to commerce, to technology. For materialism, in its benign form, does often lead to social reform and the amelioration of many of the physical ills of society. From Bentham and Mill to Comte and Dewey, "benign materialism" has fought hard to relieve the physical world of ignorance and inequality. But it has nourished our bellies only to leave our spirits famished; it has fed our "efficient" yearnings


but starved our "final" yearnings; given us happiness, health, and success at the expense of joy, integrity, and purpose. Despite my natural Christian bias, I must admit that liberal democracy and the free market, and all the progress and freedom they have brought, are in great part an offspring of the deistic enlightenment. Still, I have the right, if not the duty, to ask, along with Thomas Carlyle (Sartor Resartus): "Will the whole Finance Ministers and Upholsterers and Confectioners of modern Europe undertake, in joint stock company, to make one Shoeblack HAPPY? They cannot accomplish it, above an hour or two; for the Shoeblack also has a Soul quite other than his stomach." And so I am somewhat ambivalent toward this form of materialism. It offers neither answers nor guidance to those who would seek a wider vision for humanity, who would ask those "big" questions that truly define our existence: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? And yet, it refrains from persecuting such seekers or preventing them from pursuing, on a personal level, at least, their spiritual goals. Of course, it will often demean and humiliate the humanist Christian, by consigning him to the same level playing field with the vegetarians and the cultists and the yogis, but the true humanist Christian, knowing that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man, will refrain from taking it personally. # There is, however, a more malevolent face to materialism, a dark side that, rather than simply ignore the deeper aspects of man's humanity, sets out, like O'Brien in Orwell’s 1984, to crush and remake them. And, ironically, this malevolent materialism is founded not on a gloomy pessimism but on a skewed (indeed, perverse) optimism. One of the beliefs common to most of the "isms" discussed above is that man is by nature good, a belief that did not reach full philosophical and socio-political development until the eighteenth century. Jean Jacques Rousseau, out of whose single mind, it can be argued, modernism was born, was the first thinker to proclaim openly and unapologetically that man in nature is a free and noble creature, but that society corrupts him. The troubles of society, he argued, are not to be traced to sin, to the fact that mankind has fallen from grace, but to ignorance, to a lack of proper education. While reformers like Mill set out to rectify these ills through tolerance and the freedom of ideas, others, most notably Karl Marx, turned to social planning. Society must be re-educated and returned to a state of nature in which all goods are held communally. In the case of Marx, this mistaken view of nature and man was amplified further by his materialist "faith" in the presence of an impersonal, deterministic, evolutionary force that was moving history toward this inevitable state of pure communism. It has often been held that the philosophies of Karl Marx are noble and true, but that they were corrupted and ill-administered by Stalin and Mao and the Khmer Rouge. I am not of this opinion. Stalin and Mao and the Khmer Rouge understood well the essence of Marxism: the proletariat is naturally good but is stifled and repressed by the bourgeoisie. So far, so good; one need only, it seems, overthrow the bourgeoisie and all will be well. Unfortunately, as these disciples of Marx knew well, the overthrow of the power structure was not enough. The bourgeoisie—including, ironically, many of the intellectuals who championed socialistic ideals —was not just repressive, it was corrupt; it had lost its natural goodness and so was an impediment to the restoration of that primal communist state once populated by Rousseau's noble savages. For the Marxist project to succeed, the bourgeoisie must be purged of their corruption: either through physical labor and re-education, or, if they proved irremediably corrupt, through the firing squad. It's that simple, and, yes, that vulgar.


Chesterton was not being facetious when he argued, in the final chapter of Orthodoxy, that if "we wish to pull down the prosperous oppressor we cannot do it with the new doctrine of human perfectibility; we can do it with the old doctrine of Original Sin." All utopian socialist plans to create a perfect world are doomed either to failure or to horror, for man is neither amenable nor adaptable to such a place. We had our tryst in the Garden, and, like Voltaire's Candide, we quickly rejected it. Of course, at the end, a new and better Garden (a Garden that is also a Utopian City) awaits us, but we will live there only after the one who created us has supernaturally perfected us. For now, we noble but fallen creatures ("fiery dust" as Byron called us) can only find limited happiness and rest in a state that acknowledges both the angel and the beast in man, that, in honor of our God-breathed dignity, gives us political and economic freedom but that, knowing full well that "men are not angels," institutes laws, customs, and checks and balances to keep us in order. For the trouble, finally, with stoicism and its heirs, is that they hold, at once, too low and too high an opinion of man. Either, like Lucretius and the evolutionists, they, in the hope of freeing man from his religious and superstitious fears, deny his divine origins and thus leave him stranded and stifled in a meaningless, uncaring world; or, like Marx and the social reformers, they, in hopes of raising man above the beasts, create a repressive, anti-human state in which man is little more than a beast of burden. Most of the thinkers discussed above were truly inspired, people of courage and conviction, but their humanism is only half-humanism, their visions only half-visions. They can only take us so far. Like the Ulysses of the Inferno, they can, by power of reason and tenacity alone, give us a glimpse of Purgatory (atop which, according to Dante, lies Eden). But that is all. Having caught sight of our primal home, Ulysses is at once shrouded in darkness; the rain descends, the floods come, the winds blow, and Ulysses, along with his entire rationalistic project, is pulled down to a watery tomb. # But it is not only by exalting the flesh over the spirit that humanity has left itself, stranded and bruised, in a meaningless and distinctly unnatural world. By too radically switching the poles, by exalting spirit over flesh, we have just as destructively cut ourselves off from our true human nature. Though pantheism, gnosticism, and legalism are diametrically opposed to stoicism, deism, and materialism, they lead, in the end, to the same barren grave. In a section from his esoteric masterpiece, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake succinctly and efficiently sums up the nature and inter-relationship of pantheism, gnosticism, and legalism: The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could perceive. And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity. Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects; thus began Priesthood. Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronounced that the Gods had ordered such things. Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.


Now, in this passage, Blake clearly desires to drive a wedge between pantheism on the one hand, and legalism on the other. But he is too clever for his own good. For, what he actually does is to show how pantheism, when it is filtered through the philosophies of gnosticism, yields legalism. That is to say, he traces a natural progression from a system that rejects the physical in nature to a system that rejects the physical in man. But let us step back for a moment. Unlike polytheism (the belief in many gods), pantheism teaches that all of nature is alive, animated by the spirit of God (or of the gods). Pantheists, especially those associated with nineteenth-century romanticism, are often said to be nature lovers, but this is an odd claim, since what they love is not so much nature as the spirit that pervades and moves through nature. For them, the physical matter of life is as much of an impediment to truth as it is to any neo-Platonic initiate. It is for this reason that those grand old pagan orgies often ended with the mutilation of the self or of others. Ecstatic rites are a means of leading us beyond the physical, not of carrying the physical up into the spiritual. The world of matter, physical nature, possesses no real integrity; it can be discarded when and if it ceases to cloak the divine. Just so, in the pantheistic free-love theories of Shelley, the individual, physical woman ceases to please or even to hold his attention once the Spirit of Intellectual Beauty is perceived to have left her and moved on to some other individual, physical woman. To return to the passage from Blake, we begin to see now how the human institution of Priesthood—which flows out of gnosticism and into legalism—is not a violation of the tenets of pantheism, but an extension of them. Since the Gods and Geniuses of which Blake speaks are not, like Christ, incarnate (they are merely clothed by the woods, rivers, and mountains), they may just as well dwell in laws and theorems as in cities and nations. Indeed, as the final nature of reality is pure spirit, what better receptacle than an abstract idea to house that reality. After all, there was never really an incarnational relationship between the mental deity and its object. Of course, as Blake so well realized, once this conversion from animate tree to abstract law was made, gnosticism—the belief, in part, that truth can be known, understood, and therefore possessed only by a small, elite band of gnostics (Greek for "knowers")—was the natural result. The vulgar mass, who responded well to idolatry (worshipping god in and through a tree), couldn't be expected to fathom this new idolatry (worshipping god in and through a code of laws and/or gnostic sayings), and so the tyranny of the many-who-do-not-comprehend by a coterie of the those-in-the-know (Priests) was let loose on the earth. This, in turn, leads to legalism in two forms: one for the masses; one for the elite. # The vulgar form of legalism manifests itself in a divided (today we might say compartmentalized) spiritual life. The ignorant laymen, cut off from the inner mysteries of faith, abandon themselves to a bodily form of existence. Yet, even here, they are not allowed, as perhaps the pagans were, to fool themselves into believing that their bestial life is in any way a return to innocence: to Eden or the Golden Age. Legalistic law codes (whether "Christian" or otherwise) tell them that their bodily pleasures are intrinsically evil, that they should mortify, not indulge the flesh. And yet, at the same time, the codes, and the "knowers" who enforce them, let it be known that the vulgar are incapable of even approaching such a state of ascetic devotion. Hence, the divided life. Periods of strict fasting, penance, and prayers to saints—performed with little to no understanding of the spiritual nature of these acts—alternate with bouts of physical excess. The flesh is first hated, then pandered to; feelings of guilt, paranoia, and self-disgust prevent any real peace or rest, yielding only anger, despair, and, finally, apathy. In such an environment, inquisitions and witch hunts naturally thrive.


The effects of legalism on the elite are no less soul-crushing. The "knower" also lives a divided life. If he is an extreme ascetic like Simeon Stylites (who spent decades living atop a tall, narrow pillar) he will so despise and mortify his flesh that his fleshly "triumphs" and his physical pain are all he will dwell on for most of the day. If he is a Manichean (as Augustine was before his conversion) he will view the flesh as something into which the spirit has fallen and been trapped and will believe that by eating certain foods, he can free pieces of this divine spirit. He will take a vow of chastity, not, like Paul, that he may devote his full time to the ministry of Christ, but because he thinks the flesh worthless; and then, for the same reason, he will often violate his vow to engage in orgiastic behavior devoid of all love and commitment. Finally, if he is a modern gnostic, like William Blake or Thomas Carlyle, he will call for the death of individual selfhood while, simultaneously, becoming himself an irascible, almost maniacal egocentrist. Thus, though Carlyle (Sartor Resartus) defines the "first preliminary moral Act" as the "Annihilation of Self," and though Blake (Milton) has his hero cry out that he must "put off / In Self annihilation all that is not of God alone: / To put off Self & all I have ever & ever Amen," they both spent their mature years developing their own obscure, highlypersonalized, finally incomprehensible systems of salvation. Like so many other gnostics, Blake and Carlyle set out to counter and attack the Christ-less humanism of Enlightenment deism and Victorian positivism; unfortunately, rather than do so from a humanist Christian perspective—as would Coleridge in philosophy, Newman in theology, and Browning in poetry—they chose to go to the other extreme of a hollow Christianity stripped of its humanistic roots. It is no surprise, then, that just as the Man they worshipped was more a vital force, a power of instinct and imagination than a flesh-and-blood self, so the Christ they worshipped was a Spirit Christ who had little to do with the very historical, very physical God-Man born in a manger at Bethlehem. Beneath gnosticism's low view of the body/self, there has always lurked a belief that the flesh is an unfit receptacle for divine meaning or presence, a view that must, in the end, lead to a rejection of the Incarnation. Thus, in Book V, Chapter 10 of his Confessions, Augustine explains, clearly and directly, how the Manichean’s teaching that the flesh is irredeemably corrupt made any orthodox notion of the Incarnation seem untenable: "I did not believe that a nature such as his [Christ's] could have taken birth from the Virgin Mary unless it were mingled with her flesh; and, if it were such as I imagined it to be, I could not see how it could be mingled with her flesh without being defiled. So I dared not believe in the incarnation, for fear that I should be compelled to believe that the flesh had defiled him." Here, in a nutshell, Augustine defines the heresy of docetism, the belief that Christ was divine but not human, a heresy that lies at the heart of all post-Christian gnosticism, just as Arianism, the belief that Christ was human but not divine, lies at the heart of deism. # But perhaps the most destructive element of gnosticism is not its legalistic view of the flesh but its final rejection of the integrity of the individual. Many, though not all, believers who champion soul over body, who strip humanism away from Christianity, end up believing, in one form or another, in the transmigration of souls. In modern-day America, where this belief has come into vogue, there have been novels and films touting romantic tales of reincarnation. Of course, the fact of the matter is that reincarnation is about as unromantic a teaching as possible. Love in its highest sense marks a moving out of oneself towards another, but that movement presupposes two fixed identities that maintain their integrity even as they move toward each other. Such a high view of love is profoundly and essentially incarnational; it parallels closely


the core Christian belief that when God initiated his greatest act of love by moving out of himself to become fully the man Jesus, he yet continued to be fully God. But if reincarnation is true, then this foundational integrity is just a passing, ephemeral thing. For, in the final analysis, reincarnation not only teaches that the body will, in the end, be "shuffled off," but that the personality, the selfhood, will also be discarded at death. The "doctrine" of reincarnation, whether explicitly or not, depicts the soul as a sort of pitcher filled with water. At death, this water—which represents the personality, hopes, dreams, and memories of the deceased individual—is poured out, and new water (a new personality) is poured in. Indeed, in the Platonic version of reincarnation, those souls designated to return to the earth must drink of the water of Lethe (the river of forgetfulness) before they can receive their new bodies and be reborn as new individuals. Of course, many reincarnationists believe that some drops of memory persist into the next life (hence the phenomenon of déjà vu), but, as the core of the personality has been effaced, these drops have little final meaning, and offer no real hope for the preservation of personhood after death. And this leads us, finally, to a belief that is at once the equivalent and the obverse of reincarnation, a belief that, significantly, appears both in stoicism and gnosticism: the one soul. In this teaching, the departed soul, rather than being emptied and refilled, is taken out of the human world altogether to be merged into a formless conglomerate of souls. This belief, which is essentially monistic, can be adhered to both by those who, like stoics, see nature and her laws as the single unifying principle in the cosmos (such people speak of the dead as having become one with the universe), and those who, like gnostics, view God as that principle (and speak of the dead as having returned to that divine but impersonal force that flows through all things). Thus, both the stoic Marcus Aurelius and the modern New-Age gnostic speak of a one soul into which we all will be assimilated. That is why the Transcendentalist-Unitarian Emerson, whose view of body and soul is imbalanced in both directions, is one of the great champions and popularizers of the one soul. And, indeed, Emerson is more to the point, since he is a double heir of both humanism without Christianity and Christianity without humanism. Only such a thinker could (in "The American Scholar") make the fine sounding yet absurd statement that Know Thyself and Study Nature are finally the same dictum: a statement which can only be true if one over-spiritualizes (and personalizes) nature or over-naturalizes (and objectifies) man. Either way, man loses his integrity as a unique individual whose distinct personality and memories and dreams will be preserved for eternity, not in the form of a disembodied spirit well-suited to conglomeration, but in the form of a glorious Resurrection Body, a body that will allow us, at least those of us in heaven, to relate perfectly and intimately with all of the universe while yet retaining our Godgiven and God-valued personhood. # The central and wholly unique Christian teaching of the Resurrection Body is a glorious one indeed, and yet, as I have tried to show, it—along with the wider humanist Christian vision —is incompatible with numerous ideals that have exerted great force in the west. These ideals, as we have seen, include the following: any doctrine that denies the full divinity or full humanity of Christ; any related doctrine that denies either the special creation of man in the image of God or the integrity of physical reality; any teaching that either eliminates original sin or claims that the flesh is irredeemably corrupt; any belief that, directly or indirectly, makes God inconsequential to the creation of the universe and/or the movement of history; any flirtation with reincarnation or the one soul; any system that forces all men to conform to the same ideal or


to perform the same legalistic actions. All of these beliefs, in one way or another, prevent us from growing fully into the men and women that God created us to be. They either retard our growth, making us less than human, or they pervert our growth, making us something other than human. And they all spring from an impulse that drives a wedge between the physical and spiritual sides of our being. Throughout this essay, I have, rather loosely, labeled these two impulses as humanism without Christianity and Christianity without humanism; however, as I prepare to close, I would suggest two alternate labels for these misguided (or, better, half-true) impulses: Hellenism and Hebraism. In the final section of Culture and Anarchy, Matthew Arnold draws a well-known distinction between two historical and philosophical forces to which he gives the names Hellenism and Hebraism. Hellenism, which prefers thinking to doing, strives always to "see things as they really are," and to foster within a "spontaneity of consciousness." Hebraism, on the other hand, prefers doing to thinking, and, through legalistic "conduct and obedience," seeks to develop a "strictness of conscience." To the Hellenist (for whom ignorance is the main obstacle), man is a "gentle and simple being, showing the traces of a noble and divine nature"; to the Hebraist (for whom sin is the obstacle), he is "an unhappy chained captive, labouring with groanings that cannot be uttered to free himself from the body of this death." It is clear by the end of his discourse that Arnold prefers Hellenism to Hebraism, and hopes to see it achieve the ascendancy in England, but for the humanist Christian neither of these forces alone will raise up man to the high state of dignity for which he was created. Unless we come to view ourselves as both noble and chained (made in God's image but fallen), we will either underestimate or overestimate our potential. Neither the Hellenist nor the Hebraist really wants God to take an active role in his life—one is too busy thinking, the other too busy working —and neither will ever fully accept his grace: for the former doesn't think he needs it, and the latter thinks he can earn it on his own. But the truth is that neither clear thought nor hard work, if we trust only to those things, will draw us to the higher truths of Christ. Arnold argues that Hellenism reached its zenith in the Renaissance while Hebraism reached its zenith in Christianity. He would have done better to say that the two forces can only reach true fulfillment when they merge to form a Renaissance (humanist) Christianity with the power to understand and accept a Savior who must suffer in his body the penalty of sin that our souls may be cleansed and that we may see the kingdom of God. For the Hellenist seeks wisdom (if Christ is to be heeded, he better show us his clarity of vision) and the Hebraist seeks a miracle (if Christ is to be obeyed, he better have the power to demand it), but the humanist Christian looks to Christ crucified, foolishness to the Hellenist and a stumbling block to the Hebraist. The Hebraic "strictness of conscience" results, finally, in a letter-legalism that kills; the Hellenic "spontaneity of consciousness" yields, finally, a nonincarnate spirit that fritters itself away in unrealized and unrealizable utopias. Neither can fully save nor fully dignify. They can only leave their followers to wander, like the Arnold of "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse," "between two worlds, one dead / The other powerless to be born." Louis Markos (, Professor in English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities; he is author of From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics, Apologetics for the 21st Century, and Restoring Beauty: The Good, True, and Beautiful in the Writings of C. S. Lewis.


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