Augustine has been explaining why the demons make bad mediators between gods and humans: yes (according to the Platonists), they live in the space between humans and gods, and they are immortal in body (like the gods) and passive in soul (like humanity), but this just means that they are “eternally miserable”. How can an eternally miserable being lead miserable beings to eternally blessed beings?

Better than the demons, Christ is an appropriate Mediator. He is eternal and blessed, like God, but He makes Himself mortal for the sake of Humanity. And, at death, He is able to raise Himself and all humanity to new life. Augustine says it better than I would:

“We must seek a Mediator Who is not only man, but also God: Who, by the intervention of His blessed mortality, may lead men out of their mortal misery to a blessed immortality, and Who must neither fail to become mortal nor remain mortal. He was indeed made mortal not by any infirmity of the divinity of the Word, but by His assumption of the infirmity of the flesh. But He did not remain mortal even in that flesh, for He raised it from the dead. For this is indeed the fruit of His mediation: that those for the sake of whose redemption He became the Mediator should no longer remain subject to eternal death even of the flesh. It was, therefore, fitting for the Mediator between us and God to have both transient mortality and everlasting blessedness, so that, in His transient condition, He might resemble those destined to die, and might translate them from their mortality into His everlasting condition.”

The end there is crucial – Christ translates us from our mortal misery to His eternal blessedness. The philosophical assumptions here are really important. Christ enters our humanity, assumes human nature, and elevates it to immortality. Because all humanity is united, Christ can enter in at a point and deify all humanity in Himself. He takes Adamic humanity and re-heads it under Himself so that all humanity now is capable of unity with God, a state that Adam’s sin ruined for us. The Modern and Postmodern world is a world where we exist as distinct creatures – humanity is just a name we give to animals that all look and sound similar. The Platonic world, which Augustine is referencing here, is a world where humanity is a form, of which each of us is a particular instance. We are all united in one head – Adam. In Christ, humanity is re-headed; or to use Irenaus’ term, we are recapitulated in Christ. This is only possible because we all participate in the same Head. In the Modern and Postmodern world, there is no head and no participation – it is a Hobbesian battle of all against all. In Augustine’s world, Christ elevates all who participate in Him to divine life:

“We have no such need [for other mediators] because a God Who is blessed and bliss-bestowing has become a sharer in our humanity, and so has furnished us with all that we need to share in His divinity. For, in redeeming us from mortality and misery, He does not lead us to the immortal and blessed angels so that, by participating in them, we may ourselves become immortal and blessed. Rather, He leads us to that Trinity by participating in Whom the angels themselves are blessed. Therefore, when He chose to take the form of a servant, lower than the angels, so that He might be our Mediator, He remained above the angels in the form of God, being Himself both the way of life on earth, and life itself in Heaven.”

Beautiful. Christ participates with us in our mortality and misery so that we can participate with Him in His immortality and blessedness. Praise Him Who became small and poor so that we might be rich!

Blessings in that Mediator,

Josh

Advertisements