At the Heart

Cosmology: Part Two

At the Heart
Thursday, September 5, 2019

In a recent episode of our podcast Another Name for Every Thing, Brie Stoner, Paul Swanson, and I reflected on why people are so uncomfortable when we say things like “Christ is in all things.” I’ve been accused of being a pantheist, but that’s lazy thinking, a cheap shot. I’m a panentheist. The Christian word for that is incarnationalism, the manifestation of the divine through the natural, physical, and human world. It’s a Christ-soaked world. Jesus—the Word made flesh—comes out of the world rather than into the world. Christ was here all the time. In Christ all of history and all of us are held together. And you do not have to use the word Christ to experience this radical unity! [1]

Read more from Beatrice Bruteau on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s view of the cosmic, universal Christ:

“There exists in all beings,” says Teilhard, “a common centre” through which “they meet together at a deeper level . . . and we may call this Centre equally well the point upon which they converge, or the ambience in which they float. . . .” This bond of unity constitutes the “axis of all individual and collective life. It is in virtue of that axis that we see that Christ has not only a mystical, but a cosmic body. . . . And this Cosmic Body, to be found in all things . . . is eminently the mystical Milieu; whoever can enter into that milieu is conscious of having made [their] way to the very heart of everything, of having found what is most enduring in it.” [2]

This is, in Teilhard’s view, the cosmic meaning of the divine incarnation. “The totality of all perfections, even natural perfections, is the necessary basis for that mystical and ultimate organism . . . the plenitude of the incarnate Word. . . . The whole world is concentrated and uplifted in expectancy of union with the divine”. . . . [3]

How can Christ be so universal? “Simply as a magnification, a transformation, realized in the humanity of [Jesus], of the aura that surrounds every human monad.” [4] “The universe takes on the lineaments of Jesus;” [5] . . . It is through Christ that God “animates the whole complex of exterior events and interior experiences. . . . [Christ] is at the heart of all that moves us.” [6] “Christ is . . . the Shepherd (the Animator) of the Universe.” As “from the depths of Matter to the highest peak of the Spirit there is only one evolution.” So all beings and all works serve “physically to complete the Body of Christ, whose charity animates and recreates all things.” [7] Teilhard is referring here, no doubt, to the scripture, which, likening Jesus to the Good Shepherd, affirms that there is only “one fold and one shepherd” [John 10:16]. . . . Teilhard summarizes his position and his faith this way:

I believe that the universe is an evolution.
I believe that evolution proceeds towards spirit.
I believe that in [humanity] spirit is fully realized in person.
I believe that the supremely personal is [also] the Universal Christ. [8]

References:
[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Brie Stoner, Paul Swanson, “Jesus, Incarnation and the Christ Resurrection,” Another Name for Every Thing, season 2, episode 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: August 10, 2019), cac.org/podcast.

[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Writings in Time of War, trans. René Hague (Harper & Row: 1968), 175.

[3] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe (Harper & Row: 1965), 152.

[4] Writings in Time of War, 253.

[5] Hymn of the Universe, 153.

[6] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Making of a Mind: Letters from a Soldier-Priest, 1914-1919 (Harper & Row: 1965), 282-283.

[7] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, trans. Norman Denny (Harper & Row: 1964), 24.

[8] See Teilhard de Chardin, “How I Believe,” Christianity and Evolution, trans. René Hague (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1971; essay ©1969), 96.

Beatrice Bruteau, Evolution Toward Divinity: Teilhard de Chardin and the Hindu Traditions (Theosophical Publishing House: 1974), 55-58.

Image credit: Fish Magic (detail), Paul Klee, 1925, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: To see evolution as revelatory of the divine Word means that we come to see the various forms and rhythms of nature as reflective of divine qualities. —Ilia Delio

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