From eternity and before all ages our God exists in the form of Trinity: three Persons in one Being.
Throughout a number of centuries the comprehension of this sacred truth and major Christian dogma was completely forgotten by Christian humanity to such a degree, that the countless multitude of enemies of our faith cite precisely this dogma as incomprehensible, while the defenders of Christianity, being almost in agreement, demand a blind acceptance of this truth on faith, without the least attempt to delve into it more deeply and understand it, since such understanding is supposedly totally impossible.
Of course total understanding is impossible, but total understanding of anything at all, especially dogmas of faith, is equally impossible. An in-depth study of this particular dogma and a fuller understanding of it as much as possible are especially important and necessary for a proper understanding of both the Christian Church and of human nature itself.
The Lord created man in His image and likeness, because only a being like unto God can be truly good.
God is one in essence, but triune in Persons. God’s creation was due to become the same. Adam and Eve were individual beings, but together were due to become one. The means to this was to be another God-like quality – love – the divine force which achieves total and absolute unity within the Divinity despite the difference in the Persons, and which is so inherent to God that Apostle John says that God is love.
This same God-like quality of love, given by God to humans, was supposed to unite them into a single being through love for each other, so that this single human being, also through love, but in this case towards God, would gradually, in an infinitely joyous process of realization of love, unite into a single being with God.
This is what St. Basil the Great formulated so clearly: “I am a man, but have been tasked with becoming God.” This process is never-ending, because the task assigned to man is boundless and infinite.
However, man stumbled in his first step towards it. In order to accomplish his task, man was supposed to achieve perfection in love, manifesting it and nurturing it by a voluntary (because love is a God-like quality and cannot be forced) fulfillment of the commandment of the One Whom he has been called upon to love. Man broke off his love for God by violating His commandment, and ruptured the tie of love between himself and his helpmate by placing the blame upon each other while being called to account before God.
Nevertheless, since man’s sin was not absolute, and the humans expelled from paradise stepped onto a path of repentance, the tie of conciliation, though broken, was not completely destroyed in mankind. All manifestations of love, compassion and mutual understanding are manifestations of this innate conciliarity among humans. The only reason I am able to understand the thoughts of another person is that by God’s design I was supposed to be one-in-essence with him. But never will I be able to fully understand another person, never will I be able to fully assimilate the life of another as my own, because our natural conciliarity has been corrupted by sin, and we have become locked into self-assertion.
The greatest manifestations of this, though corrupted, but still existing natural human conciliarity are marriage and motherhood. Here, more than anywhere else, a person lives the life of another as his own. In marriage two individuals, while fully retaining their personal characteristics, their individual uniqueness, strive to become a single being. A good and loving marriage is the closest approach towards the accomplishment of our God-given purpose. A loving husband and wife truly live each other’s lives almost as their own. And at the same time their unity does not limit them in any way, does not lessen the personal uniqueness of each of the spouses.
However, even in the most perfect human marriage, not to speak of other manifestations of conciliarity ruptured by sin, the fullness of unity of essence is never reached. Never can man fully live the life of another as his own.
And yet, according to God’s design, in the pre-eternal Council of the Trinity man was tasked with attaining complete and perfect unity of essence similar to the unity of essence in the Holy Trinity, in Whose image man was created. And, in turn, the desired union in the Kingdom of God, the union of man with God, is called the wedding feast of the Lamb, i.e. the marriage of Divinity and the human soul, in which, without losing his personality, man unites with God to the same extent as a loving husband and wife strive to merge into a single being.
In the light of such understanding of the immemorial and all-encompassing nature of the law of love as the foundation of God’s design for mankind, it becomes understandable why Christ the Saviour, Who came to restore the lost unity between men and God, placed the commandments of loving God and neighbor as the cornerstone of His teaching, and said that upon these two commandments hang the entire law and all the prophets.
To love one’s neighbor as oneself, to live his life as one’s own means precisely to be one-in-essence with him.
To love God with all one’s heart, all one’s thoughts, all one’s might, all one’s being means to fulfill God’s design for mankind, because all of man’s spiritual forces, his entire being were given to him precisely in order to strive for unity with God and to attain it in the infinitely joyous process of the wedding feast of the Lamb.
This supreme precept of love was brought by Christ to mankind. But it is very nearsighted to think that that was all the Saviour did, as think the rationalistic moralists, who find the only value in Christianity to be its lofty moral law. If this were so, then those who take this point of view a step further and conclude that actually Christianity has not given mankind anything really new would largely be correct, because the founders of other religions also proposed lofty moral precepts that were quite often similar to very basic Christian laws and, moreover, appeared prior to Christianity.
We can easily agree with that. Of course, it does not mean that Christianity has nothing of its own, as rationalists think, that it is borrowed from outside sources. It only means, as one ancient Church father said, that man’s soul is Christian in nature, and that the roots of likeness to God are planted deeply within it, making it thirst at all historical stages and under all the various geographical conditions for the true ideal and not an illusory one.
But never could any commandment, even the most perfect Christian moral law, be fulfilled by any man, as a consequence of his essence being damaged by sin, had not Christ imbued mankind with a new force, giving it the possibility of uniting with Him into a single being within the Church, thus restoring the conciliar unity of people, similar to the conciliarity of the Holy Trinity, that had been lost in the Fall.
And Christ – one-in-essence with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity – also became one-in-essence with us in the Church, as a consequence of which we now acquire within it an infinite invisible power that gives us the opportunity of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, which is represented by the Church, i.e. the realization of the process with which we were erstwhile tasked – a blessed union with God, a return to Him.
This does not mean that the Church accomplishes our salvation mechanically. One enters the Church, unites with God, and is already saved – no, our sojourn in the Church, precisely because it represents union with God, requires very difficult conditions from man – a total lack of sin, total purity and lack of vice, because it is impossible to unite anything sinful with God. Therefore, in order to truly enter the Church, one must be completely cleansed of sin, one must completely fulfill the Gospel law of perfection.
The foundation of this law is love, whose basic element is comprised of ancient and innate human conciliarity, which has remained in man and has preserved for him the possibility of salvation and renewal. Without it we cannot achieve the new conciliarity – union with God and other people within the Church. It is also a sign of the soul’s relative maturity.
It is noteworthy how sins and crimes obscure the natural human conciliarity, and how a man who serves himself, his sins, and his passions loses all interest in others, loses the ability to understand others, destroys within himself his innate conciliarity, and thus dooms himself to dissatisfaction and moral torment. This is because only a God-like conciliar life with love and interest in each other can give joy in life.
For this reason the dark demonic forces, who after their apostasy from God have totally and absolutely lost their former innate angelic conciliarity and have consequently become immersed in utter darkness and torment, battle primarily against the sense of conciliarity among people.
As a result of mankind’s widespread apostasy from God in the modern age, we clearly see the fading out of conciliarity in mankind, which tries in vain to camouflage this terrible phenomenon with various international conferences, assemblies, and treaties. However, people have lost the feelings of pity, compassion, and interest in each other, which are all manifestations of conciliarity.
We, Christians, on the contrary, declare conciliarity in all its facets to be the foundation of our life. We joyously greet all manifestations of love, trust, understanding, and solidarity in people, seeing in them the scattered but significantly important elements of the ancient conciliarity implanted in man by God, yet knowing all the while that this natural conciliarity, ruptured by sin, is not sufficient and is corrupted, and through it we strive for a higher, boundless, and invincible conciliarity, a conciliarity in Church through union with Christ, and through Him with the entire Holy Trinity, and at the same time with all the angels and humans incorporated into this unity.