In Part I of our series on the orthodoxy of Teilhard de Chardin, we described how Pope Emeritus Benedict held Teilhard’s theological vision of Christ as a central feature of the Christian liturgical and Eucharistic experience
In Part II of our series, we discussed Pope Emeritus Benedict’s approval of statements made by St. Paul and Teilhard of the cosmos being a living host.
In Part III, we started to discuss the concept of the role of the Cosmic Christ (the pre-existent logos who is the second person of the Trinity) in the creation of the cosmos.
In Part IV, we continued the discussion of the ontological evolution of humanity, we discussed how Pope Emeritus Benedict discussed the evolution of humanity from mere matter to spiritual consciousness. Today, we will continue Pope Emeritus Benedict’s discussion on the evolution of humanity in the Christian context. Specifically, the pre-existent Logos, (a/k/a Christ, Omega Point) became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. This incarnation of Christ, when combined with his death and resurrection, represented an evolutionary leap in humanity towards the Divine.
Today, we conclude Pope Emeritus Benedict’s discussion of Teilhard’s ideas of the evolution of humanity towards the Omega Point, or the Christ. Foreshadowing his future papal encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Joseph Ratzinger takes up the Johannine and Pauline concept of God as love. God, represented by the Omega Point of Teilhard’s terminology is continuing to draw humanity and all of creation towards him in an evolutionary spiritual ascension. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict:
“Only where someone values love more highly than life, that is, only where someone is ready to put life second to love, for the sake of love, can love be stronger and more than death. If it is to be more than death, it must first be more than mere life. But if it could be this, not just in intention but in reality, then that would mean at the same time that the power of love had risen superior to the power of the merely biological and taken it into its service. To use Teilhard de Chardin’s terminology, where that took place, the decisive complexity or “complexification” would have occurred; bios, too, would be encompassed by and incorporated in the power of love. It would cross the boundary—death—and create unity where death divides. If the power of love for another were so strong somewhere that it could keep alive not just his memory, the shadow of his “I”, but that person himself, then a new stage in life would have been reached. This would mean that the realm of biological evolutions and mutations had been left behind and the leap made to a quite different plane, on which love was no longer subject to bios but made use of it. Such a final stage of “mutation” and “evolution” would itself no longer be a biological stage; it would signify the end of the sovereignty of bios, which is at the same time the sovereignty of death; it would open up the realm that the Greek Bible calls zoe, that is, definitive life, which has left behind the rule of death. The last stage of evolution needed by the world to reach its goal would then no longer be achieved within the realm of biology but by the spirit, by freedom, by love. It would no longer be evolution but decision and gift in one.”
To return to our argument, love is the foundation of immortality, and immortality proceeds from love alone. This statement to which we have now worked our way also means that he who has love for all has established immortality for all. That is precisely the meaning of the biblical statement that his Resurrection is our life. The—to us—curious reasoning of St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians now becomes comprehensible: if he has risen, then we have, too, for then love is stronger than death; if he has not risen, then we have not either, for then the situation is still that death has the last word, nothing else (cf. 1 Cor 15:16f.).
Since this is a statement of central importance, let us spell it out once again in a different way: Either love is stronger than death, or it is not. If it has become so in him, then it became so precisely as love for others. This also means, it is true, that our own love, left to itself, is not sufficient to overcome death; taken in itself it would have to remain an unanswered cry. It means that only his love, coinciding with God’s own power of life and love, can be the foundation of our immortality. Nevertheless, it still remains true that the mode of our immortality will depend on our mode of loving.” (emphasis added)
Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal; Pope Benedict XVI; Benedict; J. R. Foster; Michael J. Miller (2010-06-04). Introduction To Christianity, 2nd Edition (Kindle Locations 3726-3738, 3755-3763). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
Tomorrow, we will continue our discussion of the confirmation of the orthodoxy of Teilhard de Chardin by looking at the writings of Henri de Lubac.