THE RESTORATION OF GOD'S CREATION to an order and a sanity which is according to His will presents two great difficulties. The first is the difficulty of this redemptive work from the point of view of man. The second which we shall consider later is, if we may say so, the difficulty of redemption from the point of view of God.
The human part of the problem presents to unaided man more than a mere difficulty. It presents, in fact, a complete impossibility. The problem transcends even the highest powers of man, unless the power of the Creator Himself be invoked to crown man's strivings and to bring fruition to human efforts which by themselves must prove utterly vain. The reason for this is most clearly seen through a consideration of man's peculiar relation to the time process in which his life is set. Time is a kind of dimension of our natural world, yet man's relation to it is different from his relation to the dimensions of space. In space one may go back and forth or up and down. One may retrace a path and stand on the exact spot which one has previously left. But this is not true of time. This dimension has the peculiar property of not being retraceable. In time we can go in but one direction--into the future. We may exercise human memory and picture past time, but it is beyond our power literally to retrace it, to experience as a new future that which has irrevocably receded into the past.
If we were to think of the disorders in our world from the point of view of a static, merely spatial disarray, their reordering would not seem at any rate theoretically [10/11] impossible. The problem might be approached as one might approach a jig-saw puzzle. It would doubtless require great skill and attention. From its "pieces" (which in this case are primarily human individuals, human groups and their manifold interrelationships) it would demand a great willingness to be moved from old disordered patterns to which they had become habituated, into new and, at the beginning it may be, much less comfortable formations. It might require a spirit of sacrifice (which also introduces a moral element) on the part of all concerned including the human "pieces" themselves. But in the nature of things, the various pieces and parts could be moved back and forth. If they did not fit in one place at first trial, there would be nothing irrevocable about this. They could be moved to other positions in space until they finally did fit. Theoretically, from the point of view of plain physical possibility, the puzzle could be solved.
But the disorders of human life exist also under the forms of fragments, disruptions, wrong relationships and purposes, introduced into the time dimension of our historical world. And in time, once an element of experienced history is out of order, once such an element is misdirected or introduced for a purpose short of God's will, man alone can never "move it back and forth" or bring it into a more fitting historical relationship. It becomes objectively inaccessible. Nevertheless, various results or consequences flow necessarily from every evil in past time. These consequences, in turn, become elements in the disordered environment with which man must deal in his attacks upon his contemporaneous present. Thus man discovers that the pieces of his puzzle exist not merely in present space, but that they are rooted within the past through the causal sequences of that history out of which they grow. They are rooted much as plants are rooted in the sub-surface soil which nourishes them. But in this case, the roots of man's contemporaneous world are held firmly within a dimension which cannot be retraced. He finds, therefore, that in so far as the fitting together of the pieces of his puzzle involves an access to their [11/12] roots in time, he stands impotent in the presence of this requirement. In the very nature of his relation to the time dimension, the complete reperfection of the structure of God's creation is utterly impossible to his unaided powers.
A PRACTICAL ILLUSTRATION OF THE TIME PROBLEM
It will clarify this somewhat abstract discussion to apply again the analogy just used in comparing man's position within God's world to that of the players of an orchestra. In an orchestra all the players make a common agreement to produce a given piece of music, following both the notes of the score and the direction of their conductor. But each separate player cooperates freely and by the continuing allegiance of both his individual mind and his will. It was seen that such freedom necessarily involves the correlative freedom to desert the common purpose. A player might, when he wishes, play a false note.
Let us suppose that one player does so choose. A dissonance immediately follows. The proper order of the music is broken. Something less than the common purpose of the composer, of the conductor, and of all the rest of the orchestra, is achieved. How can this disorder intruded into the historical time process be repaired? In this simple case, no doubt, by silencing the orchestra, starting the music over again and replaying it without the introduction of the disorder.
But does this really repair the damage in its entirety? Clearly not. The individual misdeed may be forgotten. The newly and correctly played composition may satisfy an audience. It may satisfy even the wounded sensibilities of the conductor and the other players. But the fact remains that the former playing of a wrong note is now an objective element of history, it is enshrined inaccessibly in past time. Its physical effects in air or electrical vibrations remain. We cannot escape this fact. That in this very minor incident its effects are so trifling as to be humanly negligible, does not alter the fact that a wrong note was played. Thus, while the correct playing of the music at any later time may [12/13] make us forget, it cannot eliminate the disturbing consequences of the earlier fault. Every fresh playing of the composition, no matter how perfectly accomplished, now emerges into an environment already itself somewhat disordered through the inheritance of the effects of a past disordered event. Man can indeed replay the music. But the one thing which seems needful in this situation man certainly cannot do. He cannot return to a point in time before the original dissonance and be thus in a position to attack the problem of the original disharmony, so that the dissonances which succeed it and which now vitiate the perfection of his present situation may be creatively re-woven into a fresh pattern of that perfection which is required if his future--from the present onwards--is fully to be restored to a harmony proper to it and in conformity with God's will.
Yet it is this kind of what may be called a re-creative attack upon history which a fully functional perfection of God's world in all its dimensions requires. For it is only by exercising a creative control over present evil effects rooted in disordered sequences of the past that a basis can be laid for a perfected future development. Without this retroactive power, the consequences of any given past disorder will project themselves indefinitely into the future. Unaided man has no such creative control in the time process. He can do much towards the rational alleviation of disorder within his own present. He can always do something over again or improve a given situation. But all such activity, being confined to future consequences only, must leave the roots of his disorders in time untouched. Man's power therefore can never carry beyond a kind of patching up of the disordered world. Unaided man can only allow for past disorders and their inalienable present consequences. To reperfect the world, to redeem it wholly, so that the disorders of the past can in no smallest manner vitiate the ordered purposes of man's future, requires the invocation of some power which can transcend time. It requires a power added to man's potentialities which can exercise some kind of retroactive power over the time dimension. Only [13/14] thus can all the "wrong notes" of history--notes which obviously have much more disastrous present consequences in both material and spiritual affairs than the trivial dissonance of our orchestral illustration--be literally refitted into a newly perfected pattern conforming to God's will. Only thus can the structure of our world be restored to a genuinely functional wholeness of pattern both in space and time. [See Appendix I, page 198.]
God Himself, of course, cannot undo any past event in the sense of deleting it from a completed time sequence. To do this would be to contradict the very nature of the time process which inheres in His own creation. [St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, Q 25, Art 4.] But what He can do, in an action not open to unaided man, is to bring all present effects of past evils into a newly ordered present structure in such wise that it may be said: "Now the pattern of the past has been so reappropriated into the structure of the present that even past disordered notes can take their functional places within a newly bestowed and over-ruling harmony of fresh perfection." Thus can God alone make all things work together for good!
A PHILOSOPHICAL ILLUSTRATION OF THE TIME PROBLEM
We may put this problem in other and somewhat more classical terms. In every situation or set of relationships in which I, for example, find myself at any particular time, there is a certain potentiality for my personal development, that is for growth, for further actualization of myself as a human creature. If I so choose my way that the inherent potentiality of the situation is completely actualized according to God's will for me, then I have acted perfectly and without any trace of sin. But if I fall short of this possible actualization, I accomplish something less than that complete actuality which resides in the potentiality presented to me. Such failure to realize or make actual a potentiality of this kind is a sin.
By this time, however, I have arrived at another and later [14/15] point in the time process of my life. I am now in the presence of a fresh situation whose new potentialities must in turn be actualized in a fresh immediate future. If one of the factors in this new situation is an incompletely actualized potentiality of that situation which I have just left behind, I am now compelled to build on this deficiency. I may now build as well as may be, but this new and improved way of acting does not and cannot supply the deficiency upon which I build. Neither can I supply the deficiency, because its origin is behind me in an irretraceable past. [It is obvious that every situation which man now confronts in the period subsequent to the Fall, has this deficient character.]
It may be argued that I, as a rational human being, can make due allowance for the deficiency. I may "make up for it" in such wise that the final result will seem superficially just as good--or even seem exactly the same--as the achievement would have been had I succeeded in a complete actualization of the potentialities in the first situation within which, in the beginning, I set out to act. But this end result, although perhaps satisfactory as a matter of momentary or local present experience, will not be a result which contains the full actualization of the initial potentialities with which I began. It cannot be exactly the same as the other. The earlier potentialities, as a matter of historical fact, are not actualized. I am thus now in a position which may seem, humanly speaking, just as good as the other would have been. But this is not all that my own present perfection--freedom from sin--requires. Instead my complete redemption requires that I be found in a situation within which all the potentialities of the past are fully actualized. Otherwise, I shall continue to have a deficient basis in present potentiality for every future actuality or advance. It is therefore God alone who, transcending the time process, can actualize the unrealized potentialities of my past within the present moment of my life. And this must turn out to be a truly time-transcending and creative act. Without this kind of intervention within the process of my own time-bound efforts, I can have no hope of a [15/16] genuine and ultimate perfection. Furthermore, an exactly analogous argument holds when applied to the historical development of the human social process as a whole. This is the basis of the social difficulty which confronted the orchestra of our earlier analogy.
PROBLEM FROM POINT OF VIEW OF GOD: OBSTACLE OF MAN'S FREE REASON
The question immediately arises: how, or by what method, can the time-transcending power of God be applied to this problem of disorder in a one-way history within which His human creatures are now involved? And the answer to this question must solve precisely that difficulty which we have just called the difficulty of man's redemption from the point of view of God.
To the Hebrew nation of the ancient world the answer seemed fairly simple. The Jews expected a divine ruler to appear in their midst, one who would exercise the requisite time-transcending power through irresistible and overruling force. They awaited the long hoped-for Messiah who would simply impose upon individual men and upon human society a new justice and a new human perfection to replace ancient miseries, injustices, and sins. The Messiah would, as it were, start human life going over again. Brooking no opposition, he might well annihilate all obstinate sinners and all resisters to the divine will. But, at any rate, the difficulties of a disordered past would be banished through the direct expedient of a divinely forced break within human history. Human life could thus be re-created on a completely sound basis. Those who were then found worthy of so high a destiny, freed from the entanglements of disordered history, could thenceforth carry on within a perfectly renewed and re-created future under the Messiah's continuing rule.
The difficulty with this relatively simple plan is that it leaves a major element of the actual situation completely out of consideration. It is true that the power of the transcendent Creator is here invoked. Also God does appear to respond to man's need and, by an overruling act [16/17] of re-creation, He sets the disordered world to rights. He puts the pieces of His broken handiwork together again according to the pattern of His primal will. But the Jews did not realize that re-creation--reparation, redemption-has to deal with a situation very different from that within which the first creation of our natural world went forward. The first creation was an operation of bringing initial order out of pure chaos. In such a situation the transcendent, overruling power of a Creator may indeed be directly and forcibly applied. There is, for example, no need of "consultation" with chaos about the method to be used. Nor would the Creator in such a case have need to tread carefully lest, as He calls forth a new order, some already existing order or value be itself destroyed. Chaos contains no such values and within it there is nothing to be lost.
On the other hand, our present world, dreadfully disordered though it be, is by no means pure chaos. On the contrary, it contains elements of an already developed natural order which in any restoration of that order to its proper and complete wholeness must neither be destroyed nor lost. In fact, it is precisely from these now fragmentary and disjointed elements that God's new or redeemed creation must be re-formed. The "putting together again" of God's world needs a very different approach from its first creation out of chaos.
Specifically, the most important elements in our disordered world are rational--that is, free--human natures. It is to a world of rational human beings that God's creative power now has to be re-applied. And this application cannot be made under the form of a non-consulting, overruling force. For the transcendent power of their Creator, applied to rational creatures without at the same time enlisting their consent and the fullest free cooperation in the proposed action which still remains potential within them, would cause not their restoration to a new ordered life, but instead, their destruction as free beings. Primal chaos might be ordered in spite of itself. Free human beings cannot thus be "pushed around" without their partial or complete destruction. Thus the "Messiah Method" of [17/18] salvation as envisaged by the ancient Jews was a method suitable to a disorder containing no rational elements. Applied to a world containing rational beings as its most important elements, it amounts to a method of "Divine Fascism." Even human fascism warps and perverts souls because it refuses to enlist the rational cooperation of its individual human units. It tries to impose a social order by application of a non-consulting, overruling force. If this is the disastrous effect of a human attempt to order men's lives in spite of themselves, how much greater the danger if this method were employed by God! It would result in the utter destruction of men as rational free beings. The Messiah Method of traditional Jewish thought cannot be employed as a method of the redemption of a rational human world.
THE INCARNATION AS THE SOLUTION OF BOTH PROBLEMS
Here then is the double difficulty. On the one hand all human endeavors, without divine intervention, no matter how well intentioned and temporarily fruitful, are quite literally worthless from the point of view of ultimate salvation of the world. Man stands completely helpless in the presence of the problem with which the one-wayness of time confronts him; his unsupplemented strivings for the restoration of order in the process of history are completely devoid of any final value whatever. All man's unaided works will be lost in the disordered oblivion of time. On the other hand, God's creative assistance in this desperate need cannot be bestowed as an overruling force. To do this would be not to redeem man but to destroy him. God's response to man's need must not supplant man's own potential rational contributions to the final solution. Instead of this, God must implement, complete, and crown those rational free powers which still remain in man. The power of God must be applied to man's salvation in such wise as to include all contributing human efforts within that final solution which God wills to bestow. And while they are thus included, man's free contributions to the whole process will then be validated within that [18/19] transcendent level whence the redeeming power of God ever originates and proceeds.
The solution of this difficulty, which to human thought must appear almost in the guise of a hopeless dilemma, is provided perfectly, without the slightest inner contradiction, in the Incarnation of God the Son. Through the method of the Incarnation, God both applies His eternal creative power to man's time-bound need and simultaneously He uses every value of man's free cooperation within the process of his own redemption. Thus God neither holds aloof from man, nor does He descend upon him from a transcendent level in such wise as to destroy him.
In the Incarnation, God the Son, whose Personal function within the Triune Godhead is precisely that of Him through whom the creative power of God is implemented, [Nicene Creed: I believe ... in One Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God . . . God forth from ('k) God . . . being c one substance with the Father, through (dia) whom all things were created.] emerges within the level of our natural world. God the Son initiates the process of the re-creation of His own earlier but now disordered creation by the method of clothing Himself with those very elements within it which have fallen into disarray. For the first time in history since the fall of man, a completely perfected unit of humanity is thus created in the world; for it is a unit of humanity rooted in the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. And this clothing of the elements of our created humanity upon the Person of God the Son is the Creator's method of the redemption of His world.
How is this conceivable? How is it possible that Very God, without contradicting His own divine nature, should be able to take into Himself the elements of created human nature? The answer to this appears in the character of the nature of man. Man is created as a rational, free being. In this, man is unique among all other creatures which exist within our material world. For man's substance is compounded of a material body informed by a rational soul. He has therefore been endowed with a limited, but none [19/20] the less genuinely free, autonomy. And this autonomy man is permitted to exercise creatively and with a certain initiative stemming from, and responsible to, his human reason alone. But a rational nature which is endowed with at least a modicum of autonomous initiative, reflects the absolute, free, creative power of its Creator. Under the conditions of time and space rational human nature reflects the divine reason. It corresponds to the divine nature. Because of this, man is properly said to be created in the image of God. And because of this compatibility, this correspondence, between the divine and human natures, all the elements of the latter can be clothed by God upon Himself.
METHOD OF THE INCARNATION: ITS INDIVIDUAL ORGANISM
God the Son emerges in His world at a certain time and place. The process of the Incarnation begins at a little provincial town in Galilee of Palestine, called Nazareth. The time of this beginning is now almost two thousand years past.
The process of taking the elements of human nature into God follows the pattern of the initiation of life, of birth, of growth, and of gradual maturing which can be observed in the natural life-process of any other human being. That is, God the Son--the eternal Logos, as He is also called--starts [John I: 1.] His enterprise of the re-creation of His own creation at the level of the matter of this world. His first movement is to take the material seed of a human body upon Himself. He takes this necessary initial material from the body of a young Jewish maiden named Mary. [Note that this first creative movement is initiated wholly by God. God utilizes matter for the organization of His human body, and for this He has need of a human source. But it is God alone who utilizes this source. It is God alone who seizes upon those human materials which Ho proposes to order into Himself. This is a transaction, therefore, solely between God, as creative Initiator, and the Lady Mary, as co-operating human source. There is no room for any extraneous human intervention. This is one of the chief significances of the Virgin Conception of Our Lord. The divine initiative is thus kept completely intact.] The material body [20/21] matures in the womb of this young girl and, in due time, is born into the world of human society.
From the point of His birth onward, God continues and expands his re-creative work. He does not cease to take additional matter into Himself and His physical human organism grows and gradually matures. But now the other and non-material elements of human nature are also incorporated into His growing individual humanity. Human functions of every kind are developed, the so-called five senses begin to be exercised, human instincts, psychological affections, and human passions are assumed; and little by little the faculties of intellectual and religious life are developed. Human skills (e.g. very probably the skill of carpentry) and human knowledge (e.g. knowledge of sowing and harvest, the lore of weather and changing seasons) become elements in God's perfectly ordered human equipment. And pervading all this pattern of a complete Man, we find a deep knowledge and experience of God. The elements of this religious equipment we find taken first from Our Lord's own family environment, next from the environment of the local synagogue and study of the Hebrew Scriptures, and finally from participation in the Temple worship at Jerusalem.
In all this process of the fresh creation of a new individual human being, we should think of the Divine Logos working, as it were, in the manner of a creative artist, forming, ordering, a new and perfected unit of humanity from the "raw materials" which are already available within His own creation. But as the divine creative Power thus forms a new human unit by taking the requisite elements of human nature into Himself, that humanly insoluble difficulty of Original Sin, of disorder in our world handed down from an inaccessible past, is finally overcome. It is overcome because at the heart of this fresh creative process now emerging in the humanity of the Man Jesus, there functions the time-transcending power of God Himself. There is no element whatever in the content of the humanity of Our Lord which was not first present and available within [21/22] the natural human world. [But see discussion of Miracles, pp. 42ff.] But these elements of humanity are now taken by the fresh exercise of divine creative power into a perfected pattern of relationships, a pattern unvitiated by any disorder, whether of original or of actual sin. For the first time in the history of a disordered creation the elements of human nature are taken but of their disordered contexts, both in the present and the past, and into that perfected pattern which is fully proper to them. All the potentialities of human nature are thus perfectly actualized within the new individual human unit called Jesus of Nazareth. Perfect Man is created anew from the elements of God's old creation. And this newly created human unit is made to emerge through God's method of a creative clothing of all the requisite elements of human nature upon His very Self.
METHOD OF THE INCARNATION: ITS SOCIAL ORGANISM
This re-creative process is thus initiated through the individual human unit called the Man Jesus. But clearly it does not cease to operate at the physical boundaries of that unit. This Man is not an isolated--still less, an insulated-individual. From the moment of His birth--even from His conception--He knits to Himself in close human relationships other members of the human race. God the Son thus extends His re-creative vital power into a new and spreading social entity. Social relationships involving other human beings begin to be taken into that perfected pattern of a re-created humanity with which the Divine Logos continues to clothe Himself. The living body of the individual human unit begins to be extended into a living social body. The divine creative power spreads outward in unbroken continuity with the individual Jesus but now further to inform and fashion a new social creation.
The first human being to be thus directly incorporated within the social humanity of the Divine Son was, of course, His own mother. But there followed other men and women in a growing, spreading succession. Finally, the years of [22/23] Our Lord's intensive public ministry were primarily applied to the incorporation of a selected group of men into the body of His enlarging social humanity. And the initial seed or nucleus of this re-created social world was composed of those twelve men whom He called His friends, the Apostles. From this nucleus, in turn, there began to spread abroad--and there still spreads down through the centuries--that new, vital, re-created social organism, Our Lord's extending Incarnation, the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic-Church.
It is very important for the future of this discussion to keep in mind the organic nature of the social extension of Our Lord's humanity. If we fail to do this, we shall be in danger of thinking of His Church as a mere society of human beings. But it is infinitely more than this. Many great leaders in many fields of human endeavor have founded societies to carry forward their purposes. They have set up organizations to implement their teachings and these organizations have often survived their founders by many years. But Our Lord did not merely found-an organization. He planted an Organism. Upon this Society God bestowed His Holy Spirit to inform it and to constitute it a living entity. The Holy Spirit, dwelling within the Church, gives to it an utterly unique character among all other human organizations. He gives to this Society what amounts to a kind of biological organic continuity with Our Lord's individual humanity. And so the growth of the body of the Church is in very truth the growth of the living body of Jesus Christ clothing Himself thus, beyond His individual humanity, with the humanity of all other men who are willing to be incorporated into it.
SUMMARY: SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEMS OF TIME AND OF THE CONSERVATION OF HUMAN FREEDOM
It is in this way that both of those difficulties, which as we have seen arise in the restoration of a reperfected order to the life of fallen man, are completely and yet uncompromisingly met.
Firstly, the time-transcending creative power of God does [23/24] really appear and does begin to operate among men. It is applied to the restoration of an order in human life entirely unvitiated by evils inherited out of the past. God does reach into the created world to supply a re-creative life force transcending the time-bound powers of unaided man. But, secondly, this necessary divine power is not applied to man's world directly and unmediated as from an outside source. It is not applied in what we would today call the fascist manner. The traditional "Messiah method" is not employed. Instead, the necessary re-creative power emerges within the human world. In this way God finds it possible not merely not to damage or destroy, but to complete and consummate man's own rational powers in so far as these remain available to His re-creative purpose. The method chosen is such that the rational freedom of man, in so far as this can still supply genuine elements of value in the redeeming process, is never overruled. It is, rather, utilized to its utmost capacity. It is then consummated and crowned within Our Lord's body in such wise that it becomes an integral factor in the redemption of human life--a redemption which, of course, God's creative power alone ultimately completes.
OUR LADY THE PROTOTYPE OF REDEEMED AND FREE HUMANITY
The first sign and symbol of man's free allegiance and consent to the entering in of God as a re-creative Agent within His fallen world is the consent of Our Lady Mary to the initiation of the Incarnation. She was not compelled to give this consent. And this is why her reply to the Angel of the Annunciation, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word, is in a sense the new charter of human freedom kept inviolate, even as God omnipotent Himself initiates the work of the redeeming re-creation of His world. But following her consent, all other human individuals who have subsequently been taken into Our Lord's body have, without exception, had first to make a like rational act of free allegiance. No [24/25] individual has ever been compelled by God to answer the summons of His Son in His humanity when He issues the invitation: Follow me.
But then, once this free consent is given to the invitation, the individual involved immediately finds himself incorporated in a living, growing process, a social body whose re-creative vitality utterly transcends those fragmentary, time-frustrated rational powers which were all that he commanded before that consent. He finds himself incorporated as an ordered and completely functional element in the extension of Our Lord's humanity. He becomes as much an organic part of that social humanity as the hands and feet of Our Lord are organs of His own individual human unit. Those who are taken into this body are, as Our Lord Himself said, genuine branches of that vine of which He is the root and stem, and of which the Divine Logos is the creative vital force.
INCARNATIONAL DEFINITION OF REDEMPTION
In the Christian view, then, the disordered world shall be redeemed as its elements are taken into Our Lord's social body, much as the elements of soil and air are taken into the living fabric of a vine. The elements of such a new, living structure will be identifiable as the same elements which they were while still random and disorganized (unredeemed) in surrounding soil and air. But, by virtue of their incorporation into the vine, they receive through Our Lord's creative power, a divinely ordered social state of being. Furthermore, this new social state of being reacts in turn upon them individually in such wise that a totally new living organism emerges, with the human elements therein, previously dispersed and unrelated, receiving a newly bestowed common life by virtue of their new and functional individual relationships to the living vine.
Christian redemption, therefore, is first manifested under the form of a new and divine living organism within this world. And this organism is itself manifested outwardly as a re-creative social process in history. It is visibly [25/26] manifested as a human organization dedicated to the radical reordering or re-creation of the world. But, in its essence, this organization is infinitely more than a mere human society, just as a living vine is in no sense adequately characterized merely as an ordered association or agglomeration of its chemical components. No mere putting together of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and other elements will produce a living being. The vine utilizes these elements, but the vine itself must spring from a corresponding living seed which is its source and origin. So likewise the social body of Christ springs from His individual humanity as its source and, by virtue of the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, it grows outward from that source in a living social continuity entirely analogous to the continuity between a vine and its seed.
The living body of the Incarnation, growing in the midst of the human world, utilizes human beings as the structural elements of its fabric. Human beings do not create it any more than carbon and nitrogen create a vine. But, as has been said, human beings, because of their rational nature, must freely permit themselves to be utilized by Our Lord in His body. Furthermore, this kind of free consent is not merely initial. It must be continuingly reaffirmed by all the several individuals involved, since human freedom itself is one of the elements of which the corporate organism has need within its own living structure. Thus any individual in the world may refuse to lend himself as an element for the use of the divine organism. Or, he may even enter the growing vine and subsequently permit his allegiance to lapse. But the point is, that while he remains faithful to it, in so for as he really is within it, his own previously inadequate powers are organically subsumed within the divine life of the social vine, and thus fully actualized by a living, time-transcending, creative power of which no unaided human being could ever dare to dream.
The disordered world will be redeemed only as its men and women, in ever increasing numbers, give themselves wholly to this social process of the Incarnation. It will be redeemed when free men submit their several freedoms [26/27] wholly to the use of that corporate social body of Our Lord which spreads outward as a vine from the seed first implanted in the world under the form of the individual human body of the Incarnate God. [There emerges here the problem of the tension between a continuing individual freedom and total incorporation of individuals into a divine social organism. The manner in which this is solved within the Incarnation is discussed at a later point.]