Friday, 15 September 2017

Irenaeus on Patient Maturing

Irenaeus, writing to refute the Gnostics who sought perfection and godhood through secret "knowledge" based on their false myths and false interpretations of Scripture, encourages instead that the clay allow itself to be shaped by the Potter into a form which displays the character of the Potter:
"How can you be a god when you have not yet become a man?  How can you be perfect when you have only just been made?  How can you be immortal when, in your mortal nature, you do not obey your Maker?  You must hold the rank of man before you partake of the glory of God.  You did not make God; God made you.  If you are the handiwork of God, await the Craftsman's hand patiently; He does everything at a favourable time, favourable, that is, to you, whom He made.  Offer him your heart, pliant and unresisting.  Preserve the form in which the Craftsman fashioned you.  Keep within you the Water which comes from Him; without it, you harden and lose the imprint of His fingers.  By preserving the structure, you will ascend to perfection; God's artistry will conceal the clay within you.  His hand formed your substance; He will coat you, within and without, in pure gold and silver; He will adorn you so well that 'the King himself will delight in your beauty' (Ps. 44:12).  But if you harden and reject his artistry, if you show Him your displeasure at being made a man, your ingratitude to God will lose you both His artistry and His life.  Making is a property of God's generosity; being made is a property of man's nature.  If, therefore, you hand over to Him what is yours, faith in Him and subjection to Him, you will receive the benefit of His artistry and be God's perfect work of art.  If, on the other hand, you resist Him and flee from His hands, the cause of your imperfection will lie in you...The light does not fail because of those who have blinded themselves; it remains the same, while the blinded are plunged in darkness by their own fault.  Light never forces itself on anyone, nor does God use compulsion on anyone who refuses to accept His artistry."
                                                            - The Scandal of the Incarnation, IV 39, 2-3

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