Christology and Pseudochristology: national existential differentiation

Автор: . 18 Лют 2016 в 13:35

Petro Ivanyshyn


Christology and Pseudochristology:

national existential differentiation


The interdisciplinary problems which combine the literary methodologies and theological ideas within the social meta-discourse, are extremely important and urgent at the present stage of the Ukrainian post-imperial scientific development devoted to the spirit. This is testified, for example, by the literary studios of H.Tokman, N.Kolesnichenko-Bratun, I.Nabytovych, M. Komarytsya and other scientists. However, even for this reason not all the authors are aware of the fact (even if they do, they do it partially) that the basic heuristic load is concerned mainly with the theory of literature, particularly with methodology. The point is to form a certain epistemological pre-experience which would help to perceive in correct limits and notions and to interpret a large binomial Christianity/Nation which gives us an opportunity to study the phenomenon of the national Church. The basis of the theory, in our point of view, should include defining, distinguishing and the definition of two fundamental cognitive methodological forms, which give a systemic view on any religious and extrareligious thinking. It cannot be applied to Christiology and Pseudochristology, persisting to the interpretive potential of Christianity and nationally existential methodology [look: 13]. The propaedeutic differentiation forms the main aim of our literary studio. Concomitant research tasks are considered to be a nationally Christological cognition – at the methodological level of a social consciousness– concepts connected with the phenomena of the cultural imperialism, cosmopolitanism, ethics, national orientation, enculturation, cultural nationalism etc.

It is signified that the two outlined models, connected with the religious way of understanding the phenomena and laws of existence as well as the awareness of the need for their immediate cognition are determined among other things by an attentive reading of the contemporary works that are written by the religious authors. The specified epistemological need is caused by the frequent attitudinal deformations of the controversial propositions which we may observe, for instance, in the works of such prominent Christian publicists as Ye. Sverstyuk and M. Marynovych. [specified details: 12].

The poetic heritage of the specified authors demonstrates their textual duality at the very level of the religious cognition of the national problems or phenomena while the Christian judgments are clearly combined with the secularized statements or in our point of view, with quite opposite anti-Christian ones, at the same time they reveal their hidden (cosmopolitan) or visual antinational (imperial) nature.

Christology (or Christological interpretation) in a common methodological sense means, in our point of view, a strategy of interpretation of the phenomena and laws of existence via the aspect of Christianity. According to the previous observations within a common theory of Christology two semantically intentional types may be distinguished: Christianuniversalistic (or cosmopolitan-Christological) and Christian-national.

Apologists of the cosmopolitan Christology define the form of the doctrine of the extraculture or overculture, that is, extranationalism of Christianity and therefore, at conscious or unconscious level Christian religion becomes a hostage of any imperialistic doctrine (it is observed in the modern Islamic, Judaist, Hindu fundamentalism or in the chauvinistic tendency of the past and present Moscow Orthodoxy. Its consequences are masterly represented via the transformation of the Moscow Orthodox Church into the proper imperial structure.

In the history of Occident exists a great number of examples concerned with the disastrous impact on the nations and the Church of the cosmopolitan strategy, which has evoked an imperial interest of the secular rulers to the Holy See. Ukrainian nationalist, one of the leaders of the organized nationalism, Lev Rebet writes about the representatives of the Cathedral who dubbed the bishops of the “national competition” as the “remnants of paganism” [21,132].

In the 20th century the threatening tendencies concerning the false interpretation of the Gospel did not subdue. For instance, in the protestant Karl Bart’s “dialectical theology” “other Revelation of any human’s mind” is represented [look: 2,307-308].

The establishment of such thoughts in modern Catholicism, especially in the neuthomism, which is based on the teaching of a French thinker Zhak Mariten, seems to be more pernicious. At the beginning of 1930s Zh. Mariten proclaimed the factual Christian cosmopolitanism: “The aim of the religion lies in the eternal life of the common body of the Christian Church and in the result of its absorption into the supernatural order, it becomes fully universal, multiracial, multinational, multicultural” [19,85]. “The merging of the Catholic religion with the culture of the catholic nations” seems to be paradoxically considered as a manifestation of a spiritual imperialism.[19,85].

However, one may hardly find in Zh. Mariten’s works the verified positions of this issue, the following reference testifies to the distinct controversy of its conception. Christianity “means a certain social management of the nation on the Earth, educated by the Church, – writes the French thinker. – Though the Church is a single entity, different Christian civilizations and different “Christianities” can be found in its essence. [19,84-85]. The thought is much closer to the second type of the Christological interpretation which could be defined as a Christian-national one.

Before considering the national Christology characterization one should single out the proximity of the cosmopolitan Christology with the cultural imperialism (defined as a phenomenon of the cultural imperialism in “Vulgar neomythologism” [specified details: 11]).

The national type of the Christological hermeneutics, which considers the objective existence of a man in the world, was actualized in the 20th century by a German philosopher Martin Heidegger in the example of an artist thinking over the poetic heritage of Friedrich Holderlin: “A poet himself is between God and the nation.” [7,206]. This is obviously an ontologically existential state of a real person.   In general, the nationally existential approach gives the opportunity to observe the origin of the Christological type in the Gospel (that is, the ascension of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles which gave them power to preach the Christ’s teaching in different national languages) and as well as from the experience of early exegetes.  The conformity of a man’s work with the national traditions is represented in St. Augustine’s works warning against “bad” violation of customs of “a state or a nation” [22,41].

In Western Christianity St. Augustine’s teaching later was substituted by Thomism which mainly considered in its ideas society and nation. S. Chebakov points out that Thomism represents a man as a social human being and proclaims him to be a part of the society, community. The hierarchy of communities by Toma Akvinskiy is the following: family-county-city-state. The Christian philosopher thinks that the community is “a union of people which gathered to perform common work” and its aim is the “common welfare”. It should be taken into account that every community has its inner and outer aim (pseudochristologists often debate over this). The inner aim is the welfare of every member of the community, the outer aim is the welfare of the whole community [23,89].

Unfortunately, those Christian authors who, like M. Marynovych, proclaim to “destroy their state” in the name of Christ [17,64], support neither the first aim of Thomas of Aquinas philosophy (the greatest welfare is the welfare of a community) nor the second supernatural aim (a community is a means to achieve it). In our point of view, these judgments are to be considered as non-Christian, pseudochristological.

The other part of a catholic meta-discourse in general and neothomist interpretation in particular  have been developed in the very Christian-national spirit. The following statement of the English philosopher and poet Hilbert Keith Chesterton serves as a kind of a catholic’s nationally existential manifesto at the beginning of the 20th century whose national identity does not prevent from believing but on the contrary, it helps to believe: “I am… simple and respectable in the direct sense of the word…(…) share…traditions and views of my land and my ancestors ” [24,214].

The cultural conception of a catholic thinker, modernist Thomas Sterns Eliot has a distinct national nature [8,58]. The English neothomist points out two major errors in the reception and interpretation of the opposition culture/religion: 1) “a lot of people tend to think that culture can persist, spread and develop even in the absence of religion and 2) “religion can be preserved and cherished without the maintenance and support of the culture” [8,64].

In the French Christian philosophy at the time of World War 2nd the national Christology is brightly represented by the Simon Vale’s works. The basic concept of her philosophy is a spiritual category “absorption”: “Absorption is, perhaps, the most important and the least recognizable need of a man’s soul, the one to be hardly defined. A man can be absorbed via the real, active and natural participation in the existence of the community which preserves in the alive state some treasures of the past and some anticipations of the future” [5,36].

According to these spiritual ideas it considers the main problem of modern France, in its point of view, the problem of patriotism. Proclaiming the existence of the contradiction to the patriotism – “Motherland is a limited notion but its demands are unlimited,” – the French thinker calls different ways to “find the way out of” this contradiction as “the varieties of lie” [5,124]. “Only through the things and Earth humans man’s love can penetrate into something what is beyond it” [5,125].

In the German meta-discourse in the 2nd half of the 20th century the tragic thoughts of a catholic poet Henry Bell were prominent as they were oriented to a strange national indifference in the society of a just created liberally democratic state, the ugly state with a lack of culture, where the Germans lose their humanity (“suicide exclusion of a human and a community”) primarily due to the loss of a natural sense of belonging to the native ethnic body [3,293-309].

A modern Polish philosopher, whose works are Christianity-oriented, Leszek Kolakovski strongly stands against “the global civilization” as it may lead to the destruction of the national cultures. However, the Polish thinker reveals anti-Christian and anti-humanistic essence of the modern liberal humanism which dates back to the Enlightenment: “… the humanism is a total negation of the limits which could prevent our freedom from setting up its own criteria of good and evil (they may be contrasted to the antinational “criteria” proposed by M. Marynovych in order to solve the problems of the “eaglets” cemetery [16] – P.І.), –  has left for us the feeling of a spiritual emptiness which we desperately are trying to fill up; in fact, it went against the freedom and gave the reason to treat people like an instrument [15,16].”

Within the national-Christian paradigm good representatives of Russian Orthodoxy state their ideas and with great efforts (however, not always reaching their final goal) get rid of the stereotypes of the imperial chauvinistic thinking. The absolute axiological value of the nation was considered by a prominent Christian philosopher Mykola Berdyayev [4,154-155].

A similar cultural idea is preserved by a modern Russian thinker Sergiy Averintsev when he criticizes modern cosmopolitan-fundamentalist theories: “… one should realize that the fundamentalist idea in such issues is not only limited and fantastic but above all, it is unrealistic. To a man who says : “I choose faith and in the name of faith I reject the culture” one should not say: “Oh, the culture seems to suffer, please, have a positive look at it.” In my opinion, one should say him something quite different… (…) A man as a human being cannot exist without the culture” [1,427].

The significance of the national factor while spreading Christian religion in different national cultures is considered by a modern Catholicism which concentrates on the enculturation as a mechanism of the establishment of Christianity. Pope John Paul 2nd in the encyclical “Redemptoris missio” points out that enculturation is the “inner transformation of the authentic cultural values via their integration into Christianity and via its absorption into various cultures” [refer.: 20,141].  A similar ideology is observed in the works of a modern Ukrainian theologian Ivan Havanyo [6,16].

In general, the Christology interpretation in the Ukrainian gnoseological tradition has a long and prominent ideology. This is not surprising. It is a religion  of a Christian type since ancient Aryan times have established one of the most important archetypes of Ukrainian mentality. Volodymyr Yaniv in this respect cites Mykola Kotomarov : “ Ukrainian people are a deeply religious nation. …it will keep its religious fundament as long as the main features which constitute its nationalism will exist” [28,174].

The dominance of the Christian ideas is logically reflected in the Ukrainian cultural studies: philosophical, theological, political (art and literature) [14, 33-45].

The quintessence of the artistically expressed nationally existential (nationalistic) ideology within Ukrainian Christological thinking may be represented in the following lines of Taras Shevchenko’s poem “Dream” (“My high mountains…”), when transcendent love to God is testified by sacrificed love to the nation, Motherland, disadvantaged brothers: “…I’ll pray to God…/ I love it so, I love it…/ My poor Ukraine,/ So that I’ll curse Holy God,/ I’ll lose my soul for its sake!” [25,30].

The most fundamental national judgments in the 1st half of the 20th century may be observed in the Christological works of a metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskiy. A. Sheptytskiy without becoming a layman, sacrificing the Christian ideas and his pastoral duty for the sake of political expediency, persists to a clearly defined nationally oriented position. Except letting his critics expand over the radicalism of the nationalistic youth at the beginning of 1930s (pastoral letter of 1932), he, unlike other modern pseudochristologists, can distinguish the essential features in the nationally liberalistic activity, something what does not ruin the Christian tradition but lies in its basis: “…the testimony of your love to Motherland that can sacrifice itself opens a deep and Christian sign” [27,104].

The metropolitan realizes the limits of Christian tolerance and on the contrary to M. Marynovych’s appeals, warns against the eclectic position in terms of support the thoughts of the obvious enemies of religion, the Church and the nation. The letter of warning to the communism, written for the Halicians plays a great role even nowadays: “You always willingly read the letters written by the sociologists and communists. Those letters impose you …the ideas and…tactics which lead you into the trap of the communism. Be cautious and above all, be Christians” [26,282]. A. Sheptytskiy argues that “one who helps communists to perform their mission” “abducts the Church”, and at the same time “betrays his nation” [26,275].

To conclude, pseudochristology as a kind of the cultural imperialism is classified and defined in the following way: it is a methodological attitude which leads to the falsification of the reality which comes into imperialistic ideologies (above all, demoliberalism) and thus uses the pre-interpretation of the Christological and Christian concepts in order to mask its culturally imperialistic essence. Nationalistic Christology is considered to be the representative of the Chronological interpretation, its invariant and it can be defined as a methodological attitude which gives an opportunity to interpret the phenomena and laws of existence via the aspect of Christianity in respect with the priory ontologically existential national values.


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