Vasileios Tatakis, Professor Emeritus A. U. Th.
The question of whether Christianity, as a social creed, is conservative or radical makes me wonder if the terms ‘social creed’, ‘conservative’ and ‘radical’ have any meaning as regards Christianity and, if so, what this might be. These terms do have their specific meaning, when they express our social progress within the course of our history, but Christianity is another kind of history.
It’s history because it has its historical events, those of the New Testament, on the one hand; but on the other there’s the life of the Church as the body of Christ. It is, at the same time, within history and outside it, in its essence, because it is revealed truth, eternal and absolute. It wants to guarantee us our salvation, to show us the path to immortality by finding the real connection with Him Who is, with God.
Christianity is revealed truth, transmitted in its entirety, directly, from the beginning. But it waits, it has the patience to wait, for its consummation in every era, in every person. So the perspective and viewpoint for judging the essence of Christianity will be entirely different from that employed by sociology. The latter, wittingly or unwittingly, is imbued with some theory of evolution: the theory is elusive, but its course is demonstrated empirically. Christianity is founded on an immovable position, revelation. It calls upon people in every era to implement this revelation anew, and provides them with the absolute criteria to measure and evaluate their progress. Sociology draws its conclusions on the basis of whatever’s new at any given time, of whatever divides one social norm from another. Christianity judges every era, every person, by the level they’ve reached in the ascent towards, access to, and understanding and implementation of immutable, transmitted truth.
We must therefore turn to this truth to see if it has any value for our social life and, if so, what that value is. That it’s extremely radical- on its own terms, of course- is beyond doubt. It was this revolution that first revealed to us the clarity with which we’re able to see it, ‘the divine within us’; it was this revolution that opened the way to heaven; it demands difficult things of us and calls upon us to make the difficult struggle to uncover and apply our superior nature and thus be saved. The Christian revolution is not a struggle against external warring factions, but against the inner walls that must be breached and must fall, so that the whole person can be revealed ever more pure and can continue his or her upward progress.
Through this path, individuals are completed and humanized. Because, although they are waging their own good fight- as warriors of the truth- they see others as siblings, as ‘neighbors’, as children of God, as they themselves are. And they see all this because they’re making an ascent towards God, they’re being redeemed from the tyranny and imprisonment in which they were being held fast by their selfish ego. They’ve transcended this ego and have now found the link which joins them to God. They can experience freedom in its highest degree; the freedom which has been permeated by love and which shows them their selves in their supreme essence, as children of God and all others as siblings and neighbors. After this- there’s more, but this is enough- it’s not difficult to see Christianity as an inexhaustible fount and unquenchable source of light for the full and proper implementation of our social nature. If anyone doubts this, let them question whether our social life, our life in general, can acquire full meaning and light without metaphysical requirements such as those offered by Christian teaching.