Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Glory and Shame

Continuing from the theme posted yesterday, about "glory."

We're taught in II Peter 1.4 that we become "partakers" of the divine nature. ("Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.")

Our brethren in the eastern churches sometimes speak about this process as "divinization." Rightly understood, that's nothing more than the fact that we will be returned to the divine glory we partook of in the garden, although it's sometimes misunderstood (probably on both sides) as teaching that we will somehow become gods, or become part of God. That's not what they are teaching.

But if we look back to the garden, Adam was deceived by the serpent into eating the fruit which God had commanded him not to eat of. After so eating, Adam and Eve fashion leaves as coverings for themselves, to cover their nakedness. Now the question: what changed? In other words, they were naked before; why the sudden need to cover?

I'm going to guess that Adam in his innocence (that is, prior to the fall) shone as a partaker of the divine glory, much as Christ shone on the mount of Transfiguration. Not that Adam was god there, but he had reflected glory in that state, and what stood out in that state was the shining glory -- not their nakedness. Suddenly, after the fall, their nakedness stood out as a defining characteristic.

This makes more sense after reading Phillipians 3.19: "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Phil. 3 is often incorrectly read as a command against gluttony, which it isn't. Gluttony is a sin, but that's not what St. Paul is talking about here.

In context, St. Paul is speaking about the Judaizers, who tried to force individuals to observe the Jewish law in order to become Christians. "Those whose God is their belly" is referring to those who demand (against Acts 10) that Christians keep the dietary laws of Lev. 11.

Those "whose glory is their shame" are those demanding ritual circumcision as a cost of being a Christian. "Shame" here equals what we euphemistically call "private parts," in other words, the area of the body we normally don't display to the public. The contrast here is glory and shame, and glory (in NT Greek) usually has a connotation of "shining" as in Hebrew.

In other words, Adam had glory, and lost it. He noticed his "shame," and tried to cover the shame.

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