Friendship and Incarnation

STA argues that both intelligence and will are unifying powers, but they differ in that known things exist in the mode of the knower while chosen things have their own proper existence. Because of this, it is better to know things below us than to love them, and better to love things above us than to know them. I use “better”  to refer to both terms of the relation – both the higher and the lower are better off if the higher knows more than he loves, and the lower loves more than he knows.

Among equals, therefore, the ideal state is friendship, or the state where our knowledge of the other always keeps pace with our love of him and our love always shows more things to be known. If we were all friends we would have no need of lower sorts of organization. The city of pigs needs no politics. But this is an eschatological vision, not a universal plan for present life. For now, we enjoy the friendships and accept the rest.

The God we discover by natural theology more knows us than loves us, and it is better that way. Providential order sees to it that each thing has its place, and it is precisely because God transcends us that we can accept his totalizing rule for life in a way that would be totalitarian and inhuman if it were exercised by another human. It is both horrifying and blasphemous to see this sort of honor given to human beings.

The Incarnation preserves this order while opening an entirely new dimension within it. God remains provident while becoming friend in a robust and literal sense.

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