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A SPECIAL ASPECT OF ATHANASIAN SOTERIOLOGY Part II Christ Is The Foundation Of The Entire Supernatural Order PROVERBS 8, 22, which the heretics twisted to their own schemes, is followed by another verse which they asserted proves that the Word was a creature: "He founded me before the world." St. Athanasius retorts that this, like the preceding verse, was not said of the divine nature of the Word, but of the human nature, of the Word's corporeal advent. For He says, not, "Before the world He founded me as the Word or Son," but simply, "He founded me," to show again, as I have said, that not for His own sake [as Word] but for the sake of those who are built upon Him does He say also this, after the style of proverbs. For knowing this, the Apostle also writes: "For other foundation no one can lay, but that which has been laid, which is Christ Jesus" (I Cor. 3, 11). And it is necessary that the foundation be such as the things built upon it, so that they can be closely joined together. Since, then, He is the Word, as Word He has none like He Himself is, who may be closely joined with Him; for He is Only-begotten; but having become man, He has His equals, those, namely, whose flesh of like nature He has put on. Therefore, according to His humanity He is founded that we, as precious stones, can be built upon Him and may become a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Now just as He is the foundation, and we the stones built upon Him, so He is also the Vine and we are joined to Him as branches — not according to the essence of the divinity, for this indeed is impossible; but according to His humanity — for the branches must be like the vine, since also we are like Him according to the flesh... Thus He says, not, "He has made me a foundation," lest He might seem to be a work and to have a beginning of being, and in this they might find a shameless occasion for irreligion; but [He says] "He founded me." Now what is founded, is founded for the sake of the stones which are set upon it;... Therefore, the Lord also, when He was founded, did not acquire a beginning of being -— for He was the Word before that; but when He put on our body, which He severed and took from Mary, then He says, "He founded me"; which is like saying, "Me, being the Word, He has covered with an earthy body." For so He is founded for our sakes, receiving what is ours, that we, having become one body with Him and having been closely joined together and bound with 171 172 A SPECIAL ASPECT OF ATHANASIAN SOTERIOLOGY Him through the likeness of the flesh, may attain unto a perfect man and abide immortal and incorruptible.1 It is especially worth noting that the supreme goal of Christ as our foundation is a life of immortality and incorruptibility. Our Doctor insists that this foundation, Christ, was laid already before the world was made; it was eternally in God's mind. The words "before the world" and "before He made the earth," and "before the mountains were settled," should not disturb anyone. He rightly joined them to "founded" and "created"; for this again touches the economy according to the flesh. For the grace which came to us from the Savior, appeared just now, as the Apostle says, and has come when He sojourned among us. It was, however, prepared even before we existed, rather, even before the foundation of the world. The reason for this is propitious and wonderful. It was not becoming that God should counsel later concerning us, lest He should appear ignorant of our fate. The God of all, therefore,— creating us by His own Word, and knowing the things that concerned us better than we, foreknowing also that, having been made good, we should later be transgressors of the commandment and be cast out of paradise because of disobedience, — since He is full of love...


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