Happiness - By Father William Bassakyros
The Founding Fathers of the United States saw their world in a different way, but one thing that took precedence was revealed in the documents they produced.
In the Preamble of The Declaration of Independence it states that, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Is this all we are called to be as Children of God, or is there something else that we can discover about our Fallen Nature that can revolutionize and revitalize our humanity?
Mr. John Locke, a brilliant British empirical philosopher is regarded as an enlightened thinker of his time. He coined a trinity of values that the US Founding Fathers, and in particular, Thomas Jefferson took and incorporated into the Declaration of Independence as noted above. How Locke's trinity varied from Jefferson's in very important. Locke saw his trinity as "Life, Liberty, and Property, whereas Jefferson's we know is "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Why the change? Because at that time slaves were defined as property!
Moreover, it is happiness that Americans have for many years been in pursuit of as the Preamble states, but is this really Christian, or a malfunctioning of our person? A brilliant theologian and priest Father John S. Romanides, who was under the Greek Orthodox Church of America wrote a very interesting book entitled, "Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine: An Interplay Between Theology And Society." The book was written in 1982 and covers many areas that are stated in other theological discourses, but one area in particular holds the very essence of our being.
In Genesis we read that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God they were expelled from the Garden of Paradise. As a result, sin entered the world and their relationship with God was severed. I like to think of this relationship between Adam, Eve, and God as a woman who is pregnant for nine months and now will finally deliver her child. Once delivered the nurse will cut the umbilical cord that for nine months gave it life, food, and everything it needed to survive. However the child now is on it's own. When that separation happened and we were now on our own, did we lose something in our DNA that gave humanity the inability to see clearly?
Father Romanides says that, " . . . thus the root cause of all abnormal relations between God and man, and among men, is that fallen man, i.e. man with a malfunctioning noetic faculty, uses God, his fellow man, and nature for his own understanding, security, and happiness. Man outside of Glorification imagines the existence of God, or gods . . . which are psychological projections of his need for security and happiness." "Outside of Glorification," you mean that Prelapsarian Man had a cognitive ability that we do not have because of the Fall?
Genesis states that right after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden their offspring committed the most heinous of crimes, murder. It only took one generation for humanity to fall into such a sin. So what did they lose in the Fall that would enable humanity to justify such a tragedy?
It was the loss of the Spiritual self that Father Romanides declares is a result of the Fall. He does not mean "Spiritual" as we use it today, but a mechanism and organ within Adam and Eve that was lost after the Fall. A Noetic ability of the Nous "that is a spiritual part of the human person which perceives an uncreated God. An organ which God gave humanity to perceive God." Once this was taken away by the Fall, it was replaced by humanity through the pursuit of happiness.
Finally, it is through Jesus Christ that humanity can regain what Adam and Eve possessed as Pre-lapsarian humanity. How? By His glorification humanity is now reinstated into His Glory by Baptism into the Orthodox Church, which is His Body. This is true Spirituality and not some over used word, but a physical manifestation of God's will for humanity. We then can see through the lens of the Noetic eyes that were once part of our divine body, AMEN!
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