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The Beatific Vision as Meta-History

Against notions of the final state as a sort of timeless tranquility, or contemplative stillness, Sergius Bulgakov portrays the final reconciliation as the beginning of a new journey, an endlessly energetic pilgrimage deeper into the mystery of God. History does not cease but transcends itself as it is transfigured into “meta-history.” The life of humanity rendered fully alive by the consummation of salvation “does not know immobility; this is only the sign of the beginning of meta-history, which has its own ‘ages of ages,’ inaccessible to our present knowledge. Meta-history continues in the future age, which is not static, but a new life.”

The beatific vision, then is not a state of silence, an ocean of motionless bliss, but an ever-traversing journey into the uncharted and uncontainable fullness of God’s trinitarian being. As such, the beatific vision is not so much a resolution as the beginning of the first true adventure. C.S. Lewis grasps this wonderfully well in his conclusion The Last Battle: “All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

To borrow Moltmann’s memorable phrasing: “In the End, the Beginning.”

4 Comments

  1. Hill wrote:

    Brilliant Lewis reference. Say what you will about his apologetic work, the Last Battle is pure genius and likely established my intellectual and theological trajectory at a very early age.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, the Last Battle is absolute genius. The conversation between Aslan and Emeth (Heb: “Truth”, btw) is one of the best conversations in the whole series. As is the chapter on how the dwarves refused to be taken in.

    What makes the book genuis is that it doesn’t really begin until after “the end” of Narnia.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
  3. Byron wrote:

    Ah yes, I hadn’t got to this post before I commented on the next one. Further up and further in!

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 2:26 am | Permalink
  4. Aaron Landau wrote:

    Mmm love the Lewis as well =)

    Edwards also has an endless view of heaven with the saints union with God approaching the communion of the Trinity.

    “[their] happiness … increasing to eternity, the union [becoming] more strict and perfect … and more like that between God, the Father and the Son” “ascending constantly towards that infinite height”, that is, the relationship of the Trinity (Miscellanies, no. 448. Works vol. 13).

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 10:58 am | Permalink

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