JMC : The Christian Mind / by Dom Anscar Vonier, O.S.B.

Chapter V.
Special Christian Mind Versus General Christian Mind.

We may now consider more fully what is really meant by the Christian Mind.

As I have already observed, it is regrettable that we have no word in our language to enable us to speak of Christ in an adjective mode.

The term Christian, both as a substantive and an adjective, refers not so much to Christ Himself, as to the believers in Christ, and things appertaining to them.

We ought to have a word which would make it possible for us to class under one adjective all things that are Christ's.

The habit of calling things that are our Lord's very own "Christ things" has prevailed, the name itself having become an adjective.

The title "Christ Mind" would be more descriptive of the purposes of this essay than its present superscription, "Christian Mind".

But once more I give expression to the wish that there were an adjective term in our language to stand between the substantive name Christ, and the very comprehensive expression Christian.

There are only two complete mental systems in the history of human thought diametrically opposed and exhaustive of their subject.

On the one hand we have Christian thought, and on the other we have monistic thought. All the other systems find their place within those two universal forms, as incomplete things are overshadowed by those which are complete.

Monism has been worked out to its uttermost logical conclusions by those fearsome creatures, the German antichristian philosophers and professors of our days.

Monism, as its name implies, makes it its fundamental principle that there is no distinction between Creator and creature. The world with all its phenomena is the evolution of one force. Even then, when Christian conclusions and monistic conclusions seem to coincide, the similarity is merely apparent.

Monism is radically and hopelessly the opposite of Christian thought. Christianism starts with the assumption of the real distinction between God and the world, between the Creator and creature, and the relations between the two, the Infinite Maker and the finite creature, come in everywhere in Christian thought.

This is why Christian philosophy may be also called dualism, in direct opposition to monism, as it is an upholding of the distinction between the Creator and the created.

St. Thomas Aquinas may be considered as the most comprehensive exponent of the Christian dualism, though, of course, dualism is much less the work of a few well-known thinkers, than is monism.

Dualism is really the common inheritance of mankind. Monism is a freak of darkness.

This philosophical digression will be helpful in our effort to define the scope of the Christian mind in the more restricted sense of this book.

In a very true sense, every sort of thinking that is not monism, is Christian thinking, however it may be overlaid by error and confusion.

The heathen who worships false gods is at bottom following out the principle of duality. He is certainly nearer to the kingdom of truth than the German monist.

On the other hand, Christian thought, Christian mind, in its general aspect, is every truth that is based ultimately on dualism; and antichristian thought, antichristian mind, is everything that rests on monism.

Christian mind, as the philosophical opposite of monism, is exceedingly vast and comprehensive. It implies certain views on religion, on politics, on economics, on science, on sociology, on eugenics, etc. Such views are simply called Christian, because they imply that the laws of the world, spiritual, moral, social, natural, are the property, so to speak, of an infinitely wise Creator, Who is not only the world's origin, but also the world's last court of appeal.

In this very general sense Christian thought differs in no wise from Jewish thought. Monism is its only real enemy. But the specific Christian Mind of which we are treating here may be said to be the opposite of Jewish thought in its postmessianic phase, for the Jew, whilst worshipping God, and whilst having the zeal of God, refuses to surrender his mind and his will to the higher manifestations of God found in the Incarnation.

With all his faith in God, he suffers from a lamentable ignorance of God, because he fails to understand the infinitely sweet mystery of God's love in the Incarnation.

"Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. And you have not known him: but I know him" (St. John viii. 54).

Christian Mind, in our restricted sense, is not so much a specific view of the world and its laws, as of God and His free favours. It pre-supposes all the general Christian thinking, but rises infinitely higher.

The general Christian law of morality is the groundwork from which it soars. Christian Mind, therefore, may be best defined as the attitude of man's mind caused directly and totally by the Incarnation.

It is to the general Christian view of things, to dualism, what Paul the Apostle is to Saul the Pharisee.

Saul the Pharisee saw the world in God. Paul the Apostle sees both God and the world in Christ Jesus. It is an immense uplifting of the mind, so great an uplifting indeed that to many it seems an entire upheaval, and it is dreaded and hated as an upheaval.

It is one of the characteristics of the Christian Mind to be so totally misunderstood by the ordinary religious mind of the orthodox believers in God and His works, as to make the extermination of it an apparent service rendered unto God.

"They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that, whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God" (St. John xvi. 2).

The question will be asked here how then the general Christian mind ranges itself under the special Christian Mind, the outcome of the Incarnation. For it is unthinkable that our mental perspective should be subdivided into regions. We must see all things as lying within one plane, bounded by one horizon. Our plane is Christ, the horizon is Christ's human nature.

All things that are must be visible in Christ, for the Christian Mind. The great doctrine of the Word gives us the key.

"All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made" (St. John i. 3).

The Word made flesh is universal power, universal harmony, universal wisdom made flesh.

We cannot dissociate Christ from the things of nature that are true and beautiful. Christ is truly the "heir of the world" (Rom. iiii. 13).

There is no greater privilege for the Christian Mind than to view all things in the sweet glow of the God Incarnate, besides having the blessed vision of the Hypostatic Union itself. This containment of all things in the God made man will be more fully developed as the book goes on. But I thought it wise to say a word here as to the relative position of what I call here the general Christian mind, and the noble thing that will now claim all our attention, the Christian Mind.

<< ======= >>