Guest Submission: (FICTION) The Talons of the Beast, Or Unraveling the Apocalypse

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By John C. Evans

See John’s work here
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Book I

A Study of the Road to Ruin

In Jeremiah 4, the reader is presented with the vision of an impending disaster, one of startling proportions. Jeremiah tells us, “23 I looked at the earth,

and it was formless and empty;

and at the heavens,

and their light was gone.

24 I looked at the mountains,

and they were quaking;

all the hills were swaying.

25 I looked, and there were no people;

every bird in the sky had flown away.

26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;

all its towns lay in ruins

before the Lord, before his fierce anger.” The aforementioned passage could be read as an alagory for the destruction of Israel’s Southern Kingdom of Juda at the hands of the Babylonians. That is our direct historical context, and in

so much as scripture records chronology, this prophesy was fulfilled for the corrupt souls of Jeremiah’s time. But the scripture itself seems to indicate something more. The first verse of Jeremiah’s prophesies begins with the words, “I looked at the earth

and it was formless and empty.” We are then informed that the light of heaven is utterly blotted out. This is significant because the ruin referred to here is not confined merely to Juda, but to the entire created order. Similarly, we read in Isaiah 1, “7 Your

country is desolate,

your cities burned with fire;

your fields are being stripped by foreigners

right before you,

laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.

8 Daughter Zion is left

like a shelter in a vineyard,

like a hut in a cucumber field,

like a city under siege.” Such destruction fits the same pattern. The mountains and light are disturbed, leading to a particular judgement on Jerusalem. But the scope of the destruction is clearly cosmic, enveloping the whole earth.

Furthermore, such a judgement appears to come through fire. In Isaiah we are told that the cities of Jerusalem are burnt like Sodom and Gomorrah. In Jeremiah 4 these cities are refered to following darkness in the heavens. One can imagine the sky brooding

with primordial shadow before bursting into sudden flame. Because Isaiah uses Sodom and Gomorrah as a figure of speech for Jerusalem it is also likely his prophesy is not supposed to be contained within his own historical framework but holds a typological

meaning. This should lead us to wonder, when does this destruction take place?

Defenders of the Gap Theory argue that such a ruin could have occurred in The Book of Genesis in which we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface

of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Such a view hinges upon the words “Formless and empty” rendered in the King James, “Without form and void” a turn of froze also present in Jeremiah 4. Interestingly both passages

also are concerned with light. In Jeremiah we are informed that the light has been blotted out from the heavens. In Genesis, we behold God’s primordial command, “Let there be light” followed by a dividing of the light from the darkness. According to Saint

Augustine and Aquinas, this separation of the light from the darkness may also refer to the war in heaven in which Lucifer was cast from his lofty throne to the earth, recorded in Revelation 12. However, Adam is formed in chapter 2 of Genesis, long after the

War in Heaven and Jeremiah informs us, “I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;

all its towns lay in ruins.” If Adam had not yet been created who could have occupied these deserted towns? Certainly, this event described in Jeremiah could not have occurred at any point between Genesis 1 and 2. One might argue that

this destruction may refer to the days of Noah during the great deluge. It is true that in Genesis chapter 7 through 9 we read of a great reordering of The World. Old land masses are drowned. Empires are crushed under mounds of clay. Presumably the light is

consumed by the waters. Only those inside The Ark were spared from utter destruction. We catch a glimpse of this when Moses records in Genesis 7, drawing upon material Noah would have witnessed with his own eyes, “They rose greatly on the earth, and all the

high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. [A][b] 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm

over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped

from the earth. Only Noah was left and those with him in the ark. “There is only one problem with this reading. Jeremiah tells us that he looked and saw that the “fruitful place” had become “A desert.” The term “desert” does not imply destruction by water.

Jeremiah also makes no reference to rain or a flood. Therefore, he cannot be describing the events of the Great Deluge found in Genesis 7.

Where then does this leave us? Christ himself told us that his return would be a time similar to the Flood. Saint Peter also draws a comparison between the days of Noah and the coming of the Lord. I shall include the quotation at length

below, as Peter draws upon both Noah and the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, as if these two destructions are somehow linked. This will become more self-evident later. In the meantime, our chief focus is noticing the typological bond between the events of Genesis

7 and those of the Apocalypse. Peter argues, “4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness[b] to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on

its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot,

a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue

the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh[c] and despise authority.” Here we see how salvation history is bound to repeat itself.

While God does respect free will, he knows that in the last time there will come a period of great apostasy in which rightful authority is challenged. Instead men walk after the desires of “the flesh” which Augustine calls in his Confessions and City of God

Concupiscence. Moved by Original Sin and denying Revelation, rejecting even the Natural Law, humanity will begin to worship themselves as divine instead of the creator. This is made explicit in Romans when Saint Paul states, “Romans 1:25 NIV: They exchanged

the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.” This idolatry of the self is allegorically seen in the relationship between Israel and her God throughout the Book of Jeremiah and even

throughout Isaiah. To use only one typological example, shedding light on the quality of the times we are heading for and are, to some extent already living in, Isaiah declares, “2 hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!

For the Lord has spoken:

“I reared children and brought them up,

but they have rebelled against me.

3 The ox knows its master,

the donkey its owner’s manger,

but Israel does not know,

my people do not understand.” In the days of Noah men also reversed themselves before the creator, going so far as to forgetting the primacy of the Lord God. This collapse of God as creator, see Genesis 1, leads to the worship of fallen

humanity as the measure of all things. This so called humanism was quite evident in Noah’s day. It will be also quite evident in the days of the Antichrist. In Revelation we read how men shall worship “The beast” instead of God, because the beast will present

himself as the ultimately humanitarian, as a man of peace, as the worlds’ greatest diplomat and problem-solver according to the standards of The World. As such he shall make himself the final authority and deify man’s fallen nature in the minds of men, corrupting

what little good remains there through the Natural Law. As a result, this idolatry shall lead to the people of the earth presumably warring openly against God himself. This authority crisis is evident when we read in Revelation, “5The beast was given a mouth

to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7It was given power to wage war against God’s holy

people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation

of the world.#13:8 Or written from the creation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was slain.” There is no single Antichrist to be found in the days of Noah. Yet there were many Antichrists who would prefigure the coming of the final

beast just as there are many Antichrists today. Yet these Antichrists, in Noah’s time, were more than human. Genesis 6 is a bewilderingly complicated book; one which has caused more spilt ink than many outside Biblical studies may know. What is self evident

is that it was the opinion of the author of Enoch, the anonymous author of Josher, Flavius Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, and other Apocryphal authors that fallen angels had cohabitated with mortal women and had led an already fallen humanity farther

in the way of self-conceit. We know that Noah parched for over a hundred years to the people of his day. Yet in II Peter, he records only 8 people being saved aboard the ark. The Early Church including Hippolytus of Rome in his sermons and Ephraim the Syrian

in the Book of the Cave of Treasures see the Ark as typological of the church. The services held upon this Ark during the Deluge and afterword are liturgical. In the Book of the Cave of Treasures, we are told, “at sunset Noah and his sons went into the Ark,

on the east side of [the third story], and his wife and the wives of his sons went to the west side. And the body of Adam was deposited in the middle of the Ark, wherein also all the mysteries of the Church were deposited. Thus women in church shall be on

the west [side] [Fol. 17a, col. 2], and men on the east [side], so that the men may not see the faces of the women, and the women may not see the faces of the men. Thus also was it in the Ark; the women were on the west [side], and the men on the east [side],

and the body of our father p. 112 Adam was placed between [them] like a raised stand (or throne).” According to the Book of the Cave of Treasures Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were placed before the body as well. In another account, the Body of Eve is also

taken aboard the Ark. seeing that they are one flesh, this seems likely. The liturgical nature of this passage may be suspect to some who might argue its composition must be late. However, remember that aspects of the law are already present in Genesis 8,

suggesting that a structured form of worship was already in place. Regardless it is self-evident that the idolatry of the people of Noah’s day was seemingly counterbalanced by the fidelity and right worship of the survivors within the Ark. Just as there was

ruin outside the ark via the great flood because men had indulged the desires of their fallen nature, so too in the Ark there is peace because the passions are restrained by means of placing the Creators’ love before His creations’ greed.

Christ personally presents this typology in the Synoptic Gospels. I have chosen to quote from Mathew as this apostle was a tax-collector and would have been learned in short-hand. As a stenographer, sacred tradition implies that this Gospel

was composed before Mark and that it presents almost word for word some of Christ’s most well-known discourses including the Sermon on the Mount. Furthermore, both Mathew and Luke record different versions of what is sometimes called the Olivet Discourse in

which Christ presents a prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem. In Luke’s account it is generally believed Christ presents the destruction of the Temple in A.D 70. Yet in Mathews’ Gospel, many, such D.R Missler in his audio commentaries on the Gospels believe

that Christs’ discussion is even more inclusive of the Last Days and most likely occurs at another time than the discourse presented in Luke, thus drawing a distinction between the intended audiences and content of these two addresses. Either way, we see references

to the flood of Noah In the Gospel of Mathew, in which Our Lord warns us, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,

up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” We should note the kinds of chores referred to in Christs’ warning. The agricultural references emphasize the fact that the end will come at a time in which men and women

are at their daily tasks. Yet paradoxically Christ warns us in a previous passage we read, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. “Living in the West today,

we often “Hear” the rumor of wars and famine in other nations, even as our own children are placed in danger in our public schools and hunger stocks our streets. Nevertheless, out of the hardness of our heart many continue to go about their daily activities,

taking no care for their neighbors, entering the allegorical fields of labor to be found in the office or working in the contemporary “hand mills” which William Blake equates in his poem Jerusalem with factories and mechanization. The activity of working to

feed one’s family is noble and to be commended. Yet the deafness of the retch to the concerns of the multitude under the guise of business can never be excused. For such was the decadence of Juda in Jeremiah’s day. Yet Babylon came for Juda until the children

of Abraham were placed once more in bondage. In a similar way, the people of the United States and of the whole world are even now in bondage to distractions born of materialism and commercialized greed. Relativism reigns in our Public Schools and even among

biblically minded individuals there is a sense of cloistered detachment from the concerns of our present-time, as if by ignoring the evils of our day we could somehow avoid the trouble awaiting our own households and friends. There is a spiritual bondage,

a bondage to sin we are all wrestling with, and we have only one Messiah who can set us free. Yet returning to the issue at hand, such a ruin will come suddenly and will bring about a chain of events concluding in the restoration of all things.

We should here briefly touch on our approach to the Apocalypse as it is understood by commentators. For unless we define our terms, any discussion of Jeremiah 4 and The Book of Revelation will be clouded in misconception. We will hope first

to be honest about our own approach to the text, secondly to present our Catholic arguments for why we hold this point of view, and lastly encourage you to do your own investigation and research. Our goal is only to present an abridged overview of the issues

at hand and not to convey an exhaustive treatise on the vast difficulties in interpretation of Eschatology. Nevertheless, it is our hope that we can encourage readers from all backgrounds to walk away from this exploration better informed about the scriptures

and better equipped to begin their own study of the available materials, including those which disagree with our own point of view. It should also be noted that we shall be comparing here only the Catholic position on the End Times with that of the Fundamentalist

School of Thought. Because Protestantism consists of many distinct denominations all with varying degrees of interpretation, it would be counterproductive to our study of Jeremiah 4 and to the Apocalypse at large to present every area of disagreement or correlation

between our interpretations of the available evidence. Keeping this in mind, let us examine some distinctions we can make regarding the nature of Christs’ return as contained in Revelation. For afterall, Jeremiah 4 is most likely a description of the disasters

preceding the Apocalypse’ ultimate outcome, the restoration of God’s Kingdom, “On earth as it is in heaven,” in a transfigured Edenic way. The mechanics of how this is carried out are naturally subjects of debate between proponents of different Biblical cosmologies.

There are those in the Protestant Fundamentalist world who would argue that we can map out this exact change of events and find corollaries in our own time. This includes works written by DR. Chuck Missler in his Book Cosmic Codes and Bible studies on

the Book of Revelation. Also influential in this same genre are the works of Ken Johnson, a student of Patristics. Both Missler and Johnson support in their works a Rapture and make speculations about the nature of the world system called Babylon the Great

or Mystery Babylon throughout the last chapters of Revelation. These speculations are not in keeping with the vast majority of the Patristics, such as Augustine or Jerome, as both Johnson and Missler tend to play into 16th century arguments or from an application

of second Temple Jewish Apocalyptic literature. Johnson, who I deeply admire and respect, cites sources which are known to be problematic, albeit interesting texts, purporting to date back to the time of the Patriarchs as well as literature such as the Book

of Enoch. While I personally disagree with many assertions made in these texts, it is evident that the authors of these works hold a high reverence for the scriptures and are concerned about the relevancy of Biblical prophecy for our present- time. In so much

as they have attempted to do this through their own traditions, a study of their work is at any rate a good overview of the Fundamentalist approach. There are those from my own Catholic world-view who would take a far more allegorical approach while identifying

those elements which are intended to be historical. For more details on this please examine the Baltimore Catechism and resources available through E.W.T.N. There are some points on which there can be no consensus between a strictly literal or historical reading

of some elements in Revelation and the terms defined by the Catechism. This includes such issues as the Thousand Year Reign of Christ called the Millennium by some which is derived from a hand full of verses found in Revelation and a literal reading of prophesies

found in the Old Testament. While such a point of view is compelling on scriptural grounds, it was rejected by Church Fathers such as Augustine and by Aquinas who argued that the precise number of years in the text is rather a description of the Reign of Christ

in the New heavens and in the New Earth, a period in which the Endemic state of Genesis 2 will be restored, see Revelation 21 for details. Also the chronology of Revelation neither is not exactly linear nor is it expected to be, as the martyrdom of the two

witnesses in Revelation appear before the introduction of the so called “Beast” or Antichrist. Therefore, it has been the position of the vast majority of the Doctors of the Catholic Church that such a period cannot refer to a literal Millennium, but rather

to an indeterminate experience, corresponding either to the overthrow of death in Revelation 21 or to the prefiguring of this reality in the presence of the Liturgy and in the sacraments. Nevertheless, there are some points on which we can hold complete

agreement on. These include a conviction that there will be a great apostasy from a Biblical worldview, that there will arise a historical figure in the future who will prove to be the “Abomination of Desolation” refered to by both Daniel and in the Synoptic

Gospels, that such an Antichrist figure will be defeated by the Return of Christ, that the dead will be bodily raised to judgement before the throne of God, and that there shall come a New heavens and a New earth, in which death shall be no more. As to the

particular details, such as the natural disasters which precede the coming of the Antichrist contained in Revelation and the measure of control he will exact through his minions, we are left with great room for interpretation. Assuming that the text conveyed

by the Apostle John in his Apocalypse or Unveiling presents details which can be construed as historical and that these same historical details can be found also in the Old Testament, let us reexamine a few select events which both scripture and tradition

affirm.

The references to the mountains being removed in Jeremiah 4 are reminiscent of the conclusion of Revelation 6, after the four horseman of the Apocalypse have been sent to trouble the earth. At the breaking of the seals, we are informed

that the heavens are rolled up like a scroll and that the light is blotted from the sky, a point also present in Jeremiah’s warning. Directly following this, Saint John also makes reference to mountain ranges suffering a terrible cataclysm, but goes one step

farther than Jeremiah, reporting survivors huddled in subterranean chambers awaiting the close of what seems to be a fiery deluge. Considering the bunkers built in this country during the Cold War, such an image is hardly farfetched, but seems to hold an early

applicability. Saint John tells us, “15Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall

on us and hide us#6:16 See Hosea 10:8. From the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of their#6:17 some manuscripts his wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”” Such a passage as has been noted contains

numerous references to other Old Testament prophesies. In terms of chronology it is difficult to discern whether persecution of the Church will occur before or after these disasters. What is clear is that following them, those who hold to the faith will be

put to the test. Christ tells us in the Gospel of Mathew, “15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to

the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not

take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

“In literal terms Christ describes a forced flight from Jerusalem. His warning is meant to keep the believer vigilant and not to be caught at unawares. Whenever the disaster of Jeremiah 4 strikes, it will not come unannounced. Remember

that Noah and his forefathers had preached a judgement for generations. For over a hundred years Noah built an Ark in his driveway while his neighbors laughed and mocked him. Even the day of the Flood, all disbelieved until death came for them. In the same

way, those who do not flee Jerusalem in the time of the disaster recorded above will be overwhelmed. In allegorical terms, we know that the Church is often seen as a kind of New Jerusalem. We know what conditions were like in England under Henry VIII and Elizabeth

I in which the faithful were practically driven out of the stainglass structures of Canterbury and York and forced underground. Those who remained behind to tend to their businesses or their temporal cares became lukewarm and within a generation apostasies

and became Anglican. In China and Russia under Communism, an underground church also formed and at least in the case of China such an underground body is often in conflict with a state run Patriotic Church, one hostile to the devout in all but name.

What can be said of this Anti Church which persecutes the true Bride of Christ? What can be said of this “Abomination of desolation” also called “the beast” in the book of revelation and by Paul a man of lawlessness? The Baltimore Catechism

leaves great room for speculation, only going so far as to identify him as a given individual who will lead man into the great apostasy. Yet scripture itself may offer us some tantalizing clues. The following consists merely of my own theological speculation

although others such as Dr. Missler have gone so far as to make similar arguments. Keeping in mind the great latitude we have for interpretation, one should therefore take whatever we relate below with a mind for investigation yourself, in keeping with both

scripture and the sacred tradition which informs it. We read in the book of Genesis that,” 14 so the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock

and all wild animals!

You will crawl on your belly

and you will eat dust

all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity

between you and the woman,

and between your offspring[a] and hers;

he will crush[b] your head,

and you will strike his heel.” At first this passage can seem rather cryptic. Satan, being presented as the serpent, clearly is given authority over the “seed of the woman. This “seed of the woman” shall be wounded specifically in the

heel. Yet in return the serpent shall be wounded on the head. We would associate a head wound with a mortal blow. However, the wound is never described as leading to his demise. Satan we must understand is not confined to a body. He is a fallen angel and thus

a spirit. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the angelic Doctor, angels do not possess material bodies although they can assume matter to appear to men. Rather they consist of intellect, spirit, and will and are divided into nine choirs. Satan was of the highest

choir of angels according to Aquinas and Bonaventure before he fell proclaiming that he would not serve God. Yet Michael, whose name in Hebrew literally can be translated as “Who is like God” resisted him and drove Satan from his throne. According to some

Sacred Traditions, Michael was of a much lower choir of angel before being elevated to his eminent place because of his defense of God’s authority. The fact that Satan has been demoted naturally infuriates him. We are told in Revelation 12, for example, that

he knows his time his short. This means he is constantly waging war on humanity, who he detests because of the incarnation and particularly seeks to overthrow the family, which is at the root of mankind’s spiritual and natural order. This is why Satanists

to this day present themselves as advocates of abortion, devours, unnatural unions, and even the desolation of the distinctions between male and female. For the Lords’ first commandment was to be fruitful and multiply, see Genesis 2, and he remembers how in

Genesis 3 how it was by “the seed of the woman” he was defeated.

Spirits cannot die. At the end of time we know from the book of Revelation that Satan shall be cast into the lake of fire, see Revelation 21. Therefore why would God refer to the seed of the serpent receiving a wound in Genesis 3 unless

it has some significance? The answer lies in the Book of Revelation.

We read in the Revelation of Saint John that, “1The dragon#13:1 some manuscripts, And I stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each

head a blasphemous name. 2The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal

wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can

wage war against it?” Who is the beast? We are told in this passage that the dragon gives the beast authority. The dragon is clearly Satan. In this way the beast acts as an inversion of the son of God. Therefore the beast must be the Antichrist. This much

should be clear to anyone who has heard of the number of the beast. The number of the beast 666 is most likely a Biblical reference to the Beasts’ false role as the ultimate humanitarian. For the number 6 is associated with man and not with God. For on the

6th day man was formed from the dust of the earth. Therefore the number 666 can literally be translated as “man, man, man” as if the author were to proclaim the adoration of humanity before the worship owed to God alone. Such idolatry would be worse than dialectic

materialism. For in materialism there is a denial of God and the whole supernatural. But here those who serve the beast do so with a religious zeal, a worship that proclaims a man who has become God and acquired a divine nature through his own efforts. Such

an anti-Gospel would ape the law of grace. The title of the beast is notable in that it denies this figure’s status as a divinely created individual. We live in a society in which our culture informs us that we are no more than beasts. Aristotle called us

the rational and political animal. Yet even Aristotle recognized we have souls which were designed for a greater world. Plato and Socrates firmly believed that man was set apart from the cosmos to be granted a purpose in the designs of the creator. This is

because Plato’s theory of Forms recognizes the soul. Yet the beast here does not recognize himself as a man made in the image of God. Instead he is a figure who is anti-God and therefore anti human, in the sense that his humanitarianism will consist of a deified

view of man as animal and not as sub-creator. The Biblical Humanitarianism is one which sees man making beautiful art, for example, because he is made by The Good and for The Good. But according to the Beasts’ false animalistic humanitarianism, man desires

to create in order to dominate the natural law, to unmake the distinctions between man and woman, to dissolve the iron jaws of death through science and the inflation of the self. This will make the Ego of man his own image and reduce the meek, the humble,

and the pious to the slaughterhouse just as Adolf Hitler saw the Jewish People as a hindrance on an Darwinistic road to progress. The Antichrist will live by an evolutionary model of morality. For him there will be no absolute truth or absolute morality. Instead

he will say that morals and customs have developed and that humanity now could define for itself the laws of good and evil. According to the Beast, man could live as Gods, whereas Christs’ Gospel presents God as the absolute truth and the second person of

the trinity as the incarnation of this living truth in order that man’s fallen nature might be perfected at the coming of a New Heavens and a New Earth, see Revelation 22.

We live in an age where the genetics of man may be manipulated. We live in a world where we could create artificial intelligence. Just pick up your phone and you can ask it directions. This movement has positive and negative attributes.

Its positive qualities are evident in our better ability to store information and mass data. We have the world at our fingertips. We can research any novel. We can explore the far corners of the universe and put a man on the moon. We can access God’s word

for example within the blink of an eye. This is truly remarkable. However, These same apparent leaps forward can also lead to our undoing. This is why films such as the Terminator and the Matrix continue to be popular. This is why shows about virtual reality

and interdimensional travel are in the media. These systems of thought and digital creations are a part of what we can call the post human world. We have left the age of gunpowder and nuclear warheads and hurled ourselves into a prison-scape of screens and

shining cameras. If we are to engage in speculation, the beast’s bestial evolutionary stance and anti-God perspective could be fueled by this gigantic leap from human intelligence to a genetically and technologically modified source of knowledge. The ancient

Greeks spoke of Gnosis meaning secret or concealed wisdom. Mystery-schools grew up around teachers who could pass on this gnosis often after expending large sums of money and engaging in rituals of a sexual nature. Today’s cults are rising from the ground

up. But their roots run deep. High Ranking Rosicrucians and Free- Masons are funding think-tanks around the world to push man out of our present world and into the next. What they are willingly ignorant of is that they are simply repeating the age old lie

that Satan offered us from the first, the lie of an everlasting life without God. If God is creator than he cannot be absent from his creation. Hence, we are all present with God whether we would prefer to be with him or not. We also know from 1 John that

God is love and that all that reject God reject the very nature of love itself. We also know from Genesis 2 that man is made in the image of God. Therefore to reject God in his creation is not only to reject reality but also to reject ones’ own nature, fallen

as it is through original sin. Because of this Augustine argued in his Confessions, “Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is your power, and of your wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Your creation, desires to praise You —

man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that You resist the proud, — yet man, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising you; for you have made us for yourself, and our

hearts are restless until they rest in you. [cor. “We were made for God and are only satisfied when we enter into a relationship with Him. This is because God does not wish to compete with our nature, but rather to elevate it. For without his love, which is

love and truth itself, we run around and fall amongst ourselves in violence. In the Book of Jonah, the Prophet tried to run from God, because he would not go and preach to Israel’s enemies. He was swallowed by the Great Fish for three days and nights prefiguring

our Lord’s life, death, and resurrection. Many look on Jonah as a fairytale, but I don’t. There is a reason why Our Lord referred to him as “the sign” for all generations vindicating his divine purpose and plan. For I believe, we can all read ourselves into

the role of the reluctant prophet. I believe we can all read ourselves into the shoes of the child who refuses to grow up, although he knows in his own heart that he must take up the sword and stand someday. Let us not forget that we were born to be warriors.

The question is, shall we fight for ourselves or shall we fight for God? Many of us are like Jonah. We believe in our hearts that we can somehow flee from God and his calling for our lives. Yet God’s call cannot be resisted, because God’s call is written into

the very fabric of being itself and born of a desire for our eternal fruitfulness. Concerning God’s transcendence we read in Augustine, “Because I am not yet in hell, though you are even there; for if I go down into hell you are there. I could not therefore

exist, could not exist at all, O my God, unless you were in me. Or should I not rather say, that I could not exist unless I were in You from whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things? Romans 11:36 Even so, Lord; even so. Where do

I call you to, since you are in me, or whence can you come into me? For where outside heaven and earth can I go that from thence my God may come into me who has said, I fill heaven and earth? Jeremiah 23:24

“Therefore any design which seeks to wage war on God and to elevate man to God’s Holy throne by man’s own efforts is predestined to fail .

We long for immortality. We may be on the cusp of attempting to finish the cap-stone on the tower of Babel. Such fruition would only mean a living death.

At this point, I believe we should revisit our disobedience in Genesis 11, for by this we can better understand the nature of the Great Apostasy which lies before us. We all believe we know The Tower of Babel. Most of us were exposed to

popular images of a conical structure with its face reaching into the heavens. Most of us were informed that the builders of the tower, after the flood of Noah, desired to create a building which would literally reach into the heavens. We were also most likely

told that God destroyed the structure in a great fire and reduced its roots to rubble. But what does the Bible actually say about this event? We read in the Book of Genesis, “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,

[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that

we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

The key part of this passage lies in the verse which reads, ““Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens;” After the flood of Noah, men were commanded to spread upon the face of the earth and to multiply.

Instead they have decided to create “a city” and a “tower” in the heavens. We all know about the tower in the heavens. But what about the city? There is nothing inherently wrong with constructing a walled city with a large tower or we would all be dead. Therefore

the answer must lie in our forefathers’ unwillingness to “scatter” and the mysterious line “in the heavens.” Ancient people were not simple in their perspective of the cosmos. The Great Pyramid and the Sphynx of Egypt continue to baffle us. The astronomical

alinements of these structures are undeniable. Graeme Hancock throughout his writings along with other less mainstream historians claim that these structures could be much older than we suspected. We cannot argue the authenticity of such claims here. Yet they

should be examined in light of a Biblical worldview. Whatever you think of the dating or authenticity of these structures in your own Biblical chronology, they point to a vast sum of knowledge possessed by our primordial ancestors. This knowledge was clearly

not spent in scrolls or manuscript evidence. Our only record of the pre-diluvian world comes from mythology and the sacred texts of scripture. All else fades before us like sand before the rising of the tide. We have footprints and a shadow on the shore. But

these are only remnants of a much larger and more expansive world.

No, our ancestors in Babel and around the globe appear to have applied their knowledge toward creating large stone monuments designed to outlast all imperishable material. Few of these structures such as the Pyramid which survive have carvings

on them indicating who built them. The Great Pyramid for example has no signature. Neither does New Grange. Instead they are silent memorials. Why? What good could a “tower” in the heavens and a “city” do? Were these really a “tower” and “city” as you and

I would see them? If the flood is a historical event and if its scale was global in nature, then the survivors of this people would have never wanted to live through such a judgement again. Rather than spreading upon the face of the earth as they had been

commanded to do by the Lord God, they may have attempted to create for themselves a shelter, a living arc of stone or clay- bricks in order to escape the next judgement. The first deluge was of water. God tells us that he has placed his rainbow in the sky

as a sign or token never again to judge the world by water. Yet another condemnation is on the way. If we believe in the Apocalypse or Revelation of John, we must assume that a second deluge is prophesized, one of fire. Our forefathers knew this- not because

they knew of the Revelation of John in advance. They knew this because they understood they had disobeyed God’s command to be fruitful and spread across the earth. They knew that they were repeating the mistakes of their own forefathers and would be due for

punishment. While urban areas are usually more dangerous to be in during disasters, they also provide infrastructure . When we think of a city, we think of buildings all stacked up one upon another. In the event of an earthquake this locality could be fatal.

However, assume that each building is designed as sternly and as cleverly as the Great Pyramid. Assume that these are stone structures like New Grange which are designed to last. Instead of becoming a deathtrap- every building is now a sanctuary from the oncoming

storm. In the event of a flood of course such structures, unless they were considerably high would be useless. Yet most readers of Revelation and of other Biblical Prophesies know that the second deluge shall come in spiritual and literal fire. We read in

Revelation 9, “The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The

sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those

people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will

seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

This is just one of many torments which strike the earth throughout the Apocalypse of Saint John. The first star appears to be wormwood which poisons the sea as if we had survived nuclear war. In other instances, a plague appears to fall

from the heavens upon the peoples of the earth. Yet this plague is different. It is not just corporeal in terms of literal fire and smoke. Instead, we are dealing with spiritual adversaries. We read that there are “angels” in the bottomless pit which are released

from the smoke. We learn that death flees from the living and that they long for death. Why is man now welcoming death? Isn’t the human project of modernism been to end death? Scientists now are attempting to kill the gene which commands our bodies to die.

What could possibly be going on? What is John attempting to hint at when he speaks of this problem of mortality?

The answer lies with the tower “in the heavens.” The word tower here conjures up for us the image of a medieval fortress soring into the heavens or a skyscraper with its head lost in mist. Yet the earliest attested buildings after the

flood of Noah are not like this. Instead they are step pyramids or Ziggurats. At the top of these buildings there was a temple, usually dedicated to a pagan God. This temple would act as a portal or gateway into the world beyond. We have surmised through physics

that there are multiple dimensions. What these dimensions consist of remains a matter for debate. Nevertheless, if we are to believe in heaven and hell than it is possible that these domains exist within these domains. Interdimensional travel is presently

only a matter of science fiction and conjecture. However, ancient literature found across cultures often refers to doorways or portals into other places beyond time and space. This is evident in scripture’s own description of “Jacob’s Ladder” in Bethel. It

is possible that the creators of Babel desired not to create a literal tower in the heavens, but rather a passage into the spiritual realms belonging to the Lord. We have only presently landed a man on the moon. Can you imagine what would happen if we could

place a man within the confines of either heaven or hell? Perhaps we could break into the inner gates of purgatory? This would effectively make man immortal. This is because he could travel freely in and out of paradise. In chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis,

we learn that an angel with a flaming sword was placed outside Eden. What was left of Eden would have been destroyed under millions of layers of silt and degree from the flood. Yet the makers of Babel could have sought to have corrected the mistakes of Adam

and the first who fell away by making themselves Gods. Of course this begs the question, weren’t these figures expecting some judgement from God? It is possible that the makers of the city and the great tower of Babel truly believed that they were designed

to transcend their human bounds. This transhuman agenda is alive and well today. Through artificial intelligence we are seeking to lengthen our lifespans. Such a supposed immortality would only be a second death and hence a living hell. As we read in Revelation,

men shall seek for death and death shall flee from them. What prompts this statement? A portal or cosmic gate is opened up when the door to the bottomless pit is opened. Then the angels who fell can wreak havoc upon the earth. Demons need permission to wreak

havoc upon the living. This permission comes in the form of breaking the commandments of God and making pacts, knowingly or unknowingly with the enemy of life. When we have rebelled against God, such as the sinners who created Babel, we open ourselves up to

defeat. That is why the tower was not completed. That is why the city is no more. Yet we have almost overlooked the fact that the tower was never destroyed. Yes it was not completed, but scripture does not describe its demise. The foundations of the tower

are not destroyed. The rubble remains for another craftsman to reconstruct. We read in Revelation that Babylon must rise again. If Babel is the forerunner of Babylon then the literal ruins of the great tower may be restored. On the other hand, another figurative

tower of transgression could be constructed here in the West. Perhaps the Third Temple in Jerusalem may play such a role. Solomon, in his idolatry, is rumored for having dabbled in the Occult according to extra-biblical legends and folklore. The spiritual

essence of Babel is already well underway and its roots of course are in Genesis 3, in the problem of original sin.

The result of our first disobedience was our fall from Paradise. Our further experimentation in such post human thinking could easily lead us to the apocalypse or unveiling as it is better known in the Koine Greek. The beast could easily

adopt the religion of these post human thinkers or take on the mantel of the post- human man. For the religion of the Transhuman model is the religion of the Tower of Babel. Instead of building a door into eternity through mortar and bricks, man now seeks

to build a ladder by means of his own genetic code and the manipulation of his reality. This transition could occur as a result of a wound, the same wound recorded in The Book of Revelation. We are told that The Beast suffers a mortal wound on the head and

recovers. No more is said. Much is implied. We are told, “The heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. “The world follows the Beast in “”wonder.”

Many wondered at the true miracles of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Many more will wonder at the false signs worked by this evil man. For his evil will be hid under the mantel of progress, under the mask of plenty by which the masses will be promised a prosperity

beyond their wildest dreams. Such a man will be revered as a kind of replacement Christ. For in those days men shall see in this false Messiah an answer to their hunger for material needs and an excuse to indulge in the desires of their fallen flesh whereas

the True God warns man from the road to destruction, in so much as that way leads only to death. Let us engage now in some speculation as to what kind of technology or sorcery might accomplish the survival of the Antichrist following the suffering of the aforementioned

wound. Such a speculation can only be a matter of inference. It cannot definitively establish what is certainly going to happen. Also we hope only to present what is in conformity with the Holy Catholic Church. This being said, one can easily imagine the kind

of reasons why such a world- leader as the Antichrist might suffer a mortal blow and the meaning such a fraudulent inversion of the resurrection would have on the minds of fallen humanity. Experimental treatment could be applied to save this world leader’s

life. Perhaps this beast could be the victim of some assassination attempt. I shall present to you a portrait, a literary interpretation of The Beasts false resurrection. Such an interpretation may be entirely off the mark and if so you and future generations

will have to excuse my ironies conclusions. Yet if there is anything accurate in the following loins, please know that what is accurate in them must not have been derived from my poor imagination, but from a serious reflection on The Word of God which cannot

change and remains inspired, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let us imagine we receive a notification on our smart-phones. We are told to our horror that The Beast is shot in the head by a society of “militant Christian extremists” seeking to overthrow our

international Global One World government. Large pieces of shrapnel enter his skull. The whole world mourns and the name of every believing Christian might be blackened. Those who have not already apostasies will do so in solidarity for their wounded leader.

Business executives, housewives, and even young children will weep in the streets wondering what will happen to the one man who has rescued them from famines, from earthquakes, from the destructions that had wracked their homes. But low, news will slowly filter

in, news of treatments in transhuman bio-tech, treatments which promise more than simply the recovery of one martyred political giant, but the transfiguring of the whole world. This one world leader could have access to technologies that we may not possess.

His recovery with the assistance of whatever technology is available at the time may be more than simply a restoration of health. It could be a supposed enhancement of his biological functions with the addition of some electronic or genetic advancement. This

action would be an inversion of the resurrection as the wound would be an inversion of Golgotha. Remember that Golgotha or Calvary means “place of a skull” and that the mark of the beast shall appear on the forehead of the skull and of the wrist. Perhaps shrapnel

from the wound may have harmed the antichrist’s wrist as well. Let us imagine our Smart-phones and TV screens light up. All the nations of the world behold him, the Beast raised from his hospital bed, proclaiming a New Religion and a new technological means

of extending the human lifespan beyond the confines of entropy. He will claim according to this imaginary model that man has arrived at a great omega point and that he is by these means the true “Alpha and omega” spoken of by Saint John. As a result, he will

perhaps proclaim himself to be God incarnate or at the very least the first of a new form of Man to have achieved God-hood. All would take the mark, all except those who will remember the warning of scripture, the warning of sacred tradition concerning such

a means of control. If man were to take on himself this transhuman technology he might very well remove from his own nature the full image of God. For he will no longer be man or woman, male or female, rich or poor according to the measure of God’s order,

but will have established for himself an order of his own, cutting himself off entirely from the mercy and the love of Christ Jesus. In this way, man shall damn himself and condemn his own soul to the flames. Yet some will remember. These few shall flee and

resist the armies of the beast. Perhaps in Megiddo Israel the forces of light and darkness hall literally meet. Perhaps the locality of Megiddo is a sign only, although its exact geographical reference in scripture leads me to believe that the aforementioned

police shall be the sight of the battle. The few who will remain faithful will await the end there. They shall look to the heavens for the sign. At the very end, the hearts of even the most faithful will almost seem to fail them. But then on the Mount of Olives,

a light shall be seen, the light of creation. The Lamb of God shall be seen brooding above the earth. The stars shall fall from the sky. Darkness shall fill the air and the heavens shall be rolled away like a scroll. Then judgement, terrible and beautiful

shall gall. The dead shall be raised from the dust of the earth and all, including that worm Satan shall be led away to face the glory of the True King, seated in majesty. These are only speculations based in scripture. We cannot know for sure concerning the

wound of the beast or of the social circumstances that shall accompany his coming. As I have said what I have written here is a version of what may occur in light of the troubles and traumas of our own time. It may come to pass that other troubles; hitherto

unknown may arise for which we are presently ignorant. We have only begun to take our first steps towards Babel. We have not completed the construction of such a tower of wickedness, nor shall we come to complete such an evil work. Of this I am certain. For

God, in his majesty and in his love for the innocent will not be mocked forever. Nevertheless, our eyes are far removed, I hope from that day of wrath. I caution anyone reading this to keep in mind that we should take no one interpretation as definitive unless

it comes from the Lord himself or through the Keys of Saint Peter. I am only a man and do not have the spirit of prophesy nor do I believe that these perspectives are the only ones which could occur. Several scenarios could play out.

This being said, I believe we can know with some certainty that the “seed of the woman” is the Messiah, the only Son of God, our Blessed Lord, Jesus, And Our King. He was nailed to a cross of wood. Yet it was He who created the hill on

which He was sacrificed. He paid the price for all men and arose the third day in accordance with the scriptures. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and it is He who shall come to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom shall have no end. Whatever

occurs to the beast, we know this for certain- that Jesus Christ the son of the living God has come in the flesh and promises us victory over the dragon. Although the dragon shall give authority to the beast, ours is a greater authority. For we are children

of our Father who is in heaven. We are sons and daughters of a King who shall come. We owe him our love and respect. Therefore let us tread wisely and prudently. For there shall be a close to the days we call our own.

Concerning the greatness of the Lord, Augustine writes in his confessions, “is there no need that you who contain all things should be contained of any, since those things which you fill, you fill by containing them? For the vessels which

you fill do not sustain you, since should they even be broken you will not be poured forth. And when you are poured forth on us, Acts 2:18 you are not cast down, but we are uplifted; nor are you dissipated, but we are drawn together. But, as you fill all things,

fill them with Your whole self, or, as even all things cannot altogether contain You, do they contain a part, and do all at once contain the same part? Or has each its own proper part — the greater more, the smaller less? Is, then, one part of You greater.”

One should reasonably ask, how does Christ intend to “uplift” our fallen nature in the final scheme of things? According to the Baltimore catechism and Revelation 21, there shall be a general resurrection of the dead at the end of time. We shall be raised,

as Paul reminds us throughout his epissles from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown just as those who despised the love of Jesus shall be subjected to the second Death. Such a transfiguration of Man according to God’s design can be found in the theology

of the Orthadox communions of the East and in byzantine Catholic theology. It is almost entirely absent from Protestant theology. But is it present according to Our Catholic worldview? Such a study depends heavily on whether Augustine, the foremost of the

Western Doctors of the Churtch included Theosis in his theology. As to the nature of Theosis, in a Catholic context, we shall proceed to explore this very concept as the antithesis of the false humanism of this passing age and a key component in God’s plan

for salvation.

Book II

The Way to the Tree of Life

Augustine has been often credited with developing the doctrine of original sin and hence our need of sanctifying grace. Some draw this argument to its furthest extent, claiming that Augustine saw Theosis or divine union as the fulfillment

of the Christian life. In light of Augustine’s understanding of grace and redemption, does this need for Theosis hold up? If we were to boil this question down to a single line, what is Augustine’s doctrine of sanctifying grace, why is it necessary, and

what is its ultimate outcome?

We shall begin with our need for sanctifying grace. This need of course stems from the doctrine of original sin. This doctrine is most clearly played out in Augustine’s Confessions, but is also present in his work against the

donatists and of course the Pelagius. Anthony DuPont, for example notices the striking similarities between Augustine’s treatment of the subject against both heresies, drawing focus on the continued battle with concupiscence after baptism and the struggles

with ones walk with Christ. DuPont also sees how Augustine links ones conflicts with sin and the healing nature of grace. He writes that we see in both Augustine’s anti Polabian and anti- donatists writings, “sin and its detrimental effects (e.g. division)

as opposed to its antidotes (e.g. unity), and grace, especially its unmerited nature and its constructive, healing, restoring, and supporting effects.” (Lossl, 834)

But it is rather in the Confessions, that we find the foremost articulation of Augustine’s position and the difficulties some have in accepting it. In the Confessions, there is a seminal passage in which Augustine commits what initially

appears to be a petty theft. As a boy, he and his young friends steal some pears from a neighbor’s garden. This episode tormented Augustine, namely because he had no need for the pears. They were not fine to taste. He was not hungry. He was not driven by a

desire to feed another who was suffering. Augustine openly declares, “My desire was to enjoy not what I sought by stealing, but merely the excitement of thieving and the doing of what was wrong.” (Confessions, 28 ) The ultimate question for Augustine was

why? What power drew him to commit this useless act when he well understood that it was harmful to his soul? Augustine never says that he was ignorant. On the contrary, he stresses over and over again how he chose to become, “evil for no reason.” (Confessions,

29) After professing that he had no “motive for his wickedness except wickedness itself,” (Confessions, 29) Augustine meditates upon the affects this act had upon his spirit. Augustine suddenly refers to himself as a “depraved soul,” (Confessions, 29) as

if this act had entirely shattered the innocence he knew before the theft occurred. This suggests that something has been distorted, that the divine image of God present in Augustine’s spirit has been somehow wounded. Why is this case? Augustine seems to

modify his previous argument somewhat in the same passage or at least to clarify his position. When Augustine makes statements to the extent that he chose to steal for the love of stealing, one might assume that he is arguing he chose evil for evils sake.

But this would be a mistake. Augustine admits sentences later that the tree and its fruit were good in their proper place as a part of God’s good creation. He states, “The fruit was beautiful.” (Confessions, 31) He then goes on to argue that created things

are to be desired when they are rightly ordered to God, “the highest good and my true good.” (Confessions, 31) Far from being anti-sensual, Augustine concedes that,

There is beauty in lovely physical objects, as in gold and silver and all other such things. When the body touches such things, much significance attaches to the rapport of the object with the touch. Each of the other senses has its own

appropriate mode of response to physical things. Temporal honor and the power of giving orders and of being in command have their own kind of dignity, though this is also the origin of the urge to self assertion. (Confessions, 29)

However, in the end, Augustine qualifies this argument by professing that none of these created things should supplant the role of the Creator. If any created pleasure could do this then it has become an idol and a substitute for the true

wonder of God. The root of this fall from grace therefore is the sin of pride which leads one toward the self instead of outward toward the love of God present in the created order of the universe. Jeffrey Mann articulates this understanding in his article

Original Sin in Augustine,

We might originally have been designed to enjoy complete freedom and happiness as subject to God, who is the highest good, we are driven instead by the corruption of our will to pursue finite goods — temporal goods we can never completely

possess. The evil of original sin consists, therefore, in its subjection of us to a kind of gravity, pulling us away from God, while pushing us down toward the indiscriminate satisfaction of our desires, and toward the disharmony, corruption, suffering that

such brings. (Mann, 147)

This is why Augustine states, “In the acquisition of all these sources of social status, one must not depart from you, Lord, nor deviate from your law,” (Confessions, 29) and earlier, “I loved the self-destruction, I loved my fall.” (Confessions,

29) Here the words “self” and “I” are repeated innumerably throughout the passage.

Here, Augustine seems to be imitating the words of Satan in the Book of Isaiah in which we read, “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount

of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14: 13-14) Here also the words, “I” are repeated throughout. Natural goods such as stars and thrones are referred to in

the passage. In Augustine’s passage he discusses earthly power often symbolized by thrones and refers to the stars of heaven when he discusses how inferior the pears are to other snares. This is clear when he states that the pears were not, “beautiful in the

way the stars are, noble in their courses, or earth and sea full of newborn creatures.” (Confessions, 31) Augustine seems to go farther in making the comparison between his own fall with the fall of the devil when we read, “My depraved soul leaped down from

your firmament to ruin.” (Confessions, 29) We know that Adam and Eve were not hurled from the firmament, but cast out of Eden. Eden being a garden cannot be equated with the term firmament which is often equated with the heavens. This is particularly true

for the creation narrative provided in Genesis 1. It is reasonable to ask, why in a discussion of man’s fall from grace should Augustine tailor some of his language off of Satan’s rebellion against the Creator? The fall of Adam and Satan are qualitatively

different as one was the father of the human family were as the other, being originally an angel, is the soul member of his own species according to Aquinas. It seems to me that Augustine attempted to describe his own fall in relationship to Adam by turning

to Genesis 3, only to be disappointed. In Genesis 3, we read how the serpent tempts Eve, the first woman to disobey God. The address Satan provides is stirring, but is regrettably brief. We do not receive syllogisms. We are not offered a dialogue between the

father of lies and the mother of the living. Instead, we are simply given this poignant statement from Satan, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

Augustine, in crafting his Confessions, had to have realized that he needed more material to borrow from in his depiction of the fall. He already had a garden and fruit. He had a theft if not a consumption of said fruit. However, he had no monologue of pride

to quote or reference from the Book of Genesis. Therefore, he instead may very well have turned to the Book of Romans in which Paul argues that men are punished when they worship the creature rather than the Creator. Adam and Satan both treasured power rather

than obedience. They both possessed all that they required before the Creator of the world. Yet both desired that which was unlawful for them to possess. As a result, it can be said that both Adam and Satan worshiped the creature, meaning themselves in the

act of transgression rather than the Creator, the highest good. Inspired by this scene, he may have drawn a link between the pride of Eve in this scene and the pride of Satan, a pride which would lead to a similar, albeit different, act of disobedience. Such

a link can only be speculative. However, as if to support the thesis, Chadwick’s own footnotes in this chapter draws the comparison as well. We read , “Echo of Sallust’s language about Catiline, Augustine presents himself as a new Caliline, Like Lucifer.”

(Confessions, 29) Nevertheless, as we have stated, the comparison in the passage is rather inadequate because whereas the descendants of Adam can be redeemed by the grace of the last Adam, the angelic host which fell must remain fallen forever. It is this

critical distinction which leads us to discuss how Augustine formulated his understanding of the fall in the first place.

Jeffrey Mann points out that there are many in our time who would want to side-step the issue of original sin entirely by denying the historicity of the events in Eden and hence relegating Genesis 3 to the realm of pious fiction. Yet Jeffrey

Mann reminds us of the central role the Fall holds for Christian doctrine and hence for the mission of salvation seen in the person of Christ. Furthermore, references to the Fall appear not only in Genesis, but also in Romans and throughout scriptural passages which

are clearly treated as historical. As Mann argues, “The earliest known exegesis of the text which suggests that the effects of Adam’s sin were inherited by his descendants comes from 4 Ezra: 3, 4 — which dates back to the time of the rise of Christianity.

Indeed, Hebrew Bible references, e.g. Psalm 51:5, or those listed by Paul in Romans 3:10-18, demonstrate that there is reference to human depravity in Scripture independent of the reference to it in the account of the Fall in Genesis.“ (Mann, 142)

Augustine is often credited with developing the doctrine of original sin and the concept of inherited guilt. However, he was hardly writing in a vacuum. In the writings of Paul whom Augustine often calls “the Apostle,” the typology

between Adam and Christ is forthcoming, a typology that leads the reader of scripture from the curse of Genesis 3 to the atonement of the Lord’s crucifixion found in the Gospel. We read in the Book of Romans how sin and death entered the world through Adam

and how Christ, being the last Adam has paid the price for our transgressions on the cross, atoning for the fall in Genesis chapter 3. Paul declares in no uncertain terms, “death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude

of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” (Romans 5:14) A few verses later we read in perhaps even stronger terms, “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free

gift is of many offences unto justification.” (Romans 5:16) In Jeffrey Mann’s discussion of the doctrine of original sin in Augustine, he states, “In fact, the clearest reference in the New Testament to the sin of Adam, Romans 5, involves, not so much a return

to the Genesis account, as a juxtaposition of the role of Adam upon that of Christ. Paul’s intention in this text is not to explain human nature, but to explicate a Christology.” (Mann, 142) In doing so, Mann professes the fact that Augustine was already

working from a template in which the sin of Adam played a central role. Augustine was more than well acquainted with this passage, and Augustine’s own perspective on the passage of course became a subject of great controversy during the 16th century at the

height of the reformation. But we must put Augustine in his own time and in his own context.

There is some discrepancy between Western and Eastern conceptions of the sin of Adam. Daniel Haynes is concerned with a comparison between Augustine and Saint Maximus the Confessor, an eastern doctor of the church praised by both Catholic

and Orthodox adherents. This is relevant to our investigation because David Meconi, in The One Christ argues that the goal of the Christian life is deification or divinization. This term is an Eastern term which appears in the writings of Maximus. However,

it does not explicitly appear in Augustine. If Augustine truly was interested in divinization as a subject, his theology of original sin or ancestral sin, as Maximus puts it, should be roughly equivalent on the essentials. If Augustine and Maximus begin from

roughly the same place in terms of their conception of original sin, then they may very well end up in comparable ideas of deification. At the same time, as we denote differences these points of divergence may help us to understand why Augustine does not explicitly

discuss deification throughout his writing and perhaps an alternative conception of divine union. Haynes believes that the gap between Augustine and Maximus is great indeed and that there are significant differences. But he also points out similarities. Haynes

states, “These two great thinkers in Christian theology, separated by a little over 100 years and both located in Carthage, North Africa, for a long period, hold a great deal of agreement on the topic, but it is their differences that present issues for Eastern

and Western Christian relations. I will argue that Maximus’ hypostatic and topological understanding of will and original sin takes seriously the Augustinian concerns with the good of created nature and the infectious existence of sin in the world.” (Haynes,

295) This statement seems to justify some commonalities between Augustine and Maximus’ conception of the Fall in their understanding of mans “created nature.” Augustine and Maximus both would have read Gregory of Nyssa who postulated that humanity was the

center of God’s creation according to Genesis. For man and woman are made ultimately in God’s image. This image present in all of mankind, however, was disfigured through the fall. There is, according to Haynes, some difference of conception as to the mode

in which man experiences this disfigurement. Haynes paints the Eastern theology of the imago as more positive, claiming that the Eastern thinkers confessed a distinction between the image of God and the likeness of God present in humanity. Haynes claims that

this distinction is not present in Augustine. According to the Greek thinkers, image expresses mans “protological endowment, and likeness.” (Haynes 296) This refers to man’s calling or vocation to be present in the New Jerusalem, in the new heavens and the

new Earth, divinized in what Haynes sees as the, “deification of the cosmos.” (Haynes 296) This concept is simplified perhaps when Haynes goes on to argue that the hallowed image present in humanity does not undergo a change, but rather man’s likeness

to God, “developed through grace and virtue, opens up to deification. Being made in the image of God means that humans are simultaneously earthly and heavenly, transient and eternal, visible and invisible, truly and in fact a deified animal.” (Haynes, 296)

As Jeffrey Mann states, “The Christian East has retained the practice of infant baptism, but without the same proposed implication that the child needs forgiveness for inherited guilt.”(Mann, 141)

On the other hand, Haynes argues that Augustine’s conception of likeness does not add to the hallowed image, but remains the “measurement of the deformity of the image to its original. (Haynes, 296) For Augustine, likeness is supposedly

a degree on a “gradient scale in the chain of being to God.” (Haynes, 297) Hence, according to Haynes, to be a living imago, is to be a likeness to an original. Thus, according to Haynes, “the image of God can be more or less deformed in a human being depending

on the scale of likeness. But no matter what the level of deformity of the image through sin, it is never fully eradicated.” (Haynes, 297)

Yet is Haynes correct in his assertion? We cannot deny that Augustine held to some rather uncomfortable views regarding the exactness of sin, such as his affirmation that unbaptized children are condemned to hell. However, Mann also makes

it very clear that, “our discomfiture consists in our difficulty comprehending, not so much the conceptual point that as a consequence of Adam’s sin human beings should have come under the sway of death, but that infants would be so abjectly condemned as a

consequence of their elder’s failure, for whatever reason, to get them baptized. It is not the conception of the doctrine of original sin per se that comes under attack, but what confidence we can place in the soundness of God’s judgement.” (Mann, 140) The

idea that all of humanity might suffer because of the sins of a primordial couple as recorded in the Book of Genesis is naturally a mystery and hence beyond our comprehension.

Does Augustine truly believe the likeness of God is deformed along with the image? Obviously, Augustine does not discuss the term likeness at great length and thus it is impossible to say that he holds to either a wholly positive or wholly

negative conception of the human condition. However, he recognizes a more positive image of human nature perhaps than Haynes might draw from the Confessions. In his discussion of the theft of the pears, Augustine describes how created things when rightly ordered

are in themselves good. Thus, Augustine’s development of original sin may be nearer to Maximus’ conception than Haynes might want to believe. It may also be entirely in keeping with Paul’s outlook on the world. It is true that the doctrine of original sin

was not yet fully developed as a doctrinal statement ruled upon by a Church council when Augustine wrestled with this issue. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Paul himself articulates the terrible impact the sin of Adam had on all of us as his descendants.

This is why he proclaims that death entered the whole world by the transgression of Adam. Augustine did not articulate a conception of inherited guilt out of his own mind. One can make the case that such a conception was already present in the Word of God.

This is why; the atonement of the Last Adam who is the Christ upon the cross was necessary and why belief in him as Savior remains so essential. In Adam, man and woman were made in the image and likeness of God. However, through the transgression of Adam and

Eve, Augustine could see in Paul and in his own life how that holy image had become distorted. Augustine only had to turn to Romans 6 to read in the Apostle’s discussion of Baptism, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin

might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6) Here Paul, Augustine’s primary source, articulates that all of us are participants in the “old man” of Adam before we are washed clean by the

atonement of Christ via the sacrament of baptism. Paul does not say that Adam’s sin was his own, but rather that all of us, Augustine included, were once grafted into the tree of death before we embraced, or were led to embrace, the tree of life which is the

cross. To put matters more plainly, if the sin of Adam did not have a far reaching impact on the human condition then there would be no need for a Savior and hence no need for grace. But Augustine well understood from his own experience how wounded his

soul was from the beginning and how he required the healing grace of God to mend the divine imago or Holy Image in which he was created. The grace of God helps the penitent to begin the first steps towards mending this divine imago. As a result we can say

of Augustine, whatever his conception of image or likeness happened to be, he beheld the human person as wounded and in need of salvific grace. Nevertheless, even in humanities wounded state, Augustine also recognized great potential for sanctification.

If original sin establishes our need for sanctifying grace, then it is obvious that one should answer this need by embracing the salvific work of Christ. In Augustine’s work against the Pelagians he makes it abundantly clear that before

one embraces Christ, the Lord is already working on one’s heart. We can already see how God was working through Augustine’s mother to lead him toward salvation throughout the Confessions. The root of the word salvation in Latin is Salvus which means wholeness.

None of us are whole until we come into communion with God, because we are all fractured due to original sin. But the grace of God, works on us knowingly or unknowingly, little by little, in our daily lives until we come face to face with Him. This grace is

imparted often in many specific ways. Often it is granted through the Word of God and the sacraments. Augustine makes this clear in his own writings outside the Confessions. Yet in the Confessions itself, we can see grace leading Augustine to healing from

the start, through the words of his mother whom he calls the Lords “faithful servant.” Time and time again, Monica hunts Augustine down to draw him to the right course and to offer a voice of comfort. When he abandons her in Carthage, she travels to Milan

to find him. When he begins to become engrossed in the things of this world, she cautions him concerning the penalty for such actions and yet despite Augustine’s many transgressions against her own love and Christ’s love, she does not lose hope for his conversion.

Rather, she pressed on, even in the same passage where he steals the pears. It is this component of God’s love that he works through us, his instruments, which is so compelling in the Confessions. From the beginning, Monica is the voice of faith, hope, and

charity, the voice which should anchor Augustine in the will of Christ. Although Augustine does not initially heed her, Monica’s role as a witness of Christ’s grace is certainly no less significant. For such passages affirm the conviction that before we take

our first step towards Christ, he is already working on our hearts to draw us nearer to him. As we read, “Wretch that I am, do I dare to say that you, my God, were silent when in reality I was travelling farther from you? Was it in this sense that you kept

silence to me? Then whose words were they but yours which you were chanting in my ears through my mother, your faithful servant?” (Confessions, 27)

Yet Augustine did not come to embrace the grace of Christ’s redemption until he was fully grown and had strayed like the prodigal son. He begins by recognizing how pitiful he had become in his state of separation from the author

of his soul and the highest good. This is described as an examination of the self. We read, “from a hidden depth a profound self-examination had dredged up a heap of all my misery and set it in the sight of my heart’ (Ps. 18:15). That precipitated a vast storm

bearing a massive downpour of tears. To pour it all out with the accompanying groans, I got up from beside Alypius (solitude seemed to me more appropriate for the business of weeping), and I moved further away to ensure that even His presence put no inhibition

upon me.” (Confessions, 152) We should notice how Augustine longs to be alone, away from his friend even while he is present. It is as though Augustine is attempting to look clearly on his own vices without any outside interference from the world. He longs

to stand simply between himself and God and to arrive at the proper course. This step of separation is in direct contrast with the more communal act of the theft of the pears. Whereas Augustine stole because his friends compelled him toward the deed and because

it was in keeping with his own desires, here he cuts himself off from the affairs of this life, to bend his will on contemplation. For a man who thrived off of disputation, one might go so far as to argue this act of silence and solitude echoes a monastic’s

attempts to focus on the interior castle. Hence we could read Augustine’s journey to the garden as a correction or inversion of the curse rooted in his theft of the pears. The fact that both scenes occur in a garden should not surprise us. In scripture, the

fall of man occurred in a garden just as Christ’s tomb was placed not far from a grove. One could infer from John’s Gospel even that the place of the crucifixion was not far from a garden, and we are all aware of Gethsemane the night before where the Lord

shed tears of blood in a grove. The word Gethsemane means oil-press and according to some this is where the atonement truly begins after the offering of the Eucharist. If this is the case, we can see this garden scene of Augustine’s as a kind of Gethsemane.

Both Christ and Augustine shed tears. Both torment and in the end redemption is gained. There is also a component of struggle here which might be called an examination of the will. Christ declares in Gethsemane, “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be

taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Here Christ offers the Christian soul a model of obedience to the will of the father. Augustine in this passage never says anything comparable. However, by the end of his ordeal he surrenders

to the will of God. In the end Augustine cannot redeem himself. He must rely on what Christ has already done for him. That is why he is finally commanded to “Pick up and read” (Confessions, 152) and to turn to the Word of God. As we read, “There I had put

down the book of the apostle when I got up. I seized it, opened it and in silence read the first passage on which my eyes lit; ‘Not in riots and drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ

and make no provision for the flesh in its lusts’ (Rom, 13: 13-14).” (Confessions 153) We should note that Augustine is reading from the Book of Romans, the book that primarily deals with the relationship between the sin of Adam and the grace of Christ. We

should also note that the quotation he reads commands him to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ which is to say to surrender to the will of the king of glory and enter into his family through a full communion with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This

Augustine does, and the end result is his sanctity. But this sanctity does not come in a “once saved, always saved” flash of inspiration. On the contrary, Augustine is the first to confess, it is only the beginning of a long road, a pilgrimage of grace in

which he is compelled to partake of the sacraments and the whole family of the church. It is in the embracing of the Logos, both as a recorded scripture and as the incarnate Son of God, that Augustine takes his first step in the long journey of salvation-

breaking the yoke of sin with Christ’s grace. In short, the garden scene is only the beginning of a lifelong process toward sanctification. But this first step does not constitute the journey no more than the Word Augustine read substitutes the need to cooperate

with God’s grace.

Now that we have addressed the need for sanctifying grace and Augustine’s acceptance of this grace, we shall address the culmination of this journey. In the Confessions we read that it was not merely enough for Augustine to embrace Jesus

Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in the garden. Augustine understood the importance of the sacramental life. This is why we read of his baptism and of his continued work as Bishop of Hippo. For Augustine, the Christian life does not even end with heaven.

For we know from the New Testament that there shall come a time when God’s salvific kingdom shall reign on earth, hence the words of the Lord’s prayer “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) The nature of this New Jerusalem

in terms of eschatology has long been debated. But David Meconi points out in his book, The One Christ, how essential it is for the Christian soul. Conceptions of this ultimate divine union have varied given East and West. In the East, Meconi presents a theology

of Theosis or deification which was perhaps best summed up by the statement that God became man in order that man might become god, meaning sharers in God’s divinity. Johannes Van Oort clarifies this conception when he states, “All this does not imply any

ontological change (the created being remains a created being, even though deified); also, it is not achieved in this life, but only after the resurrection.”(Van Oort, 332) It has traditionally been believed that the West lacks a theology of deification.

However, Meconi’s The One Christ makes the bold claim that “deification of the human person is in fact a central doctrine in the overall thought of St. Augustine of Hippo.” (Meconi, xii) Critics could be apt to point out that the technical term deification

is used only 18 times in the entire corpus of Augustine’s work. Nevertheless Oort argues, “For Augustine, deification is the same as that implied by the NT doctrine of the ‘sonship’ of the believers, i.e. sonship by adoption and not by nature, through God’s

participation in our humanity through Jesus Christ. In other words, deification is the consequence of humanity being assumed by God in Christ’s incarnation.” (Van Oort, 332) The question before any reader is whether this conception is genuinely apparent in

Augustine’s works as the outcome of the Christian life?

Fortunately, Augustine provides for us all a magnum opus on the topic of Christian participation in the grace-filled life and in the full plan of God’s salvific order. This work is the City of God. In book 19, Augustine goes to great lengths

to explain how inadequate the schools of philosophy are in his time to account for human suffering and a means to amend it. Among these philosophies are those who seek virtue for its own sake. One might expect Augustine to agree with this philosophy, and there

are many who might mistake it for a Christian one. But Augustine concludes wisely that virtue, for its own sake in this life is unsatisfactory because the human soul was not made for this present fallen state, but for the New Jerusalem. By extent, Augustine

turns explicitly to the eschaton, to the re-establishment of God’s order upon earth in his understanding of the divine union. He describes this divine union when he states,

Our nature shall enjoy a sound immortality and incorruption, and shall have no more vices, and as we shall experience no resistance either from ourselves or from others, it will not be necessary that reason should rule vices which no longer

exist, but God shall rule the man, and the soul shall rule the body, with a sweetness and facility suitable to the felicity of a life which is done with bondage. And this condition shall there be eternal, and we shall be assured of its eternity; and thus the

peace of this blessedness and the blessedness of this peace shall be the supreme good. (City Of God, 29)

I have included this rather lengthy passage for a reason. For it is plain that this is Meconi’s smoking gun. Of course Augustine cannot be expected to see deification in terms which Eastern theologians would use. However, if one ever had

to give a description of the glorified state after the resurrection, in which the divine imago was mended, how else would you describe it? Divinization would mean “eternity” and “peace,” in which the body is subject to the soul and the soul in keeping with

right reason. This seems to entirely support Meconi’s thesis if we take Oort’s assertion that Augustine essentially believed in Theosis without explicitly using the term.

In conclusion therefore, we can say with certainty that Augustine being the doctor of grace understood the journey of the Christian soul as an ongoing process. This journey began by recognizing a need for sanctifying grace due

to the depravities of original sin. It reached a turning point sacramentally in his baptism, and it awaits completion in the kingdom that is still to be. After an examination of David Meconi’s, The One Christ, Augustine’s own theology of Theosis is apparent,

albeit in less overt terms, and by means of this divine union, Augustine draws hope for all who are joined at present to the mystical body of Christ’s Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Bibliography

Augustine, Saint. Confessions. Trans. Henry Chadwick. Oxford University Press, 1991.

Augustine, and R. W. Dyson. The City of God against the Pagans. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Haynes, Daniel. “The Transgression of Adam and Christ the New Adam: St Augustine and St Maximus the Confessor on the Doctrine of Original Sin.” St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, vol. 55, no. 3, 2011, pp. 293-317. EBSCOhost, login.avoserv2.library.fordham.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001884545&site=eds-live.

Lössl, Josef. “Preacher of Grace: A Critical Reappraisal of Augustine’s Doctrine of Grace in His ‘Sermones Ad Populum’ on Liturgical Feasts and during the Donatist Controversy.” The Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 66, no. 2, Oct.

2015, pp. 833-835. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/jts/flv049.

Mann, Jeffrey K. “Original Sin in Augustine: An Analysis of Ricoeur’s Essential Three Traits.” Budhi, vol. 2, no. 2, 1998, pp. 139-156. EBSCOhost, login.avoserv2.library.fordham.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLAiFZK170807000462&site=eds-live.

Meconi, David Vincent. The One Christ: St. Augustine’s Theology of Deification. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2013.

Van Oort, Johannes. “The One Christ: St. Augustine’s Theology of Deification.” Vigiliae Christianae, vol. 68, no. 3, Aug. 2014, pp. 331-333. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1163/15700720-12341174.

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