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Psychology and Religion

[Carl Jung “God wanted to become Man, and still wants to.”]

Ever since John the apocalyptist experienced for the first time (perhaps unconsciously) that conflict into which Christianity inevitably leads, mankind has groaned under this burden:

God wanted to become man, and still wants to.

That is probably why John experienced in his vision a second birth of a son from the mother Sophia, a divine birth which was characterized by a coniunctio oppositorum and which anticipated the “Son of Wisdom”, the essence of the individuation process. This was the effect of Christianity on a Christian of early times, who had lived long and resolutely enough to be able to cast a glance into the distant future.

The mediation between the opposites was already indicated in the symbolism of Christ’s fate, in the crucifixion scene where the mediator hangs between two thieves, one of whom goes to paradise, the other down to hell. Inevitably, in the Christian view, the opposition had to lie between God and man, and man was always in danger of being identified with the dark side.

This, and the predestinarian hints dropped by our Lord, influenced John strongly: only the few preordained from eternity shall be saved, while the great mass of mankind shall perish in the final catastrophe. The opposition between God and man in the Christian view may well be a Yahwistic legacy from olden times, when the metaphysical problem consisted solely in Yahweh’s relations with his people.

The fear of Yahweh was still too great for anybody to dare despite Job’s gnosis to lodge the antinomy in Deity itself. But if you keep the opposition between God and man, then you finally arrive, whether you like it or not, at the Christian conclusion “All God is from God, All the Evil from the Man” with the absurd result that the creature is placed in opposition to its creator and a positively cosmic or daemonic grandeur in evil is imputed to man.

The terrible destructive will that breaks out in John’s ecstasies gives some idea of what it means when man is placed in opposition to the God of goodness: it burdens him with the dark side of God, which in Job is still in its right place. But At first, God incarnated his good side in order, as we may suppose, to create the most durable basis for a later assimilation of the other side.

From the promise of the Paraclete we may conclude that God wants to become wholly man; in other words, to reproduce himself in his own dark creature (man not redeemed from original sin). The author of Revelation has left us a testimony to the continued operation of the Holy Ghost in the sense of a continuing incarnation. He was a creaturely man who was invaded by the dark God of wrath and vengeance a ‘burning wind (This John was possibly the favorite disciple, who in old age was vouchsafed a premonition of future developments.)

This disturbing invasion engendered in him the image of the divine child, of a future savior, born of the divine consort whose reflection (the anima) lives in every man that child whom Meister Eckhart also saw in a vision. It was he who knew that God alone in his Godhead is not in a state of bliss, but must be born in the human soul. The incarnation in Christ is the prototype which is continually being transferred to the creature by the Holy Ghost. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Answer to Job, Pages 455-457; Paragraphs 739-742.

Image: St. John on Patmos by Hieronymous Bosch, circa 1489

Footnote 1; Page 455: Psychologically the God-concept Includes ever)* Idea of the ultimate, of the first or last, of the highest or lowest. The name makes no difference.

Footnote 2; Page 456: The God-concept, as the idea of an all-embracing totality, also includes the unconscious, and hence, in contrast to consciousness, it includes the objective psyche, which so often frustrates the will and intentions of the conscious mind. Prayer, for instance, reinforces the potential of the unconscious, thus accounting for the sometimes unexpected effects of prayer.