St. Irenaeus was an early church Father who lived during the second century. He is most notably known for his works “Against Heresies” and being the first person to reference all four canonized gospels as divinely inspired. He lived as bishop of Lyons located in what would later become France. He is remembered as a martyr but the happenings of his death are not certain. He spent most of his career refuting the rise of Gnosticism that was beginning to try and take a foot hold in the early church with a specific focus on the unity of God. Today we are going to look at one of his most famous quotes but with a little more context than what I have heard it spoken of in the past.
“the glory of God is man fully alive;moreover man’s life is the vision of god: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.”
Whenever I have heard this quote it has stopped with what I have put in BOLD letters. Which does not make it necessarily bad but the rest of the text paints a much fuller picture. Typically the quote is used to refer to our being human as being the glory of God. Which I am all for because I more than agree with the early church Fathers that before we were ever found in Adam we were found in Christ. Creation is good. Humanity is good. But Christ did not come just to remind us of who we were. He did not come to brings us back to an Edenic state. He came to show us a new way to be human, but still human nonetheless!
To be fully alive is to behold the God of creation revealed fully and completely in the incarnation of His son Jesus Christ. We miss the full context of Irenaeus’ words by focusing the passage on self rather than Jesus. Irenaeus is speaking so beautifully of, THE FULLY ALIVE MAN, that is found in Jesus Christ. Irenaeus believed that Christ was the summation of all true human life. He spoke of atonement as beginning in the incarnation, culminating in the crucifixion, and being sealed by the resurrection. God’s enfleshment in Jesus stands as a reminder of our inherent ontological goodness as well as an invitation to higher form of existence. God is, and has always been, calling his creation upward toward completion. He raised us from death to true life with our messiah!
2 Corinthians 3v18
We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
In Christ we see our true selves! He exist like a mirror that radiates the glory of God while bringing forth a proper understanding of who we are! We find purpose, hope, fulfillment, and completion in him! We by, the Holy Spirit, are reflecting the glory of God and are being transformed by His beauty day by day! From glory to glory!
The story has always been about Christ, and before the foundations of the world He has been patiently waiting to call us up higher to a new level of communion with himself! To express the Fathers endless love for humanity and creation by clothing himself in our weakness and giving his life up so that we may have life! In Him God was reconciling all things in Heaven and on earth! Sowing the seeds of the new creation in the very hearts of man! This is such a glorious truth that Irenaeus contended for against the Gnostics! The truth that, in the Incarnation of the Word, God was becoming all, and in all!
You have been filled with the fullness of God! You are a new creation! Gaze at his beauty! Soak up every ray of goodness and grace that God has for you!
Through whom, to whom, and for whom all things exist!