St. Clement explains the importance of faith, which the philosophers despise as useless.
Happy is he who speaks in the ears of the hearing. Now faith is the ear of the soul. And such the Lord intimates faith to be, when He says, "He that has ears to hear, let him hear;" so that by believing he may comprehend what He says, as He says it.
But faith, which the Greeks disparage and regard as useless and barbarous, is a voluntary preconception, the assent of piety; "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of those things which are not seen" (Heb. 11:1), according to the divine Apostle. "For by it most especially did the men of old have testimony borne to them; and without faith it is impossible to be pleasing to God" (Heb. 11:2,6).
Others, however have defined faith as an intellectual assent to a thing unseen, since certainly the proof of a thing unknown is manifest assent...
He, then, that believes in the Divine Scriptures with firm judgment, receives, in the voice of God, who gave the Scriptures, an unquestionable proof. Nor by proof does faith become more firm. Blessed, therefore, are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).
Faith is the way... Faith is discovered to be the beginning of action.
Faith is the power of God, and the power of the Truth (Matt. 17:20; 9:29).
For knowledge is a state of mind that results from demonstration; but faith is a gift which leads on from what is undemonstrable to what is universal and simple, to what is neither concomitant to matter itself, nor subject to matter...
Aristotle, however, says that faith is that decision, which follows upon knowledge, as to whether this or that be true. Faith, then, is superior to knowledge, and is its criterion.
Such a change as this, by which someone comes from unbelief to belief, and, while hoping and fearing, yet believes, is of divine origin. Indeed, faith appears to us to be the first inclination toward salvation; after which hope and repentance and even fear, advancing in company with moderation and patience, lead us on to love and to knowledge.
Instruction is given to engender faith, but faith comes by the Holy Spirit and by baptism.
St. Clement does not deny the role of sensation as a ladder of knowledge; but through faith the believer is raised up by the Holy Spirit to attain the heavenly mysteries and to find rest in the Truth.
"Well, Sensation is the ladder of knowledge; while Faith, advancing over the pathway of the objects of sense, leaves Opinion behind, and speeds to things free of deception, and reposes in the truth.
I. FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE
The fact that "knowledge is to be believed" is the core of Clement's answer to those who try to develop an autonomous philosophy. The parallel fact that "faith is to be known" is the core of his opposition to the heretics. These latter are like men who cannot distinguish between a true and a false coin, for they do not have the knowledge necessary to make a judgment. If faith is not an arbitrary decision, but makes use of the help that knowledge gives it, the heretics do not have true faith, for their "faith" is based on their own thoughts and not on the knowledge of Scripture.
St. Clement believes that the beginning of philosophy is faith. To confront philosophy from a Christian perspective is to realize that all philosophy without Christ is vain and without foundation. At the same time, faith (Pastis) is not the point of departure of knowledge (gnosis); but knowledge is necessary for faith. For faith is not a mere guessing or an arbitrary decision as to what principles are true. That decision is made on the basis of knowledge. "Knowledge, accordingly, is characterized by faith; and faith, by a kind of divine mutual and reciprocal correspondence, becomes characterized by knowledge."
St. Clement believes that faith and knowledge are inseparable and harmonious and that the proper combination produces the perfect Christian and the true Gnostic.
Knowledge is characterized by faith; and faith, by a kind of divine mutual and reciprocal correspondence, becomes characterized by knowledge.
But it has escaped their notice that, in order to believe truly in the Son, we must believe that He is the Son, and that He came, and how, and for what, and respecting His passion; and we must know who is the Son of God. Now neither is knowledge without faith, nor faith without knowledge.
He expresses most appositely the relation between faith and knowledge. At times, it is true, he goes too far by attributing to Greek philosophy an almost supernatural and justifying role, but he regards faith as fundamentally more important than knowledge: 'Faith is something superior to knowledge and is its criterion.' He also can write that philosophy possesses a pedagogical significance for every Christian who can rise above mere faith to gnosis. But at the same time this must be done "in accordance with the canon of the Church."
Faith, then, is a comprehensive knowledge, so to speak, of the essentials; but knowledge is the strong and firm proof of what is accepted through faith, and which is built upon faith by the Lord's teaching, and which leads to infallibility and understanding and to sudden comprehension.
And it seems to me that the first saving change is from paganism to faith, as I said before; and the second is that from faith to knowledge. This latter develops into love, and afterwards presents the one loving to Him that is loved, and the one knowing to Him that is known.
And such a one, perhaps, has already attained the condition of being like to an angel (Luke 20:36).
The perfection of knowledge is faith.
Nothing is lacking to faith, for of its nature it is perfect and entirely complete. If there is anything lacking to it, it is not wholly perfect, nor is it truly faith, if defective in any way.
St. Clement writes precisely about false Gnostics while concentrating on central aspects of Christology.
Of the Gnostic so much has been cursorily, as it were, written... There are some who draw the distinction that faith has reference to the Son and knowledge to the Spirit. But it has escaped their attention that, in order to believe truly in the Son, we must believe that he is the Son, and that he came, and how, and for what, and respecting his Passion. And we must know who is the Son of God. Now neither is knowledge without faith nor faith without knowledge. Nor is the Father without the Son, for the Son is with the Father. And the Son is the true teacher about the Father... In order that we may know the Father, we must believe in the Son, that it is the Son of God who teaches, for the Father brings us from faith to knowledge by means of the Son." "Believe, O man, him who is man and God. Believe, O man, the living God who suffered and is adored.
For knowledge is a state of mind that results from demonstration; but faith is a grace which from what is indemonstrable conducts to what is universal and simple, what is neither with matter, nor matter, nor under matter.
St. Clement who concentrate on the close relation between faith and human knowledge also says,
But as we say that a man can be a believer without learning, so also we assert that it is impossible for a man without learning to comprehend the things which are declared in the faith.
For the prophets and disciples of the Spirit knew infallibly their mind. For they knew it by faith, in a way which others could not easily, as the Spirit has said. But it is not possible for those who have not learned to receive it thus...
For if we act not for the Word, we shall act against reason. But a rational work is accomplished through God . "And nothing," it is said," was made without Him" the Word of God.
II. Faith and repentance
Faith is the beginning of the spiritual way, but it is the way itself, in which the Gnostic walks all his life. Through this faith in God as the Redeemer and the Judge he attains repentance as the royal way that leads him to the kingdom of God.
Repentance is an effect of faith.
For unless a man believes that to which he was addicted to be sin, he will not abandon it, and if he does not believe punishment to be impending over the transgressor, and salvation to be the portion of him who lives according to the commandments, he will not reform.
Without faith everything is useless, even repentance itself, for without it we cannot attain the forgiveness of sins.
And what place is there any longer for the repentance of him who was once an unbeliever, through which comes forgiveness of sins?
III. FAITH AND HOPE
Faith is the beginning of the spiritual ladder that leads us to heaven; it opens the gates of hope in eternal life and heavenly glorification; therefore St. Clement say, "Hope, too, is based on faith... Hope is the expectation of the possession of good. Necessarily, then, is expectation founded on faith."
IV. FAITH AND LOVE
St. Clement explains the two integral sides of faith, i.e. love and fear. I will refer to the love and fear of God afterwards.
Fear is the beginning of love, becoming by development of faith and then love.
But it is not as I fear and hate a wild beast (since fear is twofold) that I fear the father, whom I fear and love at once. Again, fearing lest I be punished, I love myself in assuming fear. He who fears to offend his father, loves himself.
Blessed then is he who is found possessed of faith, being, as he is, composed of love and fear. And faith is power in order to attain salvation, and strength to eternal life.
V. Faith and WORKS
The Alexandrian Fathers explain "good works" as our response to God's love towards us which we have to practise by God's help. St. Clement says: "For each of us He laid down His life ... and He requires in return that we should do the same for each other." But we can not do this without God, because "He is for us the source of all good. From Him we learn the good life and are brought to eternal life."
When we hear, "Your faith saved you," we do not understand [the Lord] to say simply that they will be saved who have believed in whatever manner, even if works have not followed. To begin with, it was to the Jews alone that He spoke this phrase, who had lived in accord with the law and blamelessly, and who had lacked only faith in the Lord.
We ought to have works that cry aloud, as becoming "those who walk in the day" (Rom. 13:13). "Let your works shine" (Matt. 5:16), and behold a man and his works before his face. "For behold God and His works" (Isa. 62:11). For the Gnostic must, as far as is possible, imitate God.
As, then, the virtues follow one another, why need I say what has been demonstrated already, that faith hopes through repentance, and fear through faith; and patience and practice in these along with learning terminate in love, which is perfected by knowledge?
VI. FAITH AND FREE-WILL
Faith, which is a divine gift, is attained through free-will, and is the work of the free soul, which has the choice to believe or not to believe. St. Clement presents an example, a person has the choice to seize a ball or ignore it, but he cannot seize it unless it is thrown towards him.
Free-will, according to St. Clement is superior, and all the powers of the mind submit to it.
I. The knowledge of God
St. Clement speaks of the knowledge of God which can be attained even through our natural law:
For into all men in general, and indeed, most particularly into those who are engaged in intellectual pursuits, a certain divine emanation has been instilled, by reason of which they confess, if somewhat reluctantly, that God is one, indestructible and unbegotten, and that somewhere above in the heavenly regions, in His power and familiar vantage point, He truly and eternally exists.
Henry Chadwick says,
St. Clement loves to write of the natural knowledge of God found in all men. There is no known race that has not the idea of God. It was breathed into Adam at the creation. The beneficence of God is universal and has no beginning at some special point in history - as if he had first begun to be interested in nations other than the Hebrews only after the coming of Christ. There was primitive monotheism among the earliest races of men long before religion was corrupted into demonic polytheism.
To attain the knowledge of God we need to pass through three stages:
a. The purification from sin, for sin prevents us from acknowledging the divine secrets.
If, then, abstracting from all that pertains to bodies and to such as we call corporeal, we cast ourselves into the greatness of Christ, and then advance into His immensity by holiness, we may reach somehow to the conception of the Almighty, knowing not what He is, but what He is not.
Neither form nor motion, however, nor standing, nor sitting, nor place, nor right, nor left are to be conceived of as belonging to the Father of the universe, although these things are written of Him. What each of these means will be shown in its proper place.
The First Cause, therefore, is not located in a place, but is above place and time and name and conception. On this account did Moses also say, "Show yourself to me," (Exod. 33:13), indicating most clearly that God cannot be taught to men nor expressed in words, but can be known only by an ability which He Himself gives.
b. We must see beyond the literal meanings of the text, and the naive materialistic interpretations. For God is beyond any name or shape. He is called the One, the Good One, the Mind, the Eternal One, God, the Creator or the Lord. All these names or titles are not accurate, for they cannot describe Him as He is, but these are used for us that we may acknowledge Him. God is revealed to us by our human language which is unable to express Him as He is.
For the Divine Being can not be declared as it exists: but as we who are fettered in the flesh were able to listen, so the prophets spoke to us; the Lord savingly accommodating Himself to the weakness of men.
c. Vision of God: The knowledge of God is a divine gift. Christ Himself is our knowledge, whoever attains Him embraces knowledge.
II. the transcendence of God
St. Clement of Alexandria repeatedly emphasized the transcendence of God, perhaps to clarify the gap between the essence and the nature of God and those of the universe. For him God is absolutely transcendent, ineffable and incomprehensible; "God is one, and beyond one, and above the Monad itself."
God of the universe who is above all speech, all conception, all thought, can never be committed to writing, being inexpressible even by His own power.
God is invisible and beyond expression by words.., what is divine is unutterable by human power ( 2 Cor. 12:4; Rom. 11:33)...
The discourse concerning God is most difficult to deal with.
For human speech is by nature feeble and incapable of declaring God. I do not mean His name,...nor do I mean His Essence, for this is impossible, but the power and the work of God.
The First Cause is not then in space, but above both space and time, and name and conception.
The Deity is without form and nameless. Though we ascribe names, they are not to be taken in their strict meaning: when we call Him One, Good, Mind, Existence, Father, God, Creator, Lord, we are not conferring a name on Him. Being unable to do more, we use these appellations of honor, in order that our thought may have something to rest on and not wander at random. He cannot be comprehended by knowledge, which is based on previously known truths, whereas nothing can precede what is self-existent. It remains that the Unknown be apprehended by divine grace and the Word proceeding from Him.
Nor is it possible to predicate any parts of [God]. For what is one is indivisible, and thereby infinite - not in regard to its being clearly inconceivable, but in regard to its being without dimensions and not having limits, for which reason it is without form and name.
And if we somehow name Him, we do not do so properly, when we supply such names as the One, or the Good, or Mind, or That Which Is, or Father, or God, or Creator, or Lord. We so speak not as supplying His name; but in our need we use beautiful names so that the mind may have these as a support against erring in other respects.
For each one by itself does not express God, but all together they are indicative of the power of the Omnipotent. Predicates are expressed either from what belongs to things themselves, or from their relationship to each other; but nothing of this is applicable in reference to God.
Neither is He apprehended by the science of demonstration; for it depends upon primary and better known principles, while there is nothing antecedent to the Unbegotten.
III. GOD'S IMMANENCE TO THE UNIVERSE
St. Clement, who describes this gap between God and the creation, declares that God is not far from the world, particularly from His noblest creature in this world, namely man. For He created the universe out of His gracious love for man, and for the same reason He still cares for all the universe. We can say that He is involved in our world out of His infinite love and heavenly fatherhood to us. St. Clement of Alexandria calls God, "the Father and the Creator of the entire cosmos."
IV. God' goodness
God' goodness is revealed through His love for us, at a time when we are strangers and far from Him. He embraces the whole world, desiring their own salvation. His goodness is revealed by changing even the evil things to our edification and goodness. No man is perfect in his goodness, therefore he is in need of the Logos, the source of salvation, who grants us the likeness of God.
Human art fashions houses and ships and cities and pictures; but how should I tell what God makes? Behold, the whole world - that is His work; and the heavens and the sun and angels and men, the works of His fingers. How great, indeed, is the power of God! His mere willing it is the creation of the world; and God alone created it, because He is God in fact. By a mere exercise of His will He creates, and His simple volition is followed by its coming to be.
St. Clement speaks of the goodness of the Father and the Son, who are one in the Godhead. They love their creation and know no hate.
Nothing exists except that which God causes to be. There is nothing, therefore, which is hated by God; nor is there anything hated by the Word. Both are one, both are God; for he says: "In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God."
V. GOD'S FATHERHOOD
The Alexandrian Fathers explain in a biblical thought that God reveals His providence in its greatest depth through His Fatherhood to men. God is not in need of men's worship or offerings but of their hearts to lift them up to His glories, to enjoy His eternal love, and practice their sonship to Him.
a. St. Clement of Alexandria states that we are by nature entirely strangers, having no natural relation to God; nevertheless He loves us and cares for us as a true Father for His beloved children.
God in everything is greater than man... This is the greatest proof of the goodness of God: that such being our relation to Him, and being by nature wholly estranged, He nevertheless cares for us. For the affection in animals to their progeny is natural, and the friendship of kindred minds is the result of intimacy. But the mercy of God is rich towards us, who are in no respect related to Him; I say either in our essence or nature, or in the peculiar energy of our essence, but only in our being the work of His will. And Him who willingly, with discipline and teaching, accepts the knowledge of the truth, He calls to adoption, which is the greatest advancement of all.
O surpassing love for men! Not as a teacher to his scholars, not as a master to his domestics, nor as God to men, but as a father the Lord admonishes His children.
In St. Clement's time, many heretics welcomed the "loving Father" of the New Testament as a merciful alternative to the "fierce tyrant" that they perceived in the Old Testament. St. Clement assures them that there is but one God shown in the entire Bible, a Lord of grace and redemption. His response is in the form of dialogue: "How then," they say, "if the Lord loves man, and is good, is He angry and punishes?" St. Clement's answer affirms moral use of drastic measures:
For reproof is, as it were, the surgery of the passions of the soul; and the passions are, as it were, an abscess of the truth, which must be cut open by an incision of the lancet of reproof.
Each one of us, who sins, with his own free will chooses punishment, and the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame.
For as the mirror is not evil to an ugly man because it shows him what likeness he has; and as the physician is not evil to the sick man because he tells him of his fever - for the physician is not the cause of the fever, but only points out the fever; - so neither is He, that reproves, ill-disposed towards him who is diseased in soul. For He does not put the transgressions on him, but only shows the sins which are there; in order to turn him away from similar practices.
b. God - in His infinite love - declared Himself in the Old Testament as the Father of the believers but nobody, even the patriarchs and the prophets, dared to call Him: "Father". In the New Testament, the Father sent His only Begotten Son to call the believers to abide in Him by the Holy Spirit, and thus they attain adoption to the Father. This is the gift of the New Testament, which Isaiah the prophet foretold, saying: "For the Lord God will... call His servants by another (a new) name," Is. 65:15. What is the new name except "The children of God"?!
And my servants shall be called by a new name, He says, fresh and eternal, pure and simple, and childlike and true, which shall be blessed on earth...
Rightly, then, are those called children who know Him as their Father, who are simple, and infants and guileless...
The Father of the universe cherishes affection towards those who have fled to Him; and having begotten them again by His Spirit to the adoption of children, knows them as gentle, and loves those alone, helps and fights for them; and therefore He bestows on them the name children.
The Gnostic (the believer who has true spiritual knowledge) in virtue of being a lover of the one true God, is the really perfect man and friend of God, and is placed in the rank of sons.
VI. THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE
Many of the ancient philosophers, such as Philo, Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aureoles and others, contemplated the universe, its mighty laws, its capabilities, its beauty etc. They believed in God's providence as a fact, but frequently, they limited it to the creation of the universe with its laws; believing that God left the universe after its creation, and no longer controlled its laws. The Alexandrian Fathers looked upon philosophy as a divine gift that reveals the truth partially. They believed in God's providence in its biblical sense; namely it embraced all creation in general and man in particular. It surpassed time and space, for it was concerned with man even before his creation, i.e., before the time when he was in the Divine Mind, and it still takes care of him on earth and will continue embracing him into eternal life, or in the world to come. Divine Providence cares for believers, unbelievers and irrational creatures. This is revealed through God's tender mercies, kindness and chastening; through the pleasant events, and through the evil, sorrowful ones.
Divine providence is one aspect of the grace of God, for the depth of the latter is revealed through the Incarnation, the crucifixion and the resurrection of the Incarnate Son of God.
St. Clement believes that the universe is a clear proof of God's providence. W.E.G. Floyd says: "Clement's proof for the existence of divine providence, if proof is needed, is a theological argument based on order and design in the universe. This is evident, he argues, even from the most superficial glance at the world. To deny that is an attack on the true doctrine."
St. Clement expresses the close relation between God and the universe, saying: "He who is far off has come very near; oh ineffable marvel! 'I am a God who is near at hand,' says the Lord (Jer. 23:23)... He is very near by virtue of His power ( providence ) which holds all things in its embrace. 'Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?!' ( Jer. 23: 24 ). For the power of God is always present, in contact with us, in the exercise of inspection, of beneficence and of instruction."
John Patrick says: "Thus the transcendence of God, in the thought of Clement, is consistent with God's immanence, rather the immanence is an essential factor in His conception"
VII. GOD'S UNIVERSAL PROVIDENCE
God, who is immanent to His creation created it through His grace or good will, for "nothing at all exists unless He had willed it to exist.'' This active and gracious will of God or this Divine providence is still at work, caring for the creation. Plato and other philosophers thought that the divine providence was constrained to the creation of the universe with its mighty laws, but St. Clement of Alexandria clarified that God never ceases to do good. Otherwise, He would cease to be a gracious God. He says that the universe, like an axe, has no power in itself, but is in need of the hand of God to use it in the proper work and to fulfill its purpose. "Just as the ax does not cut unless someone uses it, or a saw without someone sawing with it, for they do not work by themselves, but have certain physical qualities which accomplish their proper work by the exertion of the artisan; so also by the universal providence of God, through the medium of secondary causes, the operative power is propagated in succession to individual objects".
Here, I refer to the words of St. Clement who said that God's rest (Sabbath) does not consist of ceasing to act, for this means to cease to be God, but is rather realized by His work in the universe attaining its aim. May our gracious God act in us as His beloved Creatures that by His providence we may become perfect in Him and He might find His rest in us.
St. Clement states that God's goodness is ever at work, like the care of a shepherd for his sheep, a king for his subjects, and a father for his children.
VIII. PROVIDENCE FOR MANKIND, CHURCH AND EVERY Person
God as the Omniscient One, sees the whole as well as the part at a glance, and in His love for men "His providence is in private, in public... He cares for all." God's goodness is not mechanical, but the goodness of a loving personality; He takes care of all mankind, of His Church and of everybody personally. He is not the adversary of anyone nor the enemy of anyone.
Floyd states that Clement was unashamed of his theology of providence (paranoia) because of its almost universal popularity among serious and well-educated persons in the Greco-Roman world of his day, but there was an essential difference between Clement and the philosophers. The latter often equated to the natural laws, for God established the unalterable laws of the universe as one might wind a clock; the pattern once set runs of its own accord. God is a monarch who reigns but not rules. St. Clement declares that God's care is for the universe, mankind, the Church and at the same time for everybody personally. He is the Lover of every man.
Floyd says: "When Clement teaches providential concern for the individual, his comments are profuse. Since man is God's most noble creation, but nonetheless a finite creature, God, out of pity for this weakness, sympathizes with the nature of each man. By His omniscience and omnipotence, He knows the needs of every person and like a king for his people or a shepherd for his flock, dispenses his beneficence accordingly. Nothing that matters to man is too petty for God's concern, for "even the very hairs of his head are numbered and the most minute movements are surveyed."
G. Florovosky says,
Throughout his extant works Clement speaks of, refers to, and underpins his thought with the unity and oneness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. "The all-loving, beneficent Father rained down his Logos and straightway did he become the spiritual nourishment for the good. O, the marvelous mystery! For one is the Father of all, one the Logos of all, and one is the Holy Spirit, one and the same everywhere.""Be gracious, O Educator, to us your children, O Father, Charioteer of Israel, Son and Father, both one, O Lord. Grant to us who obey your precepts that we may perfect the likeness of the image, and with all our power know the goodness of God and the kindness of his judgment. . . That we may give praise and thanksgiving to the only Father, and to the only Son, to Son and Father, Son our Educator and Teacher, together with the Holy Spirit, all in One, in whom are all things, through whom all things are one, through whom is eternity, of whom all men are members... all praise to the All-Good, the All-Lovely, the All-Wise, the All-Just One, to whom be glory both now and ever. Amen." The Trinitarian praise ends Clement's Who Is the Rich Man Who Is Saved? "To whom, by his Son Jesus Christ, the Lord of the living and the dead, and by the Holy Spirit, be glory, honor, power, eternal majesty, both now and ever, from generation to generation, and from eternity to eternity. Amen."
This triune God is the Creator. The world is the result of an action of God. It has not simply emanated from the divinity nor is it a mere ordering of preexistent matter. Creation took place outside time - a doctrine that Clement believes he can find support for in the philosophers as well as in Scripture. Furthermore, creation is not to be confused with the mere preservation of the universe. Clement believes that God, who made all things in the beginning, no longer creates, but has rather left the preservation and multiplication of things to the natural order that he established at the beginning.
The Logos is the Creator of the universe. He is the one who manifested God the Father in the Law of the Old Testament, in the philosophy of the Greeks and finally in the fullness of time, in His incarnation. He forms with the Father and the Holy Ghost the Divine Trinity. It is through the Logos that we can recognize God because the Father cannot be named.
The Logos, as Divine Reason, is essentially the Teacher of the world and the Lawgiver of mankind. St. Clement knew Him also as the Savior of the human race and the founder of a new life which begins with faith, proceeds to knowledge and, through love and charity leads to immortality. Christ as the incarnate Logos is God-man, and it is through Him that we have been elevated to divine life.
The Son is eternal, His generation from the Father is without beginning. St. Clement says, "The Father is not without His Son, for along with being Father, He is Father of the Son." The Son is essentially one with the Father, since the Father is in Him and He is the Father.
St. Clement assures the humanity and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Henry Chadwick says,
We are not to think, like the Gnostics, that the incarnation was not a real taking of human flesh or an optical illusion, though Clement admits that Christ ate and drank, not because he really needed to do so, but to forestall the heretics. He also insists that in the Passion there was no inner conflict. Christ was without sin and suffered not for Himself but for us. Nor, on the other hand, are we to think that Christ was so good a man that he was 'adopted' as Son of God...
He took our passible flesh and trained it up to impassibility.
The incarnation was an incognito, only penetrated by those to whom God's grace revealed it.
I. Christ as a Teacher
The Alexandrians considered "ignorance" as the cause of sin. St. Clement has shown that the knowledge of God has to be taught to us. But who is to do this? Mankind cannot do it, and even the angels cannot reveal God to human beings. The Savior is the Teacher who practiced His educational work throughout the whole history of mankind, through the prophets and the Greek philosophers and at last He was incarnate.
The Divine Teacher, not only offers the divine Law and commandments, but He has the power of renewing human nature, and of bestowing upon man a new life in Him. He has the power to educate the soul and illuminate the mind to attain "knowledge." He also sends the Holy Spirit into His Church to reveal the divine mysteries. St. Paul says, "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" 1 Cor. 2:10,11.
The Word ... has appeared as our teacher, He by whom the Universe was created. The Word who in the beginning gave us life when He fashioned us as Creator, has taught us the good life as our teacher, that He may afterwards, as God, provide us with eternal life. Not that He now has for the first time pitied us for our wandering; He pitied us from old, from the beginning. But now, when we were perishing, He has appeared and has saved us.
Who could teach with greater love for men than He?
Let us call Him, then, by the one title: Educator of little ones, an Educator who does not simply follow behind, but who leads the way, for His aim is to improve the soul, not just to instruct it; to guide to a life of virtue, not merely to one of knowledge.
Yet, that same Word does teach. It is simply that in this work we are not considering Him in that light. As Teacher, He explains and reveals through instruction, but as Educator He is practical. First He persuades men to form habits of life, then He encourages them to fulfill their duties by laying down clear-cut counsels and by holding up, for us who follow, examples of those who have erred in the past. Both are most useful: the advice, that it may be obeyed; the other, given in the form of example, has a twofold object - either that we may choose the good and imitate it or condemn and avoid the bad.
For he (the Apostle) recognizes the spiritual man and the Gnostic (a spiritual believer who has true gnosis of knowledge) as the disciples of the Holy Spirit dispensed by God, which is the mind of Christ. "But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him" 1 Cor. 2:14.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10).
Even those who claim God as their Teacher, with difficulty attain to a conception of God, grace aiding them to the attainment of their modicum of knowledge; accustomed as they are to contemplate the will [of God] by the will, and the Holy Spirit by the Holy Spirit. "For the Spirit searches the deep things of God. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God" 1 Cor. 2:10,14.
The Word that was with God, the Word by whom all things were made, has appeared as our Teacher; and He, who bestowed life upon us in the beginning, when, as our Creator, He formed us, now that He has appeared as our Teacher, has taught us to live well so that, afterwards, as God, He might furnish us abundantly with eternal life.
Just as night would be over everything in spite of the other stars, if the sun did not exist, so also, had we not known the Word and been illuminated by Him, we would have been no different from fowls that are being fed, fattened in darkness and nourished for death.
Our divine Educator is trustworthy, for He is endowed with three excellent qualities: intelligence, good will and authority to speak.
With intelligence, because He is the Wisdom of the Father: 'All wisdom is from the Lord and has been always with Him' (Eccl. 1 1:1).
With authority to speak, because He is God and Creator: 'All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing' (John 1:3).
With good will, because He is the only one who has given Himself as a sacrifice for us: 'The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep' (John 10:11), and in fact He did lay it down. Surely, good will is nothing else than willing what is good for the neighbor for his own sake.
Our tutor, oh children, resembles God his Father, He is the Son of God, without sin and without defect; his soul is impassible; the immaculate God under a human form, the minister of the will of the Father, God the Word, who is in the Father, who comes from the right hand of the Father, God in human form. He is for us the immaculate image, to which with all our might, we are to endeavor to assimilate our soul. But He is wholly free from all human passions; the only judge, because He alone is without sin; but we must, as much as lies within our power, strive to keep ourselves as free as possible from sin.
Since the unproduced Being is unique, the all-powerful God, his firstborn is also unique,... and is the one whom all the prophets call Wisdom, He is the Master of all created beings, the Counselor of God who has governed all things by his Providence. He it is who, from the beginning, from the first creation of the world, has instructed (us) in many ways and in many forms, and He also completes his teaching. That is why He rightly says: "Call no man your master on earth." You see the prizes of true philosophy.
This Master is in men's hearts as a seed of truth; he is symbolized by the grain of mustard seed, by the seed of the sower, and by the leaven. It is He who, as we have seen, has given to mankind the partial intuitions of philosophy; He is also the revealer of the two Testaments.
Joseph C. McLelland states that his theology is a Christian 'paideia' (educating). Christ is the Paidagogos (Educator) who educates the believers, granting them true gnosis (knowledge). According to St. Clement, ...'there is no faith without knowledge, nor knowledge without faith... and the Son is the true Teacher. He educates the believer by training his soul to discover truth. Paidagogos is the training of children... we are the children... To speak briefly, the Lord acts toward us as we do toward our children.''
This divine Paidagogos teaches us about the Father. "In order that we may come to know the Father, we must believe in the Son, because the Son of the Father is our teacher, for the Father brings us from faith to knowledge by means of the Son.
The Son, as our divine Paidagogos, not only grants us His grace of true knowledge, but also offers Himself as the model we have to imitate to become like Him.
The divine Teacher - in His infinite love to the believer - is involved in all aspects of his life, taking care of even the smallest actions.
"As the sun illumines not only the heaven and the whole world, shining on both land and sea, it also sends its rays through windows and small chinks into the furthest recesses of a house, so the Word, poured out everywhere, beholds the smallest actions of man's life."
The Word, then, the Christ, is the cause both of our ancient beginning - for He was in God - and of our well-being. And now this same Word has appeared as man. He alone is both God and man, and the source of all our good things. It is by Him that we are taught to live well and then are sent along to life eternal...
He is the New Song, the manifestation which has now been made among us, of the Word which existed in the beginning and before the beginning. The Savior, who existed before, has only lately appeared. He that has appeared is in Him that is; for the Word that was with God (1), the Word by whom all things were made, has appeared as our Teacher; and He, who bestowed life upon us in the beginning, when, as our Creator, He formed us, now that He has appeared as our Teacher, has taught us to live well so that, afterwards, as God, He might furnish us abundantly with eternal life.
Here are some quotes of St. Clement of Alexandria, which declare that Christianity elevates man's mind and does not abolish it by faith or by God's revelation, but makes it wise: ..."the soul is raised to God: trained in the true philosophy, it speeds to its kindred above, turning away from the lusts of the body, and besides these, from toil and fear..."
"A noble hymn of God is an immortal man, established in righteousness, in whom the oracles of truth are engraved! For where, but in a soul that is wise, can you write truth?"
St. Clement explains that human knowledge is necessary for the understanding of the scriptures, but not without God's help.
St. Clement of Alexandria introduced our Lord as Jesus who heals both our body and our soul." He is the divine Educator and Physician who alone can deliver us from the consequences of sin.
As a churchman, St. Clement sees the church as the place of education and the divine pasture.
Feed us, the children, as sheep.
Yea, Master, fill us with righteousness, Your own pasture; yea, O Educator, feed us on Your holy mountain the Church, which towers aloft, which is above the clouds, which touches heaven..
II. Christ reveals His Father in the Old and New Testaments
Our Lord Jesus Christ is appropriately called the Educator "Our Educator is the Holy God Jesus, the Logos, who is the guide of all humanity. The loving God himself is our Educator." In the Old Testament the "Lord God was unnamed because he had not yet become man." "The face of God is the Logos by whom God is manifested and made known."
God can only be known through his Word or Son. The Son is the image of the Father, His mind or rationality. He is the Mediator between the utterly transcendent God, the One, and the world which He contains.
Since the first principle of everything is difficult to find out, the absolutely first and oldest principle, which is the cause of all other things being and having been, is difficult to exhibit. For how can that be expressed which is neither genus, nor difference, nor species, nor individual, nor number; nay more, is neither an event, nor that to which an event happens? No one can rightly express Him wholly. For on account of His greatness He is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of Him. For the One is indivisible; wherefore also it is infinite, not considered with reference to its being without dimensions, and not having a limit. And therefore it is without form and name. And if we name it, we do not do so properly, terming it either the One, or the Good, or Mind, or Absolute Being, or Father, or God, or Creator, or Lord. We speak not as supplying His name; but for want we use good names, in order that the mind may have these as points of support, so as not to err in other respects. For each one by itself does not express God; but all together are indicative of the power of the Omnipotent. For predicative are expressed either from what belongs to things themselves or from their mutual relation. But none of these are admissible in reference to God. Nor any more is He apprehended by the science of demonstration. For it depends on primary and better known principles. But there is nothing antecedent to the Unbegotten. It remains that we understand then the Unknown by divine Grace and by the Word alone that proceeds from Him.
"Receive Christ, receive sight, receive your light; in order that you may know well both God and man. 'Sweet is the Word that gives us light, precious above gold and gems; it is to be desired above honey and the honeycomb' Ps. 19:10."
"For each one (of His titles) by itself does not express God; but altogether are indicative of the power of the Omnipotent.
It remains that we understand, then, the Unknown, by divine grace, and by the Word alone that proceeds from Him."
Joseph C. McLelland writes: "Moreover, since 'like knows like' in the Alexandrian world-view... (St. Clement states) 'the way to the Immutable is immutability.'"
St. Clement does not ignore the role of natural law for acknowledging God.
That which in other ages was not known has now been clearly shown and has now been revealed to the sons of men (Eph. 3:5).
Indeed, there was always a natural manifestation of the one Almighty God, among all right thinking men; and the majority, who had not entirely divested themselves of shame in the presence of the truth, apprehended the eternal beneficence through divine providence...
The Father and Creator of all things, therefore, is apprehended by all by means of an innate power and without instruction, in a manner suitable to all...
Nor is it possible for any race to live anywhere, whether they be tillers of the soil or nomads, or even city-dwellers, without being imbued with faith in a Higher Being.
III. Christs saving work
The Lord, the Educator, is "most good." He "sympathizes from the exceeding greatness of his love with the nature of each man... Nothing exists, the cause of whose existence is not supplied by God. Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor by the Logos.
What is the door by which the Lord makes Himself manifest? It is His flesh by which He becomes visible.
J.N.D. Kelly says:
In expounding Christs saving work Clement carries on the tradition we have already studied... Thus he speaks of Christs laying down his life as a ransom (l u t r o n ) on our behalf, redeeming us by His blood, offering Himself as a sacrifice, conquering the Devil, and interceding for us with the Father. These are, however, conventional phrases as used by him, and this is not the aspect of Christs achievement which makes the chief appeal to him. His most frequent and characteristic thought is that Christ is the teacher Who endows men with true knowledge, leading them to a love exempt from desires and a righteousness whose prime fruit is contemplation. He is their guide at the different levels of life, "instructing the Gnostic by mysteries, the believer by good hopes, and the hard-hearted by corrective chastisement." It is as teacher that He is "the all-healing physician of mankind," Who bestows immortality as well as knowledge. "Gods will," he remarks, "is the knowledge of God, and this is participation in immortality." So man is deified: "the Word... became man so that you might learn from man how man may become God" As God, Christ forgives us our sins, while the function of His humanity is to serve as a model so as to prevent us from sinning further.
According to Clement, the principal activities of the Logos are, successively, to exhort people to believe and be baptized, to train them in morals and piety, and to initiate them into the knowledge of God. That means that the Logos is, in his terms, successively an Exhorter, a Pedagogue and a Teacher.
Whence He was and who He Himself was, was demonstrated by what He taught and did. He showed Himself as the Herald of a truce, our Mediator and Savior, the Word, the Font of Life and Peace poured out over the face of the earth; and through Him, so to speak, the universe has already become an ocean of good things...
The first man, when He was in Paradise, played in childlike abandon, because he was a child of God; but when he gave himself over to pleasure... he was seduced by lust, and in disobedience the child became a man. Because he did not obey his Father, he was ashamed before God... The Lord then wished to release the serpent and enslaved the tyrant death; and most wonderful of all, man, who had been deceived by pleasure and bound by corruption, had his hands unbound and was set free. O mystic wonder! The Lord was laid low, and man rose up! He that fell from Paradise receives even better as the reward for obedience: heaven itself.
Just as night would be over everything in spite of the other stars, if the sun did not exist, so also, had we not known the Word and been illuminated by Him, we would have been no different from fowls that are being fed, fattened in darkness and nourished for death.
The Lord then wished to release him ( man ) from his bonds, and clothing Himself with flesh - O divine mystery . - vanquished the serpent, and enslaved the tyrant; and, most marvelous of all, man that had been deceived by pleasure, and bound fast to corruption, had his hands unloosed, and was set free...
He has changed sunset into sunrise, and through the cross turned death into life; and having wrenched man from destruction, He has raised him to heaven, transplanting mortality into immortality and translating earth to heaven.
St. Clement of Alexandria states that the Savior is the Lord not of the Jews only but of all men, therefore He came to save everyone that turns to Him; His sacrifice has its effect in all places and at all times.
Iv. Christ as a Sacrifice
The Sacrifice of Christ is mentioned in a variety of ways: in speaking of Christ as a whole burnt offering for us, as the Passover, as the Suffering Servant and as Lamb of God. Further, Clement's Isaac-Christ typology highlights the theological importance of his understanding of the sacrifice of Christ:
Where, then, was the door by which the Lord showed himself? The flesh by which he was manifested. He is Isaac (for the narrative may be interpreted otherwise), who is a type of the Lord, a child as a son. For he was the son of Abraham, as Christ was the Son of God; and a sacrifice like the Lord, only he was not immolated as the Lord was. Isaac only bore the wood of the cross. And he laughed mystically, prophesying that the Lord would fill us with joy, who have been redeemed from corruption by the blood of the Lord. Isaac did everything but suffer, as was right, yielding the precedence in suffering to the Word. Furthermore, there is an intimation of the divinity of the Lord in his not being slain. For Jesus rose again after his burial, having suffered no harm, like Isaac released from sacrifice.
The incarnation provides the background and foundation of St. Clement's understanding of Christs sacrifice.
For this also He came down. For this He clothed himself with man. For this He voluntarily subjected Himself to the experiences of men, that by bringing Himself to the measure of our weakness whom He loved, He might correspondingly bring us to the measure of His own strength. And about to be offered up and giving Himself as ransom, he left for us a new covenant - testament: My love I give unto you."
V. Isaac as a type of Christ the Risen Victim
Again, there is Isaac ... who is a type of the Lord. He was a child, just as the Son; for he was the son of Abraham, as Christ is the Son of God. He was a sacrificial victim, as was the Lord. Yet, he was not immolated as the Lord was. Isaac did, however, at least carry the wood for a sacrifice, as the Lord carried the cross... But he did not suffer. Not only did Isaac suddenly yield the first place in suffering to the Word, but there is even a hint of the divinity of the Lord, in Isaac's not being slain.
VI. Christ as the high priest
"High priest" can have three meanings for Clement:
First, the Old Testament high priest who offered the sacrifices;
Second, Jesus Christ who offered Himself as a Sacrifice, and
Third, the true Gnostic or Christian. The true Gnostic is "the truly kingly man; he is the sacred high priest of God." He offers the spiritual sacrifices. "Does he not also know the other kind of sacrifice which consists in the giving both of doctrine and of money to those who need?"
The second meaning is, of course, the central one for St. Clement; but in his thought the Christological meaning not only flows naturally from the Old Testament type, it also seems to merge, at times, into the third meaning where the true Gnostic also becomes a "high priest." The Christian believer shares in Christ's high-priestly dignity. In Him the Christian believer or true Gnostic becomes the true archetype of the Old Testament high priests. This is most clearly seen at the end of a long passage in which he is making use of the Philonic allegory of the high priest's robe in the context of the Day of Atonement liturgy.
And he shall take off the linen robe, which he had put on when he entered into the holy place; and shall lay it aside there, and wash his body in water in the holy place, and put on his robe (Lev 16:23-24). One way, I think, of taking off and putting on the robe takes place when the Lord descends into the region of sense. Another way takes place when he who through him has believed, takes off and puts on, as the apostle intimated, the consecrated stole (cf. Eph 6:117). Thence, after the image of the Lord, the worthiest were chosen from the sacred tribes to be high priests....
Protrepticus 12 singles out two high-priestly functions of Jesus: the one, directed toward us, is the sanctifying activity of preparing us for the Eucharistic meal; the other, directed toward the Father is Christ's mediating or intercessory activity for us. Elsewhere Clement speaks more directly about the specifically sacrificial aspects of Jesus' high-priestly activity:
If then, we say that the Lord the great high priest offers to God the incense of sweet fragrance, let us not imagine that this is a sacrifice and sweet fragrance of incense but let us understand it to mean that the Lord lays the acceptable offering of love, the spiritual fragrance, on the altar.
VII. CHRIST AS OUR PHYSICIAN
Therefore, the Word is our Educator who heals the unnatural passions of our soul with His counsel. The art of healing, strictly speaking, is the relief of the ills of the body, an art learned by man's wisdom. Yet, the only true divine Healer of human sickness, the holy Comforter of the soul when it is ill, is the Word of the Father. Scripture says: "Save Your servant, O my God, who puts his trust in You. Have mercy on me, O Lord, because I have cried to You the whole day through." Ps. 85:2,3. In the words of Democritus, "The healer, by his art, cures the body of its diseases, but it is wisdom that rids the spirit of its ills." The good Educator of little ones, however, Wisdom Himself, the Word of the Father, who created man, concerns Himself with the whole creature, and as the Physician of the whole man heals both body and soul.
VIII. CHRIST AS OUR SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT AND SATISFACTION
According to St. Clement of Alexandria, the church is a loving mother and virgin who at the same time offers her beloved children the Father's Gift: His Logos, our Lord Jesus Christ as our spiritual food, so that we may grow up in His likeness.
The loving and kind Father has rained down the Word, it is He Himself who has become the spiritual nourishment of the saints.
O mystic wonder! The Father of all is indeed one, one also is the universal Word, and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere; and one only is the Virgin Mother. I love to call her the Church. This Mother alone was without milk, because she alone did not become a wife. She is at once both Virgin and Mother: as a Virgin, undefiled; as a Mother, full of love.
Calling her children about her, she nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word...
The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Educator and Nurse. "Eat My Flesh," He says, "and drink My Blood." The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!
Our Savior and Teacher, as the spiritual Food, nourishes us, the children of God, by Himself as the source of true virtues. Thus we attain His peace and love, and become in the likeness of God.
Indeed we are educated not for war but for peace. In war there is need for much equipment, and provisions are required in abundance. Peace and love, however, are plain and simple sisters, and need neither arms nor abundant supplies. Their nourishment is the Word; and the Word is He by whose leadership we are enlightened and instructed, and from whom we learn frugality and humility, and all that pertains to the love of truth, the love of man, and the love of beauty and goodness. To say it in but a word: through the Word we become like God by a close union in virtue...
And as for these who have been reared under this influence - their manner of walking and reclining at table, their eating and sleeping, their marital relations and manner of life, and the rest of their upbringing, acquires a greater dignity. For such a training as is imparted by the Word is not overly severe, but well-tempered.
St. Clement states that our Lord grants us His precious Eucharistic blood and His Spirit (the spiritual blood) to share His immortality.
The Blood of the Lord, indeed, is twofold. There is His corporeal Blood, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and His spiritual Blood, that with which we are anointed. That is to say, to drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His immortality. The strength of the Word is the Spirit, just as the blood is the strength of the body. Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in faith, while the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both, however, - of the drink and of the Work, - is called the Eucharist, a praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word.
On the other hand, hear the Savior: "...I am He that feeds you. I give Myself as Bread, of which he that has tasted experiences death no more; and I supply daily the Drink of immortality.
I am the Teacher of lessons concerning the highest heavens. On behalf of you I contended with death, and I paid the death which you owed for your former sins and for your unbelief towards God."
Our Savior Jesus Christ grants us an inner satisfaction. He is the source of all blessings, "By Him the universe becomes an ocean of blessings."
IX. CHRIST AS OUR NEW HYMN
St. Clement offers his hearers a new hymn, the hymn of the Logos, the Creator, the Teacher, the Savior and the Medicine against grief.
This is the New Hymn,
the manifestation of the Logos that was in the beginning, and before the beginning.
The Savior, who existed before, has in recent days appeared...
The Logos, who was with God has appeared as our Teacher.
The Logos, who in the beginning bestowed on us life as Creator when he formed us, taught us to live well when He appeared as our teacher;
that as God He might afterwards conduct us to the life which never ends...
He accomplished our salvation...
(The seducer is one and the same) that at the beginning brought Eve down to death, now brings thither the rest of mankind.
Our ally and helper, too is one and the same - the Lord, who from the beginning gave revelations by prophecy, but now plainly calls to salvation...
The Savior has many tones of voice and many methods for the salvation of men;
by threatening He admonishes, by upbraiding He converts, by bewailing He pities, by the voice of song He cheers...
And now the Logos Himself speaks to you, shaming your unbelief;
yea, I say, the Logos of God became man, that you may learn from man how man may become god...
"For I am," He says, "the Door," which we who desire to understand God must discover, that He may throw heavens gates wide open to us.
For the gates of the Logos being intellectual, are opened by the key of faith.
The Logos has accomplished those things claimed for other singers. He has tamed the least manageable of all wild animals - man. He has tamed birds in flighty men, reptiles in crooked men, lions in men of strong passions, pigs in pleasure-seekers, wolves in men of rapacity, stocks and stones in men of folly. Yes, and it was this new hymn which made a melodious composition out of the universe, with the Holy Spirit providing instrumental accompaniment.
Here St. Clement, starting from the Jewish philosopher, Philo, anticipates the writers of odes or hymns to St. Cecilia, who later became the patron saint of music, and borrows his account of the order and harmony of the universe from a philosophical tradition going back at least to Socrates and especially strong among the Stoics.
And now St. Clement comes to one of the great words of Christian affirmation as he speaks of God's philanthropy, his love for mankind. The Word (Logos) was in the beginning (John 1,1). But He only recently manifested himself to explicit statement of a dogma which was later to split the church. He is our Teacher; so St. Clement anticipates the final revelation of how to live well (the thought is from Aristotle), and so are brought on our way to eternal life. He is our Savior; He exhorts us to salvation. Like a good doctor he offers different treatment for different patients; from poulticing to amputation, from lamentation to threatening. In the prophets the Divine Reason appeals through reason (a slightly odd evaluation of those often obscure poets, but St. Clement cannot resist the pun).
Christ who presents Himself as our eternal and new Hymn, who changes our life into a constant feast, grants us to be a hymn of God, as we become His pleasure in Jesus Christ.
The noblest hymn to God is an immortal man, who is built up by righteousness, a man on whom are stamped the oracles of truth.
X. CHRIST IS OUR INNER BEAUTY
That man with whom the Logos dwells does not alter himself, does not get himself up: He has the form of the Logos; he is made like to God; he is beautiful; he does not ornament himself; his is beauty, the true beauty...
XI. The body of Jesus Christ
Some see that St. Clement, in his Christology, allows a certain attenuated Docetism to intrude; he affirms that Christ, in His body, is exempt from natural needs (eating and drinking) and that his soul is free from the movements of the passions.
The one who has deeper wisdom is such that he is subject only to the affections which exist for the maintenance of the body, such as hunger, thirst, and the like.
In regard to the Savior, however, it were ridiculous to suppose that the body demanded, as a body, the necessary aids for its maintenance. For He ate, not for the sake of the body, which had its continuance from a holy power, but lest those in His company might happen to think otherwise of Him, just as afterwards some did certainly suppose that He had appeared as a mere phantasm. He was in general dispassionate; and no movement of feeling penetrated Him, whether pleasure or pain (Matt. 9:22; Mark 5:34; Luke 8:48).
5. THE HOLY SPIRIT
St. Clement speaks of the Spirit as the light from the Word who enlightens the faith. The Spirit is also the power of the Word, which pervades creation and attracts individuals to God.
I. The Spirit of sanctification
St. Clement of Alexandria declares the unceasing divine work in our life, saying, [the Educator created man from dust, renews him by water and nurses him by the Spirit]. What does St. Clement mean by the words. "The Educator nurses man by the Spirit"? The Divine Educator, Jesus Christ, sent His spirit in the Church not only to grant us adoption to God, but to nurse us continuously by the divine life, or by "holiness in Jesus Christ" that we might become holy as our God is Holy [Lev. 11:44, 45, 1 Pet. 1:16].
II. THE HOLY SPIRIT GRANTS US To be CHRISTLIKE
The essential work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Church is to prepare her as a heavenly bride to be united with her Heavenly Groom. It is His work in the life of every member to renew him, granting him to be Christ-like.
Haste to the ascent of the Spirit, being not only justified by abstinence from what is evil, but in addition also perfected, by Christ-like beneficence.
III. The Holy Spirit and daily life
The Alexandrian Fathers, through their Biblical thoughts and practice, looked to Christian life as a "life in Christ" or a "new life" realized by the Holy Spirit who dwells in their hearts. This life cannot be separated into parts, but it is one life that Christians practise in their church, houses, at their jobs, in their social activities and so on. It is one life granted by the Holy Spirit that embraces a Christian's relationship with God, Church, family members, friends, all mankind, heavenly creatures, earthly creatures and even with his own body. The Holy Spirit guides believers to attain closer relationship with God through their spiritual worship, and to examine the communitarian life through practical love not only towards their brothers in the faith, but also towards all mankind if possible.
H.B. Swete says:
Of the Holy Spirit Clement speaks freely, and with much beauty, but with reference either to some passage of the Holy Scripture or to the experienced life of a Christian. Thus from the statement that Bezalel was filled with the Spirit of God (Exod. 31 :2) he infers that artistic taste and skill are a gift from God. Those who have been brought to believe in the Holy Spirit are called by St. Paul 'spiritual men.' But spiritual men differ in their gifts, because according to the Apostle; the Spirit divides to every man as He will. Yet He is not Himself divided, as if a portion of God were given to each. Clement frequently refers to the gift of the Spirit as a fact of Christian experience. Though he is not Montanist, he recognizes fully the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of man, especially within the Church.
The Lord, of His love to mankind, invites all men to come to the knowledge of the truth, and has sent the Paraclete for that end.
We who are baptized have the eye of the Spirit, by which alone we can see God, free from obstruction and bright, the Holy Spirit flowing in upon us from heaven.
The Spirit blends and unites itself (Himself) mysteriously with the human spirit, as wine with water; and the true Gnostic, who earnestly strives to be spiritual, "is united to the Spirit through the love that knows no bounds."
The Spirit is the Holy Anointing Oil compounded of heavenly spices and is prepared by Christ for His friends.
It is the soul's jewelry, which decks it with the radiant colors of righteousness, practical wisdom, courage, self-control, love for all that is good, and modesty.
The more truly "Gnostic" a man becomes through righteous living, the nearer the bright Spirit of God draws to him.
As the magnet attracts iron, so the Holy Spirit attracts the soul to higher or lower mansions, according to personal character; only the evil falls to the ground.
The Spirit is the royal gold which, mingling with the other elements of our nature, makes Christians such as they are.
6. DIVINE GRACE
I. DIVINE GRACE AS GOD'S SELF-GIVING
He grants us His own dwelling within us and His own life to enjoy. "Generous is He who gives for us the greatest of all gifts, His own life!"
II. THE DIVINE Grace as God's self-revelation
God reveals Himself through His creation (Ps. 19:1). It is clear that our Trinitarian Faith is correlated to God's Grace or God's Self-Revelation. From the beginning God our heavenly Father planned to reveal Himself to us through the incarnation of His Only Begotten Son, Who dwelt among us, uniting us with His Father in Him. He spoke to us about the Father not only by words, but through unity with Him and participating in the divine life, and by granting us His mind and understanding (1 Cor. 2:16).
The Word... has appeared as our Teacher, He by Whom the universe was created. The Word Who in the beginning gave us life when He fashioned us as Creator, has taught us the good life as our Teacher, that He may afterwards, as God, provide us with eternal life. Not that He now has for the first time pitied us for our wandering; He pitied us from old, from the beginning. But now, when we were perishing, He has appeared and has saved us.
"For I am," He says, "the door", John 10:9, which we who desire to understand God must discover, that He may throw heaven's gates wide open to us. For the gates of the Word being intellectual, are opened by the key of faith. No one knows God but the Son, and the one to whom the Son has revealed Him (Matt. 11:27).
III. GRACE OF RENEWAL (DEIFICATION)
By deification the Alexandrians mean the renewal of human nature as a whole, to attain the characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ in place of the corrupt human nature, so that the believer may enjoy "partaking in the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), or the new man in the image of His Creator (Col. 3:10). This theological mind drew the heart of the Alexandrians away from the arguments about the term "grace" to concentrate on attaining it as being an enjoyment of Christ Himself Who renewed our nature in Him.
For this He came down, for this He assumed human nature, for this He willingly endured the sufferings of man, that by being reduced to the measure of our weakness He might raise us to the measure of His power.
The Word of God, became man just that you may learn from a man how it may be that man should become god.
The Alexandrians, in all their theological views, concentrate on the grace of God as a grace of the continuous or dynamic renewal of our nature by the Holy Spirit, who grants us the close unity with the Father in the Son, or the communion with God. In Jesus Christ, not only do we receive forgiveness of sins by the Holy Spirit, but we also attain the "new life" which is free of sin by divine grace. St. Paul speaks of "putting off the old man" or "the old corruptible nature" and putting on "the inner man" or the renewed nature in the Spirit, created after the likeness of God in justice and holiness (2 Cor. 5:21' Rom 8:1). By divine grace, we become members of the Body of Christ, children of the Father, have the power to practice true life, for we are sanctified in Christ, consecrated to the Father. The believer as a whole, his soul, body, senses, emotions, mind etc. is sanctified as a tool for righteousness (Rom. 6:13).
St. Clement of Alexandria was the first to use the term "theopoiein", i.e. "to divinize." He believed that sin has introduced an internal conflict in the nature of man, and it is not part of his nature, though it infects all mankind. We sin without knowing how we do it; it comes from lack of knowledge. The Word of God comes as a teacher, granting us true knowledge (gnosis). It is through His teaching that He divinizes, granting the Gnostics to share in the divine life.
He repeats the idea of the renewal of our nature in the Incarnate Son of God, as follows:
He had taken upon Him our flesh... He scorned not the weakness of human flesh, but having clothed Himself with it, has come into the world for the salvation of all men.
O mystic wonder! The Lord was laid low, and man was raised up!
"Know you not" says the Apostle, "that you are the temples of God?" (1 Cor. 3:16). The Gnostic (a believer who has true spiritual knowledge) is consequently divine, and already holy, God- bearing, and God-borne.
The Word of God became man, that you may learn how man may become god!
He, the Husbandman of God,...having bestowed on us the truly great, divine, and inalienable inheritance of the Father, deifying man by heavenly teaching, putting His laws into our minds and writing them on our hearts.
But that man in whom reason (logoV) dwells is not shifty, not pretentious, but has the form dictated by reason (logoV) and is like God. He is beautiful, and does not feign beauty. That which is true is beautiful; for it, too, is God. Such a man becomes god because God wills it.
Rightly, indeed, did Heraclitus say: "Men are gods, and gods are men; for the same reason (logoV) is in both." That this is a mystery is clear: God is in a man, and a man is God, the Mediator fulfilling the will of the Father. The Mediator is the Word (LogoV) who is common to both, being the Son of God and the Savior of men.
In a word, through Him we become like God by a likeness of virtue. Labor, then, and do not grow weary; you will become what you dare not hope or cannot imagine (1 Cor. 2:9).
It is God's grace that renews man's life; but God gives His grace to those who show an earnest desire for it. St. Clement says:
While a man strives and labors by himself to subdue his vicious affections, he can do nothing; but if he manifest an earnest vehement desire to do so, he is enabled by the divine power to accomplish his purpose; for God favors and co-operates with the willing minds.
He, who has first moderated his passions and trained himself for impassability and developed to the beneficence of Gnostic perfection, is here equal to the angels. Already luminous and shining like the sun in the exercise of beneficence, he speeds by righteous knowledge through the love of God to the sacred abode, just like the apostles. Now the apostles did not become such by being chosen for some distinguished quality of nature, since Judas also was chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas...
And the chosen of the chosen are those who by reason of perfect knowledge are called [as the best] from the church itself and honored with the most august glory - the judges and rulers - twenty-four (the grace being doubled) equally from Jews and Greeks. For it is my opinion that the grades here in the church: bishops, presbyters, and deacons, are imitations of the angelic glory and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection and righteousness according to the gospel. For they, when taken up in the clouds, as the apostle writes ( 1 Thess 4:17), will first minister, and then be classed in the presbyterate by promotion in glory (for glory differs from glory - 1 Cor 15:41) till they grow into "a perfect man" Eph 4:13.
Through our fellowship with Christ we attain His likeness, even in His incorruptibility.
We have in the conduct of the Lord an unmistakable model of incorruptibility, and are following in the footsteps of God.
IV. Grace of adoption to the Father
He grants us the adoption to the Father in His Only-Begotten Son by the Holy Spirit, so that we may receive Him our own Father, and dare settle in His bosom eternally. St. Clement of Alexandria says,
O surpassing love for man! Not as a teacher speaking to his students, not as a master to his domestics, nor as God to men, but as a Father, does the Lord gently admonish His children...
And how the more benevolent God is, the more impious men are; for He desires us to become sons not slaves, while they scorn to become sons. O the prodigious folly of being ashamed of the Lord!
The Father of the universe cherishes affection towards those who have fled to Him, and having begotten them, again by His Spirit to the adoption of children, knows them as gentle ones, loves them, aids and fights for them; and therefore He bestows on them the name of child.
V. Grace and the pledge of eternity
St. Clement calls the true believer who practices the divine grace a "Gnostic." One of the essential characteristics of the Gnostic is perfect "love," through which he enjoys the pledge of "eternity."
VI. FREE GRACE
This free gift is not granted to men by force, or to careless souls, but it is offered freely to all men, to act in those who seriously desire it. Man has the choice to accept or reject this free grace. J. Patrick clarified St. Clement's opinion in this regard, saying:
If faith was only an advantage of nature, as Basilides maintained, there could be no room for praise or censure in the case of belief or disbelief, for man would be the creature of a natural, or divine, necessity. If men were moved like lifeless puppets by natural forces, the distinction between voluntary and involuntary is superfluous; and the same is true of the impulse which leads to choice. From this conception of freedom as absolute, important conclusions in the matter of salvation are drawn. God wished us to be saved from ourselves. Because man is not a lifeless instrument, he must hasten to salvation willingly and of set purpose. Readiness of mind is our contribution to salvation. Faith as well as obedience depend on freedom. Choice and life are yoked together. He who sins of his own will makes choice of punishment. That which is involuntary is not judged. God only requires of us the things that are in our power. By instruction we are taught to choose what is best . God Himself has a respect for this freedom, and exercises no compulsion in the matter of salvation. No one will be saved against his will, for force is hateful to God. Man must cooperate with God. Those who are foreordained were foreordained because God knew before the creation of the world that they would be righteous. Even, as has already been noted, the argument from the miraculous must not be such as to compel the assent of the spirit of man; for such compulsion were out of harmony with the nature of God and man. But though God will not compel man, there is a sense in which man may exercise compulsion upon God. The kingdom of God is not for the slack or the sleepers; the "violent takes it by force," and snatches life from God; for in such conflicts He rejoices to be defeated.
VII. Universal Grace
God is the Lord not only of the Jews but of all men, though He is more intimately the Father of those who know Him.
For "I become all things to all men, that I might gain all men" 1 Cor. 9:22. Since also "the rain" of the divine grace is sent down "on the just and the unjust" Matt. 5:45. "Is He the God of the Jews only, and not also of the Gentiles? Yes, also of the Gentiles: if indeed He is one God" Rom. 3:29,30, exclaims the noble Apostle.
VIII. GRACE AND the BELIEVER'S Role
A man by himself, working and toiling at freedom from passion, achieves nothing. But if he plainly shows his great desire and complete sincerity in this, he will attain it by the addition of the power of God.
Indeed, God conspires with willing souls. But if they abandon their eagerness, the spirit which is bestowed by God is also restrained. To save the unwilling is to exercise compulsion; but to save the willing belongs to Him who bestows grace.
Nor does the kingdom of heaven belong to the sleeping and the lazy; rather, the violent take it by force (Matt. 11:12)...
On hearing these words, the blessed Peter, the chosen..., paid the tribute (Matt. 17:27), quickly grasped and understood their meaning.
And what does he say? "Behold, we have left all and have followed you!" (Matt. 19:27; Mark 10:28).
7. PROVIDENCE AND DIVINE CHASTISEMENT
W. Floyd says: [Besides the rosy picture of providence which depicts God as the merciful provider, Clement is not blind of its shadow. Providence is also a disciplinary art which chastens man both for his own benefit and as an example to others. Censure is the mark of fatherhood, of God, and of goodwill; not ill will. Therefore God is good despite the rod, threatening and fear.]
John Patrick says: [The controversy raised by Marcion led Clement to touch specially on the relation of Divine justice to Divine goodness].
Marcion attributes justice to the God of the Old Testament, describing Him as violent in His punishment of men, while he attributes goodness to the God of the New Testament, describing Him as kind and pitiful to men. St. Clement clarifies that the God of the Old Testament is the same of the New Testament, and God is merciful and good in His justice and just in His goodness.
Punishment by God does not arise from anger; He is truly just and good at the same time. His punishment of men is not for vengeance, but always disciplinary and remedial. He chastises for three reasons:
1. For the sake of the person who is chastised that he rises superior to his former self. His goal is the salvation of the reproved.
2. By being an example to others, that by admonition they may be driven back from sin before committing it.
3. God chastises the wrong-doer that the wronged person may not become an object of contempt and a fit subject for being wronged.
"Do not any longer", he says, "my son, despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him," Prov. 3: 11. O surpassing love for man! Not as a teacher speaking to his scholars, not as a master to his domestics, nor as God to men, but as a Father the Lord admonishes His children.
For there is nothing which the Lord hates", Wisd. 11:24... Nor He wishes anything not to exist ... If then He hates none of the things which He has made, it follows that He loves them. Much more than the rest, and with reason, will He love man, the noblest of all objects created by Him, and a God-loving being... But he who loves anything wishes to do it good... God therefore cares for man and takes care of man...
"How then", they say, "If the Lord loves man, and is good, is He angry and punishes?"... Many of the passions are cured by punishment ... For reproof is, as it were, the surgery of the passions of the soul... Reproach is like application of medicines, dissolving the callousness of the passions, and purging the impurities of the lewdness of life; and in addition, reducing the excrescences of pride, restoring the patient to the healthy and true state of humanity.
See how God, through His love of goodness, seeks repentance; and by means of the plan he pursues of threatening silently, shows His own love for man. " I will avert," He says; "My face from them, and show what shall happen to them," Deut. 32:20. For where the face of the Lord looks, there is peace and rejoicing; but where it is averted, there is introduction of evil.
He uses the bitter and biting language of reproof in His consolations by Solomon, tacitly alluding to the love for children that characterizes His instruction, "My son, do not despite the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves he corrects, just as a father the son in whom he receives," Prov. 3:11,12.
Such is the disciple of wisdom ("for whom the Lord loves He chastens"), causing pain in order to produce understanding, and restoring to peace immortality.
The name that He has tells us by divine inspiration that the Educator will save. It is for this reason that the Scripture associates Him with a rod that suggests correction, government and sovereignty. Scripture seems to be suggesting that those whom the Word does not heal through persuasion He will heal with threats; and those whom threats do not heal the rod will; and those whom the rod does not heal fire will consume. 'And there shall come forth,' it is said, 'a rod out of the root of Jesse' (Isa. 11:1).
Therefore, it is not from hatred that the Lord reproves men, for instead of destroying him because of his personal faults, He has suffered for us. Because He is the good Educator, He wisely assumes the task of correcting by means of reproach, as though to arouse by the whip of sharp words minds become sluggish, and then He attempts to encourage the same men.
Correction is also called in Greek 'nouthetein,' whose etymology means placing something in the mind; therefore, correction is really transformation of the mind.
It is clear that He who threatens desires to do nothing that will harm us, or to execute none of His threats. Yet, by giving us cause for fear, He takes away any inclination to sin, and at the same time reveals His love for men by delaying over and over, and repeatedly manifesting to them, what they will suffer if they continue in their sins, unlike the serpent that bites without delay. Therefore, God is good.
It is not inconsistent that the Word who saves should make use of reproof in His care for us. As a matter of fact, reproof is simply the antidote supplied by the divine love for man, because it awakens the blush of confusion and shame for sins committed. And if there is need for reproach and for harsh words, then there is also occasion to wound, not to death, but to its salvation, a soul grown callous; in such a way He inflicts a little pain, but spares it eternal death.
Truly, the Educator of mankind, the divine Word of ours, has devoted Himself with all His strength to save His little ones by all the means at the disposal of His wisdom: warning, blaming, rebuking, correcting, threatening, healing, promising, bestowing favors--in a word, 'binding as if with many bits" the unreasonable impulses of human nature. In fact, the Lord acts toward us just as we do toward our children: 'Have you children? Chastise them,' Wisdom advises, 'and have you daughters? Have a care of their body and show not your countenance gay toward them.' Yet we have a great love for our children, sons or daughters, more than that we have for anything else.
Generally speaking, His use of fear is a device for saving us, but to save proves that a person is good. 'The mercy of God is upon all flesh. He corrects and chastises and teaches as a shepherd does his flock. He has mercy on those that receive chastisement and that eagerly seek His friendship.' Eccli. 18:12,13 (Septuagint).
Correction and chastisement, as their very name implies, are blows inflicted upon the soul, restraining sin, warding off death, leading those enslaved by vice back to self-control.
There are two sorts of fear, one of which is accompanied by reverence. This sort citizens feel toward their rulers if they are good, and we toward God, as well-trained children do toward their father. 'A horse not broken,' Scripture says, 'becomes stubborn, and a child left to himself will become headstrong' (Eccli 30:8). The other kind of fear is mixed with hate: this is the way slaves feel toward harsh masters, and the Hebrews when they looked on God as their Master and not their Father. It seems to me that what is done willingly and of one's own accord is far more excellent from every point of view than that which is done under duress in the service of God.
As the mirror is not unjust to an ugly man for showing him exactly as he is, and as the doctor is not unjust to the sick man for diagnosing his fever (for he is not responsible for the fever, but simply states it is present), so he who corrects is not ill disposed toward one sick of soul. He does not put the sins there, but only shows that they are present, so that similar sins may be avoided in the future.
THE DIVINE ANGER
Revenge is returning evil for evil, imposed for the satisfaction of the one taking vengeance, but He would never desire revenge who has taught us to pray for those who calumniate us (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:28).
Really, then, the Divinity is not angry, as some suppose, but when He makes so many threats He is only making an appeal and showing mankind the things that are to be accomplished. Such a procedure is surely good, for it instills fear to keep us away from sin. 'The fear of the Lord drives out sin: for he that is without fear cannot be justified.' The punishment that God imposes is due not to anger, but to justice, for the neglect of justice contributes nothing to our improvement.