Our proper goal is union with God through his becoming a man.
There is a universal tendency for each self to focus their life on a single thing that they regard as the ultimate or highest good, the one thing that makes life worthwhile.
The Prime Question
Earlier I described man's task. But task and goal are distinct things, and the most important question facing us is always: What final goal should man pursue?
Of course the most important question is not always the most urgent, and I am not suggesting that this question should preoccupy you while fleeing for your life. But just about everyone has time and ability for some reflection: "Man shall not live by bread alone", however hard may be the struggle for mere survival.
I think the correct answer is easy enough to find if one really wants to, so the very fact that people tend to experience it as a problem is a symptom that something is wrong with mankind, a point elaborated later in this Creed.
Paul Tilich's ultimate concern is similar to what I call our goal, but the question arises of why something is of concern to us. An everyday concern need not be a goal, for instance it may be a duty instead, but with ultimate concern I feel that this dissociation is impossible: if our ultimate concern is not also our final goal, the question of final goal remains open, and to me at least this feels unsatisfactory.
"I need no final goal."
Whoever you are, there are things that seem to make your life worth living, at least some of the time. These are your gods, whether or not you call them that.
Everyone has a basic attitude, or in some cases a confused mixture of attitudes. Their attitude has far-reaching effects on their life. It affects their creed and is the basis on which they assess all prospective beliefs and values.
Attitude in this sense has sometimes been called "religion", but this can be confusing. See Religion.
"Different goals suit different selves; there is no single proper final goal."
What is your goal? Family? Sport? Art? Politics? Power? Peak experiences induced by drugs, danger, venery or meditation? The list could be extended. Most of these are valuable, but when I examine my own mind carefully I find that none of them seems satisfactory, and I think this is a universal human experience. We need to look beyond all such things, to something shared by all.
The Answer (Part 1)
I believe that God, the source of all that comes to be, is also its proper final goal. In particular, only God can satisfy the minds he has created; there is, as they say, a God-shaped gap in every mind.
"Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it rests in thee."
(Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 1 (397 CE).)
But what does calling God our goal mean? Of course the journey involves reverently projecting ourselves toward him (traditionally called prayer), but what will arriving at the destination involve? This is the deepest question thought can address, and if ever we need to accept that our understanding is incomplete, it is here.
"Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall recognise, even as I have been recognised."
(Paul of Tarsus, First Epistle to the Corinthians 13 (c.55 CE).)
I will tell you what I think. But first I need to supplement what I said earlier about God.
The Divine "Trinity"
Earlier I gave my reasons for regarding God as a self. But one self in isolation is always incomplete, so we must also think of him as a society. This leads me to the "Trinity" of Provider, Mediator and Indweller.
For more details, see The Trinity.
Now I can describe the goal.
The Answer (Part 2)
From the beginning the Provider intended the Mediator, in due course, to achieve in his own person the union of humanity with God through anthroposis, that is, by becoming a man and living a human life. He would thus "recapitulate" humanity, that is, become its head, and all other humans would be members of this new humanity. Thus he would pioneer human elevation, and his followers would obtain it by membership in him. This is what God being our proper final goal means: humanity is not deity, but is destined to inhere in the deity: "not deity converted into flesh but flesh taken into deity", as one early Christianoid creed puts it.
For more details, see Anthroposis.
Union is not absorption, an amorphous melting into the divine being. And it is not a like an erotic bond of unilateral or mutual obsession, though its early stages may contain elements of that, as with a young child whose mother is his world and who will always love her but needs to grow out of such absorption. Union with God is not detached from our present cultural task; it fulfills that task by taking it to a new level. The life to come is the next stage for selves, "more but not less" (see Appendices) than life as we know it, involving further development beyond current possibilities.
For more details see Fulfillment.
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