The Corruptible and the Incorruptible
Part 1, What's More Real?
The more I explore how the early church fathers thought about things like the Incarnation and resurrection, along with how those relate to our salvation, the more I'm struck by the metaphysical disjoint between then and now.
Consider the relationship between the material and spiritual worlds.
According to the church fathers, if you compare something like spirit to flesh, it's a no brainer that spirit is more real than flesh. The material world is fleeting, evanescent, transient, corruptible, and insubstantial. Simply, the material world is ghostlike. The spiritual world, by contrast, is permanent, substantial, and incorruptible.
A nice literary imagining of this contrast comes from C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce where he portrays heaven as more real than earth, so real that the grass of heaven hurts the feet of the barely substantial visitors from hell.
For us moderns, we see the situation as the exact opposite. For us, we view material, physical reality as hard and substantial, something you can knock on. The spiritual world, by contrast, is spectral, misty, shadowy, and ghostly.
My references to ghosts helps illustrates the contrast. For the church fathers, spirit was real and material reality was ghostly. For us, material reality is real and spiritual reality is ghostly.
My point here is that, because we moderns have the exact opposite ontological imagination when compared to the early church, we can't understand how they thought about things like salvation.
What is more real? Spirit or physical matter?
If you say, "physical matter" you're not going to understand the Bible or the church fathers.