The Omega Center has been in search of a new name for several months. Recently, we decided that the best fit is “Christogenesis.” This is a term that Teilhard de Chardin coined to describe the dynamic presence of God in evolution; the creative entanglement of divine and created life in the movement toward wholeness and fulfillment.Teilhard was well aware that Christianity was too static and passive and therefore impotent to effect change in a world marked by movement. He worked tirelessly to reframe the Christian message for a world in evolution by evoking a new understanding of God and world. His efforts were not the musings of an eccentric scientist but were from a visionary and mystic who saw the material world as the potency of spirit in openness to God: This is the Christian message grounded in the incarnation.
Before I explain the significance of the term “Christogenesis” and why it is crucial for us today, I think we have to own up to what Teilhard himself realized: Christianity is bankrupt. I do not say this lightly, and neither did Teilhard.The one religion that claims divinity is immersed in materiality is at the heart of the world’s problems today, simply because the Western world is largely the product of the Roman Catholic Church. Ancient barbaric Europe was brought into a new sense of order by Benedictine monasticism and the hierarchy of Christian faith, an ordering of principles that played out in the rise of science, economics, politics and the university. In our time, those principles no longer hold weight. It is not that the Church is indifferent to the world’s problems. One has only to read the writings of Pope Francis to appreciate his deep concern for the world. His encyclical Laudato Si’ is informed by modern science and provides attractive ideals to build a sustainable world. However, the Laudato Si’ movement is a dead-end, not because the ideals are misguided but because they are misplaced; they are ideals for a flat and static earth, not an earth in movement, open to transcendence and novelty. The struggles of Catholic theology to animate ecological life reflect the bankruptcy of Western philosophy which was, traditionally, the basis of theology up to the Enlightenment and the rise of modern science. Our contemporary philosophical landscape is divided into two competing camps: the analytical and continental; these predominately left-brain approaches to lived experience have become unhinged, like a fire out of control, reducing the spiritual depths of matter to rubble and ashes—or simply fixated on the experience of fire.
The mutations of Western philosophy, stripped of theology, have created a world in shambles: utterly poor, naked, alone, and lifeless. Theology without a credible philosophy, and philosophy without theological meaning, has crushed the cosmos into its and bits—hot, flat, and crowded. The world has been abandoned and forsaken, hurling blindly down a via dolorosa. Without a viable metaphysical purpose, the world is crumbling under its own weight. The message of Good News is falling on deaf ears. Systems once formed by the principles of faith are collapsing, while moral chaos has become unpredictable and violent. Teilhard de Chardin recognized the problems of our age as the result of the great divorce between Science and Religion. We need to rethink Christianity for a world in evolution, he claimed, not to make the world Christian again, but that the Church itself might evolve toward wholeness and inclusivity—a veritable catholicity that takes seriously the formation of a uni-verse. As he wrote in his 1933 essay on “Christianity and Evolution”: “Our Christology is still expressed in exactly the same terms as those which three centuries ago could satisfy those whose outlook on the cosmos it is now physically impossible for us to accept. […] What we have to do without delay is to modify the position occupied by the central core of Christianity—and this precisely in order that it may not lose its illuminative value.” (Christianity and Evolution, p. 77)
The starting point for rethinking God and world is the primacy of change.To be is to be in movement, and to be in movement is to be moving towards something. Science today, across the disciplines, recognizes change as intrinsic to vitality: The Big Bang universe is expanding, and biological life is complexifying. Relationality is the key term in science and theology. Physics discloses a world of relationality and theology reveals a God of relationality, described as Trinity. For Teilhard, the relationality of God’s triune nature makes creation more than an act willed out of intellect or desire; creation is the beloved Word of God expressed in the unfolding of spacetime. God is love (1 Jn 4:13) and it is love that renders the world a gift of God’s very self. The world is grounded in divine love and is moving towards the fullness of love.
Following the doctrine of the primacy of Christ, Teilhard saw creation as the outflow of creative union. God shares God’s love in a deep personal way with a creature bound for grace and glory. Whether or not sin ever existed, Christ would have come because Christ is first in God’s intention to love. For Christ to exist, there must be a person capable of intelligence and response, and for such a human person to exist there must be a creation. The created world is co-spoken with the eternal Word of love; it does not exist as a self-contained Order but bears within it a drive towards the spiritual: matter is the matrix of spirit. The integral relationship between incarnation and creation means that: 1) The world at its deepest level is marked by the radical potential to receive the self-communication of the mystery of divine love into it; thus, it is a world that is fit for the working out of the divine purpose; 2) What happened between God and the world in Christ points to the future of the cosmos. It is a future that involves the radical transformation of created reality through the unitive power of God’s love; and 3) The universe has a destiny and will not be destroyed. Rather, it will be brought to fulfillment, which God intends for it from the beginning, anticipated in the mystery of Christ.
Teilhard did not limit his discussion of Christ to the life of Jesus or the reality of the cross but expanded it to the widest possible horizon. The incarnation is not an isolated event but integral to the possibility of creation itself; one is inconceivable without the other. Because of the integral relationship between creation and incarnation, Teilhard posited that the whole world is oriented toward personal unity in love. Rather than living with a “cosmic terror” in the face of the immensity of the universe, he suggests that this evolutionary universe is meaningful and purposeful because it is grounded in Christ. God is not simply guiding evolution; God is in evolution as its motivating power and goal. Teilhard suggested that God could not appear as prime mover without first becoming incarnate and without redeeming; in other words, without our seeing that God becomes Christified. Teilhard used the term Christogenesis to indicate that the biological and cosmological genesis of creation—cosmogenesis—is from the point of faith, Christogenesis. Creation itself is God uniting to form one with something, to be immersed in it. The “self” of God is in the “self-emptying” of God; God is constantly becoming “element” and drawing all things through love into fullness of being. God is not found through opposition to matter (anti-matter) or independent of matter (extra-matter) but through matter (trans-matter). We take hold of God in the finite. It is God-centered matter that forms the divine milieu where the cosmic, human, and Christic meet in a new reality that Teilhard called “the Centric.” To become conscious of the depths of matter and to live in the evolving centric reality is to be in active transcendence, to become new being, more unified and conscious of belonging to an emerging wholeness that eludes the grasp of reductionism or control.
The genesis of Christ is the core of Teilhard’s thought. There is a unifying influence in the whole evolutionary process holding the entire process together and moving it forward toward greater complexity and unity. The ultimate mover of the entire cosmogenesis, he indicated, is something that is simultaneously within the sequence of beings as tendency, desire, and purpose, and in front of the advancing wave of development, beckoning it, as its ideal culmination. This Mover Teilhard identified with God. The evolutionary pressure is the presence of God at every stage, helping, driving, drawing. We always assumed that God could be located “above,” he said, but now we realize that God is “ahead” and “within,” as well. He came to realize that as God “metamorphized the world from the depths of matter to the peaks of Spirit, so too the world ‘endomorphized God.’” As we are incorporated into the life of God, so too God’s life is incorporated into us; in doing so, God is transformed as we are transformed. Teilhard’s faith in Christ led him to posit Christ as the future fullness of the whole evolutionary process, the “centrating principle,” “pleroma,” and “Omega point,” where the individual and collective adventure of humanity finds its end and fulfillment. The whole cosmos is incarnational: “The Incarnation is a making new. . .of all the universe’s forces and powers.” Thus, Christ is present in the least particle of matter to the convergent human community. Christ is organically united with all of creation, immersed in all things, in the heart of matter, and thus unifying the world. By taking on human form, Christ has given the world its definitive form, that is, personalization. By saying that cosmogenesis is now Christogenesis, Teilhard indicated that the very being of the world is now being personalized. Belief in the Christ is belief in a Personal center of a personalizing universe.
Teilhard’s Christogenesis is a radical departure from the static image of Jesus as Savior of the world. He wrote that the universal Christ could not appear at the end of time if he had not previously entered it during its development, through the medium of birth, in the form of a human person. Christians profess that Jesus is the Christ. The humanity of Jesus emerges out of an evolutionary process; it is the explosive love of God, the Christic singularity, expressed in Jesus’ life, his depth of God-consciousness, his trust and hope in the fulfillment of God’s reign. Jesus returned love for love unconditionally. However, the Christ is more than the historical Jesus alone. Every person, every created being, has a Christic center simply by its own beingness. The humanity of Jesus is our humanity, so that one who lives in the pattern of Jesus’ life, lives in Christ. If one strives to live in love, peace, compassion, forgiveness, and nonviolence, there Christ is alive and active in the world, even if one never heard of Jesus or accepts the Gospel. Such a person participates in Christogenesis. Every person has a Christic center, a heart of love, open to the fullness of life and oriented toward the absolute center of love, the heart of God. When we are caught up in the embrace of this love, we are engaged in the process of Christogenesis. The Christic is always vigilant for love to grow, even in the darkest hours and coldest nights. The Christic lives to unite that which is separated, to complete that which is incomplete, to make whole what is fragmented or partial. The Christic lives on the cusp of a new reality, breaking in through the mundane moments of life, in the ordinary things we take for granted: Each moment is a gift to wake up and love in a new way. The Christic lives to love, and courageously suffers through the trials of love and the failures of love into the promise of everlasting love, never resting or resisting the call to love in the face of opposition or conflict.
Christogenesis is not a program to solve the problems of the world; it is a theological and metaphysical framework that orients our lives in a world yearning for wholeness, freedom, truth, beauty, goodness, and joy, wrapped in the hope of everlasting life. The Christic refuses mediocrity, stagnation, domination, oppression, control, manipulation, and all factors which divide and conquer the human spirit, seeking to crush it to death. Christogenesis is about whole-making—catholicity. It is based on faith in an ultimate power of divine love at the heart of our lives, a love that empowers us to create, discover and invent, to transcend ourselves, finding new ways to reach out across the gaps which divide us, to encounter our enemies with the transforming power of love. We are made for love and nothing less. Every person of every color and every race and every gender shares in the infinite wellspring of God’s eternal love. The Center for Christogenesis is committed to realizing a new world grounded in divine love where politics, economics, science, the humanities and social life can find new ways of relating and new means of sharing in this ongoing creative process of love. We have the capacity for a new world, and it is time to build it.
As a baptized Roman Catholic who has born the scars of the patriarchy and soul destroying systemic of a church that has demeaned, shamed, and crucified my Soul, Body, Mind and Intellect for eighty decades, I have strong reservations about the change from Omega Center.
I am a cradle catholic from a strong formation as a Catholic educator- educated in the arts, science, and known personally and through the writing of greats ascended and contemporary prophets, mystics, the sacred scriptures of interfaith community. I gleaned the jewels of Catholicism and recognize the divine in all who seek Truth.
My first encounter with Aquinas,….as a secondary student in 1958 , Merton, Chardin , Berry, and my years of University studies and serving in multiple ministries through the evolution of the body, mind, soul within the dreams and advancements of the evolutionary progress of science and striving to BECoOME a spiritual force for a graced life; for the sake of divine intervention in this sacred time, sacred place all souls must must viewed from a global and cosmic consciousness on the the journey from darkness to the light of ONENESS of Creation.
I am in this world to love, birth, rebirth and co-create in discipleship for all humankind, and all humans, nonhuman being of on this sacred planet.
The naming of the centre for me as a loyal disciple of the Jesus the Risen Christ does not denoted inclusivity for all humans striving to become inhabitants of the promised new earth.
I respectfully honour the opinions of all others, however, I observe a discrimination for consider my sacred and temporary reason for the remainder of my life’s journey to love unconditionally from the convolutions of divinine implanted in my soul.
Submitted with unconditional love, compassion, respect, grace, gratitude, joy and peace for a new reconnect with all of God’s wonder ours Creation.
Your soul sister in Christ for all awakening souls to the their highest selves in loving envy and light.
Blessings, prayers and healing for our endangered ones on Mother Earth,
Elizabeth A. Stamp
Oh my goodness! Wow, wow, wow! yes and amen
Great summary of Teilhard’s notions of Christogenesis. Seems a more complete understanding of the evolutionary movement of Spirit from Alpha to Omega, cosmogenesis to its full term in Centric or Christogenic form must, as Teilhard suggested, credibly synthesize science in the process. If Spirit is the substance of all form, and the highest part of matter, then an integrated Spirit-Science of the future must be created. Doing so would identify the nature of this mysterious “substance” known as “Spirit,”, the ONE thing (Uni-verse) in which the elemental nature of matter consists and coheres, its “axis mundi.” Such will effectively universalize the nature of the created order macro to micro, and provide the long awaited interbeing framework that trans-forms static religious structures from their tribal, dogmatic, creedal, and institutional fetters toward a viable spirituality of the future. Its time to to take-up Teilhard’s visionary baton of synthesis with bold exploratory resolve, and create a formless, science-based spirituality without walls that at long last has universal, inter-spiritual application.
I thought the name Omega Centre was good and was wary when I heard that a new name was coming, but I think your choice as the Center for Christogenesis is just excellent and very well tuned to purpose, material and context.
It is exciting to be moving forward under this new banner.
Maybe God is not love. Maybe love is God. We experience a feeling for other humans, animals, vegetation, rocks, landscape, sky, sun, clouds, rain, water and so on. We needed to assign a name to that feeling, that sensation. When we feel it, when we pray, who and what hears us? Isn’t that which hears us a silent witness within and around we hope will help us.
After encountering Chardin through Paolo Soleri in 1978 at Cosonti and by invite to Arcosonti, I came to believe that the Christian God that I had heard so much about did not yet exist. I believed that something as creative as God was indifferent to my and our suffering and that God was busy in an expanding universe. My only takeaway from Chardin has been that God doesn’t exist. We’re on our own “co-creating” a concept of a God. As an architect I’ve never doubted Soleri’s ” Bridge between spirit and matter is spirit becoming matter.”
I don’t believe that Jesus was the first radical, activist, suffering human who was executed. Your a or the daughter of God. I’m a or the son of God. Or, we’re both just plain old animals with highly developed brains. “Christogenesis” can make both theology and philosophy all the more unapproachable other than as the intellectual thrill of thinking. Psychology says that thought proceeds feelings and action. We cannot know without doing.
I still tend to believe that “God” is indifferent to our suffering and that it is “we” who care about, for and love each other from some feeling inside of us.
God creates to know God. We are that self reflection. Our differences are co-creative. A thing is what it is by virtue of what it is not. We are the limited reflections of the greater ONE. Extending forth from God’s Being, we return to it. The whole universe proceeds from God to evolve towards God. Defining the nature of God in the process.The material is spiritual and the spiritual is inherent in the physical. Love is the extension of Self to include other.
I have to read this through a couple of times to begin to get it. However, I catch the heart of it and it is a vision to live for!
Having said this, what should you conclude as a new posture for for Christianity and the church?
It has been my experience that our Lord is not indifferent to suffering. Having been witness to many answers to prayers for healing including my own, I can assure you that our Lord does answer our prayers.
Christogenesis is a term suitable for an ongoing living God who is with Creation from the beginning, is now, and ever shall be in the Life and Resurrection of Creation. I have little formal education and yet I don’t consider it as a hindrance to my mystical and prophetic Life given gifts. I simply think good thoughts and seek affirmation for them in the best minds and scripture that is available, like Teilhard, Eckhart, Fox, Swimme, Merton and Rorhr and now Delio. As parents my dear wife and I have the love of 4 children and their partners, 5 grandchildren and three of their partners and 6 great grandchildren. I am 82 and my wife is 81. In our love for them and all living things I once thought while sitting in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on because I was smoking a small Cuban cigar and having a glass of Guinness. Alcohol tends to bring out my deep thoughts. I asked the question of the Spirit, how can I be assured I will go to Paradise when I die? I love the thought of St. Dismus who Jesus said this day you will be with me in Paradise. The answer came back, simply if all of creation is included in a new Heaven and a new Earth, then you as a microscopic part of creation will enter Paradise, as well. I then thought I first must go to Scripture and find out who Jesus said He is and why He visited us in the first place. I was struck with His “I Am the Way the Truth and the Life and I Am the Resurrection and the Life”. And He visited us to tell us “I Am the fullness of Life and Life in abundance”. As a student of the spirituality of Creation and understanding the transcendence of God in Panentheism I had no problem of accepting this Truth. It was also at this point I reinterpreted the Grace Mary was full of should be considered as “Full of Life”. I then thought there must be only one universal Truth that Jesus was referring to. In our Teilhardian consciousness in its evolutionary differientations or complexity once matter moved it was conscious in one way or another it posessed this one universal Truth all living things know to be that Truth LIFE EXISTS. A Triune living God conceived a male into the female and evolution was born. It is worthwhile considering that the primary purpose of sex is for pleasure. It is this pleasure that garauntees the evolutionary process in living things. The Way to return for living things to return to our source is simply to live Life. It then follows that the fullness of Life can be here on Earth as it is in Heaven. e simply have to love, care and nurture all living things as best we can. This is possible by we humans using our reflective individual and Life give gifts. Love is an action. A living God expressed love for creation by giving it Life. Deacon’82 Environment and Global Interdependence. P.S., we have a grandson who is an Environmental Engineer. All in all, All in One, All in Life.
“The Center for Christogenesis is committed to realizing a new world grounded in divine love where politics, economics, science, the humanities and social life can find new ways of relating and new means of sharing in this ongoing creative process of love.”
Amen to that…we need to find these new ways. I think they are in front of us and/or are being revealed to us, but we must be willing and have the courage to accept the invitation while mourning the death of what was thought to be Christianity.
To live is to suffer. It is in our response to suffering, personally and collectively, that we may come to experience “God.”
I have reservations about the new name for the centre. The word ‘Omega’ is inclusive and open ended. When I first heard the word ‘Christogenesis’ I found it limiting. It’s also a complicated word which is not easy for someone not versed in Teilhard’s ideas to understand. I read the article to get a sense of it, but still find it complicated. Also the use of the word ‘catholicity’ – even with a small ‘c’ – is not welcoming. I like and use Ilia’s books and the materials from the centre, so I do hope you will reconsider the new name. Blessings on you and all you do.
Thank you Ilia, thank you to all who are called to awaken to Teilhard’s deep call. Complexity is increasing and personally I find that energizing. I think what calls to me most in this presentation is the grace within complexity. I personally found this in working with people who were psychologically experiencing long term chronic darkness for a myriad of reasons. Fortunately, I had been trained for this, faced and grew through some tough situations personally (but knew I had been undeservedly fortunate) and knew I couldn’t rush in and change or fix this. I increasingly was given a natural ability to BE with this energy of suffering and I became trusted as a constant. The chemistry (energy) was always in the WE space. A constant practice of letting go (kenosis) potentiated an exchange of energy that was subtle. When I say “we” space, I kind of mean it is a greater energy than either of the two souls or group of souls collective energy present. I was in a situation of being with people over time; inpatient, outpatient group, and individual visiting in their homes including family dynamics. We are more alike than different. This is always happening between us whether we are aware or not. I gradually over time developed awareness of this through Centering Prayer. Letting go. No matter how hard life gets, if we can awaken to this Truth of Christogenesis as a mystery that is to be cherished and unfolded, we will drop a lot of pretenses and realize we were never meant to go it as individuals. Unity is within us reaching out to awaken us of all levels of Love, some present pretty darn miserably, but all within an ongoing creative Love. Thank you again and I keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
I love the new name for the center! I was hoping the new name would incorporate a unique Teilhardian concept. Christogenesis is perfect.
Upon reflecting your written notion that “matter is the matrix of spirit,” it occurred to me that that in the non-dual co-presence of spirit and matter (spirit-matter) the converse must also be true, that spirit is the matrix of matter, each equally residing in the other in organic fashion, like vine and branch. No?