Thinking Fullness and Emptiness Together

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Thinking  Kenosis/ emptying is not easy.   It is even more challenging to think Kenosis together with plerosis/fullness.  The imperative of the Christian faith calls us to think together plerosis and kenosis. Such a  Kenology that manifest a plerology is the road less travelled by the theologians. Kenosis is non-substantive thinking. It rejects all positivist and presence-centric thinking that Derrida calls metaphysics of presence.  It is a  transgressive theology. It is a kind of non-substantial and can easily pass off as a kind of a/theology. It is thinking through the void or what the Buddhist call shunyata. It is a-systematic and a-substantial thinking. It is love that is emptying of self. It leaves the fishing nets of egology on the shore. It is an abandonment of the self to a gift/  to a mission that is deeply felt as being addressed to oneself.

It is dynamic and cannot be fully conceptualized. We can only find it in action. It is performative. It is therefore acting with fidelity. It is an authentic living of faith.  It is acting of truth and word rather than logistical doing of meaning and representation. It is non-representational theology which is a theology that is inscribed into the language of the alphabets. It is theology all the same. It is a  theology that is living in life.  Therefore, it is deeply connected with post-metaphysical thinking.  It remains in the mode of already and yet to come. It is a theology of the pilgrim who is fully immersed into the mission to which he/she feels profoundly being addressed.  It is ek-static.  It leaves the high and mighty and embraces its dynamism that consists of dying to live. This dying to live is living to love, to become love.  Hence it always remains in the mode of outgoing/ reaching out. Therefore, it is a kind of self-othering in order to embrace the other. Kenosis, therefore, challenges us to think God’s acts of transgression in Jesus Christ. It is through kenosis that Jesus lived the plerosis/ fullness of his mission. Thus, in His kenosis/ self-emptying we can see the plerosis/fullness of both His divinity and humanity.

Such self-othering does not cease to be the fullest manifestation of the transgressive act of love.  Kenosis deconstructs all ontotheological thinking that thinks of being as a thing and thus thingify God as the highest thing among his created things.  God cannot be thingified. Such theologies objectify God and are reductive and can be called thingologies.  In fact, the monolith of onto-theology/ thingology is already cracked by the kenotic life/death/resurrection of Jesus and light has already got into it. Therefore, we have the possibilities to get into the light and live by this light.  Living by this light, we cannot have a place of rest and lay our head. We have to continuously live our faith in acts of love which are acts of self-giving leading us to a kind of self-othering/ kenosis.   Kenology, therefore, is charismatic. It cannot live in the comforts and safety of the institution. It is self-othering that is taking up a mission that embraces the risk of death. It is dying to give love.  It is continuously living to become love. This is why kenology cannot be an ism. It is not theology in the usual sense.  It cannot be doctrinal in the usual sense. It is doctrinal in action. Therefore, it cannot be orthodoxy alone. It is simultaneously an orthopraxis. It is lived and theologized in the alphabets of life. We can trace this theology/kenology/plerology in the life of Jesus.

Kenosis is plerosis. We have the challenge to read together Philippians 2: 5-9  and John 10: 10.  Kenosis is not emptying the divinity of Jesus and rendering Him only human. Kenosis is the way Jesus manifests his full humanity and divinity. Kenosis and plerosis belong to each other. They do not oppose each other. They exceed the logic of opposition. It is kenosis that manifests plerosis. Therefore, kenology is plerology. This is why Jesus reveals us as fully divine by being fully human. Kenosis thus opens itself to its own beyond/ that is it’s other. It is in this movement that reaches its beyond/ otherness that kenosis manifests as plerosis. This is why kenosis as self-othering becomes the fullest manifestation of the self.  Hence, we cannot think that the humanity of Jesus is the hiding place for His divinity. It is in and through His humanity that His divinity is revealed. This is by becoming human is also disclosive/ Alethia of His divinity. Divinity and its alterity/ humanity intermingle and live together in Jesus.  This intermingling is not dual but is non-dual.

Kenosis is therefore also an act of plerosis. It relates itself to that which in it, passes it infinitely. Paradoxically kenosis crosses its limits and embraces its otherness and reveals plerosis.  This means God of Christian faith is not hidden in a withdrawal but is completely emptied out in Jesus and given to humanity as a gift. Christianity does not call for faith in an absent God but is a call to embrace God who is indwelling with humanity in the world.  To discern this presence of God one requires faith. This faith is not opposed to reason but one that accepts that reason is not sufficiently reasonable. It means reason has its limits.  We cannot discern the kenotic plerosis of God based on faith alone or a reason alone approach.  We need both faith and reason.  Reason draws us towards its beyond/ other.  It is where reason and faith belong together and in this belonging together we can discern the kenotic plerosis of God with us.  Thus, faith does not require us to withdraw from reason, knowledge or science. It is through the light of faith and reason and science that we can see God in the marketplace/ in the hustle and bustle of our life.  This is why we do not have to escape the world. We do not have to stage a Fuga Mundi. We need to embrace/ incarnate into worldly affairs and live the kenotic faith that would become the witness of the plerosis of God with us.  Kenotic faith is praxis and it is in our fidelity to praxis that we as disciples of Jesus reveal the plerosis of God in Jesus Christ.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao