Life (chr.)

 Citation link: Life (chr.)  

(Turk. Hayat)

First, it should be noted that in modern culture the term Lifeis accentuated differently from the emphasis it received in the Biblical-Christian tradition. In the language of modern-day science, and for the most part in everyday language as well, the concept of life is used in a very limited sense, one that actually fails to do justice to the term’s original semantic richness. Most often, the sense in which one speaks of life is the sense of the term as understood in biology (literally: the science of life): A unit of material elements is considered alive if it possesses the capability of taking shape and moving and can thus manifest a certain independence vis-à-vis its surroundings. However, Christianity derives a much broader and more fundamental understanding of life from the Holy Scriptures and the theological tradition. This can already be seen in the fact that God is referred to as life itself in full abundance (cf. Jn 5.26). The identification of God with absolute life stems from the Christian belief in the Divine Trinity. Properly understood, the Trinity is the consummation of the highest intensity of life. Faith in the Trinity entails the view that God realises His being in a process of generation that is as constant as it is dynamic. With the concept of ‘procreation’, theology transcribes the act which is at the origin of life (= the loving union of parents from which the lives of their children emerge) to God Himself by way of an analogy of speech. God is shown as the absolute origin of life (Ps 36.10). The divine spontaneous generation within the Trinity consists in the divine birth of the Son from the Father before the beginning of time. This Trinitarian spontaneous generation is interpreted as an expression of divine love. It manifests the deepest meaning of the Christian view of God as the highest life: In Christianity and in the natural sciences alike, lifedenotes a being’s capacity to give rise to and maintain its own essence. In addition, however, Christian faith also includes the discovery that the power of love can always be found behind the independence of life. This is so for the following reason: Because life renews itself, this occurs without any external reason. In life, being comes about and is affirmed not for any external purpose but rather for its own sake. This motiveless affirmation of being in life thus occurs not out of calculating intellectual consideration but rather as a result of direct, affectively-emotionally experienced consent. For this reason, absolute life is rooted in absolute love. If being and God are understood as love, as they are in Christianity, this traces them back to love. This is how Christian revelation explicitly states something that is unconsciously the deepest precondition of all being: the life of love. Consistent with this, in Christianity the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is thus interpreted as a revelation and a disclosure of life (Jn 14.6). If the faithful Christian receives his or her life from Christ (Gal 2.20), this paves the way for the eternal life of the love of God that overcomes sin and death (Rom 6.1‑23).

Martin Thurner

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