Wounds yet visible above : constructing a theology of remembrance through the divine and human embodiment of scars
Miroslav Volf argues traumatic memories are a temporal and eschatological stain on divine-human relations, making non-remembrance a mandatory component of reconciliation. Yet I contend the ‘problem of traumatic memories’ is more convincingly addressed through remembrance, exemplified in the continuity of the divine and human embodiment of scars. The investigation begins temporally, in Part I, with consensus neuroscientific data arguing remembrance is the human brain’s autonomic response to trauma and cognitive embodiment is how the brain best reconciles that remembrance of scars. Congruent with this biological reality, scripture records how the incarnate Son embodies his scars without attempts ‘to let go of such memories’. Then, eschatologically, because of the forerunning way of redemption how the Father accepts the Son’s embodiment of scars is eternally perfect – without having to be erased, uncreated, or non-remembered – so will humanity’s embodied remembrance of scars be accepted as eternally perfect in their elevation. Yet this conclusion is highly problematic for Volf because any form of eschatological remembrance of trauma is a perpetuation of evil (sin) poisoning God’s eternal perfections. In direct response to Volf’s concern, Part II offers a doctrinal construction of the paradox of Triune (im)possibility detailing how divine kenosis creates a bridge from the temporal possibility of traumatic memories to the Godhead’s impassable nature without poisoning the eternal perfections. I argue all divine kenotic suffering in the world, including, prominently, the cross event, was already eternally conditioned in the united will (in difference) of the Trinity. Therefore eschatological remembrance of trauma cannot poison the eternal perfections because its temporal possibility has already been perfectly qualified by a divine continuity of victorious elevation. Just like the eschatological remembrance of the cross’s trauma, all other remembrance of trauma continues only in a perfected state wholly unconnected from the nature of sin permeating the memories’ temporal iterations. This is how remembrance better answers the problem of traumatic memories – by forging temporal-to-eschatological continuity of the divine and human embodiment of scars, no temporal suffering is done in vain because it is perfectly redeemed in the eschatological victory of divine-human remembrance.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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