( ‘Against Heresies’ , Book IV, Chapter 38 & ’What is man’ )
Irenaeus of Lyon argues that what is created, is not perfect as God is the only perfect and uncreated One. Because of our innate immaturity, we cannot attain God’s perfection on our own. It is only through the partaking of God’s glory, that we share in this perfection and incorruption. ‘Humanity slowly progresses, approaches perfection and draws near to the uncreated God.’ Human beings who ignore this opportunity of gradual and constant spiritual growth are according to Irenaeus, ‘completely unreasonable.’ They do not understand God, nor themselves - and go against His divine will, and their very own purpose of holiness. Knowing God and being in communion with Him ‘preserves life’ , and by trusting in Him we share in His goodness - as opposed to when we run away from His eternal light, and darkness begins to take over; as we are constrained to mortal matters of the flesh ( Galatians 5 )
Jurgen Moltmann emphasises the hiddenness of man, alongside the hiddenness of His Creator God. The writer links this lack of understanding, the fallen and somewhat confused human being, with the crucified fulfiller Christ. Not only does Jesus Christ bring a clearer understanding of God, but also of man. For this reason, there is much emphasis on the ‘Crucified Christ’ in this piece, as opposed to the Risen Christ. He wants to highlight the idea of an abandoned, rejected God - connecting with the puzzled, limited creatures ( human beings ). Even though I am aware of the writer discussing the implications of the resurrection after this piece, I feel this concentration on the Crucified Lord is deceiving and perhaps diverts the reader away from the goal of Christian life; which is the joyful resurrection. Of course the crucifixion should be used as an explanation and a reminder to us all that without pain, humility and struggle the goal cannot be reached. However, at the same time it should also remind us of the glorious resurrection and joy that is to come. Furthermore Moltmann discusses biological anthropology in the first section of the piece - and even though there should be no contradiction between the fields of theology and biology, they do have different goals. Perhaps for this reason, his argument seems somewhat incoherent - as he begins discussing this instinctive, habitual creature, followed by the discussion of the Crucified Lord. For many, this sudden change from a biological discussion to a theological argument may not make sense.
Both the writers certainly agree that the only way of coming to a full understanding of ourselves and our purpose, is to be in relationship with God, who’s image and likeness we are created in.