While searching in Google Books for a certain remark of the ancient Church Father Gregory of Nyssa, I came across the following words of Hans Boersma on page 77 of his book Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018):
I will argue that, for Saint Gregory, human souls find their telos when in union with Christ they become ever purer, in an ever-increasing growth in the beatific vision. Gregory was a theologian always in search of Christ, and though he was convinced that he had indeed found him, his desire to see Christ impelled him still further. For Gregory this theological longing was grounded in his understanding of the beatific vision: the eschatological future of perpetual progress (epektasis) within the life of Christ means that already in this life Gregory set his desire on seeking the face of God in Jesus Christ.
Some readers may find re-reading this excerpt with the following definitions to be helpful:
telos: "an ultimate object or aim" (Oxford Languages)
beatific vision: "the direct experience of God by those in heaven" (Oxford Reference)
eschatological: "relating to death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind" (Oxford Languages)
Attend especially to this sentence:
Gregory was a theologian always in search of Christ, and though he was convinced that he had indeed found him, his desire to see Christ impelled him still further.
Of course, the sense in which Gregory sought to "find" and "see" Christ in this world was not physically, but mentally and spiritually. Through knowledge and understanding, he sought to have a greater and greater perception of the Son of God. (During His earthly ministry, thousands of people saw the Lord physically, but relatively few saw Him spiritually: that is to say, relatively few who saw that He is the son of a woman also saw that He is the Son of God (Matthew 11:25–27 and 16:13–20; John 9:39–41 and 12:37–41; I Corinthians 2:6–16).)
Note that Gregory believed that all Christians—those who have found Christ and are in union with Him—should do the same: not just theologians, such as himself.
Gregory knew that purity is related to the ability to see God because the Lord Jesus taught that in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). He desired to seek "the face of God in Jesus Christ" because the Lord Jesus taught that to see Him is to see God (John 12:44–45 and 14:7–11): a vital truth which he also knew from passages of the Epistles, such as II Corinthians 4:3–6, Colossians 1:15 and 2:9, and Hebrews 1:3.
These other passages of the Scriptures are also related to such seeking, seeing, knowing, understanding, and perceiving:
Psalm 27:4 and 8
Jeremiah 31:34 (quoted in Hebrews 8:11)
How can we seek and see Christ now?
The following ways are fundamental:
1. Listening to, reading, studying, and meditating upon the Scriptures (John 5:39)
2. Listening to, reading, studying, and meditating upon scripturally-sound texts (e,g, books, articles, sermons, lectures, poems, hymns, and prayers) about Christ
4. Living with Christ as one of His disciples, which entails following Him, listening to Him, learning from Him, trusting Him, and obeying Him
Questions for consideration
1. Do you desire to seek Christ to see Him more and more? If so, why? If not, why not?
2. If you do desire to seek Christ to see Him more and more, how do you desire to do this?
3. Do you seek Christ to see Him more and more? If so, why? If not, why not?
4. If you do seek Christ to see Him more and more, how do you do this?
5. Do you agree that "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8)? If so, why? If not, why not?
6. Do you desire to become purer in union with Christ? If so, why? If not, why not?
7. Would you like to ask God to purify you? If so, why? If not, why not?
8. Do you desire the beatific vision? If so, why? If not, why not?
Note: One good book about Christ is Christ Is All!, by David Bryant. You can learn about it from the article "Free book offer: Christ Is All!", which is accessible here: https://reimaginenetwork.ning.com/profiles/blogs/free-book-offer-christ-is-all
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