Berdyaev, Salvation And Creativity

Translated by Fr. Stephen Janos,
with some grammatical corrections by Ellopos
(perfectivity changed to perfection, etc)

“Serve ye one another, each by such gift, as he hath received, as good stewards of the manifold graces of God”.

1 Pet. 4.10


The correlation between the ways of human salvation and the ways of human creativity is very central, very tormenting and very acute a problem of our age. Man perishes and he has a thirst for salvation. But man is also by his nature a maker, a creator, a builder of life, and the thirst for creativity cannot be extinguished within him. Can man be saved and at the same time create, can he create and at the same time be saved? And how to perceive Christianity: is Christianity exclusively the religion of the salvation of the soul for life eternal, or is creativity of an higher life also justified by the Christian consciousness? All these questions torment the contemporary soul, though not always is perceived their depth. Wanting to set right their life vocation, their creative act of life, Christians do not always realise, that there is discourse about the very concept of Christianity, about the assimilation of its fullness. The torment of the problem of salvation and creativity reflects the schisms betwixt Church and world, the spiritual and the mundane, the sacral and the secular. The Church is concerned with salvation, the secular world however is concerned with creativity. The creative act, which the secular world is concerned with, is not given justification, is not sanctified by the Church.

There is a profound disdain, almost a contempt of the churchly world towards those creative deeds in the life of culture, in the life of society, which fully are processes, transpiring within the world. At best creativity is admitted, it is tolerated, one peeks at it through the fingers, not granting it profound a justification. Salvation is a matter of the first sort, the one thing necessary, creativity however is a matter of the second or third sort, applicable to life, but not the very essence of it. We live beneath the sign of a deepest religious dualism. Hereto craticism, clericalism in the understanding of the Church is the expression and justifying excuse of this dualism. The Church hierarchy in its essence is an hierarchy which is angelic, and not human. In the human world the heavenly angelic hierarchy is only symbolised. The system of hierocratism, the exclusive sovereignty of the priesthood in the life of the Church, and through the Church in the life of the world also, is a suppression of the human principle by the angelic, a subordination of the human principle to the angelic principle, as a calling with which to guide life. It is always a sovereignty of a conditional symbolism. [trans. note: the Russian euphemistic idiom for becoming a monastic is to take on the angelic garb and life, an image of usage to which the modern Western mind is not sensitive to, but here also betraying the dualistic schism alluded to above.] But the suppression of the human principle, the non- allowance of its unique creative expression, is an impairment of Christianity, as being the religion of God-manhood. Christ was the God man, and not a God-angel, in Him perfectly was united in one person the Divine nature with the human nature and by this human nature was transported to Life Divine. And Christ the God-man was the foundation principle of the new spiritual human race, a life of God-manhood, and not of God-angelhood.