So we have two trends in this Origenistic thinking: On the one side, eternity of the Father and the Son; on the other side, a kind of lesser validity and power of being in the Son than in the Father. The Son is the highest of the generated realities, but the Son is less than the Father. The same is true of the Spirit, who is working in the souls of the saints. This is His function. Although the regula, the religious tradition, of the Congregations demand the trius (the three) as the object of adoration, the Spirit is called less than the Son and the Son less than the Father. And sometimes even the highest Spiritual beings are called gods.
Now all this means that two principles are in conf lict in Origenistic thinking: the one is the Divinity of the Savior, who must be Divine in order to be able to save; the other is the scheme of emanation: the lower degrees are lower; only the Absolute, the Father, is first. The cut between the three and the other Spiritual beings is somehow arbitrary.
We can perhaps describe the whole thing in three circles. The largest circle is that of the Father, who embraces everything, who is by Himself and without genesis. Then within, this larger circle there is a narrower one, namely the Son and the Spirit, both of them generated but not created. And then there is an even narrower circle, namely all the things which are created.
The rational natures, i. e., the spirits, who are eternal but created and not generated, were originally equal and free, and fell away from their unity with God in different degrees of distance. In consequence of their revolt in Heaven against God, they have fallen into material bodies: this is their punishment and at the same time the way of their purification. The mediation between these fallen spirits and the human body is the human soul. The human soul is, so to speak, Spirit which has become cold, i. e, the intensive fire, which is the symbol for the Divine Spirituality, is reduced to a life process. The fall, which has all these consequences, is a transcendent fall. It precedes our existence in time and space. And it is a free fall, it is decided in freedom. The Freedom is not lost by the fall, but it is actual, present, in all concrete actions. In these concrete actions the transcendent fall becomes historical reality. We can say that the individual act represents the eternal nature of the fall. Or in other words, our individual existence in time and space has a prelude in Heaven. The decisive thing about what we are has already happened when we appear on earth.
This refers especially to sin. Sin is based on the transcendent fall. This doctrine of the transcendent fall is hard to understand for people who, as most of you, have grown up in nominalistic thinking. It is understandable only if you know that transcendent powers are realities and not individual things – if you take them this way, everything becomes absurd. But there is a profound meaning in this doctrine which I think makes it necessary as a symbol for all Christian theology: our human existence and the existence of reality as a whole is considered not only as creation but also as guilt and judgment.