The Story of Salvation With No Author

I have been looking for this quote from Nietzsche for a while:

‘ As is often seen, Nietzsche proposes a notion of self that is synonymous with action, disavowing any suppositions of an autonomous entity. “No such agent exists,” he writes in the first essay of The Genealogy of Morals. “There is no ‘being’ behind the doing, acting, becoming … the doing is everything” ‘

From this source.

This relates to an idea I published on this blog some years ago here.

I wrote then:

In mass today, I was thinking about the co-eternity of the Son according to orthodox Christian belief. That is, the Son is eternal like the Father and the Holy Spirit. The belief that the Son was created by the Father is the heresy of Arianism.

The Son, of course, took flesh as man as well as God to redeem the Fall of Humanity. This raises an interesting question – to what extent was the story of the Fall and the Son’s place in it foreordained? It is almost as if the Son has always existed so that He could have a role in the redemption of Mankind. That is, it is almost as if the story of the Fall is part of the essential nature of God. The Son has always existed as a person of the Trinity – but his particular role is as it were to take part in the story of man.

In Catholic teaching, the role of Mary the Mother of God is also part of an eternal plan:
“The divine plan of salvation — which was fully revealed to us with the coming of Christ — is eternal. And according to the teaching contained in the Letter just quoted and in other Pauline Letters (cf. Col 1:12-14; Rom 3:24; Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:18-29), it is also eternally linked to Christ. It includes everyone, but it reserves a special place for the “woman” who is the Mother of him to whom the Father has entrusted the work of salvation.” [Redemptoris Mater.]

All of this raises the question – how can a plan, such as the plan of salvation including the Son of God and his earthly mother, be eternal? It is like saying that a work of art is eternal. This is where Nietzsche comes in. As indicated in the quote above, he argued that there may be action without a subject. In fact there is no subject, only action. So Nietzsche might argue that a work of art need not require an artist. Action does not imply a subject.

In a similar way, it is as if God’s eternal plan of salvation can be eternal if we argue like Nietzsche (although to a very different end) that action does not imply a sole actor, a play does not require a playwright, a work of art does not imply an artist. Likewise, the story of salvation does not require an author. Rather, the story has always been and is eternal.

Julian O’Dea


8 responses to this post.

  1. Hmm… I suppose, but it’s a bit hard to get one’s mind around, and to what end? I would say that the human creator of anything is a conduit. Depending on where one is open, different things will be produced, but without some kind of ‘flow state’ through which things come, one could go mad trying to do what only God can do.

    Things don’t come from nothing; the work of art is still a created thing whether or not the artist is that important. Perhaps the work of art is eternal in some sense, but it still requires a creator in order to be made visible.

    I don’t know if this really relates to what you’ve said, but anyway…


  2. Hebrews 12:2

    “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;”


  3. John 1:1-5; John 1:14

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.


  4. “In mass today, I was thinking about the co-eternity of the Son according to orthodox Christian belief. That is, the Son is eternal like the Father and the Holy Spirit. The belief that the Son was created by the Father is the heresy of Arianism.”

    True. But as I’ve shown, Christ, the Living Word, is the Author and finisher of our faith, as well as the Creator of the universe, by and through Whom all things were made.

    The story of salvation DOES have an author. And it does have a beginning, both the Gospel of John and Genesis start with “In the beginning”. God is eternal, and was present at the beginning, in three Persons. He then created the heavens and the earth, etc.

    In one sense alone, the fact that our names were written in the Book of Life before creation, is our plan of salvation eternal. But because we had an origin, the outworking of that salvation is not in eternity, but rather, in time. We, like time, are creatures. We have immortality thanks to the resurrection, but only God is eternal.


  5. Thank you Lena and Will. I hope to focus on this again soon and reply.

    I have presented this in the spirit of a thought-experiment.


  6. Posted by Julian O'Dea on July 1, 2016 at 1:05 am

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