Zizioulas ( The Eucharistic Communion and the World ) defines a symbol as a means for bridging the gulf between infinite and finite, or between Creator and creation. Christian symbolism differs from pagan because paganism believes that the nature bridges the gulf on its own, while in Christian faith “nature on its own has no capacity or property of bridging the gulf; instead of being bridges with the aid of nature, the gulf is bridged only through the intervention of the person” (86). The Son “freely takes up the created and bridges the gulf”; without this, “no symbolism would be possible: the created and the uncreated would remain separated by an unbridgeable gulf” (86).
He offers several conditions for the possibility of symbolism, the first being:
“No symbolism can be based on any form of correspondencebetween created and uncreated characteristics. Nor is the intelligible orrational world able to symbolize or provide an image of the invisibleGod. Only what the Son of God has freely chosen as a means ofbridging the gap between created and uncreated is able to become ameans of symbolism. And this choice on the part of Christ should notbe interpreted or understood as dependent on properties of the created,because then it would not be free” (86).
Not for the first time, I conclude that Zizioulas has a deficient view of creation. After all, what is this “created” order that has properties of its own, properties that don’t appear to be dependent on God’s design? If God created all things, and gave them the properties they have, why would those properties not display some “correspondence” with their Creator? Zizioulas seems to assume a brute natural order, insignificant in itself, that has to be invested with meaning in the incarnation. But then what is the sense of calling this order “created”?
Of course, creation’s capacity of symbolizing God is not “dependent on properties of the created” (as if the “properties of the created” were autonomous), but since those properties of the created are themselves dependent on God’s design and sustaining power, they are capable of revealing God.
And what becomes of the Bible, which regularly speaks of God in ways that assume a correspondence between Creator and the creation?