Transfiguring Suffering: Suffering as Human Enhancement Unto Deification
Kimbell Kornu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health Care Ethics, and Theological Studies, St. Louis University
Transhumanism seeks to transgress the human, regarding finitude and suffering to be fundamental problems that must be overcome by radical bioenhancement technologies. Christianity and transhumanism have been compared as competing deifications via grace and technology, respectively. I argue that the grace of deification is partly accomplished in union with Christ by way of suffering unto divine filiation, manifesting suffering as a divine way of existing. First, I explore how the grace of deification is accomplished through suffering, looking at Maximus the Confessor’s dyothelitism. Christ in Gethsemane expresses the fulfillment of divine filiation, aligning Christ’s human will with the divine will. Second, I examine deification in light of Luther’s theologia crucis and how suffering leads to “Christosis.” A human’s divine mode of existing is filial and cruciform and thus Christoform. Third, I look at deification and Augustine’s totus Christus. The Church is transfigured into Christoformity as the members of the body suffer with one another in compassion. Taken together, dyothelitism critiques transhumanist exaltation of the will, theologia crucis critiques transhumanist power ontology, and totus Christus as shared suffering critiques transhumanist individualism. I conclude that suffering is transfigured: suffering, not transhumanism, is the way to true human enhancement.