Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 67 Ján Dolný, Róbert Lapko allegation of pantheism ignores the fundamental orientation of Soloviev’s philosophical thought, which was decidedly at odds with “abstract principles,” including any purely abstract or formalist idea of God. Soloviev’s religious thinking stemmed from a conception, which was, in the words of Hans Urs von Balthasar (2004, 284–285) [6]: alike beyond personalism (God as the free ‘hen’) and beyond vulgar pantheism (God as ‘pan’). The Greeks emphasized the ‘pan’, the Jews the ‘hen’; but the Christian God [note: as in Soloviev’s religious philosophy] is in the truest sense both ‘hen’ and ‘pan’. In the light of Soloviev’s sophiology, one can notice a clear distinction between his religious philosophy and pantheism. There is an inherent link between Soloviev’s mystical vision of Sophia and his philosophical conception of all-unity. The latter was for Soloviev neither a general, nor an abstract idea. As Konstantin Mochul’sky has commented (1951, 19): The spiritual all-unity [note: vseedinstvo] is [note: for Soloviev] not an amorphous element, nor a lifeless energy: it is a living and personal being, a human image. It is the image of feminine beauty. What the vision of Sophia conveyed for Soloviev was not an abstract idea of pan-unity as a total realm of undifferentiated being; rather, his conception of reality was integrated into an all-encompassing unity as an object of God’s personal love. Perceived as the perfect image of feminine beauty, the Sophia of Soloviev’s mystical vision seemingly embodied God’s idea of humanity or an ideal humanity, in which all people – and by an extension, all of creation – was participating. Soloviev’s entire intellectual thought was devoted to reflection on history as a process of realization – a development – of the high status of human beings as contemplated in the ideal of Sophia. In Soloviev’s theology, Sophia thus figured both as the primordial ideal and an eschatological vision of creation, brought by divine love to its originally intended perfection, to all-unity. It might be said that Soloviev’s mystical experience of Sophia resulted in his intellectual synthesis, an overarching aesthetic vision, the universal goal toward which all thinking tends as its point of ultimate culmination. This vision laid the foundation of both his spirituality and his religious philosophy. His spiritual growth stemmed from a life-long asceticism practiced as a submission of lower motives to the pursuit of his high ideal of integrity and a sublimation of lower desires within his elevated aesthetic love for all-unity. Accordingly, Soloviev’s intellectual development may be seen as a method of thinking which integrated the lesser parts into a higher synthesis contemplated in his vision of universal unity. In Soloviev’s extended intellectual development, sophiology was eventually encompassed in a majestic vision of all-unity as a mystery of the universal – the Catholic Church. At the center of his theological synthesis was the dogma of the Incarnation: the hypostatic union of divine and human natures in the person of Jesus Christ. Soloviev perceived in this mystery a nexus of the ongoing process of God’s unification with created reality: the summation of this process was the eschatological goal of all-unity, of love between God and His creation. Sophia in this theological vision represented Soloviev’s idea of the other in the polarity of God’s love for His creation. In the light of Christian Revelation, Sophia was perceived by Soloviev as the Immaculate Virgin, the Bride of the Lamb, the Church, and the sacrament of creation. “The theme and content of Soloviev’s aesthetic is nothing less than this,” Han Urs von Balthasar commented (2004, 283): The progressive eschatological embodiment of the Divine Idea in worldly reality; or the impress of the limitless fullness and determinacy of God upon the abyss of cosmic potentiality… By this means, the total meaning of the world’s evolution is clearly established for the future: the development of humanity and the totality of the world into the cosmic body of Christ, the realization of the eschatological relation of mutuality between the Incarnate Word and Sophia, who receives through the Word her final embodiment as His Body and His Bride. Soloviev’s philosophical idealism was thus seamlessly woven into the Catholic theology of the Church as the universal sacrament, God’s instrument for divinization of creation. The idea of development clearly had a central place in Soloviev’s philosophical and theological thought. With his aesthetic vision of the eschatological goal of the world, he perceived everything in a process of all-becoming unity. Development was thus for Soloviev the key concept of dynamic unity, allowing him to grasp the fragments of our knowledge in their relation to the eschatological fulfillment of reality, the all-unity, their ultimate purpose. Development might be seen as Soloviev’s method of thinking: a way of organizing all elements of knowledge into a form of unity contemplated in Sophia.