Monday, July 21, 2008

About Incarnation

This past Sunday our worship gathering focused on questions of the Incarnation of Christ. I wasn't able to be there, so I just thought I'd post some of my thoughts.

Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church:

"Incarnation: The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation affirms that the eternal Son of God took flesh from His human mother and that the historical Christ is at once fully God and fully man. It asserts an abiding union in Christ's Person of the Godhead and manhood without the integrity or permanence of either being impaired, and it assigns the beginnings of this union to a definite and known date in human history.

The doctrine took shape under the influence of the controversies of the 4th and 5th cent. and was formally defined at the Council of Chalcedon. But discussion continued."

I just think there is so much in this. God who is eternal enters "into human history!"

Think about that like an author actually entering into a story and becoming one of the characters while still being outside the story and its author. (This analogy works too because many authors talk about the characters in a story taking on a life of its own. Even though the author is still writing and can control what happens, there is a certain amount of allowing the story and characters to go where they will.)

I think this is mind bending. First that it is even possible and second that God would desire this. To intentionally become "less than" in order to create relationship runs completely counter to every social system on earth. Not just the west! Even in tribal cultures there is a sense of moving towards the head of the pack and ostracizing in order to convey place within the system. This is a totally revolutionary, subversive concept.

Other religions (myths) which talk about god or a god like creature becoming human do not have the same motives as the Christian version. In others, the god comes to enjoy earthly pleasures, teach, give wisdom, etc. Christ is supposed to have taken on fully human form while being fully God for the express purpose of building RELATIONSHIP with us - mortal, created beings. What could God possible get out of this? That is the mystery to me. It can't be that God is sitting up there getting cosmically lonely because God is perfect. So what it is it? In some weird way it only makes sense that communion with God is part of the created and uncreated order. It just must be - these are the rules of the universe that God put in place at the beginning of time. And the whole story of the world is this working its way back to complete and total union with God. Christ is the demonstration of that as possible. Christ's coming to human form is the crack, the breaking point which is like the turning point in history that the earth starts turning in the other direction. Suddenly the eschatological "someday" is starting. The now and not yet. The Kingdom of Heaven in a very real sense is HERE because Christ is among us (STILL) and yet not yet fully realized in our personhood and world.

This stuff is just so mind blowing to me. It leaves me in awe to think of this as the God of the universe. The God who values relationship, wholeness, love as the highest values, the rule of law in the universe. Wouldn't it be more advantageous to value power and obedience and fear? Is salvation partly us "getting" this shift? This repentance (turning) if you will. What if repentance is as much about seeing the world in a completely different way, about seeing the Kingdom of Heaven before us and participating in its progression, as it is about eschewing personal sin?

I don't know. Just some thoughts. -Lisa


Mike Croghan said...

Good stuff, Lisa - and good news - especially the last paragraph on a positive (and creative) understanding of repentance.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

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