Friday, December 26, 2014

God in Flesh and Blood

It's the day after Christmas.  After a month of non-stop activity you might be sitting back and doing not much of anything today.  Of course you might be out taking advantage of the after-Christmas sales (or returning gifts that simply don't suit you very well (that's the beauty of gift-cards).  So maybe it's time to turn our thoughts to other holidays, except that the liturgical year still demands that we keep focused on this Christmas story.  

The New Testament is largely mute on the question of Jesus' origins.  Just two canonical gospels share infancy narratives, and Paul  says nothing about a birth.  The Gospel of John doesn't have an infancy narrative per se, but he does declare that the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.  That seems good enough for me.  God became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, the glory of father's only son (John 1:14).

So this morning as we contemplate the meaning of Christmas -- that God is somehow present in Jesus, so that we might see in this person of flesh and blood the fullness of deity -- I leave you with a word from Karl Barth, a theologian of the Word.

Thus the reality of Jesus Christ is that God himself in person is actively present in the flesh.  God Himself in person is the Subject of a real human being and acting. And just because God is the Subject of it, this being and acting are real.  They are genuinely and truly human being and acting.  Jesus Christ  is not a demigod.  He is not an angel.  Nor is He an ideal man.  He is a man as we are, equal to us as a creature, as a human individual, but also equal to us in the sate and condition into which our disobedience has brought us.  And in being what we are He is God's Word.  Thus as one of us, yet the one of us who is Himself God's Word in person, He represents God to us and He represents us to God.  In this way He is God's revelation to us and our reconciliation with God.  (Church Dogmatics The Doctrine of the Word of God, Volume 1, Part 2: The Revelation of God; Holy Scripture: The Proclamation of the Church, 151).    
The mystery of the incarnation is the revealing of God to the creation in flesh and blood, sharing our existence, feeling our feelings, suffering our pain and anguish, that we might be drawn up into union with God.  Yes, the Word of God has become Flesh and Blood and dwelt among us.  

Merry Christmas!


John McCauslin said...

"[E]qual to us in e state and condition into which our disobedience has brought us." Is our current state and condition actually a 'falling backward' and away from God, or is it more of a hampered ability to move closer to God? On a different axis of thought, is our current condition in any measurable sense in a state of decline from what it was previously? Are we materially or spiritually fallen from our condition at any time in recorded human history? I don't think so.

This 'golden age,' romanticized notion of human spiritual history is at odds with the truth of human development over the past four thousand years, and I think our theology needs to develop in ways which account for this reality. Again, I have to ask, is our current state and condition actually a 'falling backward' and away from God, or is it more of a hampered ability to move closer to God?

Perhaps we can imagine that the Garden with its unblemished and adolescent Adam and Eve, represent what God willed for humanity before creation, more than what existed in the earliest movements of human existence? The Fall then could be seen as the inherent inability of the reality of Creation to replicate the perfection of the divine dream, with human future/history being the continuing work of God joined with humans allies, to re-create the dream within the limits of reality? Are we willing to partner with God in such an endeavor?

Robert Cornwall said...

John, if we understand salvation in terms of theosis, we're not taken back to an original state, but drawn into a new state of existence in union with God. As humans we are not the same as God nor equal to God, but in Christ our humanity is taken up into God so that we might share in the divine fellowship.

John McCauslin said...

I have no idea what 'salvation' is but I am confident that it is something God wills for me, and I am content to work with God and to cooperate as God works within me to achieve it.