Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Word Became Flesh

John 1:14 says "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us;" referring to Jesus, the Word of God. (On 'The Word' read the first few verses of John's Gospel.) This is one of the key passages for what is called the Doctrine of the Incarnation, the belief that God became human in Jesus. But what could this mean? Was the 'God bit' in Jesus surrounded by a suit of flesh? Or perhaps he had no soul, but instead God took up that 'soul-space'? Or perhaps he was a man who attained the dizzying height of perfect humanity and who was rewarded by being 'adopted' by God? All of these have been suggested in the past as ways of understanding the relationship between God and Jesus, and all have been found wanting. The key to understanding the Doctrine of the Incarnation is this question (I read it first from William Temple, I think, a past Archbishop of Canterbury): if you took the Word out of Jesus, what would be left?

Many people, knowing the teaching of the church about the two natures of Christ - that he had both a human and divine nature - say that if the Word (the God bit, so to speak) were removed from Jesus his humanity would be left. And that would be wrong. If the Word were removed from Jesus nothing would be left. If it were not so, then it would not be true that the Word became flesh. The Doctrine of the Incarnation is asserting that Jesus is God in the flesh, the human face of God. This has enormous theological significance, not to mention practical significance for the world and the lives of his disciples. God can become human and remain God.

1 comment:

  1. I think though, it is very easy without realizing to be attracted to a position that is actually not the traditional position of the Church. I think the reason why we've had to have the debates in the Church in the Past is simply because for some on this issue to see Jesus as fully human and fully divine is just to mind blowing.

    I found this quiz Warren that you would probably like

    It's called "Are you a heretic?" it asks you questions based on all the classical heresies. I enjoyed trying to pick which heresy each question was asking about.