Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Word Made Flesh

For Christmas Eve service, I preached on the Doctrine of the Incarnation. The opening analogy or insight being critiqued was simple- that Jesus came into the world as an addition, like Superman or Mork, an alien presence that comes into the world and makes it better as something added or additional to an already pre-existent and ongoing creation. I believe this is how Jesus Incarnate is generally preached and sung about at Christmas- the great baby on a visit.

The great "what if" of a minority strand of theology makes a grander claim. Although I may not articulate it as concisely here as it might warrant, the basic insight is that just the reverse is true- that somehow the world and all of existence stands as it is precisely because of this incarnate One, Jesus Christ, the Logos. In the same way that Mary has her name because of the one she "bears"- Theotokos, so too all of creation groans in labor pains in preparation for the birth of this one, Jesus.

One radical version of this is the "Felix Culpa" of the Orthodox liturgy. Another creedal example is from the creed of Nicea, that "by him all things were made." Or there is the biblical affirmation, for example, that all things were created for him and through him (Col. 1:16)

This is to say that, rather than Jesus coming to be a part of creation as an addition, all of creation comes into being so that there might be this one, Jesus. Stated existentially, it is not that we are going on, living as we are, and then Jesus comes into our lives to add a religious dimension; rather, we live and move and have our being in and for Him.

Universes and galaxies exist so that this child might be born. This in no way diminishes the value of universes and galaxies, as if their only value is their utility. Rather, they are beautiful and stellar (pun!) precisely as they are and are so because in this way God speaks God's very self into begottenness in and amongst it. The portions of stars that make up our bodies also make up Christ's earthly body, and are incorporated somehow into the resurrection, by way of death.

This may be how we can speak of all of creation as cruciform, because it all partakes of this path that Jesus takes, from life through Christ's death as the first born from the dead into resurrection life.

All of this is worth much time and reflection, but one piece of the puzzle I've never seen addressed- how do we speak of the Incarnate Logos as the one through whom all was spoken into existence. That is, does the Christ somehow participate in His own begottenness. Or is this an example of the dictum that the works of the Trinity are ad extra indivisible/indistinguishable?

1 comment:

  1. You are making me try to remember where in Jenson's Systematic Theology he speculates on the necessity of Jesus if there were no Fall.

    In both cases (Jesus as addition, or fullness) however the Incarnate Word is necessary. I am not so sure that it needs be one or the other.