Four Hundred Texts on Theology (Third Century) 17

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: St. Maximos the Confessor | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Four Hundred Texts on Theology (Third Century) 17

46. No one can plead the weakness of the flesh as an excuse when he sins; for the union of our humanity with the divine Logos through the incarnation, has renewed the whole of nature by lifting the curse, and so we have no excuse if our will remains attached to the passions. For the divinity of the Logos, which always dwells by grace in those who believe in Him, withers the rule of sin in the flesh.

If the Word became flesh then the implications are staggering and profound. Jesus shares our nature and we  now share his. He offers a depth of healing my imagination cannot plumb. And yet I’ve rarely heard much reflection on the Incarnation in my SBC context. Often it seems that humanity was just something Jesus had to assume in order to die on the Cross and complete some sort of transaction with the Father. Aside from the problem that St. Gregory points out — that we were not held captive by God, this reduces the Incarnation almost to a facade. As St. Maximos points out, though, if Jesus has truly joined his nature to ours and offers us himself — his own power — then we truly have no excuse. We fail because we do not want God, not because we do not have God.


On the Incarnation of the Word 31 – Impossible Not To Die, Impossible To Remain Dead

Posted: September 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Incarnation of the Word | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on On the Incarnation of the Word 31 – Impossible Not To Die, Impossible To Remain Dead

Athanasius continues to defend the Resurrection against those incredulous about it. But I want to focus on the manner in which he develops the core of the argument itself.

For if He took a body to Himself at all, and—in reasonable consistency, as our argument shewed— appropriated it as His own, what was the Lord to do with it? or what should be the end of the body when the Word had once descended upon it? For it could not but die, inasmuch as it was mortal, and to be offered unto death on behalf of all: for which purpose it was that the Saviour fashioned it for Himself. But it was impossible for it to remain dead, because it had been made the temple of life. Whence, while it died as mortal, it came to life again by reason of the Life in it; and of its Resurrection the works are a sign.

Jesus was mortal because he was fully human in every way. He inherited the same consequences of the ancestral sin — death. And thus he could not but die. Being human means bodies. Period. We are an embodied being. There is no place where our bodies stop and the “rest” of us continues in any way that can be defined. Our minds and our spirits affect our bodies. Our bodies and our minds affect our spirits. Our embodied spirituality transforms our minds. Though Jesus remained faithful to God in every way, lived the life of the faithful man — the true man, he was in every other way fully human to the core of his nature. There are traditions in Christianity that make Jesus different from us in his nature in one way of another. When we do that, we destroy the power and beauty of the Incarnation.

However, Jesus was also — in his body — Life itself, the divine Logos, the Word. And as the temple of the Logos, that which creates and sustains all life, it was also impossible for him to remain dead. We follow an embodied and a living Lord. It’s important to remember and live within that reality.


On the Incarnation of the Word 17 – Fully Human, Fully Divine

Posted: September 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Incarnation of the Word | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on On the Incarnation of the Word 17 – Fully Human, Fully Divine

We say, of course, that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. It has become almost formulaic. Yet we don’t really reflect on the depth of that mystery and have a tendency to emphasize one over the other. We have discussed and will discuss what it would mean for Christ to be any less than fully human. In today’s section, though, Athanasius focuses on Christ as the divine Word.

For He was not, as might be imagined, circumscribed in the body, nor, while present in the body, was He absent elsewhere; nor, while He moved the body, was the universe left void of His working and Providence; but, thing most marvellous, Word as He was, so far from being contained by anything, He rather contained all things Himself; and just as while present in the whole of Creation, He is at once distinct in being from the universe, and present in all things by His own power,—giving order to all things, and over all and in all revealing His own providence, and giving life to each thing and all things, including the whole without being included, but being in His own Father alone wholly and in every respect,— thus, even while present in a human body and Himself quickening it, He was, without inconsistency, quickening the universe as well, and was in every process of nature, and was outside the whole, and while known from the body by His works, He was none the less manifest from the working of the universe as well.

So even as Jesus lived his human life, the divine logos still sustained all creation, not just the one body within which it was incarnate. Of course, we know that has to be true from Colossians, but it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around. That has always been true. We still see today groups who on the one hand tend to portray Jesus as so divine that he is other than human and on the other as so human that he’s less than divine. Both the superhero and the everyday joe images are easier for us to accept than the reality of Christ.

Fully God and fully man? That’s a tough nut to swallow, but it’s precisely what the Incarnation uncompromisingly demands from us.