I’ve become convinced that its important for the Church to inoculate our young people with a healthy dose of catechesis before we ship them off to college, just enough so that when they first hear about Nietzsche or really study Darwin they won’t freak out and presume that what the Church taught them in 6th grade confirmation is the only wisdom the Church has to offer.
I’ve been working on writing a catechism, a distillation of the faith into concise questions and answers with brief supporting scriptures that could be the starting point for a conversation.
You can find the previous posts here.
III. The Son
7. What Do We Mean By Incarnation?
We mean that God the Logos, without taking off divinity, puts on humanity in Jesus.
What we do not mean by the incarnation is the nativity. We do not mean that incarnation can ever be shorthand for Christmas, as though God taking flesh and redeeming humanity could be isolated to only one discrete moment in the Son’s life.
The incarnation does not name a single moment in Jesus’ life as the footwashing, crucifixion or the resurrection do.
Quite the contrary, the incarnation names everything from the Spirit’s overshadowing of Mary to Jesus commending the same Spirit back to God upon the cross. The incarnation is not an event distinct on the timeline of Jesus’ life from the cross.
Rather Jesus’ faithfulness unto the cross is but one manifestation of what it means for the Word to be incarnate.
The incarnation is the given behind all that Jesus says and does.
Likewise, incarnation means humanity is not perfected simply as a consequence of the Word assuming flesh. The incarnation does not heal humanity of temptation until the Word is tempted in the wilderness. The incarnation does not redeem humanity of its fear until Jesus experiences it in the garden of Gethsemene. The incarnation does not rescue humanity from its violence until the Son carries a cross instead of picking up a sword, and humanity is not freed from death until he suffers and overcomes it.
The cross, then, is not in distinction from the incarnation; it is a product of it.
“Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God” – 1 John 4.1-3