Why does God takes flesh in the first place?
Does God become incarnate in Jesus in order to die upon the cross; so that, we can be saved from our sins?
Is Christmas merely instrumental? Is the Incarnation just the means by which humanity pays the sin-debt owed to God, satisfying God’s wrath against us in the process?
Or is the Incarnation we celebrate at Christmas itself salvific in some way? Is humanity in some measure saved simply by God assuming our humanity?
And what do we mean by ‘salvation?’
For all you theology nerds, church geeks and preachers desperate for sermon ideas, I invite you to join me this Advent in reading and reflecting upon the Church Father Athanasius’ short essay On the Incarnation.
A bishop in the early 4th century and a leader against the Arian heretics (those who did not believe that the fullness of God dwelt in Christ) at the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius’ work On the Incarnation is one of the very first texts of developed Christian theology.
Plus, its short. 40 pages.
Even better, it’s free. Right here: Athanasius’ On the Incarnation of the Word
Print it out and after you’ve stuffed your face like the pilgrims of yore, get to reading.
Starting the week of 12/1 we’ll go at a 10-15 page pace a week.
Each week of Advent I’ll post my thoughts on what we’ve read, the context behind it and why it matters for thinking about and following Christ today.
Plus, each week I’ll post a podcast conversation about On the Incarnation between me and some special guests:
Dr. Kendall Soulen, Professor of Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary
Bobby Ray Hurd, House Church Planter at Simple Church and the smartest dude I ‘know’ on the interwebs.
So read, listen, and send me a thought or question via email or the Speakpipe on the screen.
To wet your whistle, here’s this money quote from Athanasius:
“Because the true story of the world has been lost in the seemingly endless epic of sin, Christ must retell- in the entire motion and content of his life, lived both toward the Father and for his fellows- the tale from the beginning.
The Logos became flesh in order to reestablish the original pattern after which the human form was crafted in the beginning, and to impress upon creation the beauty of the divine image.”
Want to know just how important those two sentences are for making sense of Christmas, Good Friday, the teachings of Christ and our hands-on embodiment of them for others?