Thursday, January 27, 2011

On The Incarnation

Probably (hopefully!) there's nothing new here. But I wanted to make a legible note of it, just because...

The text I'm considering is from Genesis (stick with me): "Let us make Man in our own image". Lots has already been said about this, for instance "God is King of all creation: what does a King do to signify conquest? He erects a statue of himself". I don't remember my source for that line of reasoning --- and it's a paraphrase, of course. There's also Chesterton's observation (again, paraphrasing) "Men are indeed all like pennies; for their value in each case is exactly that they all bear the likeness of the King". In other words, God has put Men in the world at least partly as signs of His own kingship.

My observation is that when God makes a sign, He also makes a real thing. (God creates by saying, His words become what they signify) Since God has made an image of himself, a sign pointing to Himself, it's a fair guess He's going to make good on the sign. All of which is just to suggest that the Incarnation was promised even from the sixth Day of Creation. So, that conversation was interrupted for a few generations, we all know the story.

So it would seem that the Incarnation was foreseen and intended by God, from Creation, and its promise was revealed to the holy scribe and recorded in Genesis. ... I think. I will gladly defer to better learning on this matter.


love the girls said...

Given God's nature, the incarnation never was not known and never not intended.

It's revelation is a different matter because the revelation is intended for the good of men.

Belfry Bat said...

It would make as much sense to me to say that the expulsion from Eden was never not known and never not intended, if we are only arguing from God's nature. But the expulsion only makes sense in the shadow of the Fall, and I'm quite sure that the Fall was not intended. Known, certainly; planned against --- God is free, afterall, we didn't push Him into it, but ourselves --- of course; intended, I can't get behind. And I mean by this that the Incarnation isn't in the same category of planning.

At Easter the deacon will sing "O felix culpa", for the redeemer we found in God; not for the Incarnation itself, but that God did still deign to redeem us in our own form and substance.

On the other hand, it's good of you to remind me that no-one is told what would have happened.

love the girls said...

I see what you mean, but God is not in time and is thus not dependent on a if this then that, because the this is simply known.

We speak of "what if Adam had not sinned". But finally it never was a hypothetical, not because Adam didn't have free will, but because it simply would occur and did occur. And thus in relation to intention in God it was simply known.

Lindsay said...


(I add a lot to conversation, I KNOW.)

Belfry Bat said...

ltg, I don't think we quite disagree; perhaps a better way to express what I'm driving at is that, in Genesis, even before the Fall, one can see groundwork laid for a fitting Incarnation. What happens to that in and after the Fall doesn't stop nor undo that groundwork; that great Aedifice will still be built, but there is much ornamentation and elaboration in the meantime.

I think I'm trying to point to a notion that there are several ways that Creation is ordered.

There is the temporal --- what physicists call the "causal order" choosing to ignore formal, material, and final causes --- and this is the realm of our freedom and responsibility, for we have no futher power over the past, but only over our acts "right now", to be discerned by whatever fruits arise from them later.

But there are other ways Creation is ordered. We can see this clearly in acts of subcreation; the cables of a suspension bridge hold up the road deck, and not the deck the cables, nor the cables the pilons; but in order that the deck be the right height, the engineer sets the cables so long, and the pilons so high. Our freedom and responsibility reside in the temporal order, but they find expression in teleologically-defined acts.

And God does something even more marvelous than our engineering: He fits all our free acts into His story; and, somehow, His story doesn't rely on what our particular free acts are. I've half a notion (I may be wrong) that this fitting-power of Providence goes beyond even just knowing what all the freely-chosen acts are, because that doesn't strike me as something you'd need God to get done.

I think, though, that I'll have to stop thinking about this particular question. Too much room for speculation; and hence, too much ease for error!

Lindsay, hello. I'm glad you stopped-by!

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