And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us

The Incarnation of Christ, then, is God's supreme act of deliverance, restoring us to communion with himself. But what would have happened if there had never been a fall? Would God have chosen to become man, even if man had never sinned? Should the Incarnation be regarded simply as God's response to the predicament of fallen man, or is it in some way part of the eternal purpose of God? Should we look behind the fall, and see God's act of becoming man as the fulfilment of man's true destiny?

To this hypothetical question it is not possible for us, in our present situation, to give any final answer. Living as we do under the conditions of the fall, we cannot clearly imagine what God's relation to mankind would have been, had the fall never occurred. Christian writers have therefore in most cases limited their discussion of the Incarnation to the context of man's fallen state. But there are a few who have ventured to take a wider view, most notably St Isaac the Syrian and St Maximus the Confessor in the East, and Duns Scotus in the West. The Incarnation, says St Isaac, is the most blessed and joyful thing that could possibly have happened to the human race. Can it be right, then, to assign as cause for this joyful happening something which might never have occurred, and indeed ought never to have done so? Surely, St Isaac urges, God's taking of our humanity is not to be understood as an act of restoration, not only as a response to man's sin, but also more fundamentally as an act of love, an expression of God's own nature. Even had there been no fall, God in his own limitless, outgoing love would still have chosen to identify himself with his creation by becoming man. - Bishop Kallistos Ware (The Orthodox Way)

Wow!

This concept had never entered my consciousness before my journey on Northern Trains on my way into work this morning.

Just how prevalent is this idea (which actually works so well)?

I am gradually finding that ideas that I have held for so long are actually either confirmed, contextualised or appended to in Orthodoxy or by Orthodox thinkers. The beginning of this was the journey towards perfection, understanding of the fall and ancestral sin, which just made things begin to fit into place. Second was the understanding of evil in the world, which echoed exactly what I had believed for some time, and now thirdly is this wonderful idea about the Incarnation, which had never crossed my mind before, but which resonates so, so well.

It also takes care of that section of the text of the Exultet, with which I had always had difficulty:

O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Thank you, Bishop Kallistos.

3 responses:

Mark said...

What a wonderful thing. Marvellous! Deep, yet not hard to understand. I want to read that book after you...!

Anonymous said...

Yes KAllistos Ware is Great

-Bonaventura
Sof

Ian said...

Another fan of +Kallistos chiming in.

I know what you mean about discovering things that are confirmed by Orthodox writers. I am no great intellect by any stretch of the imagination, but many things I have read (many of them by +Kallistos) have had me going, "Yes! That makes so much sense!"

May God continue to bless and guide you as you read "The Orthodox Way". I found it a wonderful blessing of a book.

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