Advent Table Topic: On the Incarnation

St. AthanasiusOn the Incarnation, by Saint Athanasius (c. 297 – 373), begins:

In our former book [i.e. the Contra Gentes (Against the Heathens)], we dealt fully enough with a few of the chief points about the heathen worship of idols, and how those false fears originally arose. We also, by God’s grace, briefly indicated that the Word of the Father is Himself divine, that all things that are owe their being to His will and power, and that it is through Him that the Father gives order to creation, by Him that all things are moved, and through Him that they receive their being. Now, Macarius, true lover of Christ, we must take a step further in the faith of our holy religion, and consider also the Word’s becoming Man and His divine Appearing in our midst. That mystery the Jews traduce, the Greeks deride, but we adore; and your own love and devotion to the Word also will be the greater, because in His Manhood He seems so little worth. For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on Him, so much the more does He make His Godhead evident. The things which they, as men, rule out as impossible, He plainly shows to be possible; that which they deride as unfitting, His goodness makes most fit; and things which these wiseacres laugh at as “human” He by His inherent might declares divine. Thus by what seems His utter poverty and weakness on the cross He overturns the pomp and parade of idols, and quietly and hiddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize Him as God.

Now in dealing with these matters it is necessary first to recall what has already been said. You must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form. He has not assumed a body as proper to His own nature, far from it, for as the Word He is without body. He has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men. We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning.

As Christmas and a new year is soon upon us, I am re-reading  On the Incarnation and re-affirming the Athanasian Creed.*  I’ll share a few more quotes over the course of the next several days/months.  Would love to have you join me in these reflections, by God’s grace leading to awe and worship.

Father, Grant us the grace by your Spirit and Word as part of your Body to set aside our work, humble ourselves before you, worship you for the gift of your Son Jesus the Christ, and affirm you alone as the One whom we follow with “head, heart & hands” in the coming year.

Come Lord Jesus, Fill our lives with the fruit of the Spirit as we interact with family, friends, and neighbor through the “holiday season.”  Set our hearts on fire to grow more and more into your likeness (as individuals, families, local congregations, and the people of God) in the new year, a taste of eternity.

*Note: On the Incarnation available for free (text and/or audio) at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL).  For background on Athanasius, read the bio at CCEL and/or Christian History. Picture linked to the one posted on CCEL. They cite their source as Wikipedia.

More Resources for Advent: As Mike mentioned in Repost: Bobby Gross: Living the Christian Year, I have written about Advent and practicing a Christ-Centered Christmas.  In addition, I have been blessed by and encourage others (including you) to take time to visit Christine Sine’s Godspace series on Advent and the Advent Conspiracy.  Note:  My 2010 Godspace post is Second Wednesday of Advent – A Family “Advent”-ure by Thomas Grosh. For ESN’s developing Advent collection click here.

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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    Joe Whitchurch commented on December 23, 2010 Reply

    Tom, thanks for affirming strong biblical and Trinitarian theology, as well as the unity of Christ Jesus in his full humanity and deity, as affirmed in the Athanasian Creed following biblical revelation in Scripture and sound theology. And thanks for doing so publicly on the ESN blog. I’m not always sure just exactly how wide the divide is about such things but the truth is both profound, significantly comprehensible, and yes still mysterious as well. Bless you for this rich theological post with sound Christology. I’m making those same affirmations with you. Thanks also for the convenient links.

    • Tom Grosh IV commented on December 24, 2010 Reply

      Joe, Thank-you for sharing words of encouragement. It is a joy to co-labor with you for the sake of One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To God be the glory!

      Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. … Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

      If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” — John 14:6, 10-21. NIV

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