Apologetics to the Glory of God

De Incarnatione

“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.”

This is an excerpt from the very beginning of Athanasius’ “On the Incarnation” – Christmas, as I’m sure you know, is really about the Incarnation. This is sometimes hidden even by the “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” language of evangelicalism – because it almost seems to imply that it’s about “The Christmas Story” more than it is the Divine Condescension of the Incarnation itself. The “Christmas story” involves that, of course – but sometimes we lose the central aspect of it in the “trees” of the story itself. What makes the Incarnation almost as important as the Resurrection is that Condescension – where the Word of God becomes flesh, and dwells among us. This is amply demonstrated by the Prologue of John, where this features heavily.

I’ll leave you with this, which is perhaps one of my favorite Christmas hymns.

O Word of God, Incarnate[1]

1. O Word of God incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky:
we praise you for the radiance
that from the hallowed page,
a lantern to our footsteps,
shines on from age to age.

2. The church from you, our Savior,
received the gift divine,
and still that light is lifted
o’er all the earth to shine.
It is the sacred vessel
where gems of truth are stored;
it is the heaven-drawn picture
of Christ, the living Word.

3. The Scripture is a banner
before God’s host unfurled;
it is a shining beacon
above the darkling world.
It is the chart and compass
that o’er life’s surging tide,
mid mists and rocks and quicksands,
to you, O Christ, will guide.

4. O make your church, dear Savior,
a lamp of purest gold,
to bear before the nations
your true light as of old.
O teach your wandering pilgrims
by this their path to trace,
till, clouds and darkness ended,
they see you face to face.

  1. [1]Text: William W. How, 1823-1897
    Music: Gesangbuch, Meiningen; harm. by Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847




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