3 - The Incarnation - Victor Stock
Updated: Mar 18, 2022
Art helps us to think about Faith
God vulnerable to human experience
A God who cannot be grasped
Is it important to think about Jesus as fully God?
Is Jesus just an exceptional human being?
1. The term “Incarnation”
comes from the Latin caro (in the genitive carnis) which means “flesh” – so that it means “In the Flesh”.
See John 1.14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”
In theology this terms refers to the debate about whether Jesus
is fully God like the Father
and fully a human being like us.
2. The most important statement in the Church’s reflection about this issue is the Council of Chalcedon which happened in 451. This is the main statement of this Council
We all teach harmoniously [that Christ is] the same perfect in godhead, the same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the same of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father in godhead, and the same substance with us in manhood ... acknowledged in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.
3. This way of talking about Christ is what we call “dogma”
In our everyday language this word has a negative connotation. For us ‘dogmatic’ describes those who are certain that they are right and that everyone else is wrong.
In fact this word is derived from the Greek dogma meaning literally "that which one thinks is true"
So that in theology ‘dogma’ means ‘belief’
Dogmas are often couched in technical terms borrowed from Greek philosophy and for this reason they might sound abstract and distant from our everyday lived faith.
4. The text by Dorothy Sayers argues that dogmas are not a set of arbitrary regulations and tries to show how they are relevant for our faith and life.
5. The text by Morna Hooker explains the difference between the way in which the New Testament talks about God (and in which way Christ can be considered God) and the dogmas proclaimed by the Council of Chalcedon. The main difference is that
the New Testament primarily describes the activity of God (its approach is more ‘functional’)
the Council of Chalcedon is more interested to the ‘being’ or ‘substance’ or ‘nature’ of Jesus (a more ‘ontological’ approach).