Athanasius`s "On theIncarnation."
On the Incarnation is an apologetic type of work by St. Athanasius ofAlexandria which focuses on various issues. The work revolves aroundthe relationship of man with God and how his divine appears and livesin mankind. Entirely, the work is more of a doctrinal explanation ofvarious issues of incarnation. It is also a form of defense againstcritics posed by various individuals in the 4th century. Besides, itdiscusses important themes of Christology and soteriology. Itdictates how historical events manifest salvation work. The authoremphasizes more on creation. As a result, this paper focuses on thepersonal views about various questions which St. Athanasius ofAlexandria tried to answer in his work.
What is the divine dilemma created between man and God accordingto incarnation?
The existence of a divine dilemma between God and man serve the firstquestion under investigation of the Athanasius on Incarnation. According to Athanasius, the divine dilemma was greatly manifesteddue to sinful nature of mankind. Upon creation, God gave man rules,authority and restrictions of all the resources he created includingland. This was never adhered to the latter by man due to his or hersinful character. Due to the inability of mankind to follow all thedecrees as ascertained by God after creation, God imposed a harshpenalty of death to the man. However, incarnation exposes the dilemmaon the sense that God created man in his likeness and image, whichmeans he really valued the creation (Behr89). The anonymous is exhibited when God sanctionedserious penalty of death on the man whom He valued and expects tomaintain the generation. In essence, mankind was only deceived by thedevil to act against all the will and expectations of God thecreator, but it was inappropriate for God to place firm judgment onwhat he created and values.
Incarnation further argues that God could not repeal the penalty ashe never tolerated sin and evil to take its course in influencingpositive actions on mankind and what he created. Conversely,incarnation explains the solution of man in the restoration of hispurity before God. This act of God in bestowing weakness on theserious penalty of death on man was unthinkable. Incarnationstipulates that transgression had damaged God`s perception ofvulnerability to sin. Therefore, repentance could not serve asolution to susceptibility to face the death penalty upon sin. Theonly solution to escape death according to incarnation was broughtupon mankind to retain the original character before sinning. Humanbeings were expected to live in accordance with his teachings andword.
How does incarnation reveal the knowledge about God in relation tohumanity?
The second question which On the Incarnation provides insights aboutis conceptualized on the knowledge about God and how humanity shouldestablish a bold relationship with God. God co-created Jesus his sonto come and strengthened the divine relationship between God and man. On Incarnation prompt that Jesus served duo-purposes and he isattributed to two natures. That is the nature of God and mankindnature. However, it is argued in the book that man was created forthe purposes of knowing, loving and worshiping the almighty God (Behr102). Human beings are prone to mistakes of allkinds. The book asserts that God made is attributed to a state ofrighteousness, omniscience to mean that he knows everything there isand that he is beyond human understanding as well omnipotent topostulate that he performs more than an ordinary human. Incarnation,on the other hand, says that although man is attributed to sinfulnature, he is expected to strive for moral perfection, knowledge, andpower.
Acting against God’s portrayals is a primary activity that hascontributed towards the dehumanizing human character which has madepeople abandon the real meaning of creation. Humanity is flawed withrebellious rather than worshiping God. Humankind, therefore, shouldquestion themselves whether they expect God to remain the same evenafter they abuse the purpose of creation. However, they should notwait for God to become silent and forgive them without repenting andconfessing. It is clearly, on incarnation that the consequence ofsinning is death. This because humankind has totally ruined theirgrace-image before God. That signals the sense that God is reluctantto free man from death punishment as the situation may escalate themagnitude of his sins.
Inaddition, leaving man unpunished would change the meaning of creationand make it look like God created man for the purpose of others butnot for himself. In this case, death punishment could also destroyhumankind. As a result, in the process of punishing them, God did notpunish man hard instead, he submitted the word to humanity in theform of the body as Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, he renewedthe image of humanity back to the meaning of creation. In answeringthis question, we find that it is important for the man to realizeand adhere to the real meaning of nature.
Why was Jesus Christ crucified on the cross?
The bold question manifested in the book about the reasons JesusChrist crucifixion is a point of concern. The question arose variousarguments in the book. The work argued that the death of Jesus Christwas carried out through crucifying so that the end could be madepublic (Behr123). However, stipulations from the onincarnations suggest the killing to be made public for variousreasons. The first possible reason why the death was announced wasthat none of the people could later question the validity of hisdeath. However, the death of Jesus Christ was publicized to showportray disgraceful nature of God as a consequence of humanityabandonment. On incarnation provides it that the crucifixion of Jesuswas done on the cross to display the furious nature of God as aresult of man sinful acts. As a result, the death could not laterraise any questions concerning his death.
The death was later translated to resurrection. Since various peoplehad witnessed the death, the fact that they saw him dead and thenalive again proved that the resurrection was a reality. Besides, thefact that Christ faced death from his enemies and later resurrectedis proof that his powers were beyond human comprehension. However,the death and resurrection are significant to the Christian martyrswho face death. From the question, it is true that the death and theresurrection of Jesus Christ are proof that the fight of God againstsin will never end so long as man continues to sin against God.
Whatshould Jews and Greeks believe?
The fact is that Jews and the Greeks should believe that Jesus is atrue being that came on earth to represent both God and the humanbeings. It is quoted in the scripture that Jesus is referred to as“true God and true man” (Behr 127). This bold statement shouldserve a clue of objection to the Jews and Greeks who equate Jesuswith normal idols in the world. The incarnation should give Jews andGreeks insight about how His presence. It is evidenced in thescripture that upon the death of Jesus, he was brought back toexistence by God and thus His presence on earth symbolizes a trueconnection between human beings and God. The book argues that “themain reason why the Son of God came to the world with human flesh isthat of serving the significance of death and resurrection” (Behr135). This proved to the Jews and Greeks that theexistence of Christ conceptualized Jesus as divine ruler and arepresentative of God on earth. However, after man sinned, Godloosened the bond which existed between him and people. As a result,he punished man with death. Death was the greatest punishment. Theactions of man created a rift between him and God. Therefore, God sawthe need to bring man closer to him, and that is why he plannedresurrection. However, the word of God came to the world as a form ofa realm. The main reason why Jesus Christ was sent in human flesh isthat he was incorruptible, immaterial and incorporeal. As a result,God sent him to deliver humankind from the bondage of sin.
The act of sending Christ as a man to the people was so convincing.The act was of greater effect to human beings. However, from theemulation of Jesus Christ, the actions of man changed to a greaterextent. Jesus was a man, and hence it was easy for the people toidentify themselves with him. In reality, people could see and talkto the son of God. Similarly, they could ask and discuss with himvarious questions about salvation which he could answer to theirsatisfaction. As a result, the act of sending Christ in the form ofhuman being to the people is to bring a significant change in thedeliverance of human beings from the bondage of sin. In addition,people were able to get a clear picture of why they were supposed toobey and do the will of God. This altered their Greeks and Jews idolsworshipping. It was quoted by St Paul “worshipping God rather thana creature” (Behr 144). This strongly implied that idol worshippingwas highly discouraged and God was to be worshipped through Jesus.
On the incarnation, the discussed questions are a guide towardsanswering various questions about Christology and soteriology. It isan excellent work which its goal and objectives are turning peopletowards God. The work covers various guidelines to salvation. Ampleexplanations about various questions which are commonly asked byhuman beings about the nature and the will of God have been welldiscussed. The book is recommendable to any individual who seeks abiblical change in life.
Behr,John. “Athanasius.On the Incarnation." Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir`s SeminaryPress, 2012.
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