An Alternative View of Incarnation -- Thomas Jay Oord View in browser


An Alternative View of Incarnation at Christmas

     Christians like me talk a lot about "incarnation" this time of year. But our language can create obstacles to affirming God's loving presence at all times and places.

     The phrase I find problematic is "the incarnation." Christians sometimes say that at the birth of Jesus, "the incarnation" of God began. Or they'll say, Jesus is "the incarnation" of God in the world. 

     My problem is with the definite article "the" in "the incarnation." That article makes it sound like God was absent and uninvolved before Jesus' birth. And one might think that after Jesus left, God is no longer incarnated. "The incarnation" sounds like a one and done deal.

     The rest of the Bible often speaks of God's active presence in the world and creatures. God was active and working throughout the created order before Jesus arrived, and God has been incarnate since. The apostle Paul tells Christians in Rome that in God we live and move and have our being. And Paul says God's presence is seen in all creation.

     I prefer to say God was incarnated in Jesus in a special way. God's incarnation in Jesus was unique in some ways, but Jesus was not and is not the only one in whom God is present. Rather than "the incarnation," I prefer "a special incarnation."

     Theologians like me debate precisely how God was specially incarnated in Jesus. The Christologies we formulate attempt to describe Jesus as the center of our faith and practice. But we don't need to single him out as the only incarnation of God in the world.

     Given this view of incarnation, "advent" is not the arrival of God to someplace God was not present previously. It is the arrival of God in a special way. Jesus becomes the clearest revelation of the God incarnate in all creation.

     This Christmas, I'm focussing on how God was specially incarnate in Jesus. But I also want to be aware of God's incarnation in our world, in aliens and enemies, in plants and animals, in my friends and family, and even in my own life.


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New "What is Essential Kenosis?" Video

A number of people have asked for a short introduction to the idea of essential kenosis. So I made a 2.5 minute video. See a link below or click here. Feel free to share this with others who may be interested.

Video Explanation: What is Essential Kenosis?
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Thomas Jay Oord  --  @thomasjayoord  --