Theological and Doxological Meditation #22

The Redeemer’s Incarnation

Q. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

A. Christ, the Son of God, became man,
by taking to himself a true body (Hebrews 2:14),
and a reasonable soul (Matthew 26:38),
being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost,
in the womb of the virgin Mary,
and born of her (Luke 1:31, 35),
yet without sin (Hebrews 7:26).

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
#193, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
Liturgy of St. James,
5th Century
Adapted by
Gerard Moultrie, 1864

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood,
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heav’nly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the pow’rs of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph;
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
“Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, Lord Most High!”

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6 responses

  1. Very Good. Continue to meditate on such things and you’ll reap the blessing that come from it.

  2. Thanks, David.

    One thing I have been pondering in the words of this catechism question are the words, “…by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul.” In the vacuum of fundamentalist ignorance under which I labored for so long, the only concept I had was that the Son of God’s “reasonable soul,” would have been nothing less than his divine nature operating inside a human body. But, having learned what I’ve been learning about the nature of Christ’s incarnation over the past few years, if Christ only took to himself a true body WITHOUT a reasonable (human) soul, that would make the God-Man not completely human.

    So, if the Son of God had not taken on a reasonable soul then there would be two exceptions to how like us he is: 1) without sin, and 2) without a reasonable soul.

    Also, the way I understand the theology, this also helps me see how it is that the Son’s divine attributes are veiled in such a way that, in his human nature, Christ was not utilizing attributes such as omnipresence and omniscience, etc.

    What have you to add or clarify or correct?

  3. You seem to have a fairly good grasp of the concept.

    Have you ever heard “kenoticism” or the kenotic theory? It is derived from the Greek word “kenoo” (to empty) and occurs in the Christ-hymn in Phil. 2:6-11. Kenosis refers to the self-emptying of Christ in the incarnation, as well as his conscious acceptance of obedience to the divine will that led him to death by crucifixion. What is in view here is Jesus’ choice not to execise the perogatives and powers (though he did exercise some powers in his prescience and other miracles) that were his by virture of his divine nature.

    It is typically understood and accepted within the reformed view that Christ, by the eternal covenant, through the economy of redemption, willfully and temporarily gave up his divine prerogatives but not his divine attributes. In other words, he remained fully God as he became fully man.

    During the 19th century certain liberal thinkers, primarily from Germany, such as Friedrich Schleiermacher(1768-1834) introduced the idea that into the Christology of the kenotic theory, the self-emptying of Christ included his preexistence, and his eternality. Yet, this has been rejected by most conservative theologians.

    I hope I’ve added to or clarified your thinking on this matter.

  4. Did Schleirmacher add preexistence and eternality to Christ’s kenosis in order to deny Christ’s preexistence and eternality as God the Son? Please elaborate.

  5. Schleiermacher doesn’t deserve all the blame. Liberalism was creeping in the Church from all over, I merely used him as an example. As you probably know, J.G. Machen was the great defender of conservative thought during the early part of the 20th century.

    A lot of the liberalism that had permeated the Church was due to the Second Great Awakening, which in many ways, did more harm than good. It was forced, not of the Spirit.

    During the late 19th early 20th century a movement within theology began looking for the “historical Jesus”. This is a reference to the person of Jesus as he can be understood and investigated using the tools and methods of modern approaches. The “historical Jesus” is often contrasted with “the Christ of faith”, that is, the Jesus that is preached about by the Church. In a sense this was and still is to some degree an assult on the prexistence and eternality of Christ as God.

  6. […] to Jesus’ readiness to become human and to suffer death on our behalf. (2:14; 5:8). See WSC 22” (NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible footnote on Hebrews 10:5). The main idea of verse […]

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