art christianity theology


Christmas season.  The real doctrine that the Christmas season emphasises is the doctrine of the Incarnation.  I’ve enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis’ ‘little book’ Miracles, written back in 1947.  His chapter, ‘The Grand Miracle’ has some delicious passages on the Incarnation (my annoying notes in brackets).

“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation.  They say that God became Man.  Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results fromo this.  Just as every natural event is the manifestation at a particular place and moment of Nature’s total character, so every particular Christian miracle manifests at a particular place and moment the character and significance of the Incarnation.” (p. 112)

“We catch sight of a new key principle – the power of the Higher, just in so far as it is truly Higher, to come down, the power of the greater to include the less.  Thus solid bodies exemplify many truths of plane geometry, but plane figures no truths of solid geometry [a reference to ‘Flatland’?]: many inorganic propositions are true of organisms but no organic propositions are true of minerals; Montaigne became kittenish with his kitten but she never talked philosophy to him.  Everywhere the great enters the little – its power to do so is almost the test of its greatness.

In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend.  He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life […’ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’]; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He  has created.  But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.  One  has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden.  He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.  Or one may thing of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover.  He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colourless in the dark, he lost his colour too.” (p. 115-116)

“The union between God and Nature in the Person of Christ [both divine and human, or perhaps ‘homoousios & homosapien‘, if I might coin the phrase] admits no divorce.  He will not go out of Nature again and she must be glorified in all ways which this miraculous union demands.  When spring comes it “leaves no corner of the land untouched”; even a pebble dropped in a pond sends circles to the margin.” (p. 127 – emphasis in original)

“What is subservient from one point of view is the main purpose from another.  No thing or event is first or highest in a sense which forbids it to be also last and lowest.  The partner who bows to Man in one movement of the dance recieves Man’s reverences in another.  To be high or central means to abdicate continually: to be low means to be raised: all good masters are servants: God washes the feet of men.  The concepts we usually bring to the consideration of such matters are miserably political and prosaic.” (p. 128)

4 replies on “incarnation”

Thanks John – obviously me too :) I must get a hold of his ‘A grief observed’ as well as various others I’m wanting to read.

I’m reading Miracles at the moment. I have the “Complete C.S. Lewis signature classics.” If you want to borrow it once I’ve finished with it, you can.

Ooh that could be great, thanks Ryan. I probably should just purchase my own set though, as they’re a must have, I reckon. But if I get impatient, I’ll hit you up! :)

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