God Became Human

This is the 29th  and penultimate blog  in this series which began with the blog Being and Becoming Human. The previous blog is Human Freedom: The Energy to Cooperate with God (II).

Genesis 1 teaches that humans are created in God’s own image.  The ancient Orthodox Christian writers came to understand that while God the Father is ineffable, indescribable and invisible, it is the Father’s Word in whose image we are made.  The Word becomes flesh and reveals the image (icon) of God to us.   Christianity is based in a truth that God became human in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14).   What does it take for God to become human?  God fully empties Himself to become fully human.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”  (Philippians 2:4-8)

For us to become fully human, as God became fully human in Christ, we also need to empty ourselves of all selfish, self-centered and narcissistic thinking.  Egotistical and egocentric thinking stands in the way of us becoming fully human – fully relational beings abiding in God’s love and loving as God loves us.   Our being in God’s image is the basis for the theology of the incarnation and the theology of theosis.

“It seems to me that Orthodox theology insists on the doctrine of deification, theosis, because recovering the fullness of the image will involve real changes in ourselves, changes that mean that the image of God in which we are created becomes more and more evident. We are to become transparent, as it were, to the image of God reflected in who we are most deeply. Others are to find in us, not the fragmented human beings that we are as a result of the Fall, but the love of God manifest in the image of God, for whose sake we have been created. In doing this we shall discover our true humanity: deification, as St Maximos makes so clear, is the restoration of our true humanity, not its diminishment or abandonment. And it is a change grounded in the amazing change that God himself embraced, when he became human for our sakes, not abandoning what he is – divinity – but assuming what he is not – humanity.”   (Andrew Louth , Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology), Kindle Loc. 1841-48)

Central to understanding our humanity is remembering humans are created in the image of God AND understanding the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.  The beginning and the end of humanity are found in the Word of God, in whose image we are created and who has become human in order to enable us to be united to God.

“In the sphere of Christology, . . . [St.] Paul emphasizes both the personal pre-existence of Christ, and what Christ is in relation to God—Son of God, in the form of God, etc.  In their Jewish background, these terms express what man was intended to be, so that Christ’s sonship perhaps means basically being truly human. . . .

The Cross is of course vital, but it is the completion of the obedience which characterizes the whole of Christ’s life.  It is as man’s representative, rather than as his substitute that Christ suffers, and it is only as one who is fully human that he is able to do anything effective for mankind, by lifting man, as it were, into an obedient relationship with God. . . . The result is that in Christ men become what they were intended to be from the creation.  In Christ there is a new creation, so that men now bear his image, as they have borne the image of Adam.  They share his relationship with God by themselves becoming sons of god, and so find blessing, righteousness, and glory.  In other words, they become truly human.

If Christ has become what we are in order that we might become what he is, then those things which governed and characterized the old life of alienation from God in Adam no longer apply.  It is the old man, i.e. the Adamic existence, which is crucified with Christ, Rom. 6.6 . . . [St. Paul] writes continually to his converts – Be what you are!  Man has been recreated, called to be ‘holy’ – he should believe it and behave accordingly.   Sin belongs to the old, Adamic existence.”  (Morna Hooker, FROM ADAM TO CHRIST, pp 22-23)

Humans are physical beings created in God’s image.  We bear both the image of our Creator, but also bear the Adamic mortality.  Created for eternal life, we allowed death to inter into existence through our sin.   God, however, does not leave us in Hades for eternity.  Rather God enters into the human condition, descending even into Hades through His own death in order to rescue fallen humanity.  Christ our Savior, restores us, transfigures our humanity, and transforms our physical nature into the spiritual again.  This is salvation.

Next:  God Became Human, So That We Might Become God

13 thoughts on “God Became Human

  1. Pingback: Human Freedom: The Energy to Cooperate with God (II) | Fr. Ted's Blog

  2. Pingback: God Became Human, So That We Might Become God | Fr. Ted's Blog

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  4. What would be the use of a God becoming human, telling as if He was tempted in the wilderness (because God cannot be tempted but Christ Jesus was), faking his death (God cannot die but we do believe Christ Jesus really did die for our sins)? All this would also make it that the Words of the Bible saying God does not tell lies do not go up, because it says God is a Spirit and Jesus says he is no spirit, it also says God cannot be seen or man would fall death, but Jesus was seen by many who did not fall death even raise up from the dead (Lazarus). The bible let us also know that Jesus said he did not know when he would return or when the end times are, but according to the Bible God knows everything, so Jesus in case he is God did not tell the truth and as such lied, though Scriptures also say he was without sin (though telling lies or not telling the truth is considered to be a sin.) God also declared about the man in the River Jordan that it was His only begotten beloved son, but when it was Him (Jehovah God) He once more did not tell the truth, so was to be considered a liar again, is it not?.

    What use would be the faking of His death and the being in hell for three days of God? What could He proof with this all? and why did He wait such a long time then before bringing salvation to human kind and lets us still suffer so much?

    1. Fr. Ted

      To your last 3 questions: there is no point to Jesus faking His death, and no where does the Scripture or the Church ever say he faked His death. Scriptures and the Church say he actually died and went to the place of the dead from which He was raised to live again. What His resurrection proves – and this only because it he actually died – is that Christ has power over life and death. He is God.

      Why does he allow the thw world to go on so long with its suffering – Scripture says that God awaits for those who will be saved to come into existence. Everyone, even those still to be born, are loved and valued by God. We have to be patient so that others may be saved.

      To your opening questions, I can only say that if one reads the text only in a particular literal sense does one even have those questions. God’s ways are not our ways, and if we try to read the bible from the point of view of human literalism, we will never understand the bible or God.

      1. In case God really died is this not in contradiction with Scriptures telling God is an eternal Spirit?
        “those who will be saved to come into existence.”, does this mean that all previous people and we too are not going to be saved? And why should there still come more people to be saved? And this way it can continue until eternity.

        You say ” if we try to read the bible from the point of view of human literalism, we will never understand the bible or God.”, but by just taking everything like it is written black on white, in all the books of the Bible, everything seems to make more sense than by taking such dogmatic teaching of a tri-une god. Than everything comes out very clear and than everything seems to make sense and to be very logic. Just the dogma’s make it more confusing and gives the impression at several places the Bible seems to contradict itself, whilst by reading it literally it does not contradict.

      2. Fr. Ted

        Perhaps to you literalism makes it more clear. It does not for me. Trying to read it literalistically makes it all non-sense. The Church wrestled with these issues from the beginning, and it seems to me those early church fathers made good sense of the text. Their teachings have helped Christianity spread into new cultures and certainly made Christianity accessible to the entire Greek and Roman and Syriac worlds.

      3. Fr. Ted

        Your question shows the weakness of your theology. Trinitarian theology helps us understand the mystery of the incarnation and the death of the Son of God. It is not divinity which dies but the Divine Person, Jesus Christ. One of the Persons of the Trinity is incarnate and dies. Your questions reflects a wrong theology which is why you struggle with the concept of God dying. Your theology is inadequate to the Gospel revelation.

    2. Fr. Ted

      Your questions reflect a misreading of the Scriptures. Christ did not fake His death – the question is based on wrong ideas to begin with. I don’t know why you hold to the ideas you have, but can only tell you that you are not understanding what is in the Bible which is why you have some of the questions you do. The Bible is the written record of God’s revelation, so it contains some things which are difficult to understand. The bible is an effort to put into human words what God is revealing. We have to see beyond the literal meaning of the words to see God, otherwise all we ever can do is come to a limited or distroted view of God.

      1. According to the Scriptures God is an eternal Spirit. Being eternal means having no beginning and no end (as is indicated by the Scriptures itself). Jesus was born (had a beginning) and died (had an end) plus after his death and resurrection he showed the wounds to his disciples to confirm that he was not a spirit (he said himself, so once more he would not be telling the truth, like he said he did not know when returning to the earth or when the end times would come, though God knows everything.)

        You say yourself that the Bible is the written record of God’s revelation, which I would totally agree with. I even say that Jesus also came to reveal God’s nature and further explain God’s Plans, like other prophets before told the people what God wanted from them.

        Jesus who did not pray to himself, and did not ask God why He (God) had abandoned him (Jesus) to do as if he was not God or to fake his fear or to let us believe Jesus was a schizophrenic. Would you not think there was a real son of man (like he is been called) and a son of God (like he is also called and called himself too) who really was tempted, really was confronted with the difficulties of the earth, the difficulties of man, the pain the sorrow and even death? Though you do seem to agree he really died, which is in contradiction with the Torah writings. Also what use would such a thing be? Jesus also did not reveal something new, except that the heathen or others who came from the non Jewish people where also now becoming accepted to belong to the people of God, when they would accept the offer of Jesus, the Lamb of God (notice it no where says in the Bible the Lamb God).

        Can you show me one place where the word Trinity or tri-une god stands in the Bible?

  5. You find that there is a weakness in our theology and do find that Trinitarian theology helps us understand the mystery of the incarnation and the death of the Son of God. Btu than you consider incarnation a fact, whilst nowhere in the Bible can be found such a proof. Plus it would look very strange if the Divine Creator waited such a long time before Himself coming to the earth, solving a problem which He could have solved already in the Garden of Eden and still let people suffer, like we still do now.

    You say our “theology is inadequate to the Gospel revelation”, But where does the Bible reveal your theology?.

  6. Question is How Christianity was spread into new cultures? The taking over heathen traditions, which we can find all over in the world of Christendom did not make Christianity accessible to the entire world, whilst the pagan doctrines may have made Christendom enter the Greek and Roman and Syriac worlds, and having the Greek-Roman culture, and Platonism entering the Celt and other people cultures creating a form of Christendom which is perhaps not acceptable for God, by being of the world and not of Christ.

  7. Pingback: Theosis and Our Salvation in Christ – Ian C Adams

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