Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Incarnation and the Christian Doctrine of Salvation

Underlying the conciliar definitions about Christ as God and man, there are two basic principles concerning our salvation. First, only God can redeem us. A prophet or teacher of righteousness cannot be the redeemer of the world. If, then, Christ is to be our Saviour, he must be fully and completely God. Secondly, salvation must reach the point of human need. Only if Christ is fully and completely a man as we are, can we men share in what he has done for us.

It would therefore be fatal to the doctrine of our salvation if we were to regard Christ in the way that the Arians did, as a kind of demi-God situated in a shadowy intermediate region between humanity and divinity. The Christian doctrine of salvation demands that we shall be maximalists. We are not to think of him as "half-in-half". Jesus Christ is not fifty per cent God and fifty per cent man, but one hundred per cent God and one hundred per cent man. In the epigrammatic phrase of St Leo the Great, he is totus in suis, totus in nostris, "complete in what is his own, complete in what is ours."

Complete in what is his own: Jesus Christ is our window into the divine-realm, showing us what God is. "No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has made him known to us" (John 1:18).

Complete in what is ours: Jesus Christ is the second Adam, showing us the true character of our own human personhood. God alone is the perfect man.

Who is God? Who am I? To both of these questions Jesus Christ gives us the answer.

~ Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way Revised Edition
(St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995), p. 73.

4 comments:

George said...

Great food for thought, thanks.

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks, George. I hope you'll check out more postings here and also add your comments.

Malcolm+ said...

If Jesus is merely human, his death and resurrection has no cosmic significance.

If Jesus is merely divine, his death and resurrection have no significance to us.

Bryan Owen said...

Well said, Malcolm!