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Central to New Testament teaching and the Christian faith is the declaration of Paul: “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16), and from John is the following: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). In Theology this act, the act of God assuming flesh, is called the Incarnation—and it is a “mystery.”

Incarnation affirms that the Logos became man. Thus, the central issue for Incarnational doctrine is the two natures, the humanity and deity of Jesus, that is, the relationship of the two natures to the one Person. What is the meaning, and how do we understand the affirmation that God became/assumed flesh?

The word itself is formed from two Latin words, in, meaning “in” and carne, meaning “flesh”; so, incarnation means “enfleshment.” It is the Logos uniting Himself with a human nature, so that He has both a divine nature and a human nature. It is the personal Son of God coming to have a flesh nature; it is the human nature being assumed by deity, resulting in Jesus, who was and is the God-man. At times the following statement is used to state the Incarnation: “Remaining what He was, He became what He was not.”

For the Church Fathers the various problems related to the Incarnation dominated their thinking and writings for four hundred years. Great intellectual energy was expended seeking an understanding of the two natures and their relationship in the one Person. This focus in early Christology was precipitated, on the one hand, by the Gnostics’ denial of the humanity of Christ, as is illustrated in the teachings of Marcion; and, on the other end of the spectrum, there was Arius and his questions regarding the Deity of Christ. From both extremes came the impetus that forced the Early Church to formulate its belief.

There is no attempt in the New Testament to answer philosophical questions or to explain metaphysical problems relative to the Incarnation. Rather it simply marks the beginning of the redemptive work of Christ, therefore, the Incarnation is more oriented to Soteriology than to philosophical or metaphysical issues.

Consideration will be given to the following topics:

        Preexistence of Christ

        Affirming the Incarnation

        The Virgin Birth: The Means of the Incarnation

        Significance of the Incarnation

        The Deity of Christ

        The Humanity of Christ

        Hypostatic Union

        Early Church Councils

        Variant Consideration

        The Incomprehensible

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