Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Why God became Man

The title of this post is the translation of one of the most famous books in the history of Christian theology: Cur Deus Homo by Anselm of Canterbury. In it he expounded the biblical doctrines of Christ’s incarnation and atonement, demonstrating their fundamental connection. The one who died was God the Son become fully human. God the Son became fully human in order to die. The necessity of the incarnation arises from both God’s character of holy love and determined purpose to have human beings for himself even in the face of the monumental attack upon God and his character that is human sin.

Anselm’s account has certain well-ventilated weaknesses. The impact of his own medieval and feudal world is very apparent in the way he seeks to explain the mechanism by which this all works and the result is not entirely convincing. Nevertheless, this affirmation of a critical connection between the Son’s incarnation and atoning death is pretty much standard fare in Christian theology. The New Testament has a number of explicit statements about the reason for Christ’s coming that insist upon it. In more technical language we might speak about the way Christology (the doctrine of Christ’s person) and soteriology (the doctrine of Christ’s saving work) are inseparable. Yet they are more than inseparable: one makes little sense without the other. The Christ came to save; the only Saviour available to humankind is the Christ of Israel. To read more, click here.

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