Sunday, May 01, 2005

What just happened?

Ok, so for the last... oh, month, maybe? I've been pondering and mulling and ruminating on the strand of liturgical tradition that bows during the Nicene Creed from "he came down from heaven" to about "and was made man." The best explanations I've gotten for this practice involve (so far as I can tell) an acknowledgement that Christ lowered himself to become human, and the idea that the Incarnation is the crucial bit (in that, without the Incarnation, you don't get the crucifixion, resurrection, etc.). I've been chewing on these ideas because I haven't been entirely convinced about the Incarnation being the most important part, though I certainly didn't have anything to refute it with. On the whole, it's been a mildly persistent sort of pondering, not something I've felt that strongly about either way.

But just now in my systematics reading I came across the following:
"The new adjustment is that the conception of Jesus as God incarnate, the second person of the Holy Trinity living a human life, is 'a mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us,' rather than a literal truth.... Wiles questions whether incarnation is an essential concept in Christian faith, and also whether it is an intelligbile concept."

Blink. Blink. Stare. Come again? WTF? "Questions whether incarnation is an essential concept in Christian faith?" And then I found myself (no, really) writing on my question list: "what's left without the Incarnation?!? how do we have Christianity without it?" If you take out the Incarnation, none of the rest of it works!

And then again: Blink. Blink. Stare. Hunh. I guess when push comes to shove, I do believe (and pretty strongly, too) that the Incarnation is the key to the whole thing. Not such a problem after all. And you can bet that the next opportunity I get to say the Nicene Creed in worship, I'll be bowing right alongside my high church friends. I can't promise that will last forever (heck, I don't promise that any of my liturgical practice will last forever, no matter how attached I am to it - I'd like to hope that I'm more open to the Spirit than that) - but for the time being, at the very least until I get over the shock of Anglican theologians arguing against the Incarnation being essential to Christian faith, I'm going to be pretty stuck to it.

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