Lesson 9: Incarnation

a middle eastern babyAfter looking at the creation stories where Nature is declared “good,” then Visions of Hope where redemption includes the restoration of the proper relationship between God, humans, and Nature, and Torah Law that describes how we should be treating Nature; it becomes pretty clear we are a part of Nature. We often think this is an insight of modern science that challenges Christian faith. Perhaps it is time we appreciate the ancients understood this long ago. Humans are part of Nature.

Interestingly, we often forget our story makes clear that God is part of Nature as well. The New Testament proclamation of the Incarnation asserts that God becomes flesh. God comes among us as a human; he assumes our nature. Theologians recently have begun to speak of this as panentheism. The concept goes far beyond pantheism where God is Nature. In panentheism, God is part of creation but also beyond it.

All this is to say, Christianity is a very materialistic religion. The Psalms sing that Nature proclaims the glory of God. We believe God comes to us in the earthly elements of the sacraments. Jesus teaches that God provides rain, sun, and food for us just as he provides for the birds and flowers.

So, too, we are to minister to the material needs of other people. It is not enough to pray for them. From the beginning to the end of the Bible, from the Torah Law and the Prophets through the Gospels and the Final Judgment God’s People are expected to feed, clothe, and house others. (Matthew 25: 31-46)

Of course, that means an important part of theology is discerning what is the true nature of things. When is creation good? What is the Logos of creation? What is the “Image of God,” humanity’s true nature?

You can come with a number of answers for these questions. However, they all have to include physical as well as spiritual characteristics, if they are to be faithful to the scriptures. After all, we confess the resurrection of the body. We believe Jesus rose as a physical man, just as we shall be raised bodily as well.

If then we are part of Nature, deciding how we treat Nature has direct bearing on who we are. If we are practice violence against Nature, we are far more likely to practice violence against other people.

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