Monday, November 21, 2005

The Incarnation: A Kingdom Archetype

The scriptures tell us that in order to see God, we must look at Jesus. The incarnation of YHWH in a young Jewish man is the beginning of the re-creation of creation from within it and without. And Jesus is more than just God embodied, more than the mortal clothes of Immortality (for instance, as I might wear a snowsuit or, God forbid, a wetsuit). Jesus is the very union of divinity and humanity. And I don’t understand it.

I find incarnation as a grand archetype emerging in other Kingdom venues as well: Eucharist, Scripture, and the Church.

Before I go too far let me explain what I mean by archetype. An archetype is a “recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology.” It is the often-imitated original. The savior or rescuer is an archetype within ancient, modern, and postmodern stories. Some examples include Beowulf, Arthur, William Wallace, and Hester Prynne. Superman and Neo are more recent types. By the way, this isn’t blasphemy or sacrilege. The purpose of these types, though not always intentional, is to point us to the archetype. Types aren’t copies of the original, but imitations, signposts, reminders of the original.

The Eucharist is a type of incarnation. Many of us Protestants view the Eucharist as merely a memory or symbol of Christ and his work for us. Catholics view it as the very presence of Christ, realized somehow in all senses. But right now I prefer the Anglican view of the Eucharist: It is the real presence of Christ in every sense, except the physical sense. So when we partake of communion we are, in reality, receiving Christ and his cross-work into ourselves. The Eucharist is holy and it is incarnational.

The scriptures are a type of incarnation – a product of the Spirit-flesh union. Some of us focus on the spirit and so we say that the scriptures are, literally, the very words of God. Some of us focus on the flesh and so we say that the scriptures are man’s record of God’s revelation. But, as I understand them, the scriptures are both and neither. The scriptures are an incarnational work, a Spirit-flesh work, a creation of divinity and humanity.

And finally, the church (and, to some extent, the individual members of the Kingdom) is incarnational. We are the body of Christ. God is present within each of us, and the church together is the fullness of Christ. What are the implications of this truth? First, as Christ's body we must strive for unity - to be one body - in all things.

All incarnation is inexplicable - it is only a matter of degrees. It is believed, not fully understood. It is reasonably embraced, but it is not rational.


truevyne said...

Saturday I was thinking over examination of conscience. When we look into the mirror, what do we see? Do we judge ourselves according to the letter of the law written on paper, or the face of Jesus looking back at his daughter or son. No shame. Incarnation is in that moment for me.

Scott said...

I understand, truevyne. Especially being raised in more judgmental circles, knowing that the King views you with unutterable love is an incarnational moment - holy and blessed and right.

ScottB said...

Some most excellent musings here - I particularly like your thoughts on scripture. I've often wondered if thinking of the scriptures in that way could be a way forward in what seems to be continued conflict over their nature and authority. The challenge is that everyone thinks they've got it figured out instead of holding to the mystery and paradox (words that in and of themselves cause some to get nervous ;).

Scott said...

Scott, I just picked up Wright's "The Last Word" yesterday and will be interested in discovering his treatment of the scriptures. My view has changed a lot in the past few months, but I believe it is becoming a higher view, defined by itself rather than by me.