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Was man in need of the incarnation prior to the fall?


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#21 Nina

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 03:38 AM

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, in his book The Feasts of the Lord, states that "[t]hrough the Godman Christ, man can pass from the image to the likeness, which is deification." p.51.

In the same book we read:

"According to St. Maximos the Confessor, there are five divisions in the creation of the world and man. These are between uncreated and created, angels and men, heaven and earth, paradise (the tangible paradise of Eden) and the universe, male and female. Adam, by the grace of God and his own personal struggle, was supposed to overcome these divisions. What the first Adam did not succeed in doing, the new Adam, Christ, achieved. Thus He gave to every man the power to overcome these divisions himself, when he unites with Him." p.51

And again:

"[...] by His incarnation Christ gave man peace with God, his neighbour and himself as well, precisely because the divine nature was united with the human nature in His person. After the fall man lost peace with God, because he worshiped idols without souls and senses and not the true God. Now by the Incarnation man is given the possibility to worship the true God. He also attained peace with the angels and with his fellow-men. And indeed the powers of his soul attained peace, because Christ did what Adam failed to do. Adam had to attain full communion with God by the grace of God and his own personal struggle, the powers of his soul had to function naturally and supranaturally. This was achieved in Christ.

[...] the incarnation was previously willed by God. According to the Fathers, God's will is discerned in what precedes and what follows. What precedes is by His good will, while what follows is by concession. When it is said that the incarnation is the previous will of God, it is understood that it was not a consequence of the fall. In other words, man's union with God would not have been able to succeed if there had not been a particular person in whom the divine would unite hypostatically with his human nature. Therefore the incarnation is the prior will of God, which means that it had been planned regardless of Adam's fall. What followed from the fall were the Passion and Cross of Christ. The incarnation of Christ was the end of the creation. The whole creation and man came into being for the Godman. This is said from the point of view that man could not have been deified and creation sanctified if there had not been the Godman." pp. 42-43

#22 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 11:18 AM

Dear Demetrios (and please, please do call me Matthew),

The one change in life that I can see. Is having knowledge of something that before the fall was not revealed. This knowledge is exactly what the tree was called. Good and evil. We can't just have knowledge of good without knowing evil as well.

In other words one wouldn't know what good is unless the opposite is revealed.

This tree could have easily bin called the tree of love and hate as well. Since having knowledge of one, one must know the other. In this way we can easily say we have become a new creation. Is this what you mean by new life?


It seems to me that one must be very careful with claims that one must know hate to know love, or know evil in order to know good - especially if 'know' is understood to mean have the personal experience of. Surely Christ not only knows but is love, and does not hate; and is good without being evil. There is a reality of awareness, which is one thing; and there is awareness by involvement, which is another. Since evil does exist in the economy, knowing its nature and its character are important for knowing the good in this economy in which evil toys with it. But this is given the context of this economy. But what, had there been no sin? It is to a degree a rhetorical question, since there is sin -- but surely God's love, and truth, and goodness, can come about without the presence of their opposites. Love and fear, to take another pairing, work together in this economy, and yet perfect love casts out fear. Perfected love does not require its opposite.

INXC, Matthew

#23 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 03:07 PM

Dear Nina,

Thank you for your post; that last excerpt was most helpful.

In XC
Athanasius

#24 Demetrios

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 08:09 PM

Dear Demetrios (and please, please do call me Matthew),



It seems to me that one must be very careful with claims that one must know hate to know love, or know evil in order to know good - especially if 'know' is understood to mean have the personal experience of. Surely Christ not only knows but is love, and does not hate; and is good without being evil. There is a reality of awareness, which is one thing; and there is awareness by involvement, which is another. Since evil does exist in the economy, knowing its nature and its character are important for knowing the good in this economy in which evil toys with it. But this is given the context of this economy. But what, had there been no sin? It is to a degree a rhetorical question, since there is sin -- but surely God's love, and truth, and goodness, can come about without the presence of their opposites. Love and fear, to take another pairing, work together in this economy, and yet perfect love casts out fear. Perfected love does not require its opposite.

INXC, Matthew


Thank you Matthew,

I don't believe one can learn of a condition that isn't present in there surroundings. Because of the existence of evil and because pure love is needed to overcome it. We come to a cross road.

When a person dives into a pool of water he must learn how to swim in order not to die. If he is not prepared he will die. Preperation requires him to get in the water with his toes first. If we are instructed before we fall into sin we may never sin. At the same time if we don't know how the praxies works. We will still fall into sin. (Hopefully minor sin) In our immaturity we fall into sin because we are unlearned and don't fear it. Someone (like a child will fall into a swimming pool because they find it inviting). Not knowing what the outcome will be. The invitation itself is enough for someone who is unlearned.

In this economy. Our fallen nature is evident at the moment of praxies. We relive the fall everytime we sin. Because our surrounds are filled with it and with no perfect love to guide us and protect us. We are on our own. Since we now posses full knowledge of the outcome of our doing after the fact. We try not to repeat our mistakes or we except them and become evil. If we decide to reject this evil because we choose love instead. We repent.
I believe love is what God requires of us. This is the image of god that we need. The ability to know evil and to choose love over it in complete freedom.
Sin can also have a corrective effect. When one has fallen into pride, sin can humble them. Pride is the reason we were cast out to begin with.

For us to be the image of god. The true reason for our existence. We must know what evil and good are and be able to deal with them within love. That is, if we posses love we can also cast out sin. Unfortunatly hell fire comes first. It is important to remember that we are all sinners in this economy. True salvation is ontilogical and that love will lead us to the church for salvation.

#25 Antonios

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 11:39 PM

Dear Demetrios and Matthew,

What you both have said is true and poignant to the topic at hand. Perfect love casts out fear. This perfect love is the Way our Lord commanded us. He showed us by willingly ascending the cross.

The fruits of sin are death, and by trampling down death by death, Jesus revealed what true love is: the giving of our life and death to the 'other' out of pure, selfless love. By offering back the wages of our sin (which is death) out of love for another, we have obeyed the Teacher of Life. By the living, and more so, giving of our own life for the other, we imitate the movement of the Holy Trinity.

The prime motive in confronting evil, in fact, confronting the very fruit of evil which is death itself, and destroying it with divine love, is that we may thereby gain perfect love which is in fact True Life. By this, we grow into the likeness of God... our will conforming to God's will... our entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

#26 Andrew

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 01:13 AM

God would have become Man even if we hadn't of fallen because He so desires to abase Himself in love for His beloved race of man that He is willing to bridge all gaps, unify all odd ends, in Himself. Thus, He unites man and woman, Jew and Greek, Uncreated and created, man and the cosmos, within Himself. He would have done this if there wasn't a Fall, and as the Fall happened He has now done it! He has embraced and transfigured the entire cosmos by His Incarnation. Our Lord's Incarnation is a full statement of Who He Is... He is self emptying, kenotic Love. Before existence the I AM is self emptying Love. And Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

#27 Mina Soliman

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 01:29 AM

I must re-echo Athanasius' words to thank Nina for these helpful and fruitful quotes. The whole essence of this discussion can be summed into these two sentences:

According to the Fathers, God's will is discerned in what precedes and what follows. What precedes is by His good will, while what follows is by concession.


Thank you Nina.

God bless.

#28 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 December 2014 - 10:57 AM

I was thinking about this topic and my Googling turned up this thread. What I would like to know is this: what is the status of the idea that the Incarnation would have happened anyway without the Fall having happened? A Russian hieromonk I know whom I asked about this says it is not patristic and is not accepted. Greeks such as Panayiotis Nellas and, it seems, Metropolitan Hierotheos, appear to accept it. What should the faithful make of this?



#29 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 27 December 2014 - 04:56 PM

Dear Andreas,

 

Holy Fathers such as St Maximus the Confessor explain that the meaning of the incarnation is written into the very purpose of creation.



#30 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 December 2014 - 05:34 PM

Could you explain that further, please, Father? It occurs to me that the matter matters because we say in the Creed, 'for our salvation', and the point seems to beg the question, what is meant by 'salvation'?



#31 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 December 2014 - 11:46 AM

Whilst looking forward to Fr Raphael's further explanation, I would make a few points while I have them in mind. We are to understand that the Pre-Eternal Council willed that the Second Person would be Incarnate (I think St Maximus says this), but is there any specific patristic reference to the Incarnation taking place anyway? Were not the Fathers who wrote about this only saying that the Incarnation would happen because man would fall?

 

If the Incarnation were to have happened without the Fall, everything would be so different: no saving would be necessary, no sacraments, and so on. And how would such an Incarnation be accomplished? No Mother of God?

 

If the Incarnation sans Fall was to express God's love for man such that He wanted to identify with man by becoming man anyway, is that love different from or less than the kenotic love of Jesus Christ who said, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' which is what Christ did?

 

I assume that the notion of Incarnation sans Fall is merely an opinion with which the faithful can disagree (as my wife does strongly); it is not a revealed truth, not doctrine, and so only speculation and imagining. Would that be right?


Edited by Reader Andreas, 28 December 2014 - 11:47 AM.


#32 Father David Moser

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 03:03 PM

The well known saying of St Athanasius adds light, I think, to the question. "God became man in order that man might become god". To live in union and communion with God is our destiny, the purpose for which we were created. Our first parents lived in communion with God and were progressing towards union - something which at some point would have included the incarnation. And then they sinned; the sin broke their communion but did not alter their purpose. The incarnation took on a new purpose - not only to facilitate our union with God, but to restore our communion with God which was necessary that we might be prepared for union.

Fr David

#33 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 09:15 PM

Could you explain that further, please, Father? It occurs to me that the matter matters because we say in the Creed, 'for our salvation', and the point seems to beg the question, what is meant by 'salvation'?

We always need to keep in mind that salvation refers not only to redemption from sin and death but also to the fulfillment of what is in the image and likeness of God within us. The redemption in fact is actually based on the latter more fundemental reality concerning our true nature. Otherwise we are not answering the most important question: 'salvation in terms of what?' Of course this can stil be met with the reply that 'we are saved from sin and death through Christ's incarnation.' But this still leaves unanswered why or how disobedience to God led to sin and death in the first place.

 

In any case mankind as created to grow in terms of Christ in paradise is already referred to from at least the time of St Ireneaus. Which informs us that sin & death came through disobedience to God and from a consequent forsaking of our true nature in Christ. And that Christ through His incarnation, Cross and resurrection reverses this sinful movement of disobedience and replaces it with obedience to God which in turn open the doors once more to fuliflling our nature in Him.



#34 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 09:43 PM

One reason why the idea that 'Christ came due to the Fall' has to be handled with great care (or maybe not used- I don't know) is that we never assert a negative reason for one of Christ's actions. This would be to describe Christ's incarnation in a completely external way much as a fireman sees someone in danger inside a burning house and runs in to save him.

 

Christ though is never outside of our reality. He is already in it but without the fires of passion endangering Him with its sinful force. Which means that He is already at our side amidst our Fall and provides us with a pattern to escape its sinful effects.



#35 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 30 December 2014 - 10:41 AM

Thank you, Fr Raphael and Fr David. So far as I can gather, the idea of the Incarnation happening anyway comes from St Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, chapters 16 through 22. The idea does not seem to appear, though, in St Cyril.

 

I can see the point that God's hand should not be thought to have been forced by evil, ie the temptation of Eve by Satan, and the Fall, but rather God's will was for such a union between God and man that only the Incarnation could achieve (though Incarnation without the Fall would have been wrought in a way we cannot, I suppose, imagine). Is this the essence of it?

 

If someone disagrees with this reading of St Irenaeus, can he say (as I suppose he must) that whilst God's hand cannot be forced by evil, the matter is a mystery since the Fall did happen and we cannot speculate beyond that?


Edited by Reader Andreas, 30 December 2014 - 10:42 AM.


#36 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 December 2014 - 09:36 PM

St Irenaeus' specific context was the dualist gnostics who maintained that matter was inherently evil- therefore they held that Christ as some sort of perfect spirit between God and man came to earth to draw us above matter, not to be part of it.

 

It is within this whole context then that St Irenaeus places man as created good by God, good in body & soul, good in nature.

 

As to where evil originates from then St Irenaeus places this not in matter as did the dualists, but rather in man's misuse of his free will. In other words then in an insight that then becomes foundational for Orthodox theology, evil arises from a distortion of God's creation, and not from anything inherent to creation itself.

 

It is within this whole context then that we must place Christ's incarnation in order to see it as something far beyond a sort of 'rescue mission' but rather as a means of restoring the original promise of fulfillment which man was supposed to find in the first place through the Word.



#37 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 30 December 2014 - 10:15 PM

Do theologians down the ages go along with this?



#38 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 01:18 AM

I think Andreas that the only way to genuinely answer such a question is to see that theology is analogous to someone trying to sing in harmony with a choir. The choir sings a melody that continually shfts and varies in tone and each voice forms part of the great harmony- but yet its sound is always true.

 

Orthoodxy theology is then like this kind of choir. One can say 'right things' and yet be wildly out of key, shrill & loud; or one can say things that are from a different angle concerning the same larger reality and that are true.

 

The Incarnation then is the most significant of theological 'facts' that the Church presents and tries to describe for us. Some focus on one aspect of it and others on another- none of this though is in disagreement because it just provides us with complementary parts of the greater song and allows us to see more into His great mystery.



#39 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 04:17 PM

Thank you, Fr Raphael. We see, though, that the hymnology of the Church, especially in the Feasts of the Annunciation and Nativity, speaks of the Incarnation in salvific terms, as indeed a 'rescue mission' though from love also, of course.

 

Fr David wrote: Our first parents lived in communion with God and were progressing towards union - something which at some point would have
included the incarnation


As to the part in bold, what is the patristic authority?

 

The difficulty I have is the apparent lack of explicit scriptural, patristic and liturgical foundation for the idea of Incarnation sans Fall. From what little I have read, the idea is an interpretation of the words of St Irenaeus - I have not the relevant words of St Maximos.


Can we not just say there are different opinions about this question? Ought we not to restrict ourselves to what has been made known to us? We could certainly say that The Second Person could have become incarnate without the Fall which is to state the obvious, that God can do as He wills. On further reflection, I’m not convinced by the argument that God was forced by evil to become Incarnate. God foreknows all things and is not compelled. Adam and Eve could have progressed to such full communion with God without the Fall as fallen man may do could they not, if that was God’s will? Or am I wrong about that?

 



 

 

 

 



 

 



 

 



 


Edited by Reader Andreas, 31 December 2014 - 04:20 PM.


#40 Anna Stickles

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 07:57 PM

Andreas,

 

Your last sentence was a little unclear, but as far as the Incarnation being the fulfillment of God's original purpose for man, not just an answer to the Fall, I think of St Athanasius -"God became man in order that man might become God."  As far as my understanding of deification in the Patristic authors goes, deification itself is not possible without the Incarnation and the hypostatic union of the two natures. 

 

Here is a quote from Flovorosky explaining St Maximos' theology

 

And by virtue of this hypostatic nature all that is human in Christ was permeated with Divinity, deified, transformed — here the image of the red hot iron is used. Here the human is given a new and special form of existence, and this is connected with the very purpose of the coming of the Logos — after all, he "became flesh" in order to renew decayed nature, for the sake of a new form of existence. The deification of the human is not its absorption or dissolution. On the contrary, it is in this likeness to God, or likening to God, that the human genuinely becomes itself. For man is created in the image of God, and is summoned to the likeness of God. In Christ is realized the highest and utmost measure of this likening, which fortifies the human in its genuine natural originality. Deification signifies the indissoluble connection, perfect accord and unity."

Edited by Anna Stickles, 31 December 2014 - 07:58 PM.





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