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


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#41 Anna Stickles

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 08:21 PM

The above is not to deny the redemptive aspect of the Incarnation, and how this is often the first and most obvious thing that we see.



#42 Anna Stickles

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 08:58 PM

see also St Gregory of Palamas Homily 60 ch 20

 

Doing a little research though, I found that one of the problems that seems to have happened in the West is that this whole thing became a debate among the scholastics where instead of seeing the Patristic witness as a harmony where the redemptive and archetypal fulfillment aspects of the Incarnation are seen in a complimentary way - the Scholastic debates, with the way that they approached this started pitting one view against the other.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 31 December 2014 - 09:05 PM.


#43 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 09:39 PM

Yes- for us the Incarnation always includes two overlapping realities- the specific way in which Christ came to redeem us from the Fall; and the fulfillment of God's overall dispensation for mankind written from before the ages.

 

These two realities are both included within the Incarnation; but they are not identical realities.

 

Thus for example the Incarnation is Christ's taking on of human nature at a specific point and place within human history. However Christ has appeared from the very moment of creation through every meeting of the Word with man although the manner in which He has and does do this differs according to the person or situation He encounters.

 

Thus as St Maximus the Confessor writes: "always and in all His Word God wills to effect the mystery of His embodiment. [ensomatosis]" (Ambigua 7).

 

In this sense we need to keep in mind that how Christ appeared to man at the moment of His birth, through the time of His ministry, at His passion & resurrection, now, and at His Coming again all differ in manner of appearance although He is and ever remains incarnate.

 

In answer to the specific question then:

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

 

we must emphatically state that man was always in need of the overall point of Christ's appearance that the incarnation itself exemplifies.



#44 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 09:52 PM

What we still have are interpretations of what some Fathers said, and nothing which explicitly says that the Incarnation would have happened anyway. And I return to the point that, as far as I know, there is nothing in the liturgical deposit of the Church about this. I also keep in mind that the Fall did happen and God's will cannot have been, as it were, derailed by that but rather fulfilled because of His omniscience. I cannot think of the Incarnation as it happened as a 'Plan B' put in place when 'Plan A' didn't work out.



#45 Lakis Papas

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 02:04 AM

Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain wrote a study titled: Apology in favor of a text note about our Lady Mary, that is found in the book of 'Invisible War'.
 
In this stydy Saint Nicodemus (based on biblical verses and on St. Maximus the Confessor, and on St. Gregory Palamas) supports that nothing compels God, but the incarnation of Christ would happen regardless of the fall of man, because in order to save man had to unite humanity with divinity "hypostatikos", otherwise man would not be saved. That's why the Incarnation of Christ is the end of the creation of the world. 
 
The incarnation would happen in any case from the Virgin Mary (which is the culmination of all creation). 
 
But after the fall and the entrance of death in humans and creation, the cross and death were also added into - the without preconditions - incarnation, because of perishability and mortality. Thus "Christ suffered for us" (1 Pet. B, 21).
 
That the Divine Economy, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God, is the precedent will of God, it becomes obvious and in that it was beneficial also for the angelic ranks. And we know very well that man sinned, but not the angels who continuously glorify God. Since angels have benefited by the incarnation it means that this indeed is the preceding good and perfect will of God and not a consequence. Angels, according to the blessed Nikita Stithato, were cumbersome to evil, but after the Incarnation, and especially after the resurrection of Christ, they became motionless to evil "not by nature, but by grace." They acquired immutability according to Saint John of Damascus and received "non-volatility", according to St. Gregory Palamas. So also man would have received the deification by grace, with the incarnation of Christ, even in case that fall did not happen.
 
The study of Saint Nicodemous can be found here (written in Greek): http://tinyurl.com/p8pcqbr
An article of Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos, based on the study of Saint Nicodemus can be found here (written in Greek): http://tinyurl.com/mo4vc54

Edited by Lakis Papas, 01 January 2015 - 02:07 AM.


#46 Anna Stickles

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 02:58 AM

What we still have are interpretations of what some Fathers said, and nothing which explicitly says that the Incarnation would have happened anyway. And I return to the point that, as far as I know, there is nothing in the liturgical deposit of the Church about this. I also keep in mind that the Fall did happen and God's will cannot have been, as it were, derailed by that but rather fulfilled because of His omniscience. I cannot think of the Incarnation as it happened as a 'Plan B' put in place when 'Plan A' didn't work out.

Andreas,

 

I think your intuition is good. Nothing God does, I think, can be classified as a "Plan B because Plan A didn't work out". His plan for man starts before the foundation of the World (Eph 1:3-10)

 

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace  8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,  9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,  10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

 

No part of plan A (vs 3-5,10) ever fails.  Plan A will never be derailed, nor essentially changed,  But God does adjust the actual working out of plan A to fit with our needs according to our state.  Notice above that vs 5 includes our adoption as sons "by Jesus Christ to himself" as part of the original "Plan A" and how the fulfillment of plan A is mentioned in vs 10.  Much of what Maximos the Confessor talks about is this gathering together of all things in Christ. This theme is the one that St Ireneaus picks up on and which is carried down through many Fathers as being intimately connected with the Incarnation.

 

Notice too, though, how our redemption from sins, ie our redemption from the fall is intimately tied in here and not left out. (vs 7-8)  It is not an abstracted and dissected understanding of Christ's economy - but one fully grounded in the dual reality of man's choices and God's will understood holistically.  

 

What we see is God's plan A applied according to His wisdom and prudence(vs 8)  in dealing with man's real actions - Not God being caught unprepared and having to change plan A to plan B.  I apologize. I hate dissecting Scripture like this. But maybe after looking at what I have very badly tried to point out, you can see the whole of what St Paul is trying to say.

 

Do you have a copy of St. Gregory of Palamas Homilies that has homily 60? If not I will scan and send you a link. The last section it does a good job of covering both aspects of the Incarnation - that which existed before the foundation of the world and that which exists as part of our redemption from the Fall.



#47 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 08:47 AM

So, are we saying that it is as though God said, I will draw man unto me and unite him to Me whether he falls or not? I see something in what Lakis says but my Greek is nowhere near good enough to read the material in the links. Anna, do please provide the link you mention. One of the Fathers at the monastery here did his PhD on St Maximos so I'll try to talk to him about it if I get the chance. It will be interesting to see if the Russians I know are prepared to go along with this. One I know is suspicious of modern Greek theology!



#48 Lakis Papas

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 10:28 AM

Saint Irenaeus [PG 7,1161],
St. Ambrose [PL16,868],
Saint Augustine [PL38,940],
St. John Chrysostom [PG53,36],
The Great Athanasius [PG25,104, 26,261],
St. Sophronius of Jerusalem, BGF 54,227-PG31,1461],
Doctrinal manuals by Mr. Androutsos, Trembelas, Papadopoulos [1957]
Dogmatic by Nicholas Xexakis  
 
All above are in favor of dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Eastern Church that, because man committed sin, the second person of the Holy Trinity incarnated in order to stop the flow of sinn and to elevate man to the prior and heavenly kindness. They do not support the idea that the incarnation was to happen even if there was no sin committed by man - for them there are preconditions for incarnation. 
 
The majority of Church Fathers do not follow the reasoning of St Nicodemus, which is based on st Maximus. I think, the theology of "incarnation without its preconditions" was formed in later years to rebut western reasoning of "Cur Deus Homo"  (Why God man?) by  Anselm of Canterbury in which he proposed the satisfaction view of the atonement. But it is not the dominant component in the orthodox perception of the Incarnation of the Word.


#49 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 11:58 AM

Quite a roll call! Thank you for the balance provided. Regarding the West, I note, for what it's worth, that Thomas Aquinas was against the idea of the Incarnation happening without the Fall (and gave reasons) but acknowledged that there were opinions pro et contra.

 

Would it be right to say that those pro are not in error but that those contra do not have to accommodate the idea? In other words, is the idea a theologoumenon?


Edited by Reader Andreas, 01 January 2015 - 12:00 PM.


#50 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 03:15 PM

What needs to be kept in mind is the distinction between the Incarnation of Christ and His overall coming to man. Both of these are central to what is Orthodox.

 

But yet they are not the same thing. :)



#51 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 04:27 PM

Bit too cryptic for me, Father!



#52 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 06:41 PM

The Fall occured in terms of our falling away from God's original calling that we are to find our life in Him and that our nature is fulfilled in terms of its purpose in Him. The Incarnation occured because of the deeper issue of our turning away from this original purpose, which purpose preceeds both in time and importance the Fall.

 

If this was not so then there would be no hope for us of restitution since there would be no good and godly purpose for us to return to. There would be nothing in us of good that could be redeemed.

 

The Fall therefore is not the definition of what the Incarnation is about nor is it contingent upon it although it certainly relates to it. Rather it is one way in which Christ appeared to us and continues to manifest Himself in various manners (since He will always bear our nature through the Second Coming) and always did from the first moment of man's creation.

 

Without this there is no hope for us since this would mean that Christ the Word does not meet man, and does not strive through every means possible to do so.

 

Without the Fall would this be so? Absolutely yes- our faith depends on it. Would it be in the same manner as at His Nativity in the manger? Not likely since His birth relates to His coming amidst our lowly and broken condition but also in the very midst of His chosen people Israel who were to serve as an image of our return and fulfillment in Him.



#53 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 January 2015 - 10:29 PM

Without the Fall would this be so? Absolutely yes- our faith depends on it.

 

But looking at Lakis's post #48, we see that it is not the consensus patrum. It cannot be an article of faith since whilst it may not be specifically denied neither is it specifically accepted by all the Holy Fathers. One or two devout Orthodox Christians of long standing I have mentioned this to have never heard of it.



#54 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 01:19 AM

So, are we saying that it is as though God said, I will draw man unto me and unite him to Me whether he falls or not?

Yes, what I understand is that theosis, man's fulfillment in God as the Archetype of which man is the image, was God's original plan from the beginning. The Fall just changed the way that this plays out historically.

 

 

 

What needs to be kept in mind is the distinction between the Incarnation of Christ and His overall coming to man. Both of these are central to what is Orthodox.

 

But yet they are not the same thing. :)

By the Incarnation are you referring here to the specific historical reality, and by His overall coming to man, the eschatological and eternal purpose of how all things are made by Him and find their fulfillment in Him?

 

In Post 52 are you trying to say that with or without the Fall Christ is working toward this eschatological purpose, but that without the Fall the specific historical reality would be different? Your antecedants for "this" were a little unclear, so I thought I would check.

 

 

Link to Gregory's homily

 

In the link above, ch 17-19 talk about the specific historical reality of how Christ's Incarnation brings man back into alignment from the Fall, but then in chapter 20 he picks up the eschatological theme.   What St Gregory notes is that from the beginning man, the image, was to contain the Archetype who is the Word.  

 

"Consequently man was also brought into being in the beginning because of Him, being formed according to God's image so that one day he might contain his Archetype. And the Law given by God in paradise  was on His account, because God would not have imposed it if it were to remain always unfulfilled. Almost everything said and accomplished subsequently by God was for Him, and you might be right to say that everything in heaven...and the ordinances laid down there, were directed from the start towards this aim, namely the dispensation whereby God became man, to which they (the angels) ministered from beginning to end."

 

Below are related quotes from St Ireneaus -notice how the starting point is how Christ made all things, is present in all things, and sums up all things in Himself. (cf vs from Eph. above and you can see the correspondence)  This is what enables the Incarnation to actually happen in the first place.  Can you see then how this eternal reality of how the Word is related to creation, manifests itself in the Incarnation as a specific saving reality, and yet the basic relationship between the Word and the creation has not changed? St. Maximos the Confessor is even more specific in how he sees man himself as a microcosm in whom the creation is summed up and from here moves to how Christ's union with man is part of the original plan for how all things are summed up in Christ.

 

3,16,6 (the Incarnate Christ) they thus wander from the truth, because their doctrine departs from Him who is truly God, being ignorant that His only-begotten Word, who is always present with the human race, united to and mingled with His own creation, according to the Father's pleasure, and who became flesh, is Himself Jesus Christ our Lord, who did also suffer for us, and rose again on our behalf, and who will come again in the glory of His Father, to raise up all flesh, and for the manifestation of salvation, and to apply the rule of just judgment to all who were made by Him.

 

There is therefore, as I have pointed out, one God the Father, and one Christ Jesus, who came by means of the whole dispensational arrangements [connected with Him], and gathered together all things in Himself.

 

But in every respect, too, He is man, the formation of God; and thus He took up man into Himself, the invisible becoming visible, the incomprehensible being made comprehensible, the impassible becoming capable of suffering, and the Word being made man, thus summing up all things in Himself: so that as in super-celestial, spiritual, and invisible things, the Word of God is supreme, so also in things visible and corporeal He might possess the supremacy, and, taking to Himself the pre-eminence, as well as constituting Himself Head of the Church, He might draw all things to Himself at the proper time.

 

5,18,3 For the Creator of the world is truly the Word of God: and this is our Lord, who in the last times was made man, existing in this world, and who in an invisible manner contains all things created, and is inherent in the entire creation, since the Word of God governs and arranges all things; and therefore He came to His own in a visible manner, and was made flesh, and hung upon the tree, that He might sum up all things in Himself.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 03 January 2015 - 01:30 AM.


#55 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 04:45 PM

By the Incarnation are you referring here to the specific historical
reality, and by His overall coming to man, the eschatological and
eternal purpose of how all things are made by Him and find their
fulfillment in Him?

Yes- this is what the Fathers abundantly tesitfy to and also our services. In our Orthodox soteriology there is always this double sense of the specific manner in which Christ comes to us as specific people at certain times & places; and the general but categorical point that the very purpose of the Word within the pre eternal council of the Holy Trinity is that He always comes into our midst in various manners, in order to fulfill us, and sum us up.


In Post 52 are you trying to say that with or without the Fall Christ
is working toward this eschatological purpose, but that without the
Fall the specific historical reality would be different?
Your antecedants for "this" were a little unclear, so I thought I would
check.

 

 

Yes- what you say here is correct. The general point of Christ always being with us, of coming in our midst, of creating for us this for purpose- this is always so. But the specific manner in which He does this according to who He visits or what historical age or circumstance- well this varies.

 

In this sense then as you see in the Fathers, the incarnation is definitely not a one off event. Rather it is the fullfillment (and in a very important sense the continuing fulfilment since Christ will continue to be with us) of the Word's very purpose within the pre eternal council of the Holy Trinity.



#56 Lakis Papas

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 10:59 PM

You can find some articles about: The Unconditionality of the Divine Incarnation  http://www.hsir.org/.../Dogmatics.html

 

 

- Text I: Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky

Cur Deus Homo? The Motive of the Incarnation”» (1957) 

- Text II: Panagiotes Nellas

“The Archetype of Humanity is the Incarnate Word” (1979) 

- Text III: Panagiotes Nellas

“Redemption or Deification? Anselm’s Question, ‘Why Did God Become Man?’ and Nicolas Cabasilas” (1983) 

- Text IV: Metropolitan Hierotheos of Naupaktos and Hagios Blasios

“The Unconditionality of the Divine Incarnation” (1992) 

- Text V: Hieromonk Artemije Radosavljević (now Bishop of Raška and Prizren)

“Deification as the End and Fulfillment of Salvation According to St. Maximos the Confessor”



#57 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 03:53 PM

Here's a question from a bear of little brain:

 

While it is certainly understandable that the Incarnation may well have been part of God's plan from the "beginning", one wonders if the Crucifixion might not have happened if the Fall had not.

 

Thoughts?

 

Herman



#58 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 06:15 PM

My thought, for what it is worth, is that the whole economy of salvation as we know it would not have happened without the Fall - something entirely different (and not tragic) would have happened. But since things turned out the way they did, we can only speculate about the 'what if'.



#59 Lakis Papas

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 08:07 PM

Economy is aligned to human condition. Death of Christ is aligned to human condition.

And also, as Christ said in His last prayer at the mount of olives, the sacrifice of Christ was the will of the Father. It was not the result of Fall. How Fall and death and sin and satan was defeated by Christ was a Divine energy, not a reaction to Fall. Crucifixion is not just an antidote to death, it is that and much more. Crucifixion is a mystery, through it Creation was made new.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 05 January 2015 - 08:13 PM.


#60 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 10:20 PM

How could man who had not fallen have crucified Christ? That makes no sense. The sacrifice of Christ was the will of the Father because of the Fall.






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