G.K. Chesterton once observed that even those who don’t believe in the doctrine of the Incarnation are different for having heard it. Christians celebrate this transformative revelation from Dec. 25, Christmas Day, through Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany. There is something so counterintuitive about the claim that God became human that the minds of those who but entertain the notion change willy-nilly. If you have taken in the story of the baby who is God, you simply aren’t the same person you were before.
First, your understanding of God will be revolutionized. The God who can become a creature without ceasing to be God and without compromising the integrity of the creature he becomes stands in a fundamentally noncompetitive relationship with the world. In most non-Christian theologies and religious philosophies, God is typically understood as set over and against the universe: a supreme being in sharp contrast with the finite beings of the created order. But the God capable of the Incarnation, though certainly distinct from the world, is noncontrastively other. He isn’t competing with creatures for dominance on the same playing field. To shift the metaphor, he isn’t so much the most impressive character in the novel as he is the author, responsible for every character in the story, yet never jostling for position among them.
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