Wednesday, March 06, 2019

God in the gulag

The Incarnation is one of the most appealing features of Christianity. The principle that God comes down to our level. That's something woefully lacking in unitarian traditions (e.g. Islam, Rabbinic Judaism, Socinianism, Arianism, Gnosticism). 

The notion of the Incarnation is often expressed in terms of God entering the world or God entering space and time. Metaphysically, I don't think that's quite accurate. The relation is more indirect. But it's okay for popular usage.

There is, though, another weakness to that depiction: it's too generic. It's not just about God coming into our world, but coming into what is, in effect, a gulag or concentration camp. We inhabit a fallen world. A world darkened by pain and suffering. 

Suppose my best friend is a political prisoner. He can't come to me, but I can go to him. Suppose the gulag has a sally port or airlock entry. I'm free to go inside, but if I do so, the exterior door locks behind me. Once I enter, I can't leave. The only way to visit him is to relinquish my liberty. It would be an incredible act of sacrificial friendship for me to surrender my own freedom so that my best friend can share my companionship during his ordeal. The Incarnation is rather like God entering the penal colony or concentration camp to be with us. 

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