Upon the following thought, the apostle John built his message of God’s good news. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… This Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14).
The idea of God becoming a person (i.e., Christ’s incarnation) is central to understanding the miracle of Christmas, has been of major importance throughout church history, and helps me develop as a person: it causes me to worship God with greater clarity and thankfulness, and allows me to both understand spiritual development and help others mature in Christ. With respect to the incarnation of Christ, I recommend three related, timeless books:
- On the Incarnation (by Athanasius ~ 319 AD). Here Athanasius expands upon what Irenaeus wrote in 180 AD in Against Heresies, namely, “The word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, through his transcendent love, became what we are, that he might bring us to be even what he is himself.”
- On the Unity of Christ (by Cyril of Alexandria ~ 431 AD). For Cyril, and like Athanasius, the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ became a paradigm for the transfigured and redeemed life of the Christian. Before the incarnation, the words divine and human represented two different categories of being. Cyril insists, “What Jesus was by nature, we become by grace”; “The Son came, or rather was made man, in order to reconstitute our condition within himself.”
- The Mediation of Christ (by T. F. Torrance in 1992, 2nd ed). Here Torrance builds upon the thoughts of the above two treatises and places them within modern times.
This new year, consider reading each of the above short books. You do not need to be a trained theologian to understand any of them.
God’s best to you, my friend. I pray you have a wonderful new year in front of you.