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Monday, January 6, 2014

Epiphany and the Incarnation

Epiphany (January 6th) is a Christian feast day that "celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ." It celebrates, in other words, the incarnation of God in Christ. For some Christians, however, the doctrine of the incarnation is problematic, at least as it has been traditionally understood. Many have a hard time imagining Jesus as literally being divine (although they often believe in other things that strike me as being no less implausible (e.g., visited a New Age fair or store recently?)).

That said, I don't think such Christians have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. My sense is that regardless of whether all of Jesus' followers had a clearly formed Christology of who Jesus was, they did see in him someone who embodied God's will for the world. That is, they saw in his life, teachings, death, and resurrection someone who incarnated the very essence of God. And while looking at it in such a way isn't necessarily incompatible with the traditional understanding of the Incarnation, it is a way of viewing it that less-traditional Christians can hold on to when celebrating the feast of Epiphany.

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