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On the Incarnation (St. Athanasius)
  • This question was supposed to be PM'd to Father Peter but for some technical reason I am unable to do so. Please refrain from commenting unless you know what you are saying or have references from the fathers.

    My question is regarding the work of the great St. Athanasius On the Incarnation, in particular the chapter where he addresses the gentiles (Chapter 7). In it he states:

    "But if the Word of God is in the universe, which is a body, and has entered into it in its every part, what is there surprising or unfitting in our saying that He has entered also into human nature?"

    My issue is simply this:  I have a hard time accepting the part which states that He enters into every part. I believe there is a huge difference between being present everywhere (Omnipotence) and entering a certain body (thereby deifying it).  This sounds as if the universe makes up God. Can someone please clarify? I am not following the saint's train of thought. Is it possible he is trying to refute what the gentiles believe by applying their logic regarding the matter?
  • [quote author=Amoussa01 link=topic=13128.msg154223#msg154223 date=1333581355]
    "But if the Word of God is in the universe, which is a body, and has entered into it in its every part, what is there surprising or unfitting in our saying that He has entered also into human nature?"


    St. Athanasius is comparing the Logos of God's everlasting omnipotence in the universe with how the Word of the Father entered into humanity. Just as the Logos before the incarnation inhabited every part of the universe by His infinite omnipotence, so also when He enters into humanity must inhabit every part and particle of it (except sin).

    St. Gregory of Nazianzus (The Theologian), in his letter to to Cledonius, says:

    "For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved.

    If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole."

    Just as God inhabited the universe entirely when He created it, so also must He inhabit humanity fully when saving it.

    ✞✞✞
  • St Athanasius is saying that the Word has created e everything in the universe so in essence His imprint is in everything. Wherever we look we know that the craftiness of the Word is there.

    The Word is in the universe through His energies not His hypostasis. When His divinity united with humanity, the divinity did not deified the flesh changing its nature.

    St Paul said the people of Athens: for in Him we live and move and have our being acts 28.

    This means that we move through the Word's energy not that we are deified in him

    Hope this helps
  • I do not think you guys full understood my question. I am not confused thinking that Christ deified the flesh. Where the confusion lies is, how can someone say God enters into everything and then have this point justify the argument that He can enter into human nature. God does not enter everything; yes He is present everywhere and nothing is that is without Him but we cannot say He is in everything. In this argument, Saint Athanasius is saying God entered into human nature,  implying that God took human form. If we say that He is in everything, we can also make the claim that God took other natures as well which is false. The first point does not justify the second point...hense the confusion.

    imikhail,

    I think that by Christ, though having the form of a servant, was still divine just as the Body and Blood that we partake of is divine. I realize this is not because of their form but because of something deeper--the Being Himself.
  • In communion we partake of the Word incarnate.

    What I meant is that the flesh and spirit did not lose its essence of being human nature because they were unified with the divinity.

    Continue with the next section of chapter 7 (no 42) as St Athanasius explains further the argument in question.

  • [quote author=Amoussa01 link=topic=13128.msg154238#msg154238 date=1333598324]
    Where the confusion lies is, how can someone say God enters into everything and then have this point justify the argument that He can enter into human nature. God does not enter everything; yes He is present everywhere and nothing is that is without Him but we cannot say He is in everything. In this argument, Saint Athanasius is saying God entered into human nature,  implying that God took human form. If we say that He is in everything, we can also make the claim that God took other natures as well which is false. The first point does not justify the second point...hense the confusion.


    Phrase it another way. "If the Divine Logos could enter into every part of the physical universe by His incarnation, why couldn't He also enter into the human nature?"

    I believe the phrase, "...entered into it in its every part..." means that the Logos entered into the fullness of time and space; into its entirety. I do not believe he is speaking about living things or beings, but rather about the created universe.

    ✞✞✞


Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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