Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Saint Athanasius’s On the Incarnation of the Word of God follows his Contra gentes (c. 318, Against the Heathen, 1892). The two works may be regarded as forming a single project, a systematic treatise following an apologetic. Athanasius’s predecessor Origen of Alexandria did the same on a larger scale in Kata Kelsou (248, also known as Contra Celsum; Origen Against Celsus, 1660) and Peri archn (220-230, also known as De principiis; On First Principles, 1936).

Saint Athanasius maintains the Christological position that eventually defeated Arianism, which considered the divine Logos as a creature of God, begotten as a product of the Father’s will as a medium between the supreme God and creation. Athanasius, maintaining that begetting is an aspect of nature and not will, teaches that the Son possesses the same divine nature as the Father and is equal to the Father. He argues that the incarnation of the Word was absolutely essential for human salvation. There was no other remedy for fallen humankind, which had succumbed to corruption and would eventually have extinguished itself. The redemption of humankind required the Word’s incarnation and death because humans could not escape the corruption, the penalty for sin, on their own. The Word Incarnate restored God’s creation, which had become disoriented by sin, because the indwelling of God the Word in the human body...

(The entire section is 426 words.)