In The Incarnation of the Word by Anthanasius, why is it necessary for God to become human for our salvation?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This inspiring, yet lucid work of St. Anthanasius explains the Christian doctrine of "the Word made flesh," the Son of God becoming human. This "renewal of creation" came about because of man himself. For, made in God's image, man became corrupted in disobedience to God's command, through spiritual weakness, and submission to the temptations of the devil. Having eaten the forbidden fruit and disobeyed the Word, man sinned; therefore, he was introduced to death as God had warned him, a death which would lead him into non-existence.

However, St. Anthanasius further argues, while it was God who ordered that man should die if he "transgressed," it was also He who had created man in His own image; and, it was unimaginable that God could allow creatures fashioned in His own likeness to perish forever. In Chapter 2, Anathanasius writes,

It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by Him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil; and it was supremely unfitting that the work of God in mankind should disappear, either through their own negligence or through the deceit of evil spirits. 

Therefore, "the Word was made flesh," and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth to redeem man. For, only God can conquer death and non-existence. Thus, the act of Christ coming to earth in order to defeat sin and non-existence in death is, in a sense, the inverse of creation in which man was fashioned from non-existence. For, Life, the Word of God, eternal life, came to earth in order to conquer non-existence. Thus, by dying Christ gave life (spiritual life) to all mankind. St. Anathanasius strengthens his points by asking,

Was He to let corruption and death have their way with them? In that case, what was the use of having made them [men] in the beginning?

God loved his creatures enough to create them and imbue them with the Word; therefore, He could not allow these creatures made in His image to be destroyed by spiritual and physical death. For this reason, He sent his only Son, to save them by dying on the cross and restoring life to man. 

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