On the Incarnation or the real meaning of Christmas

An audio version of this talk is at my podcast, Talks and Thoughts, available via podcast feeds.

Christmas risks losing its meaning not only because of the commercial frenzy but because of the way it is talked about in churches.

In this conversation, Russell Jefford talks about his discovery of the understanding of the incarnation conveyed in the writings of the early church fathers. They were unknown to him as an evangelical Christian and have refreshed his love of Christianity now.

Together with Mark Vernon, they consider the iconography of the nativity. Why is Jesus born in a cave? Is that a coffin rather than a manger? They consider phrases of three key figues in particular:

St Nazianzus “He who Is, comes into being, and the uncreated is created” (Oration 38.13)

St Irenaeus “He sanctified every age by the resemblance we have with him” (Against Heresies 2.22.4)

St Athanasius “He became man that we might become God” (On the Incarnation 54)

The humanification of God enables the deification of humanity. Salvation is thought of as recapitulation, the divine sanctifying humanity through the various stages of life. The work of atonement is the work of incarnation, as both are manifestations of God, grabbing our attention as to our true nature through the life of the body.

For more on Russell’s work and teaching days see https://ordinarytheology.com/

For more on Mark’s work see https://www.markvernon.com/