What, like we were gonna have twelve straight days of Christmas related clips without including this classic scene from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.
For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord… That's what Christmas is all about. Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
Now we all know why Jesus was born. As the Catechism plainly states, “The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who "loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” But oddly enough, right after that, it also lists three other reasons for the Incarnation. “The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God's love,” “The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness,” and “The Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature." Which raises an interesting (completely speculative) question. If our original parents had not sinned in the garden of Eden, would we even be celebrating a Christmas season, would the Incarnation have been necessary? St. Thomas Aquinas seems to have suggested In his Summa that the answer is no, however, Bl. John Duns Scotus argued otherwise. In short, Dominicans: No, Franciscans: Yes.
Since we’re just speculating, as much as I love me some Aquinas, I think I’d go with Scotus this time. The simple fact is that the Catechism does list those other reasons along with redemption. And even if you were to take away reason one, the other points still stand on their own. Fall or no fall, God and man have different natures, so there’s no way man could be united with God until his nature was united to the nature of God through Jesus. Also, it would be pretty hard for Jesus to be our model of holiness if he never became flesh. And as for becoming flesh so that we might know God's love… well, He could have just lorded over us, but instead the word of God, the firstborn of all creation, the one for whom all things were created through and for… chose to become as one of us so that He could not only walk with us as He did with Adam and Eve, but among us as one of us. I’d say that’s an act of love.
And THAT’S what Christmas is all about.
The idea that the Fall was the cause of the Incarnation is called the 'felix culpa' after the line in the Easter Exsultet (o happy Fall of Adam...). Lewis tackled this in the space trilogy & argued the Incarnation would have been a very happy event had the Fall not happened. His original idea (as far as I know) about other planets was that if the Fall happened to a second race, on Venus, the Atonement required would be far nastier than crucifixion. I think it's an interesting idea that the stakes are raised.
Of course, the idea of a second Incarnation has huge problems.
This whole area is beyond my philosophical training, so I'm just starting to noodle it all out, but what I don't like about Aquinas' opinion is that it seems to suggest, however, indirectly, that sin was necessary for the Incarnation, and that has implications for God I can't accept. But again, I'm a complete amateur here, so I could be missing something.
As far as two Incarnations, yeah, I'm not sure how that would be workable. Since Jesus is already glorified, it seems like that would require either a new second human body or an abandoning of the prior glorification. Either of those seems too contradictory to what's been revealed to us so far.
Sounds like some fun research for me to do.
Yeah, I think it's better if speculative fiction and speculative theology don't mix. I've never been convinced by the O.S.Card notion that pioneers of other planets would reject earth religions, but I can see how evangelizing other sentient species would be darn difficult with our theology of Christ's two natures. I've never read a good treatment of that question, but it would be interesting. Of course, many seculars have an idea of human nature so different from the Church's it could be very timely speculative fiction....but I don't think we have a writer now with both the philosophical chops and writing skill. "Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed."
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