Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Provocative Thought from Kierkegaard at Christmastime

"A childish orthodoxy...has also managed to draw decisive attention to the fact that Christ at his birth was wrapped in rags and laid in a manger--in short, on the humiliation of his coming in the humble form of a servant, and believes that this is the paradox in contrast to coming in glory. Confusion. The paradox is primarily that God, the eternal, has entered into time as an individual human being. Whether this individual human being is a servant or an emperor makes no difference. It is not more adequate for God to be a king than to be a beggar; it is not more humiliating for God to become a beggar than to become an emperor." - CUP

It's a provocative and, in some ways, counter-intuitive thought. We're so used to emphasizing the humble entrance of the Logos into human history by highlighting the circumstances of the story: single mother, from Nazareth, born in a manger, "no-place-to-lay-his-head," etc., that we forget about the "infinite qualitiative distinction" between time and eternity which implies that, no matter how God became incarnate into history and creation, it would be an absolute paradox.

Agree or disagree?


Spencer said...

I do agree! This is a great thought that I haven't spent much time reflecting upon until now compared to the lowly entrance of Christ that I have actually spent a full blog on...thanks :) The simple fact of God breaking into 'time', no matter its state, does cause a deeper thanksgiving on my part. God came and that is enough. Beautiful.

I do think there is great insight if we then look at how Christ came i.e., 'power in compassion', humble beginnings, state of address. However, these should be noted subsequent to what has been mentioned above and I will definitely take more time to think about this season in a different light. Thank you Kierkegaard and Roberts.

Laura Morgan said...

The early fathers clearly had very little interest in the surrounding or circumstances of Jesus' birth. Even the discussions about the Marian dogma had nothing to do with virginal conception, but rather had entirely everything to do with the deeply theological paradox that comes with the theokotos. While Nestorius found this highly problematic (for how can the immutable God be passible?), Cyril thought it was essential, (he desired to preserve the soteriological necessity of passibility, while maintaining the immutuable integrity of the Platonic God) . The reasons for this debate, I think, point to the concern that Kierkegaard had, and that we ought to have, about what Christmas does to our Christology.