Why God Became Man
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In Lehman Strauss’ article, “Why God Became Man” the issue of Jesus’ incarnation is explored. Throughout the article Strauss demonstrates a thorough grasp of scripture – both Old and New Testament, approaching the issue of the incarnation of Jesus with an evangelical Christian worldview – applying the Bible literally, believing the scriptures to be inerrant. Strauss’ interaction with the scriptures is a clear strength of this article, as he repeated links multiple verses together to formulate clear and distinct points. Not only does Strauss exhibit a grounded view of scripture, he also interacts with history to build and support his defense, citing multiple early Christian councils that affirm his position that Jesus Christ was indeed fully God, fully man and born of a virgin. That he interacts with well-documented historical creeds, such as the church councils at Nicaea in 325 A.D. (addressing the divinity of Jesus Christ and his equality with the Father 1) and the council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. (making the statement that Jesus is both God and man in one person 2) is important as they addresses common arguments and opposing viewpoints that challenge Jesus’s identity as well as His divine incarnation.
Though the article is lengthy in it’s presentation, it provides a balanced treatment on the issue of Jesus’ incarnation by highlighting seven key reasons why Jesus departed from heaven and put on flesh which include – He Came to Reveal God to Man; He Came to Reveal Man to Himself; He Came to Redeem Man; He Came to Restrain Satan; He Came to Rescue the Whole Creation; He Came to Restore Israel; and He Came to Reign. Each point addresses a specific issue and directs the reader’s attention to biblical support for his stance – one drawback to this is that a circular argument leaves no “on ramp” for external critique. However, Strauss’ high view of scripture lends itself to this as 2 Timothy 3:16 emphasizes that all scripture is good for teaching and doctrine, so what better document on Christian theology than the inspired word of God itself?
While so much time was dedicated to defending the reasons behind the incarnation, a weakness to this article is revealed in the silence regarding what the reader is to do with this information. Missing is the challenge to the reader to respond to the information provided, to accept the grace of Jesus’ sacrificial death and the hope that can only be found in Him. A sound defense of Christian faith and doctrine is presented, but what of today’s non-Christian? Unless the reader has a fundamental grasp on basic Christian theology there is little to compel the reader to investigate or understand the importance of the issue at hand. The missing ingredient is that “He Came to Disciple the Sinner”
As a Pastor of a faith community that reaches out exclusively to those who do not know or believe in Christ, there is little in the article that speaks to a generation of people who have grown increasingly cynical about faith. I believe that cynicism arises from our very public disputes on non-salvation issues, not that the incarnation of Jesus is a non-salvation issue – it is. To quote an article I read recently in RELEVANT Magazine about cynicism, “things like reality, petty disputes and little vices get in the way.”3 However, to the not-yet Christian, the importance of this issue is a mystery to them and if we are to truly live out the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20, we must approach issues as such with a tempered resolve and a handful of grace.
The only section of the article that grabbed my attention as speaking to the not-yet Christian, was when Strauss made point in the section, “He Came to Redeem Man” that Jesus’ express purpose was to rescue the sinner. Nothing in the rest of the article addresses the need for discipleship, the very thing that must happen to prevent wayward doctrines like Nestorianism (deemed anathema at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.) from rising up again. While I agree that Strauss lays out a strong apologetic defense in support of Jesus’ divine incarnation, the hole in his ship, albeit small, is the lack of concern to address the un-evangelized and cynical. I believe that a correct understanding of Christology is critical to salvation, because how can a believer have salvation without having an accurate understanding of the Savior. However, the “how” this is accomplished, and “why this is relevant” is a vital component to reaching those beyond the walls of today’s churches.
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Strauss, Lehman. Why God Became Man. May 27, 2004. https://bible.org/article/why-god-
became-man (accessed March 31, 2014).
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