The Incarnation of the Son of God is the terminology used to describe what happened when the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, "became flesh" as he was miraculously conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary according to the Bible. In the incarnation, the divine nature of the Son was perfectly united with human nature in one divine Person. This person, Jesus Christ, was both "truly God and truly man."

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Importance of the doctrine

In the early Christian era many divisions broke out concerning the true nature of Christ. Christians believed that He was the Son of God, but how was he both Son of God and truly man?

These disputes gave birth to certain heresies, the most serious of which were the Gnostic heresy, which stated that Jesus only appeared to be a true man; the Arian heresy, which taught that Jesus was a created being, less than God; and the Nestorian heresy, which implied that the Son of God, and the man, Jesus, shared the same body but retained two separate personhoods.

The final definitions of the incarnation and the nature of Jesus were made by the early church at the Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Chalcedon (451). These councils declared that Jesus was both fully God, begotten from the Father; and fully man, taking His flesh and human nature from the Virgin Mary. These two natures, human and divine, were hypostatically united into the one personhood of Jesus Christ.

Further reading

  • Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ. IVP Academic, 2008.
  • Athanasius, On the Incarnation. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1975.
  • Stephen T. Davis, et al., eds. The Incarnation: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God. Oxford, 2004.
  • Paul D. Molnar, Incarnation and Resurrection: Toward a Contemporary Understanding. Eerdmans, 2007.

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