Monday, August 04, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question

Chapter 10:  Greatness Incarnate

In this final chapter of the book we have been reading through, Abdu Murray’s Grand Central Question, an examination of the incarnation takes place to determine whether it helps answer Islam’s Grand Central Question:  How is God great?

Murray first clarifies that the classical understanding of the incarnation is that the second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, took on human nature. The incarnation is one person, Jesus of Nazareth, having a divine nature and a human nature. Jesus has all of the essential properties to be God and all of the essential properties to be human. In no way is the incarnation impossible.

However, the Muslim responds with questions of doubt:  Does it not limit God? Does it not reduce God’s greatness? We even see limitations of Jesus in the Gospels do we not? These limitations culminate in his death. God cannot die! Murray writes:

When my nine-year-old son and I wrestle, I suspend the full use of my strength, but I don’t divest myself of it. And so when Jesus exhibits seeming limitations, it can easily be no more than the mere suppression of his power and knowledge.1  

Regarding the death of God:  Jesus did not die as God; he died as a man. In no way does the incarnation denigrate God.

Murray contends that the incarnation manifests the greatness of God because it is the greatest possible revelation of the Greatest Possible Being. He writes:

The interlacing revelation of the written Word and the incarnate Word shows us how God fought for us on battlefields, delivered laws from atop mountains and ate among us in a quiet room. We can know God in the beauty of a life lived in a person, Jesus of Nazareth – someone each one of us can relate to. The fact that God devised a way to make that kind of disclosure, despite our limitations, testifies to his great ingenuity and great affection.2

Finally, the incarnation displays the Greatest Possible Being expressing the greatest possible ethic (love) in the greatest possible way. Jesus sacrificed by becoming sin and bearing the wrath of God deserved to be dealt upon us. While we are capable of self-sacrifice to the point of death we do not reach such a level for our enemies; for those who hate us. Yet, while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Truly the incarnation demonstrates God’s great affection for us and truly it answers Islam's question of how God is great.

Stand firm in Christ,

1. Page 217.
2. Page 220.

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