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The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” Jim Packer, Knowing God.
With contributions from Greg Lanier, Suzanne McDonald, David Shaw, Chris Stead, Nathan Weston, and Garry Williams.
An issue of Primer is always an informative read and this issue tackling the incarnation does not disappoint. As with previous issues, the doctrine beyond the introductory level, without jumping off the deep end into the advanced level. It is a series for pastors and enquiring laypeople rather than theologians. The issue opens with a superb analysis by Greg Lanier of the person of Christ in the Gospels. The people, angels and demons, the authors, the Father and Spirit and Jesus himself all witness to the Son’s full humanity and divinity. Chris Stead shows how the Christological statement of the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 not only defends against various wrong views of the person of Christ, but also accords with Scripture, in particular the magnificent prologue of John’s Gospel (1.1–18). Garry Williams dusts off the undeservedly obscure Maximus the Confessor (c.580 – 662) who suffered and died for asserting that Christ has both a human and a divine will. This seemingly esoteric doctrine is actually vital for Jesus being both fully human and divine, and a thus the perfect Saviour we all need. The “Something old” section in this issue comes from John Owen’s Glory of Christ, calling us to contemplate his glory, much needed advice in our activist age. Suzanne McDonald provides helpful commentary. Nathan Weston expounds Hebrews 2 to show that the Son of God taking on human flesh frees his people from shame and fear. Finally, David Shaw discusses how the term “incarnational ministry” is both helpful and unhelpful. Christ’s incarnation as our Saviour was a one–off event which we cannot repeat, but we are called to imitate the self–humbling it involved (Philippians 2.5–8, John 13). The incarnation is very well worth thinking about and not just at Christmas time, and this issue of Primer will help you to do that.
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