Thursday, September 21, 2023

He Had to Be


To be in the image of God is to be logikos, a term which can only be translated into English, but very unsatisfactorily, as “rational.”

From the Introduction by C.S. Lewis to On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius

The term logikos can only be properly understood in relation to the Logos; in other words, to be in the image of God can only be understood in relation to God.  Only when in relation to the Logos can we be deemed to be logikos: rational.  If we are to live rationally, we are to pattern our life in accord with the Logos.

Man was created to live in this condition – this condition of relationship to the Logos.  It is in this condition that we are to remain or abide.  It is our nature – and this is linked completely with the presence of the Word of God.

Lewis, in this introduction, cites Athanasius, from Against the Gentiles:

In this way then, as has been said, did the Creator fashion the human race, and such did he wish it to remain.

But then the snake, the forbidden tree, the fall.  We chose what was closer – the body and its sensations.

…they fell into desire for themselves preferring their own things to the contemplation of divine things. …they imprisoned in bodily pleasures their souls…

In our time we get the year-round month of June. 

Continuing with Athanasius, he touches on the nakedness that man realized with the fall:

…not so much naked of clothing, but they had become naked of the contemplation of divine things, and that they had turned their minds in the opposite direction.

As Lewis describes it, we lost the garment of contemplation when we succumbed to our desire.  It is in this way that we were truly naked.  We remain caught in this corruption, save for the salvific work of Christ.  And this begins the hint of why Christ was not merely a perfect man, nor only a divine being, but the God-man – as He had to be.

Athanasius continues by examining the complete order of the creation; in no sense is it a clockwork universe.  Creation, not out of chaos but out of nothing, is not only the one-time handiwork of the Creator – it is held together and continues to exist only because the Creator holds it together.  As Athanasius puts it, “a relapse into non-existence, were it not protected by the Word…”

Were we not protected by the Word in our day, is it so hard to see a relapse into non-existence for humanity?  We are working very hard to destroy everything about us that is human, everything about living on this earth.  Absent the Word, we would succeed.

Logos, reason, rationality, the Tao, the created order, natural law.  Under any of these names, the Word is holding the world together.  it is the only reason it is so.

The Creation was from the Logos – in other words, this side-show debate of the impossible (can God make a rock so heavy He cannot lift it; can God violate the laws of nature) is pure nonsense.  God created an order such that the silly is not possible; further, it would seem foolish to consider that God would create in such a way that was contrary to His purpose.

Citing again from Athanasius’s prior work:

But being good, he governs and establishes the whole world through his Word who is himself God, in order that creation, illumined by the leadership, providence, and the ordering of the Word, may be able to remain firm, since it participates in the Word who is truly from the Father.

The Word created the world and holds it together.  How could the Word then violate that order which the Word created?  The would be no rationality in this.

Returning to the fall and death for man, Athanasius, in this present work, confronts two accounts of what he describes as the “divine dilemma.”  First, given the fall, what should God do?  Allow death to hold sway, thus showing God as uncaring?  Should He go against His own law and act as if the fall didn’t happen?

The resolution of this divine dilemma is that the Word of God takes a human body, as his “instrument,” in order to be able to offer it to death and in this way conquer death, rendering his body incorruptible.

The second divine dilemma is from the perspective of knowledge.  Once human beings were focused on material, bodily things, how else could God grab our attention other than through a body?

The solution to all of this could only be that God took on flesh – not merely a human being, but divine.  Only one sacrifice would suffice, only one payment would satisfy, only one act could not be bettered.  God sacrificed the Word, the Word as the only sacrifice that would be complete and final; also, a sacrifice of man, to demonstrate the incorruptibility of man’s body.

What sacrifice could top this one?  What, or whose, other Resurrection would suffice?


For Athanasius, the “incarnation,” in all its dimensions as had been explored, is clearly the basis, and the basic model, for Christian life and activity, the appropriation of what has been wrought by Christ in his Passion, in and through which we attain to the truly human status as intended for us by God.

It is only through Christ and his Passion that we can have communion with God.  Could anyone other than the God-man have accomplished this on our behalf?


  1. Nope. It is only through this very narrow path.

  2. I cannot dispute C.S. Lewis or Athanasius. That is beyond my capabilities. However, there is something more to add here.

    "For God knows (is aware, understands) that in the day you eat of it (the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing (determining, establishing, deciding) good and evil." -- Genesis 3:5

    The serpent offered Adam and Eve the opportunity to become like God and they took advantage of it. That is to say, that when they had the chance to write their own rules, they grabbed it immediately, and the world has never been the same.

    Concerning nakedness, this is not a matter of physical nakedness, but more properly one in which Adam and Eve, more than likely, saw something in themselves which had to be covered up and kept from public consciousness, i.e., the fact that they were not God nor were they perfect in their determinations. The coverings of fig leaves were only a poor attempt to try to cover their real nakedness.

    Unfortunately, as a species, we have not yet learned that we are imperfect and cannot be like God, therefore we try to cover ourselves with all sorts of things which do not address the problem but are only deceptions and subterfuge. In this respect, we are like Satan, the father of lies, whose M.O. can be condensed to three words--kill, steal, destroy.