These are the last citations we will make from his On the Incarnation of the Word. Two quick notes:
First, do not be overly concerned with the first sentence in the second paragraph. This reflects a teaching among some of the ancient fathers which is commonly referred to as theiosis, and which continues on today, perhaps predominantly, in the Orthodox churches. Safe to say, it is not referring to the idea that we actually become deities; rather it is a striking way to refer to how one of the benefits of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection, is that of enabling us to partake in the divine nature. Perhaps more about that in another blog post on another day.
Second, later on in that same paragraph, notice Athanasius’s eloquent words regarding how many are the benefits of Christ’s incarnation and cross. This accords very well with what has sometimes been referred to in recent years as a “kaleidoscopic” view of the atonement. Again, more about that in another post.
Who, then, is He Who has done these things and has united in peace those who hated each other, save the beloved Son of the Father, the common Savior of all, Jesus Christ, Who by His own love underwent all things for our salvation? (8.52)
He, indeed, assumed humanity that we might become God. He manifested Himself by means of a body in order that we might perceive the Mind of the unseen Father. He endured shame from men that we might inherit immortality. He Himself was unhurt by this, for He is impassable and incorruptible; but by His own impassability He kept and healed the suffering men on whose account He thus endured. In short, such and so many are the Savior’s achievements that follow from His Incarnation, that to try to number them is like gazing at the open sea and trying to count the waves. One cannot see all the waves with one’s eyes, for when one tries to do so those that are following on baffle one’s senses. Even so, when one wants to take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, one cannot do so, even by reckoning them up, for the things that transcend one’s thought are always more than those one thinks that one has grasped. (8.54)
March 5, 2015