Irenaeus was a bishop and theologian during the 2nd century. His 5 part work entitled Against Heresies gives us a view into the early church. As Christmas approaches, here are some of his thoughts on the Incarnation (III.20).
Just as the physician is proved by his patients, so is God also revealed through men. And therefore Paul declares, “For God has concluded all in unbelief, that He may have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32) [saying this in reference to man], who had been disobedient to God, and being cast off from immortality, then obtained mercy, receiving through the Son of God that adoption which is [accomplished] by Himself.
This adoption, which is a work of God, is granted to all who have an active faith in God and the salvation that comes through Christ.
For he who holds, without pride and boasting, the true glory (opinion) regarding created things and the Creator, who is the Almighty God of all, and who has granted existence to all; [such an one,] continuing in His love and subjection (obedience), and giving of thanks, shall also receive from Him the greater glory of promotion, looking forward to the time when he shall become like Him who died for him,
But this promotion is only possible because the Word was willing to become flesh (John 1:1,14). Continue reading
Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people
In explaining the meaning of Christmas, Justin tackles the problem of evil by examining the massacre of infants ordered by Herod. Think for a moment about what life would have been like in Bethlehem for parents with young children.
If you have trouble imagining what it might be like, Unholy Night, the mashup by Seth Grahame-Smith (of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter fame) may help. In this book he relates some of the horrors unleashed by Herod.
a woman in dark robes, running barefoot toward them down one of the cobblestoned streets. Running faster than she’d run in her life, because nothing in her life had ever been as important. …
There was a baby in her arms.
Naked. Tiny. Held to its mother’s breast as she ran from the horse. The black horse galloped after them with a soldier on its back, his armor clanging around him, his sword drawn.
That image should make you recoil. Continue reading
In his treatise Dialogue with Trypho, Justin Martyr, a 2nd century Christian philosopher, explains the meaning of the Christmas story to Trypho. This story uses a popular literary format to present an argument in the form of a discussion (modeled after Plato) and explores the Jewish rejection of the Messiah using the Socratic method of questions.