Incarnation

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The purpose and cause of the incarnation was that He might illuminate the world by His wisdom and excite it to the love of Himself. ~ Peter Abelard

Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial. In its religious context the word is used to mean the descent from Heaven of a god, or divine being in human/animal form on Earth. The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were sometimes said to be incarnations of the Sun gods Horus and Ra. The Incarnation of Christ is a central Christian doctrine that God became flesh, assumed a human nature, and became a man in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second person of the Trinity. In Hinduism, incarnation generally refers to an avatar of Vishnu or Ganesha. Collectively, the 10 avatars of Vishnu are known as the dashavatara. In the Bahá'í Faith, God is described as a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe. In the teaching of the Buddha sentient beings incarnate due to the psychological factors of ignorance, craving and clinging which results in the phenomenon of becoming and rebirth. Mainstream Islam completely rejects the doctrine of the incarnation of God in any form, as the concept is defined as shirk.

Jesus did not spend a great deal of time discoursing about the trinity or original sin or the incarnation, which have preoccupied later Christians. He went around doing good and being compassionate. ~ Karen Armstrong
CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links

Quotes[edit]

Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F[edit]

Jesus’ incarnation and ministry thus present us with the final critique of strategic religion; on the cross, where we see God almost deliberately ‘lose’ – as if duped into being strung up by a scheming, fearful group of clerics – we see the end of power games. God will not play... - Kester Brewin.
Basically there can be no categories such as 'religious art' and 'secular' art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore 'religious'. - Madeleine L'Engle.
  • Christians believe there is an afterlife. Although the body dies and is buried or cremated, they believe that their unique soul lives on and is raised to new life by God.
    Their belief that Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion (a Roman method of execution) gives Christians hope that if they follow Jesus’ teaching and accept him as their Lord and Saviour, then this new resurrection life awaits them. By being born as a human being (the incarnation), and then dying on the cross, Jesus made this new ‘life after death’ possible for all.
  • In the Platonic anthropology, the first incarnation of the soul occurs in a masculine body, and only a subsequent incarnation, marking a later descent of the soul into the world of bodies, is feminine.
  • Jesus’ incarnation and ministry thus present us with the final critique of strategic religion; on the cross, where we see God almost deliberately ‘lose’ – as if duped into being strung up by a scheming, fearful group of clerics – we see the end of power games. God will not play. I sincerely believe that if the Church allows itself to be tied up in strategies, into ‘winning’ people for Christ, it will end inexorably moving towards power-politics, towards support for wars, and away from genuine concern for the ‘other’.
  • Incarnation, central Christian doctrine that God became flesh, that God assumed a human nature and became a man in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second person of the Trinity. Christ was truly God and truly man. The doctrine maintains that the divine and human natures of Jesus do not exist beside one another in an unconnected way but rather are joined in him in a personal unity that has traditionally been referred to as the hypostatic union.
  • The word Incarnation (from the Latin caro, “flesh”) may refer to the moment when this union of the divine nature of the second person of the Trinity with the human nature became operative in the womb of the Virgin Mary or to the permanent reality of that union in the person of Jesus. The term may be most closely related to the claim in the prologue of the Gospel. According to John that the Word became flesh—that is, assumed human nature.
  • The essence of the doctrine of the Incarnation is that the preexistent Word has been embodied in the man Jesus of Nazareth, who is presented in the Gospel. According to John as being in close personal union with the Father, whose words Jesus is speaking when he preaches the gospel.
  • The development of a more refined theology of the Incarnation resulted from the response of the early church to various misinterpretations concerning the question of the divinity of Jesus and the relationship of the divine and human natures of Jesus. The Council of Nicaea (AD 325) determined that Christ was “begotten, not made” and that he was therefore not creature but Creator. The basis for this claim was the doctrine that he was “of the same substance as the Father.” The doctrine was further defined by the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), at which it was declared that Jesus was perfect in deity and in humanity and that the identity of each nature was preserved in the person of Jesus Christ. The affirmation of the oneness of Christ with God and with humanity was made while maintaining the oneness of his person.
  • Greatness by nature includes a power, but not a will to power....The great man, whether we comprehend him in the most intense activity of his work or in the restful equipoise of his forces, is powerful, involuntarily and composedly powerful, but he is not avid for power. What he is avid for is the realization of what he has in mind, the incarnation of the spirit.
The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator - Saint Catherine's Monastery. The two different facial expressions on either side emphasize Christ's dual nature as both divine and human - The effect of the Incarnation on the human will of Christ was to leave it free in all things save only sin. It was absolutely impossible that any stain of sin should soil the soul of Christ. Neither sinful act of the will nor sinful habit of the soul were in keeping with the Hypostatic Union. The fact that Christ never sinned is an article of faith. - Catholic Encyclopedia .
  • The Incarnation implies three facts: (1) The Divine Person of Jesus Christ; (2) The Human Nature of Jesus Christ; (3) The Hypostatic Union of the Human with the Divine Nature in the Divine Person of Jesus Christ.
  • The effect of the Incarnation on the human will of Christ was to leave it free in all things save only sin. It was absolutely impossible that any stain of sin should soil the soul of Christ. Neither sinful act of the will nor sinful habit of the soul were in keeping with the Hypostatic Union. The fact that Christ never sinned is an article of faith.
  • The will of Christ remained free after the Incarnation. This is an article of faith.

G - L[edit]

Thus the word reveals the Divine Essence; His incarnation makes that Life, that Love, that Light, which is eternally resident in God obvious to souls that steadily contemplate Himself.... - Henry Parry Liddon.

M - R[edit]

I believe that through discipline, though not through discipline alone, we can achieve serenity, and a certain small but precious measure of the freedom from the accidents of incarnation, and charity, and that detachment which preserves the world which it renounces. ~ Robert Oppenheimer

S - Z[edit]

But as flawed humans, we give only a vague hint of God. Our broken reflection of God's image is easily drowned out by our broken humanity. then, two thousand years ago, God came in his fullness. He came to all of us in Jesus. The incarnation is not owned, trademarked, or controlled by any church. It belongs to every human being. The incarnation is not something that requires a distributor or middleman. It is a gracious gift to every person everywhere, religious or not. God gave himself to us in Jesus. - Michael Spencer.
  • The incarnation has many wonderful aspects...the incarnation is the complete refutation of every human system and institution that claims to control, possess, and distribute God. Whatever any church or religious leader may claim in regard to their particular access to God or control over your experience of God, the incarnation is the last word: God loves the world. God came into the world in the form of the people he created, the human race (including you and me), who bear his image. God's creation of humanity in his image gives hints of who he is, since we all are marked by his fingerprints.
  • But as flawed humans, we give only a vague hint of God. Our broken reflection of God's image is easily drowned out by our broken humanity. then, two thousand years ago, God came in his fullness. He came to all of us in Jesus. The incarnation is not owned, trademarked, or controlled by any church. It belongs to every human being. The incarnation is not something that requires a distributor or middleman. It is a gracious gift to every person everywhere, religious or not. God gave himself to us in Jesus.
    • Michael Spencer, in "Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality", p. 91
  • The symbol of the sun circle, one of the most prevalent artistic representations of the sacred king, and the practice of addressing the king as “my sun” are well depicted in rock reliefs and inscriptions in areas ruled by the Hittite kings. The Persian king was regarded as the incarnation of the sun god or of the moon god. In addition to sky or sun deities, the sacred king also has been identified with other gods: the town god (Mesopotamia), the gods of the country, the god of the storm, and the weather god.

In Buddhism[edit]

...]A Qubilghan, is in fact the representative in flesh and blood, of some Buddha, Bodhisattva, god or saint, whose spirit is incarnated in him at the moment of his birth, and will pass, at his death, into the body of the child destined to become his successor in the functions fulfilled by him. The incarnation is thus less a matter of person than function. - Alice Getty.
...Like Gautama Buddha in his incarnation of the arhat Sumedha, the Bodhisattva may have been, in a former re-birth, an arhat bent on his own salvation who, becoming inspired with the desire for Bodhi in order to save mankind, renounced his arhant-ship - Alice Getty.
  • The most important lineage of reincarnation was derived from the basic Buddhist idea of rebirth — the concept of the reimbodiment of a saintly predecessor's existence in a reincarnation of the same being in a new appearance, discovered anywhere in a child born at the right time and recognized by the leading monks and Lamas.
  • The Buddhist theory of re-incarnation is mainly rooted in the theory of Karma.
    • Taglung Tsetrul Rinpoche quoted, in "Buddhism, Reincarnation, and Dalai Lamas of Tibet", p. 17
  • According to the Northern Buddhist school, there are both mortal and celestialBodhisattvas. A mortal Bodhisattva is one who has manifested himself on earth in human (manushi) form, in a series of incarnations, until such a time as he has acquired sufficient merit and enlightenment to receive Buddhahood. Like Gautama Buddha in his incarnation of the arhat Sumedha, the Bodhisattva may have been, in a former re-birth, an arhat bent on his own salvation who, becoming inspired with the desire for Bodhi in order to save mankind, renounced his arhant-ship.
    • Alice Getty, in "The Gods of Northern Buddhism: Their History and Iconography", p. 44
  • The final form of the (Mahayana) Buddhist doctrine of incarnation is the idea of trikaya, three bodies: first, “Transformation Body,” the earthly Buddha, a transient and illusionary form of existence; second, “Enjoyment Body,” the form of existence for the sake of others; and third, “Dhamma Body,” the ultimate form of existence that indeed is no longer a “form” of existence but formless.
...In order to break the mind of this vain, mundane attitude towards life, we sit in meditation and contemplate first the eight freedoms and ten endowments, and then the meaningful and rare nature of a human incarnation. - Dalai Lama.
  • The ordinary samsaric mind sees the human body as just a tool with which to chase material, social, and biological needs, all of which satisfy only superficial levels of the spirit. Their effects do not pass beyond the gates of death. We have to learn to appreciate the intrinsic spiritual quality of human nature, to have a subtle confidence in the positive, creative aspect of our being. It is difficult to enter spiritual training if one regards one's life as having no purpose other than the pursuit of ephemeral, transient goals, as does a rat who builds a strong nest and then drags home all sorts of trinkets to it. In order to break the mind of this vain, mundane attitude towards life, we sit in meditation and contemplate first the eight freedoms and ten endowments, and then the meaningful and rare nature of a human incarnation.
  • If we do not practice now while we have an incarnation most suitable to the attainment of enlightenment, what hope do we have for progress in the future? Many types of sentient beings, such as dogs and insects that live near a temple, meet with the teachings but, not having an appropriate physical or mental basis, they are unable to comprehend them or put them to use.
    • Dalai Lama, in "The Path to Enlightenment", p. 36

In Hinduism[edit]

*Avatar, Sanskrit avatāra (“descent”), in Hinduism, the incarnation of a deity in human or animal form to counteract some particular evil in the world. The term usually refers to these 10 appearances of Vishnu: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (half man, half lion), Vamana (dwarf), Parashurama (Rama with the axe), Rama (hero of the Ramayana epic), Krishna (the divine cowherd), Buddha, and Kalkin (the incarnation yet to come).
  • The number of Vishnu’s avatars is sometimes extended or their identities changed, according to local preferences. Thus, Krishna is in some areas elevated to the rank of a deity and his half brother, Balarama, included as an avatar.

The Hindus: An Alternative History[edit]

Wendy Doniger, in The Hindus: An Alternative History, Oxford University Press, 30 September 2010.

  • Both of them revert to their divine status, but in opposite places. When Brahma is chastising Rama for doubting Sita, he reassures Rama that Sita is an incarnation of the goddess Lakshmi and will be reunited with him in heaven.
    • In: p. 231
  • ... all conscience and moralizing, and Kumbhakarna (Ravana's monstrous brother, who sleeps for years at a time and wakes only to eat and fight) is a superb literary incarnation of the bestial id.
    • In: p. 246
  • Dharma, the god, must undergo the curse for miscarriage of dharma. Being born as a human is different both from fathering a child (as Dharma fathersYudhishthira) and from spinning off an incarnation (as Vishnudoes for Rama and Krishna), ...
    • In: p. 279
  • A slave girl who functions as a dispensable, low-class stand-in (like theNishadas burned in the house of lac) gives birth toVidura, the incarnation of Dharma in fulfillment ofMandavya's curse that he should be born as the son of a Shudra...
    • In: p. 294
  • The myth of Vishnu's incarnation as the Buddha is established in full detail in the Vishnu Parana, represented on the sixth- to seventh-century Dashavatara temple at Deogarh and mentioned in a seventh century Pallava inscription and an eight century Tamil inscription.
    • In: p. 482

In Jainism[edit]

In Sikhism[edit]

In Islam[edit]

  • Muslims believe that there are no intermediaries between God and the creation that he brought into being by his sheer command, “Be.” Although his presence is believed to be everywhere, he is not incarnated in anything. He is the sole creator and sustainer of the universe, wherein every creature bears witness to his unity and lordship. But he is also just and merciful: his justice ensures order in his creation, in which nothing is believed to be out of place, and his mercy is unbounded and encompasses everything.
  • Ahl-e Ḥaqq, (Arabic: “People of Truth,” or “People of God”), a secret, [[w:Syncretistic|syncretistic religion, derived largely from Islām, whose adherents are found in western Iran, with enclaves in Iraq. They retain the 12 imams of the Ithnā ʿAsharīyah sect and such aspects of Islāmicmysticism as the communal feast. Central to their religion, however, is a belief in seven successive manifestations of God. They further believe in the transmigration of souls, asserting that every person must pass through 1,001 incarnations, in the course of which he receives the proper reward for his actions.

External links[edit]

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