During Lent I am reading Aquinas’s third part, where he delves into the theology of Christ both in his person and work. I will also be taking a gander through a few sections from Barth’s Church Dogmatics IV.1, Augustine’s homilies on Lent, and George Herbert’s The Country Parson, and The Temple. I wanted to offer a few select quotes from each of these readings throughout Lent.
To begin, let’s look at the Aquinas’s understanding of the fittingness of the Incarnation of Son of God. In the first article of his first question on the Incarnation, Aquinas asks whether it was “fitting that God should become incarnate?” He answers that it is most fitting that God would become incarnate, first, as he argues in his sed contra, so that the invisible God would reveal himself through visible things, referencing Romans 1:20, and specifically, through the true, real and visible Incarnation of the Son of God. This revelation of God is grounded in his goodness and oriented towards humanity’s salvation. This is how he says it:
But the very nature of God is goodness as is clear from Dionysius (div. nom. i). Hence, what belongs to the essence of goodness befits God. But it belong to the essence of goodness to communicate itself to others… Hence it belongs to the essence of the highest good to communicate itself in the highest manner to the creature, and this is brought about chiefly, by ‘His so joining created nature to himself that one Person is made up of these three – the Word, a soul and flesh’ as Augustine says (De Trin. xiii). Hence it is manifest that it was fitting that God should become incarnate.Aquinas, Summa, 3.Q1A1.
Next, in the first two replies, he clarifies that the Son of God was from eternity and became incarnate, it was the human nature that came into being, not God in the incarnation. And God’s distinct purpose in becoming incarnate was for the sake of humanity’s salvation, because of his infinite goodness, not because of some fittingness of humanity as a kind of receptacle for God. It was fitting that God the Son became incarnate because of God’s goodness, and God’s desire to save humanity and reveal who God is to humanity.
In my next post on Aquinas, I will look at the various ways Aquinas articulate how the incarnation and mission of the son restores humanity.