This paper seeks to examine the relationship between incarnation and atonement, focusing on Anselm’s idea of satisfaction. Christian study comprises of the incarnation and atonement of the Son of God. A lot of theological doctrines have evolved following numerous studies that have been undertaken by several theologians among them Anselm. He presents incarnation as the key belief of Christianity. Anselm also considers atonement as a fundamental teaching of the church. Incarnation and atonement have to be defined in order to get a clear presentation of how the two doctrines are related. However, many theologians have come up with several connections between incarnation and atonement.
Incarnation refers to the fact that Jesus was born and presented himself as mankind so as to save the world (Gasper 32-35). From the Bible, Jesus adopted the lifestyle of humans despite being the son of God. He took away the sins of the world in order to save mankind and this is evident in the way he was crucified on the cross at Calvary. Jesus was faithful in his actions as he wanted to fulfill the will of God. Incarnation is a fundamental doctrine from which a lot of teachings originate in Christianity. This is evident in the first chapter of the book of John in the new testament of the Bible which teaches that the word of God became flesh and remained with the people. The incarnation of Jesus teaches Christians that Jesus is God as well as mankind at the same time. On the same breath, atonement as a doctrine of the church illustrates how man came to reconcile with God. In accepting to die on the cross, Jesus Christ took away the sins of mankind and that is how man came to terms with God. This has been captured well in the new testament of the scriptures in the third chapter of the book of John. It states that God loved the universe so much that he allowed Jesus Christ to die for mankind. The verse in the new testament portrays a clear manifestation of God’s love for mankind.
Anselm’s idea of satisfaction acknowledges the fundamental belief of Christianity. It supports the biblical teaching that God came down to the world through his son and became part of mankind. Other theologians argued that the act of God coming down to the world in the form of man could be seen as to show less power (Gasper 18-21). Anselm agreed with these theologians to some extent. He, however, emphasized that the son of God descended in human and Godlike and human forms. Jesus underwent a lot of pain and suffering while on his mission. Such acts of pain would portray the creator as less powerful and would mean that the creator was not in a position to bring salvation to the world as a man. This is because the creator would be perceived to have the power of an ordinary human being. However, the son of God has a Godly form contrary to the human form that is susceptible to pain and suffering. Jesus’s Godly nature enables him to be praised and worshiped. Incarnation similarly presents itself in the form of elation as well as superiority. In his incarnation, the creator is seen to be a supreme being. On the other hand, the form of the human being is glorified.
It is clear that Jesus Christ had to be crucified on the cross in order to wash away the sins of the world. This was the aim of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Anselm goes ahead to point out that Jesus Christ was not forced by God to die in order to save the world. He took it upon himself to carry the cross of mankind so as to deliver the world from sin. Furthermore, the son of God agreed to be crucified as a show of obedience to the creator as well as portray the power of God. Fundamentally, Jesus Christ agreed to be crucified at Calvary as a way in which God would use to disclose the extent he would go to bring salvation to the world that was full of sin. Jesus Christ, therefore, loved mankind in the same degree that the creator loved the world (Gasper 24-29). As a result, Jesus Christ loving God the most knew that it was the creator’s will for him to die on the cross.
Anselm shows how sin is critical in as much as salvation is concerned. He describes acts that are not in line with the creator as sin. Anselm emphasizes that human beings ought to walk in ways that please the creator and that God is not happy whenever mankind disobeys him. According to Anselm, God is not being glorified whenever human being engages in sin. This is because in sinning the world goes against the will of the creator (Gasper 34-36). Human beings do not have the power to restore the ways in which they have acted against the will of the Father by bringing shame to him. In this way, mankind is set to face condemnation from the creator and at the same time, human beings have little to do in order to bring back God’s glory.
Anselm argues that God has the power to wash away the sins of mankind from the fact that he loves the world so much. However, he goes ahead to insist that such is not in line with God’s character. God is always fair. If sin is to be neglected, renders the act of sin uncorrected. This means that allowing such acts would imply that the kingdom of the Creator is out of order. It would portray a different character in him which is contrary to his fairness (Gasper 23-27). In addition, if Gods love were to pay for the sin of mankind without discipline, then no fairness would prevail in the world. This presented a lot of unanswered questions to Anselm as well as another theologian in the Christian community. This shows a difficult situation in which man destroys Gods glory and is not in a position to take back the shame he has brought before the creator. Anselm pictures a situation in which mankind has depleted Gods glory bringing shame before him. The situation is even made bitter by the condition that mankind cannot do anything to salvage God’s lost glory.
Anselm further suggests that the creator had no other choice but to discipline those who acted against his will. The sinners were subject to the punishment which was fair as a result of them taking away God’s glory. The actions of the sinners demeaned the supremacy of the Almighty God. Likewise, unless satisfaction is achieved, the creator disciplines those who act against his will and at the same time, it becomes difficult for mankind to counter his situation and attain joy in life. Mankind’s happiness could come true only if he provides enough satisfaction for taking away God’s glory. This is only achieved if a man takes back Gods lost glory. However, mankind cannot provide enough reason for the sins they have committed. The only possible reason that mankind can give is changing their ways to those that fulfill the will of the creator (Gasper 21-26). This change of ways is not easily achievable. Mankind requires to pay a bigger price for the satisfaction, a price that exceeds the world with exclusion of the creator. However, no man can afford such a big price. The Almighty God alone has the capability of making satisfaction. On the contrary, for fairness to prevail, human beings themselves should pay the price for acting against the will of the creator. As a result, Jesus Christ had to come down to the earth so as to disclose himself as the human being with divine power. He paid the price for the sins of mankind on the cross in order to bring salvation to mankind.
Anselm goes further to illustrate the approaches in which the creator would adopt in order to bring satisfaction. One of the approaches was for God to maintain his supreme being while another was to take the form of a human being. However, neither of these approaches would lead to satisfaction. Atonement was achievable only when God came in the form of Supreme Being and a man at the same time. This paved the way for the punishment of man for the sins committed and the process of coming to terms with God. Anselm illustrates that human beings required more than Incarnation in order to warrant salvation (Gasper 23-27). Jesus Christ, therefore, had to die in a manner that would enable satisfaction to prevail. The suffering and pain that Jesus went through facilitated salvation for mankind. It is difficult to assess the relationship between incarnation and atonement as the key doctrines of Christianity. The incarnation of the creator as a supreme being and a man at the same time paved the way for atonement after satisfaction was achieved. On the other hand, the importance of atonement is portrayed in that it enabled Incarnation to take place. This is because the creator had to save mankind by being the Supreme Being and man at the same time. The two forms of God facilitated forgiveness of sins hence it brought salvation to mankind.
The love of the world has been presented as the fundamental reason for the death of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. Anselm has presented incarnation and atonement as having a direct relationship. Both doctrines have been shown to be of importance in saving mankind from sin. It illustrates that the main reason for the incarnation was to aid atonement. Anselm stresses the fact that atonement was of great significance in that incarnation on its own would not have saved mankind from sin.
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