Paradox and the incarnation: Why it isn’t simply a matter of logical contradiction
Lawson, F. 2023. Paradox and the incarnation: Why it isn’t simply a matter of logical contradiction.
‘To say that Christ is a single hypostasis who joins together two wholly distinct and unequal natures […] is to say that he is a living paradox’ (Daley, 2004, pp. 194–5). In contrast to Daley, many have argued the paradoxicality of the incarnation refers simply to “verbal puzzles” (Basinger, 1987, p. 205). Such accounts of paradox as contradiction, focus on logical contradiction and the epistemic limitations of humans to be able to hold the concepts in a coherent epistemic or theological framework (Goulder, 1979; See Hepburn, 1960). A similar approach can be seen in C. Stephen Evans’ account of our “problematic” conceptual equipment at the root of paradox. In this paper I argue that the resolution of paradox does not require the removal of divine mystery. One does not have to understand the mechanism (of the incarnation) to challenge the claim of paradox. Likewise, one does not need to have a full definition of “human” and/or “divine” to reconcile the apparently contradictory properties of the incarnation. The claim of paradox rests in assumptions regarding a dichotomous or binary understanding of the nature of the world. These assumptions stem from metaphysical assumptions about the nature of substance(s) and reality and are brough sharply in to question by a holistic (or non-binary) metaphysics. After examining the challenge of defining paradox in theological terms, I highlight how, just as paradox and mystery have often become conflated in our theological discussion, so too have the Aristotelian concepts of non-contradiction and the excluded middle. Having created greater clarity around the issues I then provide some initial responses to “paradox” in our incarnational understanding. This is by no means an exhaustive study, but instead, I propose, aims to open the dialogue to a broader conversation about the impact of assumed dualisms on our understanding of the nature of Christ (and the world).
|Keywords||Paradox; Incarnation; Non-contradiction; Holism|
File Access Level
|Web address (URL) of conference proceedings||https://www.tyndalefellowship.org/_files/ugd/8f9f88_21bc9175b4684ab5853343feda093860.pdf|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||10 Jul 2023|
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