Incarnation As Embodiment Of Spirit

Traditionally, the word Incarnation denotes the coming of God into our world in the person and life of Jesus, which happened for the first and only time 2000 years ago.

I want to challenge the narrow reductionism of the inherited tradition, and instead, offer an evolutionary perspective in which we understand Incarnation as a process of embodiment that has been going on for billions of years, a flourishing that continues through the expanding and increasing complexity of the evolutionary process itself.

The Body

Firstly, I am proposing that we understand Incarnation in its foundational meaning of embodiment. To adopt a phrase often used by the Canadian theologian Sallie McFague, God loves bodies! And the first and oldest body through which God reveals Godself is not the human, but the cosmos itself. Then God’s revelatory creativity is manifested in and through all the galactic and planetary bodies, including our Home Planet the Earth. And within our Earth are several embodied forms, mountains, lakes, plants, animals, even bacteria. Last of all are those embodied creatures we call humans, whose deepest identity is that of Earthlings, and not merely ensouled creatures somewhat suspended above the earth.

Divine Spirit cannot achieve anything without body. Body is the medium through which Spirit works, through which everything in creation grows and flourishes.

The Spirit

The notion of God as Spirit, what Christians call Holy Spirit, is usually understood as the opposite of all embodied forms, and cannot function till Jesus has first lived, died, and is risen from the dead. However, the book of Genesis makes abundantly clear that the Spirit is active at the dawn of creation; what’s more, it is the Spirit who draws forth the order, beauty, and meaning from the foundational chaos.

According to first nations/indigenous peoples, it is the Spirit that comes first – the original Incarnation, and we access (experience) the power of such Spirit through the living land itself—an insight that should not be confused with pantheism, or any denial of divine transcendence. Instead it strikes me as a far deeper—and in a mystical way—of understanding the embodiment of God as a central focus of faith.

The Human

God’s embodiment in the human does not begin with Jesus of Nazareth, nor with a non-evolutionary understanding of the human, dating our species to a mere 5-10 thousand years. Instead we need an enlarged view of God’s embodiment in the human stretching right back to 7 million years ago, the current paleontological date for human origins.

Why then did Jesus come on earth just two thousand years ago? I suggest we are marking an axial time in which the coming of Jesus signifies an affirmation, confirmation, and celebration of all that has evolved in and through our humanity over 7 million years. For most of that time we got it right—precisely because we remained very close to the earth and the natural cycles of creation. In other words we were much more closely attuned to the Great Spirit of earth, land, and soil.

Contrary, therefore, to conventional salvation-history, Jesus did not come to rescue us from anything! Salvation becomes our primary responsibility through learning afresh what it means to be authentically human upon our Spirit-infused earth. Jesus achieved this integrity in a uniquely remarkable way, leaving us a blueprint on how to become incarnational people in a more authentic way.

Standing in Sun

Listen to a follow-up Omega Center interview with Diarmuid O’Murchu here: EXPANDING OUR VIEW OF INCARNATION

2 Total Articles

About the Magazine

New Creation is the Center for Christogenesis online magazine dedicated to deepening our awareness of God, Cosmos, and Humanity in a scientific age.

Ω Vision and Ω Spirit cover questions of the theology and spirituality of the Center for Christogenesis worldview. Other areas include our What is God Today? video series, the Visio Divina image gallery, a Resources section with videos and PowerPoints, and the latest from Ilia Delio.

Find an Author

Newsletter Signup

Sign up here for periodic updates on Center for Christogenesis news, events, and the latest from New Creation.

What is God Today?

What is God Today? is an Center for Christogenesis video series featuring interviews with Ilia Delio on the meaning of the divine in the 21st century and what God is doing in our midst. Watch the Series

Articles by Ilia

Featured Testimonial

A love letter to Ilia and Peirre Teilhard de Chardin Dear Ilia, I am so grateful to have found your books, your website, the Omega community and you, the prophet. Of course none of this was accidental. It all started with a car accident on my 21st birthday in 1968. I was driving alone at night, back to my job as a junior housemistress in a rural boarding school in Australia. Only my knee was badly injured in the accident but when I regained consciousness in the ambulance, I was aware of a terrible pain in my chest (bruising from the impact against the steering wheel before seat belts) as I struggled to breathe, it crossed my mind that I might be dying. I remember clearly thinking ‘what did the nuns teach us to do when one is dying?’. I was feeling pretty panicky by now and said the ‘Our Father’ as I was praying I relaxed with great relief because I knew from that moment (since never waived in my whole body conviction), that I actually, after all that teenage angst and doubt , did believe in God and more importantly that he/she believed in me. It was the greatest birthday gift I could have wished for . However it took about 15 years of ‘unfolding’’ to recognise the giftedness of this experience. The freedom of discovering that “faith” is not a noun but a verb of growing and becoming has given me licence to come and go, explore here and there, on and off. From Liberation theology, to the feminist project, sojouning with protestant friends and projects in social justice and ecological activism to Francis’ Laudato Si, the testament in scripture and finally home to the cosmic Christ and Teilhard de Chardin. Recently I get quite giddy, or ‘tipsy’, in awe and wonder at evolutionary creation and sometimes can cry at the privilege of being part of it. When I see an ant, busy about its business, or a weed struggling between the paving stones, I say to them,’even to be one of you would have been a great gig in this universe!, but to be chosen to be human through chance and natural selection, at this time of internet and DNA, to live in this country of security and more than my needs, to be a woman, a mother, grandmother and to have reached this consciousness of ’ unbearable wholeness’ and all that that means takes my breath away, like a car crash! Just one question. I don’t believe in “supernatural” any more. Is that heresy? The more I read about evolutionary biology and ponder on its implications for an evolutionary chistology, the more it seems to me that from the sub atomic to the cosmic scale, natural creativity, interconnectivity, communication networks, diversity, regeneration: have it all in hand. Thus the concept of ’super-nature’ is a tautology. I hope humanity can redeem itself, so that homo sapiens can continue to evolve into communities of healing and peace, but if not, then the infinite impulse will mourn the suffering and loss, but life is’ immortal and love is eternal’ (Bede Jarret) Resurrection goes on in the now, on the cusp of creating the future. Many thanks for your website. People like me need your company and inspiration. Patricia
Patricia Devlin
Monasterevin, co.Kildare.Ireland, AK
Submit a Testimonial

Newsletter Signup

Sign up here for periodic updates on Center for Christogenesis news, events, and the latest from New Creation.

You have successfully subscribed to the Center for Christogenesis newsletter!

Pin It on Pinterest