For us men…..and our salvation

Had man not sinned would God still have sent His only begotten Son?  The Orthodox fathers have already answered this question: Yes, out of God’s love for mankind, even if the fall never happened God would still have become man. (Is this opinion shared by Western theology? Curious.)

Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov in The Lamb of God explains:

“…the Incarnation is often represented in Holy Scripture as the salvation of man from sin by the Lamb of God’s sacrificially taking upon Himself the sins of the world. This corresponds to the real and concrete accomplishment of the Incarnation “for us men and our salvation”. But the first half of this formula of the Nicene Creed, “for us men,” has a more general meaning that its particular application in the second half, “for our salvation.” Furthermore, the texts presented above indicate not the immediate, redemptive goal of the Incarnation but its final and universal goal: the goal of uniting all heavenly and earthly things under Christ. In the juxtaposition of these two goals, there is no either/or; there is only both/and. More precisely, the soteriological problem is included in the eschathological one, as the means in the goal: the redemption is the path to “our glory.” Therefore, perhaps the best way to answer the question of whether the Incarnation could have occurred without the Fall is to reject the question itself as a casus irrealis, or as an inappropriate anthropomorphism in relation to the works of God.”

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2 thoughts on “For us men…..and our salvation

  1. This was one of the things that startled me the most when I became Orthodox, that the Word of God would have become man, even had we not sinned. But then, finding out that original sin as taught and believed in the Western Church, was not held in the Orthodox East, also startled me. I was brought up from childhood in a very Augustinian form of Christianity, as if there were no other church fathers than the bishop of Hippo, and took it for granted that humanity’s sinful nature was the cause of all the universe’s troubles.

    As a catechumen, this Catholic’s eyes were opened to many things.

    It still really boils down to our limited human understanding of what our existential dilemma is, how we will deal with it, and how we will appropriate the salvation Christ offers us. West or East, our understandings have their very poignant moments, and power; but neither of us have the answer in our
    intellectual grasp: only in that close encounter with the Lord of all, with Christ, where we surrender to His love, is the goal and meaning of life vouchsafed to us, with or without reason.

  2. The sins of Adam and Eve are irrelevant insofar as God’s decision is concerned in sending His only Son to become man. Jesus became man, so that by His crucifixion, He would save all of mankind.

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