“Best books of 2012” lists, like this and this, have come to popular Christian websites. They bug me. They include only books of doctrine, history, biography, Very Practical Resources for ministry — which overlook a crucial Resource that God Himself endorsed in His Word:
If ministers ignore the music of imagination, they risk teaching half-truths. In fact, I have even begun saying — I hope not in a legalistic way — that not even giving fiction honorable mentions in best-books-of-the-year lists, rejecting fiction by default, is inhuman.
There’s a reason God’s Word doesn’t only offer a series of systematized theological truths.
And there’s a reason Christ didn’t “count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6) and instead chose to undertake a drastic divine experiment with success guaranteed: to be clothed in flesh. He extended Himself, not losing any of His divinity, but adding humanity.
At Christmas and any other time, I suggest we can appreciate this truth more even in our limited efforts to explore this — exploring not only with true, propositional statements:
The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
— from the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter VIII
… But also with Biblically informed imaginations. We accept God’s Word, then ask, what if?
- To the extent that God is “conscious,” fully aware, omni-everything and always consistent with His perfect, standard-setting loving and holy nature — how did Jesus experience the incarnation? Dwelling in eternity, did He sense an existence-shattering perception shift as He, the “timeless One, stepped into time”?
- Imagine the moment the Holy Spirit’s power came upon Mary (Luke 1:35). What did this look like at the molecular level? Were there “special effects”? Invisible light within? What exactly intersected with Mary’s egg and genetic code?
- How did the joining begin to grow? Did Mary have any health complications, or was this a pregnancy with no glitches?
- Surely because Christ was fully Man, He developed in utero as a completely normal human baby. Did that mean He had no divine-level consciousness at that point?
- Did the unborn Christ respond to outside activity, as did John (Luke 1: 39-45)?
- Is it all right to realize, carefully, that Christ as a newborn infant — as well as during His whole earthly life — was a real, physical, normal-looking baby? He would have emerged with bodily fluids, slimy and red and squalling. Joseph, or whoever helped with the delivery, would have needed to cut the umbilical cord.
“… But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes,” goes the second verse of “Away In A Manger.” Scripture doesn’t say that He did cry, but like a normal human, He must have. If so, did His earthly parents expected otherwise? Were they surprised?
- Later, Mary and Joseph took turns changing His diapers. Jesus had accidents. How can we honor His humanity about this without forgetting His equal divinity?
- When and how did Jesus “wake up” and realize He was God and had a mission? Or did He always know? How might His earthly parents have communicated this to Him? Or did they also assume along with Him what He had come to do?
- What was it like to have a truly perfect Son? Or (perhaps worse) a perfect Brother?
- Why don’t we more often use this argument in apologetics: that unlike other faith founders, all of Jesus’s known family, including His brothers, believed in Him?
- How did His omniscience and omnipotence “fit”? The human body and mind can only encompass so much. Surely omni-everything attributes do not count. Is this why Christ often referenced His close relationship with the Father? Did He have a “connection” and this is what “kept” Him fully God, in terms of His powers, not His divinity? (His divinity was never “turned off”; I believe that’s one of the heresies.)
- Do we often consider: Jesus was the only true, real superhero Who ever lived?
- How might we honor His incarnation in the fantastic fiction we love, or write?