Athanasius argues that creation and salvation are not in paradox – for the Word that the Father uses during creation was the same Word that serves as an agent of redemption. The Word of the Father assuming the body does not denote His own nature, but the Word of the Father taking upon himself human flesh, was a deliberate act to salvage men from the flesh. Athanasius disregard the theories on creation derived by Epicureans, Plato and Gnostics, and affirm that God is the creator of universe – He created it out of nothing and we believe that by faith as Paul asserts; “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which we see now did not come into being out of things which had previously appeared.”
God’s creation transgressed, and the true image of God in them was ruined by sin; death and corruption were gaining ever firmer hold on them and the human race was in the process of destruction. Athanasius described the situation as thus; “Man, who was created in God’s image and in his possession of reason reflected the very Word Himself, was disappearing, and the work of God was being undone. The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape.” In this situation human beings become corrupt and need to return to incorruption again, should it be through repentance? Athanasius will say “in case of a trespass only” because in his words; “repentance would not guard the Divine consistency, nor does repentance recall men from what is according to their nature; all that it does is to make them cease from sinning.” The creation needed a savior – the God-man.
Athanasius helps us to understand that – the Word of God who took upon himself the flesh, was not far from the creation; because He has been part of every creation from the beginning as John made it clear that; “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made“(John 1:3). He took upon himself the human body as our own, not only that, he took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin without the agency of the human father – a pure body. The Father created the body purely in the virgin as a temple for himself. Athanasius explains the purpose of this “taking of the body” that; “He did that, that He might turn again to incorrupt men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.”
This redemptive plan was very intentional. Athanasius described it beautifully as he writes; “For by the sacrifice of His own body He did two things: He put an end to the law of death which barred our way; and He made a new beginning of life for us, by giving us the hope of resurrection. By man death has gained its power over men; by the Word made Man death has been destroyed and life raised up anew.” Through this wonderful work of redemption made by the Word of the Father, human beings have regained their status in God. Now when we die we no longer do so as men condemned to death, but as those who are even now in process of rising we await the general resurrection of all, “which in its own times He shall show,” (1 Tim. 6:15) even God Who wrought it and bestowed it on us.
Martin H. Kamaidan
Saved by Grace