Why did God become a man? I often ask myself this question and it never ceases to amaze me. Our God – the creator of all space, time, and matter – actually became a real human being, born of the virgin Mary. But why? I will discuss 3 answers:
The Church Father’s Answer:
God became a man so that we could become God.
Contextually the Church Fathers always maintain the distinction between God as Creator and humanity as Creation. They are NOT saying that humans become God in the sense of becoming Creators and celestial God’s over others. They wanted to emphasize the fact that we would join the Triune God in an everlasting and eternal dance of love. And it was a catchy synonymous parallelism: God became a man so that man could become God.
Bonhoeffer’s Response to the Church Fathers:
God became a man so that we could become fully human.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer reframed the theosis (becoming one with God) by focusing more on Christ. The Church Father view is possibly more Trinitarian because the emphasis is on the relationship with the Triune God. Bonhoeffer’s emphasis is on Christ, God becoming a man, so that we could become as Christ – the perfect man. There is a lot to be said about this, and I think it is crucial to understand that Jesus is the perfect man. I think we have it wrong when we say things like, “To err is human.” To err is not human! Jesus was the perfect man and he did not err. Rather, we ought to say something along the lines of, “To live perfectly like Christ is human.”
God became a baby, so that we could have a childlike faith.
I completely affirm both the Church Fathers and Bonhoeffer’s positions, but I also would like to add something this Christmas Season. God became a baby, so that we could have a childlike faith. Can you picture the birth of Jesus? He was 9 months in the womb, born in a cold barn, wrapped in burial clothes, destined to die so that man could become fully human and fully participate in the life of the Trinity. We can only enter into the Kingdom of God if we are born again as well, and we can only be born again by having childlike faith in the God who became a baby.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5).