Image of Jesus and disciples from the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt
Writing in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times, Peter Wehner explores the once revolutionary but now widely accepted concepts which spring from Jesus as the physical incarnation of God.
Wehner cites the incarnation as being the break from the Platonic view of physical existence as illusory or false, and thereby affirming the goodness of creation and existence, while showing that humanity is created in the image of God; if humanity is created in the image of God, and creation is good, Wehner reasons that charity and taking care of other humans is also good. Wehner identifies this as one of the fundamental shifts in ethical thinking introduced by Christianity: charity as a spiritual center was a shift from Greek and Roman focus on status.
From the article:
Indeed, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (blessed are the poor in spirit and the pure in heart, the meek and the merciful), his touching of lepers, and his association with outcasts and sinners were fundamentally at odds with the way the Greek and Roman worlds viewed life, where social status was everything.
“Christianity placed charity at the center of its spiritual life as no pagan cult ever had,” according to the theologian David Bentley Hart, “and raised the care of widows, orphans, the sick, the imprisoned, and the poor to the level of the highest of religious obligations.”
Wehner finishes his essay with a call to remember the worth of human life, regardless of perceived accomplishments; how can we best do this?
The full article is available online or in the Sunday NY Times.