Kenosis, Necessity and Incarnation

Heythrop Journal 54 (2):214-227 (2013)

Robin Le Poidevin
University of Leeds
The doctrine of the Incarnation faces the following modal challenge: ‘The Son, as God, exists of necessity; Jesus, as man, exists only contingently. Therefore they cannot be one and the same.’ On the face it, the kenotic model, on which the Son gave up some of the divine properties at the Incarnation, cannot help to meet this challenge, since the suggestion that the Son gave up necessary existence implies that the necessity in question was only contingent, and this notion makes no sense. A necessary being is necessarily (and therefore eternally) so. This paper, however, argues that some necessities may appropriately be described as ‘contingent’, being conditional on contingent and mutable circumstances, and that there is a natural understanding of divine necessity on which the Son could give up necessary existence on becoming incarnate
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2012.00796.x
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The Christian God.Richard Swinburne - 1994 - Oxford University Press.
God and the Soul.P. T. GEACH - 1969 - St. Augustine's Press.
The Logic of God Incarnate.Thomas V. Morris - 1986 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
The Incarnation: A Philosophical Case for Kenosis.Peter Forrest - 2000 - Religious Studies 36 (2):127-140.

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