Incarnation: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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23 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I remain stunned at how these truths are ignored for the most part in most churches.
    You can’t understand the cross until you understand the Incarnation…

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    I agree completely. This is really what the vast majority of patristic theology was about…

  3. JoelG says:

    Thank you Duane. This is a gem. I’ve had a tendency to think of God in generalities and abstraction. That He’s doing things “out there” somewhere and not interested in the particulars of our daily mundane existence. I’m learning that He is a God of particulars and cares about the smallest things in our lives. The hard part for me is remaining aware of this in the relentless daily grind.

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    Thanks Joel…. Yes, it is in the particulars. He knows and cares about us “from the inside”…

  5. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Any church that understands the bread and wine to be the true – real – actual non symbolic body and blood of Christ, work solely in incarnational theology.
    The rest may have an issue.

  6. Duane Arnold says:


    I would agree, but I would also contend that incarnational theology extends even further than what takes place on the altar. As a lay theologian said, it is “the heart of it all…… and brings essential meaning to all humanity. ” The lay theologian was my wife…

  7. Steve says:

    I’m not really sure what MLD just said, but I think I agree with what Duane said.

  8. JoelG says:

    I love the quote by your wife, Duane. Jesus is present in the Eucharist and many other places. It makes all the difference in our daily lives if you think about it. Small acts of love and kindness toward the folks we interact with on a daily basis matter.

  9. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes… we have to see Christ in all…

  10. Em says:

    Dr. Duane is blessed ? While i would not have the label at the ready, the concept is what will make a Believer tick … or not tick
    Sometimes i think we are like the old wind up watches… all the parts are in there, but it takes a little repeated effort to activate the mind of Christ in us (but then i think of the bread and wine as a means to an end – not an end in themselves).

  11. Duane Arnold says:


    I have to disagree… YOU are the blessing to all of us here!

  12. Steve says:

    For me personally its easier to see the incarnation in the wonderful acts of kindness of the saints than with simply bread and wine. Jesus didn’t come to us as a loaf of bread or a glass of wine or did he? Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary not conceived to be an inanimate piece of bread or did he? When we talk about the two natures of Christ (God and man) where does it talk about Christ having the nature of bread like MLD talks about. I truly do try to understand the Lutheran way but I’m having a hard time with MLD’s understanding. Its much easier for me to see God in everything than to see him specifically coming as a piece of bread and wine. Now I do view the bread and wine sacramentally rather than simply ordinances but to me that’s a little bit different than incarnationally where Jesus came as a loaf of bread literally in the incarnation having the nature of bread. Jesus was just like us in his humanity without sin. Does that make us similar to a loaf of bread as well? I honestly thought the Lutheran understanding was that Jesus was in, with and under the consecrated bread but not the same as the bread itself. Am I mistaken?

  13. Duane Arnold says:


    I would not wish to answer for MLD. I believe that the sacraments are particular ways in which Christ is made known. For me, however, the Incarnation is far more. It is the assumption of all humanity and the potential for grace in all humanity.

    “In, with and under,” is an attempt to capture the mystery in language. In my mind, however, language fails to fully communicate the mystery…

  14. Michael says:


    You have the Lutheran position right.
    I think that the point was that the Incarnation involved the spirit putting on physicality and God still blesses through the physical as well as spiritual.

  15. Michael says:

    So, Duane knows this is my favorite piece so far.

    The fundamental question is what happened to humanity when God assumed it?
    All the answers I come up with are game changers…

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My position was not that the supper is the beginning and end of incarnational theology, but that if you do not hold to a real, bodily non symbolic view of Jesus in the supper that you may be coming up short in the proper understanding of the topic.

  17. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, to clear up the Lutheran position about bread / body — wine / blood. It goes to this point – what are you taking in your mouth.

    The Roman view is the bread and wine at the time of institution transform into body & blood and you no longer have bread and wine. Thus transubstaniation – You consume only body and blood.

    The Lutheran position is that the bread and wine do not change, but Jesus’ body and blood (actual real, physical, non symbolic) join themselves to the elements so you are consuming bread, wine, body and blood. We do what happens, but we do not know how this happens but what we know is that Jesus promised that it does. To how, as Duane points out we are at a loss for words so we try to cover the bases with the terminology ‘in, with and under’.

    The Baptist, evangelical mode is that nothing changes. You have bread and wine only and you consume bread and wine only.

    So when the debate gets thick I usually ask not ” what is in your wallet” but more importantly “what is in you mouth?

    I will start bread, wine, physical, actual, non symbolic Jesus.
    How about some others, what was in your mouth last Sunday?

  18. JoelG says:

    “The fundamental question is what happened to humanity when God assumed it?”

    I will cheat and quote Gregory of Nyssa:

    “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved.“

    Christ unites humanity to God. Is he saying that all humanity is saved?

  19. JoelG says:

    Never mind don’t answer that. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. It’s fascinating to just think about it.

    MLD, if Jesus says this IS my body and blood and says we must eat His flesh and drink His blood then we should do it and be thankful.

  20. Michael says:


    I think he’s saying that something fundamentally changed in humanity when God assumed flesh.
    How far we choose to speculate on that is left to our risk tolerance… 🙂

  21. JoelG says:

    “Behold, I am making all things new.”

    There’s a lot of hope in this proclamation.

  22. Steve says:

    MLD, thank you for your Lutheran clarification. Here is a good article I found that was helpful to me in understanding the Lord’s supper more from a Calvinistic understanding. I think from reading this, most Baptist and evangelicals are probably coming from the Zwingli understanding but it does seem that Calvin is closer to Luther than Zwingli in his understanding.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    This issue is the reason I entered into the study of patristics 40+ years ago. It is the realization that we are not the first to travel this road. During the first almost 500 years of the Church, it was the incarnation and the implications of the incarnation that took pride of place. It shaped their theology, their worship and their practice. It was to this period that the reformers of the 16th century turned to again and again. We would do well to recover their perspective…

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