Our family has taken the past few weeks to decompress, rest, and enjoy the company of loved ones with movies, games, and songs around the fire.
It’s extraordinary how restorative time away from our phones and computers can be — it’s as if the soul heals itself when digitally disconnected.
This Christmas Day, our family has been reflecting on the words of 18th century Danish existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855).
In 1847, reflecting on the Incarnation, he wrote that
“The yawning abyss of quality in the difference between God and man, or the *infinite qualitative distinction,* has been removed."
The fact that God became man in the birth of Jesus Christ was significant to Kierkegaard, as a Christian (as it is for our family).
Christ becoming man meant that we have hope beyond a life of the anxiety and despair that defines much of the human condition and temporal existence. Christ’s incarnation bridged the abyss, created by man’s fallen nature—the “infinite qualitative distinction” that permanently separated man from God.
He called the birth and incarnation of Jesus Christ— that which Christmas traditionally celebrates, “the Absolute Paradox.”
A paradox is an apparent contradiction that is actually true. The word derives from the Greek “para” which means distinct from,” and doxa, which means “belief” or opinion. A paradox defies belief or expectation.
The God Man defies reason.
Jesus was born by woman. He ate, drank wine, slept, wept, and suffered, as we all do. He died, as we all one day will. Christ inhabited our humanity. He became flesh incarnate.
He was all man *and* all God.
This resists logical explanation. But for Kierkegaard —and for our family — it was true. That it couldn’t be proven didn’t make it any less true. It was an experiential or existential truth that gave his life meaning.
Kierkegaard understood that something infinite separated god from man, and yet still became man. A paradox. Human beings themselves are defined by greatness and wretchedness, as Blaise Pascal wrote. A paradox.
But both hopeful ones.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!
I hope that you find meaning and richness this Advent with your cherished family and friends.
I’m thankful you’re part of this community where we can continue to question, learn, and grow together— and I look forward to continuing to do so along side you into 2023!
One minor error I noticed: 18th ( this should have been 19th) century Danish existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855). Yours is a great site and first time visitor!
The Paradox for me is that the christ of christianity was an ordinary human, not god, but I see the necessity for making him god. Merry Christmas. Lovely family. I detect a classic education in the Christian tradition,, perhaps at a Catholic University. Same for me. I respect your beliefs and I am a bit homesick for that world, but biology led me to a metaphoric interpretation of christianity much like Joe Campbell. I do not think most Christians have much sympathy for a metaphoric take on their religion. They want it literally true. Too much comfort there in a difficult life. If I could meet up again with any one of my dogs in heaven I could throw it all over. That would be my comfort. Peace.