So where does Jesus ever say, “I’m the Son of God”? My cabdriver was pressing me as we careened through the streets of Birmingham on the way to the airport. “The Gospel of John?” I replied limply.
“Come on! Late gospel, you know that. Stick with the synoptics! Where does Jesus himself ever say that he was born of a virgin, that he was God incarnate?” My driver continued his Muslim exam of my evidence for the incarnation. I had been crazy to admit to this Pakistani cabdriver that I was a minister.
He had a point. That God Almighty should become flesh and move in with us is the strangest of all affirmations of faith. Many other faiths are willing to walk with Christians a long way, but part company when it comes to the incarnation. Jesus Christ, fully God, fully human? Chalcedonian Christianity is as tough to sustain today as ever.
Photographer Toni Greaves first visited the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, in 2008. She was accompanying a writer working on an article about how nuns were using the Internet to promote their communities. Greaves was so taken by the vibrant life she saw in the monastery that she visited the place repeatedly over the next seven years and documented one sister’s journey toward final vows. Greaves’s book of images, Radical Love, came out last month (New York Times, September 5).