Christ in all that is
All living things are touched by divine grace—and caught up together in movement toward union with God.
A rich tradition of literary and visual art—think of the lyrical poetry of the English Romantics, the writing of the American Transcendentalists, or the landscape paintings of the French Impressionists—bespeaks a vision of nature as “charged,” in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, “with the grandeur of God.” In his 2001 Dialog article “The Cross of Christ in an Evolutionary World,” Danish theologian Niels Gregersen introduces the concept of “deep incarnation” to give theological expression to this perception, common to poets and artists, of a God who is present everywhere throughout the created universe. God’s incarnation in Christ reaches into the heart of material, biological, and social existence and even affects what Gregersen nebulously refers to as “the darker sides of creation.” Gregersen offers this technical definition of deep incarnation:
the view that God’s own Logos (Wisdom and Word) was made flesh in Jesus the Christ in such a comprehensive manner that God, by assuming the particular life story of Jesus the Jew from Nazareth, also conjoined the material conditions of creaturely existence (“all flesh”), shared and ennobled the fate of all biological life forms (“grass” and “lilies”), and experienced the pains of sensitive creatures (“sparrows” and “foxes”) from within.
While God is uniquely incarnate in Jesus, that incarnation extends into the depths of the created world in such a way that all living things are touched by divine grace and are caught up together in movement toward union with God.