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O’Donovan on the Uniqueness of the Word

January 3rd, 2011 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

One of my favorite aspects of O’Donovan’s thought is the way he manages to keep the two natures of Christ together in his theological ethics, yet without confusion or division.

It’s a point that plays out in various ways, not least of which is his ability to preserve the uniqueness and particularity of the Incarnation while simultaneously treating it as a pattern for human action.  While he makes the point in various books, I found his clearest and most elegant statement in one of my Christmas gifts:

“With the passion story, as with every aspect of Jesus’ life, one can look at it from either of two angles:  there is the divine character of the event, and there is the human character; it is a unique moment in God’s action for the world’s redemption, and it is a pattern for fully human existence.

No sufferings could be like those sufferings; yet all sufferings may be conformed to those sufferings.  No love can ever redeem as that love redeemed; yet all love is called to reflect the redemptive power of that love.

No one ever journeyed as Jesus journeyed, to carry the judgment of God into the holy city and to reconcile God’s people; yet all our human journeying may and can be a reliving of that journey.  Lo, your king comes to you.  Come with him!”

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.