Downton Abbey, the Incarnation and the Unassumed is the Unhealed. (No Spoilers)

“If Christ is not man, then God has not reached us, but has stopped short of our humanity – then God does not love us to the uttermost, for his love has stopped short of coming all the way to where we are, and becoming one of us in order to save us. But Christ’s humanity means that God’s love is now flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, really one of us and with us.” -T.F. Torrance

In between my readings of Barth’s II.1 & David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the InfiniteI have really enjoyed watching the television show ‘Downton Abbey’. I’ve been binge watching the show, and I have really found many aspects of the show fascinating. Most particularly the utter humanity the show embodies. Based in the early 20th century the show explores many themes of a changing world and those who look to resist it. What struck me was the humanity found in both the aristocrats and the servant class. No matter the societal structures, we are sure to find sin and suffering at every level. This element of the show is what interests me most. The utter brokenness we find in all people. We are in search of transcendence, for an escape from our current predicaments and pain. This only goes to show the true importance the universality of the Incarnation, and how Christ takes on the whole of our humanity to heal it. He takes our humanity ontologically, as to heal humanity ontologically. I don’t intend to get into the debates over how much of our humanity Christ takes on, but I tend to be with Barth and Torrance on this matter. When John refers to ‘the Word became flesh’, flesh here does not mean a neutral human nature but actually means our full human nature that exists in bondage and sin. Torrance emphatically proclaims:

“It was certainly into a state of enmity that the Word penetrated in becoming flesh, into darkness and blindness, that is, into the situation where light and darkness are in conflict and where his own receive him not. There can be no doubt that the New Testament speaks of the flesh of Jesus as the concrete form of our human nature  marked by Adam’s fall, the human nature which seen from the cross is at enmity with God and needs to be reconciled to God. In becoming flesh the Word penetrated into hostile territory, into our human alienation and estrangement from God. When the Word became flesh, he became all that we are in our opposition to God.” (T.F. Torrance, Incarnation)

He came among us to save us. To heal our brokenness, and to comfort us in our suffering. Not only this, but Christ also plunged into the societal structures that oppress and alienate. A lot of the show also focuses on a woman’s role in the family and society at large, which would constitute not much in either situation (aristocrat or servant class). The Incarnation the life of Christ reconcile this form of our brokenness as well, by restoring our humanity to the form it was always meant to be and there by over turn our broken understanding of the roles of men and women.




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