Jesus and the Depth of Creation: The Idea of Deep Incarnation

Friday, February 8th 2013, 7:00pm

J. K. Russell Fellow's Public Forum, part of the J. K. Russell Conference sponsored by CTNS

Dr. Niels Henrik Gregersen, 2013 J. K. Russell Research Fellow in Religion and Science

Tucson Room, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 2451 Ridge Road, Berkeley. Please enter via the courtyard on Le Conte Avenue.

Free and open to the public. Registration not required.

There seems to be an ineradicable tension between the grand-scale story of the world of creation, cosmic in scope and pitiless in its operations, and the small-scale story of Jesus as embodying divine empathy. The idea of deep incarnation aims to overcome three pitfalls of contemporary Christology. The one is the liberal solution of seeing Jesus merely as a significant historical figure of the past; the other is the classic Platonist solution of seeing Christ as an exemplar of the divine Logos, who is existing alongside creation and incarnation; the third is the view that the incarnation of God in a human form is a paradox in principle, beyond further explanation. Deep incarnation here argues for the view that by assuming the particular life-story of Jesus the Jew, God’s own Logos or Wisdom conjoins the material conditions of God’s world of creation (“all flesh”), shares and ennobles the fate of all biological life-forms (“grass” and lilies”), and experiences the pains of all sentient creatures (“sparrows and foxes”). In this view, incarnation is the story of God’s reach into the very tissues of material and biological existence. The “flesh” of Jesus Christ is co-extensive with his divinity, not just an isolated human figure of the past but neither an external appendix to divine life.


Niels Henrik Gregersen holds his PhD from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 1987. Having served at Aarhus University as Assistant Professor in Ethics and Philosophy of Religion 1986-1989, as Associate professor in Systematic Theology 1989-1999 and as Research Professor in Theology & Science 2000-2003, he was in 2004 appointed Professor of Systematic Theology at Copenhagen University. Since 2008 he has also been co-Director of The Centre of Naturalism & Christian Semantics, Copenhagen University.

Gregersen’s primary research fields are contemporary theology and science-and-religion. His list of publications contains more than 600 entries, including 4 books, 2 co-authored books and more than 15 edited or co-edited vols. Publications include Incarnation: On the Scope and Depth of Christology (Fortress Press, forthcoming 2013), Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Naturalism and Christian Semantics (Copenhagen University, 2010), The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology (Fortress Press, 2005), From Complexity to Life: On the Emergence of Life and Meaning (Oxford University Press, 2003) and Design and Disorder: Perspectives from Science & Theology (T & T Clark, 2002).