Vol I No. 7
Daily Thought

Potency and Act

by William J. Martin



Why do you have such trouble with the Word being made flesh? Is not the Word made flesh whenever you move out of ignorance and into knowledge, out of mental and intellectual darkness and into light? Do you really think that the knowledge and truth of things only come into existence with your discovery of their respective truths? If you do, you are irrational. What is there, is waiting for your discovery of it –the Word or Wisdom that enlivens, defines, and moves all things to their appointed ends. What you discover has being and meaning from pure being and meaning in God’s thinking of it, through His Word. So the Word is made flesh whenever you move from faith, opinion, conjecture, or what claims your assent to move into what you do not yet possess. When you possess it, your mind is illuminated and you have come into possession not just of being but of being as meaning or being as known. You have something in faith, opinion, conjecture, or as a rational hunch of what it might or might not be or mean. You are on the way to knowledge. So you have potential knowledge. Next you find yourself in possession of meaning, and the truth is actualized. This is God’s understanding of it through His Logos and Nomos -His Reason and His Law. 

But you need a mover to move you from potency into act. You need a cause that will bring your mind from faith into reason. That mover is God. Now, to be sure, you  are right, in fallen and limited human nature  the Word is made flesh only imperfectly. The knowledge you come to possess is not yet perfect. You are not God; you don’t know all things. But when the Word was made flesh in Jesus Christ, Christ did not have to know all things either. He was interested in bringing men from human darkness into God’s light, from ignorance into knowledge, from sin into righteousness. So the Word is made flesh in Jesus Christ for the purposes of sanctification and salvation. He did not need to know everything from the Divine standpoint perfectly since that would have made his assumption of human nature incomplete. What I mean is that His Divinity would have destroyed His true humanity. He knew as a human being in perfect obedience to the Word that He is. What he knew as a human being was all that is necessary for perfect human obedience to the Divine Father’s Word. The Word was made flesh in order to reconcile human nature to Divine Being. So the Word made flesh as Christ’s human will obeyed His Divine will. The Word was made flesh as His human nature submitted itself voluntarily to the Logos and Nomos of the Father, with which He is always one. At every stage of His human nature then Christ is the Word being made flesh. In the period of His Incarnation, every phase of human nature is redeemed and reconciled to the Father according to the perfection of its proper created phase of development.

Human life itself always bears witness to God’s Word being made flesh. On the side of truth and wisdom, whenever a man discovers some part of the truth, God’s Word is made flesh in him -God’s Logos and Nomos are, to some extent, defining and ruling his life. On the side of error and foolishness, whenever a man chooses to remain in ignorance and darkness, the Word is made flesh as what is potentially present to the heart and mind but rejected or denied -God’s Logos and Nomos are present but ineffectual and dormant. Man is made in the image and likeness of God. God’s Word is His Wisdom and is ever present to man’s mind as what can be discovered to be Logos and Nomos in nature and man’s unity with it through thinking. Logos and Nomos made flesh really shouldn’t that unbelievable. It is merely the perfection of the nature which, even as fallen, reveals the Word made flesh in the usual course of its existence. The added benefit is, of course, that the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ now invites us into His victory over all that tries to reject, deny, and kill Him. Christ invites us into His perfect humanity and promises to us that by His Grace alone we too can become the servants of His Divinity. This is, of course, always a potentiality while we inhabit these fallen houses of clay. But hadn’t we better start letting Christ actualize the potential of His Logos and Nomos in our lives? If we don’t, then we shall remain only and always purely potential. And as we all know, pure potentiality leads only to words and laws without meaning and purpose, or into….