Christ and Evolution: A Drama of Wisdom - Professor Celia Deane-Drummond





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Published on Feb 8, 2012

Perhaps the distinguishing characteristic of Christianity compared with other religious traditions is belief in God incarnate in Christ, the Word made flesh. But what might this mean in the context of modern evolutionary understanding of the human as ultimately emergent from simplest life forms?
One way to solve this problem might be to suggest that Christ expressed the divine through his perfect actions in history. This avoids, however, the deeper challenge and meaning of the incarnation as traditionally expressed. Another way to solve the problem is to ignore the challenge of science altogether, and posit that the way we think about Christ is merely connected with different cultural forms. However, this ignores the central place of science in Western culture, keenly felt by the founder of this lecture series, Robert Boyle.
I recognise elements of truth in the importance of how Christ acts in history as expressive of his divinity, and the close connection of Christology with culture. But I also suggest that it is possible to retain a more traditional, deeper understanding of Christ incarnate in a way that is compatible with evolutionary understanding by using the category of drama. Drama is, in effect, a different gloss on how to understand historical theology, the action of God in history. It is similar to narrative, except that drama puts more emphasis on contingency. This is crucial, in my view, as it allows evolutionary accounts that put most emphasis on contingent events to be woven into the theological account, but without loss of autonomy within the biological sphere.
I will also suggest that the drama we see in Christ is a drama of Wisdom, where Wisdom is understood as a theological category expressing God's being and action. Wisdom also expresses the profound nature of the world as created in and through Wisdom. Christ as human and divine expresses, therefore, a drama of Wisdom incarnate.

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website.

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