Matthew Roark
November 16, 2022
Question #

Was the Incarnation Necessary?


What does the Universal Reconciliationist believe would have been humanity’s fate has Jesus NOT come and died for our sins in order to reconcile us to Him? The Annihilationist would say ultimate annihilation, the eternal damnation supporter would say eternal torment. But what of the reconciliationist? Theoretically, what would happen once the guilty party served their sentence? Once every sin they committed was punished and that time was up? Heaven could not still be their destination without Christ coming because that would mean that we COULD get to the Father without Christ—something the Bible obviously teaches against. It would be terribly painful, and potentially take an extremely long time, but ultimately you’d still get to experience the Father without Jesus’ death and resurrection being necessary. What does the universalist believe would be humanity’s fate had God not decided to send his Son?


I prefer to think Jesus could have saved humanity without His physical manifestation some 2,000 years ago. This does not mean I believe we could be saved without Jesus—that is impossible—but that anyone's spiritual condition does not depend on Jesus coming here in bodily form at a specific time in history.

For one thing, God’s omnipotence requires this as a possibility. All things are possible for Him, and this must include the possibility of saving humanity without Jesus dying and rising again.

And for another, Jesus is more than a flesh and blood man, and reconciliation is more than a get-out-of-jail-free card. Jesus is God, the Logos, Wisdom, Truth, Goodness, Love—things present everywhere, in all things, all the time. Turning to and embracing any one of these things is the same as turning to and embracing Jesus, and that is reconciliation. So the idea that reconciliation requires a physical body seems too narrow a view for me.

That being said, I do think the Incarnation was necessary in the sense that it was the best way to save the cosmos, and if any necessity can be placed upon God it is the necessity to do what is best—His perfection requires it. And I say it is the best because having the Image of God present, here with us in physical form, teaching and serving as an example—seeing God’s greatest act of love in Jesus’ death and His subsequent triumph over death in the resurrection—is the most effective means of turning us from sin to God.

So I think you are half right. Given enough time and pain each and every person could be reconciled to God without the Incarnation. We would eventually tire of sin and its consequent suffering and return, like the prodigal son, to the Father. However, that path would not be apart from Jesus. He would still be guiding humanity, working unseen, aligning every will to His own, moving each and every person toward a recognition of Truth and Love and Goodness, which is to say, Himself.

Matthew Coleman

Matthew Roark is co-founder and editor of Mercy On All. He lives in Kentucky with his abundantly beautiful wife and three children. He is an avid reader and enjoys all things J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and George MacDonald.