I came across this passage today while reading an abridged version of Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology.
One fact about the Lord’s incarnation encouraged me to take this step of working from an “analogia fidei” to an “analogia entis“, from a man believed in by faith to be normal, to the problems of being in men as we find them now. This was the suprising fact, that although the ‘kenosis’, or ‘humbling’ involved our Lord in the laying aside of kingship and much else besides, this did not include the ultimate kenosis of being born in a brothel from a sluttish woman who would bring him up to know the seamy side of infancy. Tradition affirms the special holiness and godliness of the blessed Virgin Mary. From this it is not unreasonable to infer that God the Father was making provision for his Son’s human spirit to come to ‘being’ and ‘well being’ by response to a woman whose character was like his own, in loving kindness, holiness and graciousness. Can we then regard the Godlike mothering of Jesus Christ as a normal pattern and expect to find that divergences from it in the direction of unloving or unGodlike behaviour towards the child will cause disturbances and distortions of the nascent spirit within the foundation years? Indeed, this is so. As my psychiatric colleagues and I have spent many hours with patients reliving the first year, this dynamic cycle of interpersonal relationships provided a better model of a normal ontological matrix than any other hypothesis we had encountered.
Lake is making a move that flows from the assumptions of both Barth and Schleiermacher. We don’t consider what human being is and then look to Jesus seeking to subsequently understand him in light of our experience. Rather we look first to Jesus as the normative pattern for human existence, seeking subsequently to understand ourselves and our experience in light of his.
Barth clearly spells out the relationship between the mystery of the Incarnation and the sign that attests it:
The man Jesus of Nazareth is not the true Son of God because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. On the contrary, because He is the true Son of God and because this is an inconceivable mystery intended to be acknowledged as such, therefore He is conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. And because He is thus conceived and born, He has to be recognised and acknowledged as the One He is and in the mystery in which He is the One He is…In the understanding of Scripture and Church doctrine there is neither a physical nor, as Biedermann would have it, a “religious” Son of God, but only the one eternal, if you like, “metaphysical” Son, who becomes a man like us in the mystery of Christmas and yet is and continues to be the eternal Son of God. As a sign of this mystery there is the miracle: conceptus de Spiritu sancto…The mystery does not rest upon the miracle. The miracle rests upon the mystery. The miracle bears witness to the mystery, and the mystery is attested by the miracle.
Perhaps the miracle points us to part of the mystery which is psychological in nature, making sense of how Jesus can be really human and thoroughly immersed in a web of relatedness utterly conditioned by sin and brokenness, and yet be a vision of wholeness and holiness.