It’s a scene you’ve experienced if you have children. Your young daughter screams out in the night. You rush to her side and find her semi-awake, still trapped inside a nightmare, and crying out, “Daddy! There’s a monster chasing me!” What do you say? Do you say, “Run faster, Hunny, faster!” or perhaps “Hide behind a tree or under the staircase!”? Do you confirm the reality of her nightmare this way? Or perhaps you let her nightmare define you as well and pace the floor feeling as desperately forsaken as she does.
Here’s what you do. You hold her in your arms and say, “It’s alright my love, Daddy is here! Don’t be afraid; Daddy’s here,” and you gently rock her in your arms until her reality conforms to your reality, that is, until your reality defines her reality by putting the lie to her nightmare. You save her from her nightmare by exposing it as false, not by letting it falsify you. That’s a rough analogy, we believe, for how it is that God awakens us from our nightmare.
“But this doesn’t require incarnation,” you say. “To save us,” you insist, “God didn’t speak into our world from outside.” Quite right. To save us from our nightmare, God enters our nightmare. Or if we’re talking about my daughter who is stuck in a bad dream, then I enter her nightmare to rescue her. So let’s extend our analogy of the dream to include this. How might some such model be possible and maintain anything like an Orthodox, Chalcedonian Christology?
Actually, pretty easily.