This is the second of the posts on ‘Christmas reflections’. The first was on Jesus's present physical absence which Christmas nativity plays, on baby Jesus’s appearance, are rather misleading rather than helpful. The Christmas (of 2019) is by now rapidly disappearing, which is how it is with anniversaries. Needless to say, a Christian should mull over the significance of 'God was in Christ’, whatever the day of the year.
In Christian dogma, the 'incarnation now' view has had a long ancestry, having been held by, for example, Alexander of Hales, Ockham, Bonaventure and others before the Reformation. At the time of the Reformation it was held by Osiander, a Lutheran whose views bothered Calvin. And since Osiander, Dorner in the 19th century and Barth in the last century have engaged in the same speculation. But this view is not of concern here:
It was not only suitable, but necessary (sin and the decree of God concerning the redemption of men concerning the redemption of men being supposed) that the Son of God should be incarnate in order to accomplish this work. (1) The question does not concern a simple and absolute necessity on the part of God for God could (if he had wished) leave man no less than the Devil in his destruction. Rather the question concerns a hypothesis – whether the will to save men being posited, the incarnation was necessary, or whether it could have been brought about by some other means. (2) Again, the question does not concern the necessity of the decree for no one denies that on the supposition of God’s having decreed this, it ought necessarily to have been done. Rather the question concerns the necessity of nature - whether the decree being set aside and antecedently to it) it was necessary for the Son of God to become incarnate to redeem us. (3) The question does not concern the necessity of fitness because all confess that was in the highest decree fitting to the divine majesty – that his precepts might not be said to have been violated with impurity. Rather the question concerns the necessity of justice - that in no other way could the justice of God have been satisfied and our deliverance brought about (which we assert).
Some contend that the Reformers were 'necessitarian', but Calvin's attitude to the Incarnation is firmly non-necessitarian.