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A. Introduction to Christology . God With and For Us. Who do people say I am? Mark 8.27 But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Mark 8.20. Michelangelo, The Last Judgment . Francis Mampuya-Kitah , La Suprematie. Democratic Republic of Congo.

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A. Introduction to Christology

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Who do people say I am? Mark 8.27

  • But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Mark 8.20
francis mampuya kitah la suprematie
Francis Mampuya-Kitah, La Suprematie

Democratic Republic of Congo

christ pantocrator
Christ Pantocrator

St. Catherine’s Monastery (6th-7th cent.)

jesus of the people
Jesus of the people

-Janet McKenzie

1 portraits of jesus
1.Portraits of Jesus
  • There have always been multiple portraits of Jesus
  • Need to interpret not only who Jesus was but who he is for us today
christology a trinitarian framework
Christology: A Trinitarian Framework
  • Christ as God’s self-revelation

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? (John 14.6-10a RSV)

  • God has not just revealed his will but something of who he is in God’s self
  • The Son and the Spirit as the two hands of the Father (Irenaeus)
    • Economic and immanent Trinity
  • Trinity as persons-in-communion
  • How you conceive of God does matter
the significance of christology to christian faith and theology
The Significance of Christology to Christian Faith and Theology
  • Christology at the Center
    • J.P. Galvin
  • Definition
    • Grenz, Theology for the Community,p.245
2 christology in the history of theology
2. Christology in the history of theology
  • Along with Trinitarian doctrine, Christology was at the center of theological debates and theological work during the patristictime
  • Medieval times and Reformation produced little new in Christology
2 christology in the history of theology cont
2. Christology in the history of theology cont.
  • Enlightenment meant a radical challenge to Christian faith in general and Christology in particular
    • all main Christological traditions (virgin birth, incarnation, preexistence, uniqueness, etc.) were called into question
2 christology in the history of theology cont16
2. Christology in the history of theology cont.
  • 2.4.In Protestant theology, for the past two hundred years or so, Christology has stood at the center of debates
    • The Quest of the Historical Jesus in the aftermath of the Enlightenment meant a radical challenge to traditional Christology
2 christology in the history of theology cont17
2. Christology in the history of theology cont.
  • 2.5. In Catholic theology, the last decades of the 20th century have been focused on Christology among other topics
3 the two fold division christ s person and work
3. The two-fold division : Christ’s person and work

Older works of theology often draw a sharp distinction between the:

  • “person of Christ” (Christology) and
  • “work of Christ” (soteriology)
3 the two fold division cont
3. The two-fold division: cont.

Today the division is less clear, although helpful for educational purposes

a) In the Bible: the identity of Jesus is known through his impact upon us

-cf. the man Jesus healed (John 5)

b) Melanchton: “To Know Christ is to Know His Benefits”

c) Cf. the method in Trinitarian theology: from oikonomia to theologia

4 relation to other theological loci
4. Relation to other theological loci
  • a)pneumatology: the Spirit of Christ
  • b)soteriology: salvation in Christ
  • c)ecclesiology: the body of Christ
  • d)revelation: self-revelation of God in Christ
  • e) eschatology: the coming of God’s Kingdom in the person of Christ
5 method in christology
5. Method in Christology:
  • “From Above” or “From Below”
5 1 defining the terms
5.1. Defining the Terms:
  • A) “From Above” begins with the “faith statements” of the NT and early Christian preaching such as the titles of Jesus as Lord and Savior
  • B) “From Below “ begins by inquiring into the history of Jesus and its reliability as the basis for the confession of Jesus as Christ
5 2 it is not a disctinction
5.2. It is NOT a disctinction… “
  • between “conservative” and “liberal” but that of method (although most conservatives identify themselves with From Above; there are many notable theologians in From Above who are very liberal)
  • From Below approach can be very “high” (Pannenberg)
5 3 from above
5.3.“From Above”

a) Was the dominant orientation of the earliest centuries

  • There was no question about the historical reliability of Gospel records

b) In modern theology, yet for other reasons than the reliability of the Gospel records, many have followed this path

  • R.Bultmann: he dismissed the question of the historicity of the Jesus event and focused on its existentialist meaning
  • K. Barth and Neo-orthodoxy: Christology is a matter of faith rather than historical inquiry
5 3 from above25
5.3. “From Above”…

c) Main ideas:

  • The basis of understanding of Christ is not historical Jesus but the kerygma, the church’s proclamation of Christ
    • Therefore: preference for Paul and John over the Synoptics
  • Faith in Christ is not based on historical or rational proof; it cannot be scientifically proved
5 4 from below
5.4. “From Below”
  • a) The Quest of the Historical Jesus (beginning in the 19th Century)
    • desire to go beyond the “faith”-statements of the NT authors to the “kernel” of history;
    • as a result, ‘Jesusologies’ rather than Christologies
5 4 from below27
5.4. “From Below”…

b) W. Pannenberg, for other reasons than the Quest, namely: to find a secure foundation for faith-statements, that is in history

  • The task of Christology is to offer rational support for the belief in the divinity of Jesus
    • Rather than presupposing it like From Above does, it needs to be argued rationally and with the help of historical critical method
  • If we rest our faith upon the kerygma alone, and not upon historical facts, there is a chance that our faith is misplaced
5 5 concluding remarks
5.5. Concluding Remarks

Both approaches are needed, yet From Below is the starting point, thus the idea is: From Below to Above (Grenz, Pannenberg)

  • The basic problem with “From Above” is the foundation of faith: How do we know we believe in the right Jesus? What about other figures with similar claims?
    • the danger of Fideism
  • The basic problem with “From Below” is that faith might be dependent on changing results of historical study; and, objective certainty is hard to reach
5 5 concluding remarks29
5.5. Concluding Remarks…
  • thus: From Above tends to be fideistic while From Below rationalistic
5 5 concluding remarks cont
5.5. Concluding Remarks cont.

C) A Balanced Approach is Needed

  • The starting point is the kerygma about Christ; the content of the kerygma serves as a hypothesis
  • The content offaith is tested by a rigorous research into the history of Jesus and hopefully strengthened by it
  • Finally: even when all the historical research is done, many do not believe, yet for those who do, it is not a blind faith but a confident, reasoned faith
6 new challenges in contemporary theology
6. New Challenges in contemporary Theology
  • The rise of contextual Christologies: Feminist, Liberationist; Black
  • The rise of intercultural Christologies: African, Asian, Latin American
  • The challenge of religious pluralism
  • The challenge of postmodernity