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The Person of Jesus Christ



p120. Bl. speaks of neo-Protestantism and neo-Catholicism.  Be sure to distinguish these from neo-orthodoxy.
NPr=theol’l liberalism: the world’s self-und’g is the presupposition of theol. and church.
NOr: the retention of scrip’l substance and logic while [1] accommodating hist’l criticism of scrip., [2] moving away from “verbal dictation” approach to scrip., [3] recognizing that rev. is from God and of God; only God can reveal, and God reveals himself (not something, not an abstract truth.)
NCa: RC thought with the same kind of infection as NPr.

Note: for lib. theol. the significance of JC is his being teacher.  This notion, while claiming to exalt the person of JC, actually renders him superfluous.  Note the arbitrariness of the “Quest of the Historical Jesus.”

p120. Harnack: “BOMFOG”.  Christology is the “simple” Jesus rendered complicated by Gk.Phil.
David Strauss: the true God-Man isn’t the Jesus of Nazareth but humanity as a whole: humanity is essentially united to God.  Jesus was the first to perceive this.
Biedermann: redemption arises from huankind’s religious self-consciousness.  (cf. Hegel)
SCHLEIERMACHER (the father of lib. theol.)  Jesus is not Word incarnate but a man whose “God-consciousness” is elevated to the highest degree.  “God-consc.” had to do with feeling (of absolute dependence.)
Note how S. attempted to adapt but came to adopt.
Ritschl: J. is not one with God essentially, but is united to God by the constancy of his will.
All of the above elevate ethics above salvation and end up moralizing the gospel.

Kaehler : the only depiction we have of Jesus is that of the apostles.  It is impossible to go behind the apostles’ testimony and uncover/construct a J. different from the one the apostles’ attest.

Note that all such attempts at reconstructing the “J. of history”
[1] disregard the ressur’n as lacking the status of event.
[2] disregard the miracles.
[3] devalue the cross from atonement to martyrdom.
[4] elevate the significance of J. as teacher.
[5] render his teachings anemic.
[6] discount J.’s Jewishness in favour of cosmopolitanism.
[7] minimize the OT as primitive stage in religious evolution.

Note the perils of neglecting the Older Testament

p121. Bl maintains the J. of hist is the Christ of faith.  “J of hist.” is an invention of scholars whose “tools” aren’t those of the apostles, while “Christ of faith” mustn’t be viewed as an invention of the early church.

  1.   Kierkegaard [1] upheld the Inc. without qualification.
    [2] faith means staking everything on an “objective uncertainty” (can’t be proved prior to faith.)
    [3] such faith means we come to live “in truth”; “Truth is subjectivity” (not subjectivism!)  Note the cruciality of the “between.”
    [4] phil’l speculation opposes faith.
    [5] the fact of original sin cuts off any “maieutic” approach to knowledge (of God.)
    [6] reason(ing) — not the structure of reason —  is damaged by the Fall.

Abraham is the exemplar of faith.

P.T. Forsyth: a British rep. of neo-orthodoxy, but sounder than Barth on such issues as faith and soteriology.


p124.  NB the difference between gnostics and apostles on Logos.
(Shepherd) Besides the NT passages that explicitly confess JC to be Son of God, the Incarnate One, there are many which implicitly do as much; e.g.,
[1] the manner in which J. speaks of God as “(my) Father.”
[2] his claim to forgive sin
[3] his insistence he will be the final judge of humankind
[4] his giving a new law (Torah)
[5] his use of the emphatic “I”
[6] his claim to satisfy those human needs that God alone can
[7] his unqualified demand of humankind’s allegiance.
p125.  NB the significance of “exalted to the right hand of”  and “giver” and “Lord” “of eternal life”
p125.  “Messiah” doesn’t of itself assume Incarnation; “Son of Man”, however is a Messianic figure who does have divine authority.
p126.  In our insistence on Inc. (in face of liberal erosion) we must always acknowledge the genuine humanity of J.  Recall Athanasius in the face of the Arians: not “the Lord in the form of man” but “the Lord as man”.  “Form of man” is in fact a denial of the Inc, since it reduces the humanity of J to merely apparent humanity. The NT unashamedly speaks of J’s hunger, thirst, fatigue, ignorance, etc.
(Note Shepherd’s disagreement with Bl re: “He was tempted to despair in the Garden of Gethsemane and again at Calvary.” Shepherd doesn’t think that despair is the meaning of the dereliction.)


Council of Chalcedon (451).  NB the difference between Xn and pagan und’gs of incarnation.
p128.  Assorted heresies; e.g., [1] Arius (see earlier class notes on Trinity.)
[2] Apollinaris: JC has human body but divine soul.  Note the Platonic influence here.
[3] Paul of Samosata: J was Son of God not by nature but was merely united to God by adoption.
[4] Monphysites (“one nature”)  JC’s human nature merges into the divine.  (Not quite the same as Docetism)
The Logos absorbs the humanity so that the latter is dissolved and lost.
[5] Nestorius: J’s humanity and deity are joined adjacently (like two blocks of wood joined at the end.)  This allows people to say, e.g., that J suffered in his humanity but not in his deity.  (Calvin’s Christology has a “whiff” of Nestorianism.)  Nest’m leaves J with two different personalities, one human and one divine.

Note the precise formulations of Chalcedon:
[a] against the Monophysites: the two natures exist without confusion and without change (no absorption)
[b] against the Nestorians: the two natures exist without division and without separation.
Don’t say that Chalcedon is an unnecessary complication of the “simple person of J.”  Without Chalcedon the Inc. is lost and therefore the gospel is lost (as we saw at Nicaea with Ath’s homoousion.)

  1.   Bl: there is no simple equation of J with God, but no separation of J from God.
    (Shepherd) Recall Calvin’s “irreducible minimum”: [1] God is one.
    [2] Jesus is both God and Son of God.
    [3] Our salvation rests with God’s mercy.

(Shepherd) Note the distinction between “Word-flesh” and Word-spirit” Christologies.  (Word-flesh is heretical because in fact a denial of the Inc., even though it is what the church largely believes at any one time.)
p129.  Does Bl commit this heresy when he writes, “God is the acting subject and the manhood of Jesus is the predicate of the Godhead”?
p129.  Bl points out that Jesus differs from other men “in kind and not simply in degree.”  (Shepherd) Of course J differs from us in that he is the Word Incarnate; but his humanity doesn’t differ from ours (apart from sin.)

  1.   Aquinas: the hypostatic union is neither is neither essential nor accidental.
    If essential, then the Word wouldn’t become flesh; the Word would be flesh eternally.
    If accidental, then Nestorianism would be operative.
    Bl: “…human being, even under the conditions of estrangement (i.e., sin) is virtually transparent to divine being.”  What does Bl mean by “virtually”?
  2.   (Bl) “The deity of Christ necessarily entails his sinlessness, for God cannot sin.”
    (Shepherd) Surely the humanity of Christ must not entail his sinlessness necessarily, or else Christ’s temptations weren’t genuine.  Genuine temptation means that sin was a real possibility. (Compare a reader’s objection to Abraham/Isaac story: “so much is depending on the obedience of the man Abraham.”  How much is hanging on the obedience of the man Jesus?)
  3.   The pre-existence of the Word.  This isn’t the pre-existence of the Nazarene.
    The cross is an event in history (and has to be), even as the lamb is “slain from before the foundation of the world.” (1 Peter 1:20).  So J of Nazareth is an event in history even as his humanity is prefigured in the Word; i.e., the Word anticipates his humanity.
  4.   The Virgin Birth doesn’t prove the Inc. but testifies to it.  It is a sign of profound truth.
    Note Luther’s “three Christmas miracles.”
    Note that the NT attestation for VB is much stronger than liberals suggest.  (See T.F. Torrance article.)


p132.  RC vs Ref’d (Luth’n) Christologies.
Prot. Xology upholds [1] the sinless humanity of Christ (as does RC.)
[2] the finite humanity of Christ: J. had to learn obedience.

Aquinas: The humanity of J is fully developed at conception.  However, modern RC theol. recognizes this defect and the accompanying Monophysite view of Christ.
p133.  Once the Inc. is only apparent (God using a human body but not God as man), then Mary as co-mediatrix (-redemptrix) appears in order to supply a genuine humanity.
Note: in Prot. Xology, the whole Christ suffers for us, man and God.
Note: in Anglo-Catholic Xology humankind is reconciled to God by the God-man union in the Inc.  Scrip. insists we are reconciled only by the cross, the Inc. being the presupposition of the cross. I.e., the Inc. occurs for the sake of the cross.

Luth’n vs Ref’d Christologies.
Luth’n: communicatio idiomatum = communion of qualities (but not properties) of each nature into the other: whatever we say of Christ’s humanity we say of his deity; e.g, suffering, shame, glory. But beware of Monophysitism!
(Recall Luther’s theologica crucis: the truth of the cross is the opposite of what the world “sees.”
Ref’d: finitum non capax infinti = the finite isn’t capable of the infinite.  And therefore some things prediated of Christ’s deity aren’t predicated of his humanity.  But beware of Nestorianism!

Kenotic Christology
“He emptied himself.” (Phil. 2:6 and 2 Cor. 8:9)  Of what?  If of his deity, then there’s no Inc.  (Shepherd) — He renounced his right to remain remote from the degradation of sin.  He who knew no sin became sin.


Rev. V. Shepherd