Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
Theo 530: Systematic Theology II
Dr. Daniel R Mitchell, Professor
Introduction to Christology
Contemporary Issues in Christological Method
Christ and History
Christology from Above vs. from Below
The Person or Work of Christ, Which is Prior?
Christ and Myth
Introduction to this Study
Relation to other Theological Study
1 Theology Proper (above)
2 Man and Sin (below)
Three Issues Addressed Here
1 Faith and History/Reason
2 Ontology vs. Function
3 Myth and the Nature of the Biblical Witness
Search for the Historical Jesus
Key Players: Strauss, Renan, Harnack
NT and Superstitious Culture
Ancient Miracle Claims are Commonplace
Miracle Claims are Rooted in Ignorance
Harnack and the Essential Message of Jesus
The Kingdom of God and its Coming
God the Father and the infinite value of the human soul
The higher Righteousness and the Commandment of Love
Critique of the Classic Liberal Position
Schweitzer, Search of the Historical Jesus
Jesus in the NT is thoroughly Eschatological.
It is Presumptuous for Moderns to try to Reinvent Him.
Jesus was “wrong,” but his essential message is not lost on the NT reader.
1 Distinguished Historie and Geschichte
2 Contrasted “Jesus” of Historie and the “Christ” of Geschichte.
Above or Below?
1 Kahler’s Distinction led to the question: Which is prior—Historie or Geschichte?
2 The Neo-Orthodox Theologians such as Barth, Bultmann, and Brunner begin with the Kerygma—from Above (the NT witness).
3 Kasemann (“New Search”) and Pannenberg begin with Historie (probable facts)—from Below.
4 Erickson wants to use both in dynamic tension.
1 Following Augustine he begins with faith (from above)
2 He proceeds “from below” to test the reliability of his faith-given “hypothesis.”
The Person vs. the Work of Christ
The NT seems to Link these
(e.g. Messianic Mission and Divine Sonship)
Classic Theology Separated them and Stressed Ontology (the Person)
Reformers (Luther/Calvin) followed Classic theology, but emphasized the Soteriological significance (Work) of Christ.
Modern Theology Continued and Exaggerated this Distinction and Emphasis.
Pros and Cons of the Two Approaches
Christology from Above
Strength—Emphasizes “Who” Christ is in evaluating the significance of His Work.
Weakness—Tends to become bogged down in philosophical questions, which have no relevance to practical life.
Christology from Below
Strength—Relevance to Life
Weakness—Driven by “felt needs” and Risks blindness to Issues of Importance that are only secured “from above.”
Christ and the Incarnation Myth
Bultmann and “demythologization.”
Builds on the philosophy of Idealism
Links Christianity and World Religions
The Incarnation is a Mystery
The Doctrine is Rooted in Jesus’ own Claims of Himself.
The NT teaching is entirely unique to the World’s Religions.
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