Introduction to Christology

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Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
Theo 530: Systematic Theology II
Lesson 1
Dr. Daniel R Mitchell, Professor

Introduction to Christology

Contemporary Issues in Christological Method

Overview

Christ and History

The Search

Christology from Above vs. from Below

The Person or Work of Christ, Which is Prior?

Christ and Myth

I.Introduction to this Study

A.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

II.Search for the Historical Jesus

Key Players: Strauss, Renan, Harnack

Harnack’s Presuppositions

NT and Superstitious Culture

Ancient Miracle Claims are Commonplace

Anti-supernaturalism

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

III.Critique of the Classic Liberal Position

A.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.

2 Kahler

1 Distinguished Historie and Geschichte

2 Contrasted “Jesus” of Historie and the “Christ” of Geschichte.

IV.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.”

V.The Person vs. the Work of Christ

The NT seems to Link these

1.(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.

Schleiermacher— “feelings”

Bultmann/Tillich—“existential” question

VI.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.”

VII. Christ and the Incarnation Myth

Bultmann and “demythologization.”

Builds on the philosophy of Idealism

Links Christianity and World Religions

Erickson’s Responses

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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