Introduction to Christology

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. 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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