X
    Categories: Blog

What is Christology

Advertisement

            What is Christology? In the light of the Christian faith, practice, and worship that branch of theology called Christology reflects systematically on the person, being, and doing of Jesus of Nazareth.

            In facing and tackling certain Christological questions, historical, philosophical, and linguistic considerations play a crucial role. They can be distinguished as follows:

History of Christology

How do we know who Jesus was/is and what he did/does? Obviously, the first answer must be: we know Jesus and know about him from human history and experience.

The quest of the historical Jesus will make us examine his background in the story of Israel, his earthly career, his influence on the origins of Christianity, and the subsequent development of Christological thinking and teaching.

In pursuing the reality and meaning of Jesus’ person, being, and work we will examine some themes from Jewish history, and from the origins of Christianity and in particular from the development of Christological reflection and teaching. (We know Jesus through the historical and experiential sources).

Philosophy of Christology

Our questions about Jesus’ ‘being’ and ‘doing’ raise a whole range of questions of a more or less philosophical nature. What is the status of experiential knowledge? Can it supply any reliable information or evidence about Jesus?

Where personal testimonies differ, whose experience counts? Philosophical considerations necessarily turn up when Christology raises questions of hermeneutics (the role of tradition in the work of interpretation), and questions of epistemology (the evidential status of experience and the dependence of Christian faith upon historical knowledge).

Is it logically consistent for someone to be simultaneously fully human and fully divine? If we cannot positively justify this conceptually, can we at least show that it is not blatantly impossible? Or is this simply as impossible and blatantly inconsistent as calling someone a married bachelor? To reach a reasoned position here, one needs to clarify the notions of humanity and divinity.

What counts as being, in the strict sense of the word human and/or divine? What do human nature and a divine nature mean and entail? How could one person be at the same time fully human and fully divine? What does personhood mean?

This is a simple illustration of the role of philosophy in clarifying concepts and testing possibilities. Philosophy comes into play in hammering out concepts that have certain clarity, examining whether some claims are coherent, and judging whether some claims are blatantly incoherent to the point of impossibility.

Language

How far can our language go in expressing Christ, God, and otherworldly realities? In religious worship, practice, and reflection, language gets used in extended or special ways. Jesus’ own symbolic language about a lost coin, a lost sheep and a lost son represent and perceptibly express truths about the invisible God and the divine designs in our regards.

If we put together various particular symbols, the whole Exodus narrative functions as a symbolic story, in which basic truths about God and our existence vis-à-vis God get imaginatively expressed. We are guided towards the ultimate realities not only by abstract concepts but even more by symbolic language.

It is important to note that in Christology, we are dealing with mystery, the mystery of the ineffable God, and for that matter, the corresponding mystery of the human condition. In particular, we should not forget the indirect, analogical, and symbolic character of our biblical, liturgical, and theological language about God.

The historical development of theology reminds us of the inadequacy of all attempts to approach the divine mystery. Any affirmation about God has to be qualified with a corresponding negation and the recognition that God infinitely surpasses our human categories.

Advertisement

In fact, Christians do not hold that mere language can be rich enough to express everything about Christ, or at least everything that they wish to express about who he is and what he has done.

Much of the Christian tradition of Christological interpretation has come through various styles of life, commitment towards those in need, public worship’s symbolic gestures, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, and other non-verbal forms of commitment.

Reasons for Studying Christology

Understanding, accepting, and interpreting Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God and the world’s savior immediately touches upon our personal identity, deepest needs, and final destiny. To answer Jesus’ question ‘Who do you say that I am? (Mk. 8:29) by confessing him as Son of God is in effect to state who we think we are.

To acknowledge in Jesus of Nazareth the mystery of the divine presence among us entails committing ourselves to our own personal identity (Who do I say that I am?) Here no confession of faith is possible without accepting the innermost truth about ourselves, the meaning of our own existence, and the nature of our ultimate goal. In sum, when we identify Jesus as the Son of God, we take an ultimate stand on the mystery of human being.

Christian believers worship and act together within the community of the church. This fact recalls a further motive for the systematic study of Christ’s person and work. To admit that our theory and practice of Church life should be shaped by our belief in Christ. And this is to accept the more basic task. We should use all the resources of faith and reason to express and interprets faithfully; who Jesus is and what he does for us.

The multi-faceted Christian dialogue with various world religions and ideologies recalls the motivation of studying Christology in the present world. How should Christological reflection be renewed? How should an articulate Christian belief interpret and present the death and resurrection of Jesus to Hindus or Islam?

Sources

What sources provide the appropriate material for our systematic account of Jesus’ identity and function? Where can we learn about Jesus Christ and find what Christians have believed about him and one because of their faith in him?

One can rightly maintain that for Christology; there is only one source, the self-revelation of the Triune God. Which reached its ultimate expression in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, was then transmitted; and interpreted through the apostolic traditions. And finally received its fixed record in the written scriptures.

However, we can expect to find the truth about Jesus Christ within the Church. Faith in him began in the context of that community has been expressed in countless ways by members of that same community. And will be properly articulated only within that same context.

The Christ of the present

The Christ of present Christian experience extends beyond the sectors of liturgy and teaching to the entire life of Christians. This is the Christ of the Church’s doctrine, life, and worship.

The Christ of the future, the Christ of the Christian tradition, the Christ of the Christian origin