Tuesday, November 01, 2011


The part of Christian theology that studies and defines who Jesus the Christ is, was, and will be is known as Christology. It is generally less concerned with the minor details of his life; rather, it deals with who he was, the incarnation, and the major events of his life (his birth, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Important issues in Christology include:
  • His human nature
  • His divine nature
The interrelationship between these two natures; how they interacted and affected each other Christology may also cover questions concerning the nature of God like the Trinity, Unitarianism or Binitarianism, and what, if anything, Christ accomplished for the rest of humanity.

There are almost as many Christological views as there are variants of Christianity. The different Christological views of various Christian sects have led to accusations of heresy, and, infrequently, subsequent religious persecution. In many cases, a sect's unique Christology is its chief distinctive feature; in these cases it is common for the sect to be known by the name given to its Christology.

A major component of the Christology of the Apostolic Age was that of Paul the Apostle whose central themes were the notion of the pre-existence of Christ and the worship of Christ as Kyrios (cf. Rom 1:3) κύριος (Owner, Master, Lord). Following the Apostolic Age, there was fierce and often politicized debate in the early churches on many interrelated issues. Christology was a major focus of these debates, and was addressed at every one of the early ecumenical councils, with the Council of Chalcedon in 451 reaching a consensus that is still widely held today and referred to as Chalcedonian Christianity. Due to politically charged differences in the 4th century, schisms among denominations developed.

Following the time of the Apostolic Fathers, from the 2nd century onwards, a number of controversies developed about how the human and divine are related within the person of Jesus. As of the 2nd century, a number of different and opposing approaches developed among various groups. For example, Arianism did not endorse divinity, Ebionism argued that Jesus was an ordinary mortal, while Gnosticism held docetic views which argued that Christ was a spiritual being that only appeared to have a physical body. The resulting tensions lead to schisms within the church in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and ecumenical councils were convened in the 4th and 5th centuries to deal with the issues. Eventually in 451 the Hypostatic union was decreed, namely that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human, making this part of the creed of Orthodox Christianity. Although some of the debates seemed to be over a theological iota, they took place in controversial political circumstances and resulted in a schism that formed the Church of the East.
Dr. Darrell Bock Disagreements over Jesus and Christology in the early church.

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