Chapter 37 - The Person of Christ
We should be "Christ-centered," but not in a way that reduces every theological answer to "Jesus," as Karl Barth tends to do.
Deity of Christ
Jesus is Lord" is a fundamental NT assertion. The New Testament also assumes His deity.
He didn't remove His deity when He humbled Himself to become one of us (Philippians 2:7). This was an ethical act, not a metaphysical one.
Humanity of Christ
It was harder for first century people to accept that God became physical, due to the influence of Gnosticism, which assumed that physical matter is evil. 1 John 4:2-3 and John 20:26-29 assert His humanity forcefully, though.
Jesus "underwent a major change" (883), taking on our humanity in a fallen world to redeem us from that sinful condition. This is an example to us to lay down our lives for each other, but that example is based on an atonement that pays for sin with blood.
Virgin conception and birth
Jesus' birth was normal; His conception was supernatural! It:
- signals redemptive work to come in His life.
- asserts His humanity and deity, both.
- shows our salvation is apart from our effort (or Joseph's!)
- shows God kept Jesus from our inherited sinful condition.
The Council of Chalcedon put this in words in 451 A.D. Christ has two natures, human and divine, in one person. They are distinct but undivided. The doctrine of the Trinity says God is 3 persons in one divine nature, but here we use the word nature differently: Jesus is 1 of the 3 persons, and 2 natures co-exist (subsist?) in that 1 person. How does this work? Generally, Jesus limited His divine attributes while on earth.
Communication of Attributes
But do His divine attributes affect His human attributes (or the other way around) or not? If we say not, we are prone to divide the two natures. If we say they do (Luther said Jesus' humanity is omnipresent, so "This is My body" could be literally true) we are prone to confuse the two natures.
Christ the Image of God
He is the exact image, where we only had dimmer pictures in the Old Testament (Hebrews 1:1-4).
As King, He controls (situational perspective).
As Prophet, He has authority (normative perspective).
As Priest, He is present (existential perspective).
Each of these is true in His being, and also works out in history