Saturday, January 24, 2015

Christology: A Global Introduction, A Review (PART II)

Part I is here. Here is the rest.

Part two is a meditation upon the various Christological heresies within the early church traditions. Building off the New Testament, Kärkkäinen explains the various questions these holy writings produce, and the results are fascinating. Kärkkäinen covers Docetism, Apollinarianism, Arianism and Nestorianism, and their advocates and detractors. The difficult questions that were produced by these theological constructs are not hidden by Kärkkäinen, but are rather offered as a means to illustrate the difficulties surrounding the human one from Nazareth.

The one issue a reader might have is that main patristic sources such as Origen, Tertullian, and Irenaeus are not fully explained, thus leaving students a bit confused as to how the Church got from point A to C.

The councils Chalcedon and Nicaea are attempts to solve these perennial problems, but do so in a limited fashion. For instance, types of subordination are not immediately ruled out (contemporarily called ‘functional subordinationism’ with advocates such as Ware and Grudem), and this is an area where Christians continue to disagree. Kärkkäinen helpfully distinguishes between the Eastern and Western emphases concerning ‘natures’ (69-71), and showcases the tragic gap that developed between both East and West over these enduring issues of Christology and dogma. Built off these developments, the Reformation is front and center in engaging with kenosis Christology and Luther’s theology of the Cross, paving the way for modern theology (Moltmann).

Kärkkäinen then takes us on a whirlwind tour of the quests for the historical Jesus and the trappings of liberal Christianity, and he opines “one hopes that those involved will begin to dialogue more widely with systematic theology” (108). While the section on biblical studies was largely helpful, this part of the book is particularly edifying in illuminating the veiled aspects of church history.


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