The essential, absolute, eternal Deity and the real proper, but sinless, humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary. The Scriptures ascribe to Christ Divine names30; Divine attributes31; Divine works32; Divine honor and glory.33
The divine and the human natures are united in Christ, both natures together forming one undivided and indivisible person.34
It was necessary for our Savior to be true God35 that His fulfilling of the Law might be sufficient for all men;36 that His life and redemption might be sufficient ransom for our redemption;37 and that He might be able to overcome death and the devil for us.38
The fact that Jesus prayed to the father, that he said only the Father knew when Judgment Day would come, or that He died does not prove that He was not God in the fullest sense of the term. Christ’s State of Humiliation consisted in this, that according to His human nature, Christ did not always and fully use the divine attributes communicated to His human nature.39
Jesus was not made a god at His baptism or at His resurrection, nor was He subsequently deified by His followers, who believed Him to be God, while He Himself never made such a claim. Jesus Christ existed with the Father from the very beginning, as the second person of the Holy Trinity, equal with the Father in every sense. Even after he took on Himself human flesh he was, and still is, and ever will be, the true God.40
Any doctrine of “justification” or “salvation” which is not based on the doctrine that Jesus Christ is true God, the second person is the Holy Trinity, is not Christian and of no value.41
30 1 John 5:20, Matt. 17:5; Romans 9:5.
31 John 1:1,2, Heb. 13:8, Matt. 28:20, John 21:17, Matt. 28:20.
32 John 1:3, Heb. 1:3; Matt. 9:6; John 5:27.
33 John5:23; Heb 1:6.
34 John1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9; Is. 9:6; Matt. 28:20; Acts 3:15; John 1:7.
35 Gal. 4:4,5; Heb 2:14.
36 Ps. 49:7,8; Rom. 5:19.
37 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb 2:14; 1 Cor. 15:57.
38 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14; 1 Cor. 15:57.
39 Phil. 2:5-8.
40 Otten, op. cit.. p. 16, 17.
41 David Scaer writes in Christology, a volume in the new Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series published by the International Foundation for Lutheran Confessional Research, Inc., 6600 N. Clinton St., Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825: " lf the doctrine of justification by grace through faith is the center of Christian theology, then Christology is the foundation upon which rests justification and all the other articles of faith. Only that doctrine of justification is Christian which is based on the Christology revealed in the New Testament and later confessed by the ancient church in its Creeds and councils" (1).
Some modern theologians profess to believe in justification by faith but they do not believe that Jesus Christ is God or that he was born of a virgin and rose physically from the dead.
Many church members maintain that it makes very little difference what one believes about Christ as long as one leads a good life and tries his best.
Scaer takes issue with various Twentieth Century theologians who are not mentioned in Pieper's dogmatics. Scaer says that "Though (Karl) Earth is seen by certain Evangelical scholars as reviving the ancient church's Christology, his emphasis on 'the transcendent' may, in fact, make a real Incarnation impossible for him" (4). "Jurgen Moltmann, like Barth, speaks of two natures in Christ, but by attributing the death of Christ to the divine nature casts doubt on his understanding of the Incarnation" (4). "According to Bultmann, Jesus did not come from God as the Only-begotten Son of God; instead, the church elevated Jesus to a position of divine honor through a process of theological evolution. This position has been stated before by the Unitarians who called Jesus 'God' only in an honorific sense" (4). Scaer observes that Wolfhart Pannenberg, a Lutheran theologian, "speaks of Jesus becoming God in the Resurrection, but dilutes this belief by extending the integration of die divine and human in Jesus in such a way as to include all of humanity in this union.
Moltmann says men are absorbed into God, while Pannenberg reverses this scheme with the view dial God is absorbed into humanity. In both theories the Incarnation is so universalized that its uniqueness in the person of Jesus is lost."
Roman Catholic Theologians
"The abandonment of Chalcedonian Christology was caused by a restrictive historical approach to the Christology of the New Testament. This practice is not limited to Protestant theologians. Piet J. A. M. Schoonenbert, in his book The Christ, claims that the man Jesus gives a personality to the Word of God. The humanity of Jesus does not allow for the Incarnation of the divine Logos" (4,5.).
Scaer says that "The contemporary Christology 'from below' simply does not take the preexistent divine nature into account. To preserve the human nature Schoonenbert eliminates the divine nature altogether, a position which was not an option even for the heretics condemned by the ecumenical councils. This approach characterizes most modern approaches to Christology" (5).
Scaer shows that various prominent Roman Catholic theologians, who have not been excommunicated, deny the real deity of Christ. He writes: "Edward Schillebeeckx attempts to harmonize Roman Catholicism's commitment to the doctrine of the Trinity with his conviction that (Christology must be approached 'from below.' This allows him to speak of the Trinity from the perspective of the Christology. It is true that the question of how the Trinity is revealed to humanity must be answered from the perspective of Christology. The revelatory question cannot be confused, however, with the ontological one which lies at the heart of the Christology of Nicaea and Chalcedon. Jesus is the preexistent Son of God, the divine Logos, even though this knowledge comes to us only by means of His incarnation. Schillebeeckx is unable to move beyond speaking of Christ's divinity in functional terms as the one in whom God gives us salvation.
"Another well-known Roman Catholic theologian, Hans Kung, who has been disqualified by the pope as a teacher of doctrine at the University of Tubingen because of his theological position, attributes to Christ only a functional deity. He is willing to use the Christological language of the Nicene Creed, but interprets this only in the functional sense of God revealing Himself in Jesus. As radical as these Roman Catholic theologians are, they are bound to tradition in a way that Protestants are not and as a result they make some attempt to incorporate the terminology of the ancient councils in their functional Christology. Such a view may be called a 'Christology of revelation' because Christ reveals God without being God Himself. But like their Protestant counterparts, these Roman Catholic theologians are never able to move successfully from a Christology 'from below' to one 'from above.' Their approach may be more deceptive. Their use of traditional Christological language of the Creeds hides their true intentions. Any Christology which goes no further than a discussion of the historical Jesus places itself in opposition to the Christology of the Scriptures as well as that of the early church.
"Christology 'from below' was popularized by the late Anglican bishop and Cambridge don, John A. T. Robinson, in his books. Honest to God and The Human Face of God. He describes the divine and human qualities of Jesus with traditional language. But when he speaks of Jesus as 'the personal representative of God: He stands in God's place.
He is God to us and for us,' he is setting up a different Christology from that of Chalcedon. In the last years of his life Robinson gave up his attempts at dogmatics and devoted himself to New Testament studies, where his views were surprisingly conservative. As a theologian, Robinson was not a particularly original thinker and only synthesized the views of others. A lack of clarity and an inability to grapple with the materials may have been his real problem. To him, nevertheless, belongs the credit of bringing views into the open which the majority of scholars have held for nearly two centuries, so that the laity could understand.
"The issue of Christology 'from below' came to inflammatory expression in The Myth of God Incarnate. As occurs in any collection of essays from a group of authors, it lacks unity of thought, except in its consistent denial of orthodox Christology and its substitution of a Christology 'from below.' A debate began on British soil and soon raged throughout the English-speaking world. Frances Young, one of the contributors, 'discovered' that even the apostle Paul did not have an incarnational theology. John Hick, the editor, finds the Incarnation pernicious because it implies that there is no salvation outside of Christianity. He calls for recognition of God's work through other religions" (pp. 7,8).