Truly Man, But More Than Man: Reflections In Christology -- By: Peter Toon
RAR 8:4 (Fall 1999) p. 15
Truly Man, But More Than Man:
Reflections In Christology
For people of orthodox Christian convictions, for whom the deity of Jesus Christ is a central and critical affirmation, one of the urgent tasks of Christology today consists in exploring the aspects and implications of the human existence of Jesus Christ. This is so because it is in Christ’s humanity that His divinity is revealed. Revelation is produced in the Man, Jesus, and thus all we can know of the words, actions and events of the human life of Jesus are of great importance to us if we desire truly to know the real identity of Jesus Himself, who called God “Abba.” In fact we find that as we examine the human figure from Nazareth we discover that while He is always fully and truly a Man, He also exceeds human dimensions and manifests what we can only call a transcendence or divine dimension that immediately leads us to His Father, God, and then back to Jesus as the Son of this holy and eternal Father.
Because we are earth-bound creatures, Christological thinking and inquiry necessarily start from the humanity of Jesus. There is thus a priority of the human dimension in such study, for being human we naturally encounter Jesus as truly Man as we begin. However, to state this obvious fact is not to commit ourselves to a false methodology which first considers Jesus Christ the Man and then moves on to discover or ascend to Christ as God. We find in practice as we read, study and meditate that the whole of Jesus’ humanity is a revelation of the divine. The totality of the
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human life of Jesus forms a whole and it is in this wholeness that His divine identity is revealed. Christ Jesus is a Man, but a Man who manifests and reveals God, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
By studying the content of the text,
Christology is committed to exploring
the deepest mystery which consists
in the act of incarnation.
In saying this about the priority of the human starting point, we are stating that there is truth in what is often called “Christology from below.” However, any rigorous study of the gospel texts will also necessarily involve sooner or later a “Christology from above,” simply because the whole Old Testament background to the ministry of Jesus as Messiah points to a movement from God to man. Jewish monotheism had a single point of departure, namely Yahweh Himself. Further, Jesus did not arise in just any place; He was born within the bosom of a people who had been brought by divine providence into a covenant with the true God, Yahweh. Thus the reader of the Gospels and Epistles has to think in a downward direction from heaven to earth and from God t...
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