The Christology Of Adolphe Monod -- By: Antoine Theron
PRJ 1:1 (January 2009) p. 78
The Christology Of Adolphe Monod
Adolphe Monod is ranked with his brother Frederic and the more famous César Malan as leading figures in the nineteenth century revival of Reformed theology in France and Switzerland, the so-called Réveil. He is also widely regarded as possibly the most accomplished French preacher of the nineteenth century.1 But it is neither for his role in drawing the Reformed churches of French-speaking Europe back to their Scriptural moorings nor for his preaching that Monod is remembered today. The name Adolphe Monod is today particularly associated with experimental piety and the doctrine of Christian living.
Monod allowed profound and involved doctrines of Scripture to resonate not only in powerful preaching, but also in practical, intelligent godliness. It is Monod’s handling of one such doctrine, the doctrine of the nature and work of Christ, that will be investigated in the course of this short study. Monod seemed always able to translate the somewhat abstract propositions of Christology into simple and urgent truths for Christian piety. This paper will show how this godly preacher of the Réveil perceived the interconnectedness of the doctrines of Christ, of Scripture, and of Christian living.
Due to the dearth of secondary scholarly material on Monod’s theology in English, much reliance was placed on his extensive correspondence and on his most widely known work, Les Adieux.2 Les Adieux contains the short sermons given by Monod to the circle of
PRJ 1:1 (January 2009) p. 79
believers that assembled around his sickbed on Sundays through 1855 and 1856 while he was dying of liver cancer.3 The work has been described as “among the most fragrant pages ever recorded by those who have reached the borders of Immanuel’s land and who see the Christian life and its duties in that perspective.”4
The Divinity Of Christ
In the early nineteenth century, French-speaking Reformed churches in Europe were in a process of assimilation and compromise with Enlightenment rationalism and, to a lesser extent, nineteenth-century romanticism.5 Preachers were attempting to reconcile their teachings with the ideas of moral progress and reason current in Enlightenment Europe, even at the price of a wholesale departure from the orthodox teachings of a divine Christ and an inspired Scripture.
Abandoning fundamental theological notions only provi...
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