The Unique Christ and the Modern Challenge -- By: John H. Armstrong
RAR 2:2 (Spring 1993) p. 85
The Unique Christ and the Modern Challenge
Through 20 centuries the Christian church has consistently realized that what it confesses regarding the person of Jesus of Nazareth is of paramount importance. Christianity stands and falls by what it believes and confesses regarding this person! For this reason every generation since the first has been called upon to answer the question: “Who do you say that I am?”
While Christology has always been of central importance for Christianity the subject has never been easy. Consider, for example, the great convocation known as the Council at Chalcedon (451 A.D.). Here heresies and challenges were taken up openly. Affirmations that have served the church well for 15 centuries were put forward. Yet Chalcedon did not elaborate on a number of questions related to Christology, especially positive reflections on New Testament teaching regarding the uniqueness of Jesus. It prescribed sound doctrine, as far as it went, but it addressed problems and issues without taking up specific applications.
This is illustrated in the affirmation of the Council concerning two natures in one person. The Council informs us what this statement does not mean but did not address many positive issues. Millard J. Erickson, a Baptist theologian, aptly comments: “It may not be an exaggeration to say that there have been more of these epochal developments in the past one hundred years than in all of the preceding centuries.” 1
The uniqueness of Jesus has often been assumed, but generally unconsidered by evangelicals in our era. We often begin with the false premise that no one else ever claimed to be the Messiah. From there we assume that most of the teachings of the early church were unique to Christianity and the apostolic witness. Surely no one else believed in incarnate deities who were dying and rising saviors in whom lay all truth. Yet ancient documents reveal such
RAR 2:2 (Spring 1993) p. 86
beliefs were quite prevalent.
What then makes Jesus of Nazareth unique from all other claimants to be “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6a)? How does the New Testament set forth this unique One? And how shall we set forth His person in our pluralistic age where global awareness itself calls into question the universality and normativeness of Jesus?
The Problem Stated
If the classical Chalcedonian Christology (i.e., Jesus is the God-man, two natures in one person) is a true understanding of the person of Jesus, then the church has correctly believed that Jesus is unique
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