Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 3 – The Origin of Paul’s Divine Christology

Why bother to collect water with leaky buckets from distant wells when one can draw fresh water from the well in one’s backyard? [cf. endnote 7]

One of the most dramatic stories in the Bible is the transformation of Paul after he had a vision of the risen Christ. Paul was bent on destroying the church, but he suddenly turned into a preacher whose influence on the development of Christianity is second only to that of Jesus Christ. F.F. Bruce describes the significance of Paul’s conversion experience on Damascus Road,

No single event, apart from the Christ-even itself, has proved so determinant for the course of Christian history as the conversion and commissioning of Paul. For anyone who accepts Paul’s own explanation of his Damascus Road experience, it would be difficult to disagree with the observation of an eighteenth century writer [G. Lyttelton] that “the conversion and apostleship of St. Paul alone, duly considered was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a divine revelation.” /𝟏/

The cradle of Christianity was Judaism and Paul could rank himself as among to the finest elite of Judaism: He was born a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” sat at the feet of the outstanding teacher, Gamaliel, who was the grandson of the great rabbi Hillel. He was an emerging leader of the strict sect of the Pharisees who boasted that he was blameless in his observation of the Law (Phil. 3:6). He shared the same dogmatic assurance with his religious cohorts that the tradition handed down to them by their learned rabbis contained the whole truth of the religion. As such, there is no need for new revelation from God. Continue reading “Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 3 – The Origin of Paul’s Divine Christology”

Historical Origin of Divine Christology. Part 2 – Exaltation Christology in Luke-Acts

I. Luke 22:69
It was understandable that Caiaphas demanded an explicit answer from Jesus to the question whether he was the Messiah. Perhaps a display of miraculous power would be in order. After all, God will not abandon his Anointed One in the face of deadly opposition. But Jesus refused to call upon legions of angels to rescue him. What could Jesus be thinking about himself, his relationship with God and his mission when he allowed himself to be arrested and abused by his enemies?

Jesus refrained from any public declaration of himself as the promised Messiah because he did not want to pander to the political and nationalistic expectations of the Jews. His ambiguous answer to Caiaphas was intended to expose the insincerity of his questioner. Nevertheless, he was fully assured that he was God’s chosen servant despite facing adverse circumstances. It is significant that Jesus corrected the high priest by substituting the ‘Son of Man’ for the ‘Messiah’. By referring to the ‘Son of Man’, Jesus answered the question on his own terms and stressed the transcendent character of his mission against all political misinterpretations. /1/ Continue reading “Historical Origin of Divine Christology. Part 2 – Exaltation Christology in Luke-Acts”

The Exalted Christ in the Book of Acts: Reading 1 on Historical Origin of Divine Christology

The Messianic King
The exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God means nothing less than his enthronement as messianic King. Peter concludes his first sermon with the affirmation, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Taken out of context, this saying could mean that Jesus became Messiah at his exaltation and represents an “adoptionist” Christology. However, the context makes it clear that Jesus was the Messiah in his earthly ministry, and the immediate context makes it clear that Peter means to say that Jesus has entered in upon a new stage of his messianic mission. He has now been enthroned as messianic King. Continue reading “The Exalted Christ in the Book of Acts: Reading 1 on Historical Origin of Divine Christology”

Historical Origin of Divine Christology. Part 1 – Apostolic Christology vs Mythological Christology

Mythological Christology
Some critics of Christianity assert that the doctrine of the deity of Christ was imposed on the church by Emperor Constantine during the Council of Nicaea (325 AD). Presumably, the early church in the first century began with a lower view of Jesus as an itinerant teacher and apocalyptic prophet of God. However, Jesus was gradually elevated to a higher status as Christianity spread through the Roman Empire. Christianity was loosened from its monotheistic Jewish roots when the new Hellenistic Christian communities surpassed the early Judaistic Christian community. A higher Christology evolved with adoption of elements of pagan religions. The result is the deification of Jesus Christ.

This theory has its roots in the “history of religions school” (Religionsgeschichtliche Schule) in Germany in the 19th century. The school extended its influence into the USA through the seminal works of Wilhelm Bousset, Kyrios Christos (1913) and Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (1934). High profile scholars like Bart Ehrman are essentially theorizing from the framework of Bauer’s theory even as they speculate further that the deification of Jesus Christ was accelerated, purportedly under the influence of Jewish angelology. Continue reading “Historical Origin of Divine Christology. Part 1 – Apostolic Christology vs Mythological Christology”

The Meaning of “Son of God”: A Muslim Critique – Christology Part 1

Author: Ungaran Rashid
Publisher: IIUM Press, 2021.
ISBN 9789674910945
No. of pages: 128
Price: RM 45.00

[This book is a revised version a thesis in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage (Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion) at International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur].

Muslim scholars’ critique of the Christian teaching of the deity of Christ would be more credible if it engages with the origin of divine Christology in its historical context rather than relies on dogmatic assertions of Islamic doctrine. As such, this book is a commendable attempt by a Muslim scholar to engage with Christian scholarship based on historical criticism of primary sources and critical analysis of concepts of Christology.

For Christians, “Son of God” describes the filial relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. However, Muslims reject the Christian understanding and assert that “He (Allah) begot no one nor was He begotten” (Sura 112 – Abdel Haleem translation). Dr. Ungaran Rashid, assistant professor at International Islamic University, Malaysia, argues that the way to resolve this conflict of interpretation is to examine the term “Son of God” from the main source, which is Jewish Scriptures (Ungaran’s term for the Old Testament). Continue reading “The Meaning of “Son of God”: A Muslim Critique – Christology Part 1″

Yesus Kristus Adalah Firman Allah (Yohanes 1:1, 14)

Keadaan dunia ini selalu berubah. Pada hal yang sebenarnya, yang tiada berubah barang sedikit, iaitu Firman Allah yang Maha Mulia itu. Dari zaman ke zaman Allah ta’ala telah menyatakan sifat-sifat-Nya dan kehendak-Nya kepada manusia dengan perantaraan nabi-nabi-Nya itu. Tambahan pula, Firman Allah itu bukannya satu khabar yang sayup atau tak tentu bunyinya, melainkan Firman Allah sudah tersurat dengan tepat and nyata di dalam Al-Kitab yang suci. Di dalam sebahagian Al-Kitab yang digelarkan Kitab Injil itu, ada kenyataan yang lebih ajaib lagi, iaitu Firman Allah telah mengambil bentuk kemanusiaan dan masuk ke dalam dunia dalam peribadi Yesus Kristus yang tersebut namanya Firman Allah. Penjelmaan Firman Allah itu ialah suatu hakikat yang menghairankan. Perkara ini suatu rahsia yang diuraikan di dalam beberapa ayat Kitab Injil. Demikianlah maksudnya:

Dia datang kepada milik-Nya sendiri, tetapi milik-Nya tidak menerima-Nya…Firman itu menjadi manusia dan hidup dalam kalangan kita. Kita telah melihat kemuliaan-Nya sebagai Anak Tunggal yang datang daripada Bapa, penuh dengan kasih kurnia dan kebenaran (Yohanes 1:11, 14). Continue reading “Yesus Kristus Adalah Firman Allah (Yohanes 1:1, 14)”

Christ’s Death as Expiation-Propitiation (Hilasterion): Appeasing the Wrath of God

  If the heart of the cross is the atonement, the heart of the atonement is penal substitution. Christ’s Death as Penal Substitutionary The prima facie evidence from Scripture supports the case for Christ’s death as penal substitutionary. This is clear from the following verses. Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6) Christ died for … Continue reading “Christ’s Death as Expiation-Propitiation (Hilasterion): Appeasing the Wrath of God”

 

If the heart of the cross is the atonement, the heart of the atonement is penal substitution.

Christ’s Death as Penal Substitutionary
The prima facie evidence from Scripture supports the case for Christ’s death as penal substitutionary. This is clear from the following verses.

Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6)
Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8)
Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3)
he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21)
who gave himself for our sins (Gal. l :4)
who gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us
(Gal. 3: 13)
who gave himself as a ransom for all (I Tim. 2:6)
and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)
Christ suffered for you (I Pet. 2:21)
He himself bore our sins in his body ( 1 Pet. 2:24a)
By his wounds you have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24b)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Pet. 3: 18)

These verses confirm beyond dispute that Christ died for us. However, how Christ’s death brings reconciliation between the holy God and sinful man is hotly debate. Some scholars teach that Christ died as our representative who advocates or pleas for us as we are not personally present in the judgment court of God. However for evangelicals, these verses require an understanding of Christ’s death which goes further than Christ dying as our representative – Christ died as our substitute on the cross.

To sharpen the difference between the representative and the substitute – the substitute not only pleas for his client, he takes his place on the dock. He becomes the accused who is condemned as guilty. He takes the place of his client as he is executed on the cross. As he took punishment in our place, we are so to say present in him. The phrases “gave himself”, “bore our sin”, “to be sin”, “becoming a curse”, “as a ransom”, and the interchangeability of statements about Christ’s death “for our sins” and Christ’s death “for us” suggests that Christ suffered the penalty that was due to us. The inseparable link between substitution and penalty demands an understanding of Christ’s death as a penal substitution “for us” and “our sins”. Continue reading “Christ’s Death as Expiation-Propitiation (Hilasterion): Appeasing the Wrath of God”

Is Zakir Naik is too Stubborn to Understand Jesus’ Claim to be God?

Zakir Naik has just challenged Christians to produce a verse in the bible where Jesus unequivocally claims to be God, and as such people should worship him. This would require a direct statement like “I am God” or “worship me” from the lips of Jesus. The challenge is either misguided or insincere. Zakir Naik displays … Continue reading “Is Zakir Naik is too Stubborn to Understand Jesus’ Claim to be God?”

Zakir Naik has just challenged Christians to produce a verse in the bible where Jesus unequivocally claims to be God, and as such people should worship him. This would require a direct statement like “I am God” or “worship me” from the lips of Jesus. The challenge is either misguided or insincere.

Zakir Naik displays a simplistic mindset in failing to understanding Jesus’ teaching. His demand that Jesus gives a direct proclamation shows no appreciation of Jesus’ wisdom that is needed to address an audience that is hostile and threatening violence towards him. Continue reading “Is Zakir Naik is too Stubborn to Understand Jesus’ Claim to be God?”

God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 2)

Part 2: Jesus Christ-Eschatological [Final] Prophet And Incarnate Savior: A Christian Proposal To Muslims Muslims assert the utter transcendence of God. Divine revelation therefore takes the form of revealed commandments rather than a revealed person. The issue that separates Christians and Muslims is whether or not the claim that Jesus Christ as the decisive revelation … Continue reading “God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 2)”

Part 2: Jesus Christ-Eschatological [Final] Prophet And Incarnate Savior: A Christian Proposal To Muslims

Muslims assert the utter transcendence of God. Divine revelation therefore takes the form of revealed commandments rather than a revealed person. The issue that separates Christians and Muslims is whether or not the claim that Jesus Christ as the decisive revelation of God compromises the utter transcendence of God. Resolving this issue requires an inquiry into the prophetic calling of Jesus. We need to ask whether Jesus ministry went beyond mere proclamation and constituted an adequate, if not decisive, act of divine salvation for humankind. Continue reading “God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 2)”

Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Fulfilment of Isaiah’s Prophecy

I. Theological Preliminaries 1. Strictly speaking, it is wrong to describe the birth of Jesus as a miracle. The birth process was normal; so normal that Mary made a sacrificial offering required by the Mosaic Law as a woman was considered ceremonially unclean after giving birth. The miracle refers not to the birth, but to … Continue reading “Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Fulfilment of Isaiah’s Prophecy”

I. Theological Preliminaries
1. Strictly speaking, it is wrong to describe the birth of Jesus as a miracle. The birth process was normal; so normal that Mary made a sacrificial offering required by the Mosaic Law as a woman was considered ceremonially unclean after giving birth. The miracle refers not to the birth, but to the conception of Jesus outside any sexual relations. The caveat duly noted, I shall continue to use the phrase “virgin birth” in accordance with convention.

Modern critics argue that belief in the virgin birth undermines Christian faith as it precludes the full humanity of Jesus. Rather than refuting hypothetical possibility with other hypothetical possibilities (mystere pour mystere), I shall presently focus on the Biblical testimony that the virgin birth does not compromise the full humanity of Jesus (Hebrews 2:14, 17). Likewise, Jesus sharing of our full humanity that includes a normal birth (and human temptation) does not undermine the sinlessness of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). Continue reading “Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Fulfilment of Isaiah’s Prophecy”