December 27, 2004

High Christology

We say someone has a "high christology" when the divinity of Christ gets more emphasis than the humanity of Christ. With this beginning to the gospel of John, we see a VERY high christology. Although the jury may still be out on the gospel itself. The prologue (1:1-18) is generally seen as a later addition -- possibly written by a disciple of the author.

What speaks to me in this brief excerpt?

I see a claim to the integrity of God and God's speech. When I promise something, even when I do so with the best and most sincere of intentions, my word and my being are separate by the very act and event of my speaking. Circumstances tomorrow could turn my promises of today on their heads. This is why Jesus tells us swearing oaths, or making claims about our future actions are arrogant:

Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be 'Yes, Yes' or 'No, No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

But with God, this is different. God's word, God's self revelation, is itself God. One in essence and one in intention. The spirit who inspired the prophets, the revelation given in word or vision, are all one in perfect integrity. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And it is this same divine self-revelation by God, who was God's instrument in the creation of all that is. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. And that self-same divine and creative self-revelation is the source of all life and truth what has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. And moreover, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome/understand/comprehend it.

With a beginning like this, we must be prepared for a book that makes a lot of claims. A book that is not shy from discussing arcana and metaphysics. This Word of God makes claims upon us and as this Word is itself God, those claims are themselves infinite.

Scary stuff, eh kiddies?


At 9:06 a.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

Not at all! I studied the Gospel of John in the Bible study I used to take, which is why I'm eager for the opportunity to look at it again from a less fundamentalist perspective.

As to Christology -- I don't think of high as attaching more to the divinity of Jesus than to his humanity. My understanding (which may well be flawed) is that high Christology refers to the view that Jesus is God Himself, God incarnate, as opposed to being a son of God in the way that we are all sons of God. However, we may be saying the same thing, in different ways.

At 1:22 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

David said ... the integrity of God and God's speech ... God's self revelation, is itself God. One in essence and one in intention. ...

That's interesting. Does it mean that God is not only unchanging but unchange-able? In some gospel stories it seems that Jesus changes his mind ... and he is touched and affected by situations/people.

Maybe I'm not understanding what you meant, though?

At 4:32 p.m., Blogger david said...

Marjorie: I think we are saying pretty much the same thing in differing ways. I see stuff as shades of grey. So I'm not so willing to say that "low christology" folks see Jesus as human only or that all humans are divine and "high christology" folks see Jesus as incarnate God. I think both/and not either/or -- but with differing emphasis.

Crystal: you have hit the basic problem; we look at the witness to God in Christ and we get "high christology" we look at the example of Jesus and we get "low christology" -- so what do we do with it?

I believe that God suffers and weeps for us -- not just in the example of Jesus but in eternity. I'm not sure how it is. But I cannot imagine a God who would sacrifice his very sovereignty for us if God did not suffer compassionately for us and with us.

At 4:57 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

David, and maybe not just sufeers for/with us but also celebrate with us? I'm reading that book by John Dear and he notes how often the kingdom of God is compared to a wedding banquet :-)

At 7:42 p.m., Blogger david said...

Yes. But I'm sort of an introvert. I don't do "celebrates" very well. :0)

At 9:33 p.m., Blogger Meredith said...

David, I'm with Marjorie on this one. This does not feel scarey to me. Thinking about the divinity of Christ, the integrity of speech and God's revelation is exceedingly intriguing, but not fear producing for me.

Looks like we could be more clear on common definitions of "the Word".


At 4:50 a.m., Blogger david said...

A word of explanation: scary stuff eh, kiddies is a quote from an old comedy show on TV that aired here in Canada. It is meant to be ironic. Sorry -- pop culture references don't always translate well.

What I saw as potentially scary, was this new project of studying a very long gospel, that bears witness to the kind of God this prologue proclaims as truth and light and life. Potentially this book will make claims on our lives -- calling us to see the world differently and to act accordingly.

Change can be scary. But that is what spirituality is about.

At 8:40 a.m., Blogger Meredith said...

Ahhh, I get it now. Yes, understanding the deeper meaning of the Light within all of us can lead to some fundamental changes in how we see ourselves, and how we translate that Light into action. Yes!

At 3:22 p.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

Oooohhhh...Canadian humor. Hmmm...well, Canadian bacon never really tasted like bacon to me, either.


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