What Is Hypostatic Union?
Hypostatic union is how Christians explain the relationship between Jesus’ divine nature, his human nature, and his being. It means that Jesus is both fully God and fully man. Jesus has all of the characteristics that are true of a person, and all of the characteristics that are true of a divine being. Both natures fully exist in one person.
For centuries, the church struggled to define the relationship between Jesus’ divine nature and his…
What is Docetism?
Docetism is an ancient heresy that says Jesus was not fully human. According to Docetism, he seemed to be human, but because Jesus was fully divine, he had no physical body. The form people saw was essentially a ghost.
The word “docetism” comes from the Greek word, dokeĩn, which means “to seem.” The earliest evidence of this heresy actually comes from 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John, where the Apostle John writes…
What happened at the Council of Chalcedon?
The Council of Chalcedon was the fourth ecumenical council. In 451 AD, leaders from all of Christendom gathered to define the incarnation of Christ once and for all.
Within the lifetime of the apostles, some Christians were already having a hard time reconciling Jesus’ divinity with his humanity (2 John 1:7). Was he only partially divine, or only partially human? Was Jesus even human at all?
The implications of these questions were huge: the answers could affect whether Jesus had the power to forgive sins and offer eternal life. Without a real human body, could he really die? If he didn’t die, the wages of sin remained unpaid (Romans 6:23) and their faith was in vain (1 Corinthians 15:17).
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What Does It Mean for Anthropology to Be “Christological”? – An Excerpt from Christological Anthropology
We often hear humanity was and is perfected in Christ, but what do we mean by that? How did Christ’s divinity affect his, and our, humanity? To answer those questions, Marc Cortez looks to thinkers the likes of Martin Luther and Karl Barth and asks how they used Christology to inform their understanding of the human person.
In this excerpt today we watch Cortez set up the focus of the book. He says many agree that it is only through Christ that we understand who we are. Then Cortez calls for an “unpacking” of that statement, to discover specifically what and how that should be done.
Enjoy this excerpt from Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective, which is available to order from Zondervan Academic now.
Christian understanding of what it is to be human unfolds through shared engagement and meditation…
Get the Newest Online Course on Jesus and the Gospels: Four Portraits, One Jesus
Today we are announcing a brand new online course about Jesus and the Gospels, taught by Mark Strauss.
If you’re like most Christians, you probably grew up learning about Jesus, but you’ve never devoted yourself to serious, sustained study of the life of Jesus as found in the four Gospels.
You might know the Sunday school version of Jesus, but there’s so much more to his life and story.
Perhaps you’ve wondered how to defend your faith—to others, to your family, or even to yourself:
Did Jesus really perform miracles? Was Jesus who he said he was—the Son of God? How can we know? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? What kind of evidence exists, and what’s at stake?
Or perhaps you’ve wondered what Jesus says about today’s most pressing issues. What would he say about the…
Mounce Archive 24 – God and Jesus
Bill Mounce is traveling this month and is taking a break from his weekly column on biblical Greek until April. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your Greek-studying pleasure.
In one of his first posts, Mounce helps us take a deeper look at Paul’s introduction to the book of 1 Timothy. By looking at the grammar in the Greek, we can see how Paul referred to the Trinity. Mounce calls this a “christologically sensitive grammatical structure.”
You can read the entire post here.
“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tim 1:2). Paul begins his letter to Timothy with a somewhat normal…
[Common Places] Can You Start in Azusa and Still Make It to Nicea? Engaging Christopher Holmes’s The Holy Spirit
Zondervan Academic’s New Studies in Dogmatics series launched this fall with its first volume, Christopher Holmes’s The Holy Spirit, appearing in print in November. We will introduce readers to this work and engage with some of the doctrinal issues addressed therein over a series of four posts here at Common Places. In this final post, Marc Cortez detects apparent dissent between Holmes and one of his conversation partners.
Should theology always “begin” with the Son, or is it ever proper to construct a theological system that takes pneumatology as a fundamental starting point? According to Christopher Holmes, for any theology that seeks to be shaped by the pattern of the eternal triune relations, the answer to the latter half of that question is a clear no. Since the Spirit proceeds from the Son and points…
[Common Places] Engaging with Kate Sonderegger: The One and the Many
The arrival of a new contribution to a multi-volume systematic theology marks a major moment in the discipline. All the more so when the author goes against the grain of much contemporary theology. Kate Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology, volume one: The Doctrine of God is such a book.
Whereas contemporary theology this side of Barth and Rahner has focused on being Christ-centered not only in a soteriological sense but as a methodological key, Sonderegger has decidedly argued that Christology must follow the doctrine of God. So the most determinative factor regarding this volume, at least as it relates to others in its genre in recent decades, involves its character as a study of the one true God rather than the triune nature of…
Mounce Archive 10 — Prepositions, Deity, and Christology
Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.
Today’s “classic” comes from one of Mounce’s very first columns almost seven years ago, a fascinating post that’s as relevant today as it was back then.
In it he reminds us of the nuances of grammatical constructions by drawing our attention to 1 Timothy 1:2. He explores how the preposition “apo” governs “God” and “Christ Jesus,” and how this construction impacts Paul’s christology.
Consider the excerpt below, then read the rest of the post.
In this verse, there is one preposition (“from,” apo) that governs two objects (“God” and “Christ Jesus”). Grammatically, this means that Paul is in…
[Common Places] New Studies in Dogmatics: Christology
Christology is an area of particular dogmatic weakness for evangelical theology. So, when I signed up to write the Christology volume for New Studies in Dogmatics, what did I get myself into? After all, plausible reasons for this evangelical weakness are not hard to generate. For one factor, Christology does not readily provide incentives for dogmatic creativity, at least among those for whom orthodoxy is a priority. For another factor, Christology does not readily generate the kind of widespread, primary disagreement that elicits intra-evangelical dialogue or polemics. Alternatively, for a third factor, evangelical Christology has been externally preoccupied with defending the historicity of miraculous events and appealing to those events for apologetic and evangelistic purposes. Until recently, we have tended to focus on defending the truth, more than exploring the meaning, of such foundational events as the resurrection.
Extracurricular Activities 10.25.14—J.I. Packer’s Conversion, A Softer Calvinism, & The Parish’s Death
On Sunday, October 22, 1944—seventy years ago today—it is doubtful that anyone noticed a soft-spoken, lanky, and decidedly bookish first-year university student leaving his dormitory room at Corpus Christi College and heading across Oxford for an evening Christian Union service at a local Anglican church.
18-year-old Jim Packer had arrived at Oxford University less than three weeks prior, a single suitcase in hand, traveling east by train from Gloucester using a free ticket available to family members of Great Western Railway employees…
I’ve just finished another semester teaching christology. This is one of my favourite classes. (My other favourite is the Trinity.) Really it’s one of the joys of my life to be able to explore such things…
In “How God Became Jesus” Charles Hill Shows How Ehrman’s Central Thesis is the Book’s Central Problem
I have been making my way through Bart Ehrman’s new book How Jesus Became God (HJBG). As an historical theologian I was most interested in his two chapters on how he conceived the so-called “christological evolution” after the New Testament. He devotes two chapters (ch. 8 and 9) to the apparent “numerous views of Christ throughout the second and third Christian centuries.” (HJBG, 286)
Thankfully, Charles Hill responds in two chapters of the newly released response book, How God Became Jesus. In them he explains what happened early in the Jesus movement and how its leaders handled the paradox of Jesus’ deity and humanity.
In one of the more helpful sections, Hill drills down into one of Ehrman’s foundational arguments, represented by Ehrman's self-coined neologism: Ortho-paradoxy.
Hill draws our attention to two of Ehrman's reasons for his new word:
- “Some passages of Scripture appear to affirm completely different views.” (HJBG, 326)
- “Different groups of heretics stated different views in direct opposition to one another, and the orthodox thinkers knew that they had to reject each of these views.” (HJBG, 326-327)
Ehrman believes such paradoxes are “brutal,” (HJBG, 326) though Hill isn’t sure why (177). Throughout chapter 9 Hill ably explains why they are not and deconstructs Ehrman’s central thesis, showing how it is the book’s central problem.