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The Explorer’s Guide To Christianity by Marcus Braybrooke


Marcus Braybrooke is an Anglican Priest, a Peace Councillor and President of the World Congress of Faiths. Published by Hodder & Staughton, London, Sydney Aucland, 1998. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Chapter 3: Is He the Christ, the Son of God?


Christians through the centuries have in many different ways tried to communicate their experience of being met by God in Jesus Christ

John in the Prologue to his gospel says, ‘No one has ever seen God; but God’s only Son, he who is nearest to the Father’s heart, he has made him known’ (John 1:18 NEB). The claim is that in their relationship to Jesus, men and women are in relationship to God. We all know the irritating experience of trying to speak to the manager of a company or to a consultant and finding that we cannot get past a receptionist or assistant. Christians believe that Jesus is not just an angel or messenger of God, but, as the Nicene creed puts it ‘very God’. Jesus, in John’s gospel, tells Philip. ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’ (14:9).

Paul speaks of ‘the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor. 4:6 NEB). John says, ‘We saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only Son’ (John 1:14 NEB). Modern readers may miss the full significance of the word ‘glory’. The glory of God is a way of speaking of God himself. Moses on Mount Sinai asked God, ‘Show me your glory.’ God replied, ‘You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live,’ but God placed Moses in a cleft of the rock and covered him with his hand and allowed Moses to see only his back (Exod. 33:12-23). In this passage, the term glory means the same as the Presence of God or the Shekinah of Jewish theology. The term glory is often used by the prophets. The rabbis also used it, occasionally of God himself, but more often of the presence of God in the world. Frequently the Shekinah is associated with light. It rests predominantly on Israel. The Shekinah supports the sick, rests on the worthy married couple and takes proselytes under its wing. The Jewish scholar Alan F. Segal says that ‘there was in the Bible a human theophany, a human appearance of God, often called the angel of the Lord but also called the Kavod God’s glory’. Paul claimed that he had himself seen the Kavod, God’s glory just as Ezekiel did. ‘And this Kavod had the features and face of Jesus.’1

This is an astonishing claim and made at most within a generation of Jesus’s death. In Matthew and Luke also there is the verse, ‘All things have been delivered to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Matt. 11:27 = Luke 10:22).

To speak of Jesus just as a good man, a great ethical teacher and a healer of the sick is to fail to do justice to the evidence of the New Testament. It is, of course, possible to say that the early Christians were wrong, but not, to my mind, to deny that they claimed to have encountered God in the person of Jesus Christ.

New Testament Claims for the Divinity of Jesus

It is difficult to know to what extent the disciples were aware of God’s presence in Jesus prior to his being raised from the dead. Indeed, to what extent was the human Jesus himself aware of his divine status?

The gospels tell of an occasion when Jesus took three disciples, Peter, James and John, up a high mountain and was transfigured before them, so that his clothes became dazzling white. They had a vision of the true glory and divine nature of Jesus. Just before, in response to Jesus’ question, ‘Who do you say that I am?’, Peter had answered ‘You are the Christ’ (Mark 8:29; Matt. 16:16 gives Peter’s reply as, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’). Many modern scholars think that the gospel accounts of both Peter’s confession and the transfiguration were written in the light of the resurrection. Some indeed suggest that the transfiguration was originally a resurrection appearance.

In India today, there are those such as Sai Baba (b.1926), who are regarded as divine by their followers. At many ashrams in India, devotees will just sit in the presence of the holy person - darshan. Indian concepts of divinity are different from those of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which are often called the Semitic religions. Even so, Indian experience suggests that some people are, even during a person’s lifetime, willing to regard their teacher as ‘divine’. Some critical scholarship seems to me too saturated in the presuppositions of the rational Enlightenment. Some Indian holy figures are also aware of their own special relationship to the divine. Of course, there are examples of arrogance and deceit, but other holy figures radiate goodness and love. Some contact with the pattern of Indian devotion to a holy person has helped me to see how even in his lifetime Jesus may have been felt to make God present in a special way. The immediate reaction to his ministry, according to Mark, was that everyone was amazed and praised God: ‘We have never seen anything like this’ (Mark 2:12). It was noted that Jesus spoke with authority and not like the teachers of the Law (Matt. 7:29).

Having been trained in a very critical approach to the New Testament that saw the material as largely shaped by the early church in the light of the resurrection, I have come to think that Jesus was indeed aware of a unique vocation, even if he did not consciously think of himself as the unique Son of God. The calling of twelve disciples, the cleansing of the Temple, the entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, were highly symbolic actions, which appear to have been deliberately planned by Jesus and of which the significance would have been clear to his contemporaries. Further, Paul himself had a premonition of the danger that awaited him in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-3), and other great leaders, such as Martin Luther King, have sensed the danger of their mission. In the same way, it is likely that Jesus was aware of the risks that he ran in going to Jerusalem and consciously chose a non-violent confrontation with the authorities (Luke 18:31).

Critical New Testament studies, in contrast to the traditional Christian assumption that Jesus was God on earth, have started from the historical Jesus of Nazareth. They have perhaps, however, taken too limited a view of historical possibility.

If that is the case, arguments about when titles were first used of Jesus may be of only limited significance. Does it matter if Jesus did or did not speak of himself as Son of God? Those who believed that they had been met by God in Jesus Christ used many different ways to try and communicate their conviction. The first Christians used language and imagery familiar to them from the Hebrew Bible. The Fathers of the church, who shaped the classical creeds, thought in the categories of Greek or Hellenistic philosophy. Today new ways are needed to communicate the significance of Jesus. There has, however, often been a tendency in the church to sanctify a particular phrase or title and to use that as a touchstone of orthodoxy.

Son of Man

‘Son of Man’ is the term that the gospels suggest Jesus most often used of himself. There have been heated debates among modern scholars about the meaning of the term and attempts to find parallels in Hellenistic and Jewish literature. The term is used in three ways.

The first is as a roundabout way for a speaker to refer to himself. When Jesus went to the home of Zacchaeus, Luke tells us that Jesus justified his action by saying that ‘The Son of Man [meaning ‘I’] came to seek and to save what was lost’ (Luke 19:10). Some scholars, however, think ‘son of man’ is only an overliteral Greek translation of an Aramaic expression for ‘a man’ or ‘someone’. In that case, in the saying ‘The Son of man is lord of the Sabbath,’ the term just means ‘man’, so this is just a general statement that the Sabbath exists for human refreshment and renewal and that Sabbath rules are not sacrosanct. Most translations, however, take the verse as referring to Jesus as Son of Man, who, because of his divine status can dispense with Sabbath laws.

The second context in which the title is used is with reference to Jesus’ death. In Mark’s gospel, immediately after Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus ‘began to teach them [the disciples] that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and after three days rise again’ (Mark 8:31). It may be, especially as the Greek word pais can mean both ‘son’ and ‘servant’, that the title was a way of interpreting Jesus’ ministry in the light of passages in Isaiah which speak of a Suffering Servant, who was called to be a ‘covenant for the people and a light for the gentiles’ (Isa. 42:6). The Servant was destined to be ‘despised and rejected by men’ (53:3), but would ‘bear the iniquities of many’ (53:11).

The third use of the title was in predictions about the end time. Matthew says that ‘at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other’ (Matt. 24:30).

Some scholars think that Jesus used the title of himself in all three senses, whereas others think that he never used the title at all and that it was given to him by the first Christians. Some think that Jesus used it in only one or perhaps two of the three meanings. My own view is that he used the title of himself and, by reference to the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah, he also used the title to prepare his followers for his death. Jesus seems to have been convinced that his death was required of him by his Father and that his Father would vindicate him. I doubt, however, whether the detailed predictions of the second coming are from the lips of Jesus.

Messiah

Christians have often spoken of Jesus as ‘Messiah’. This Hebrew term means ‘Anointed’ and the Greek version Christos (Christ) quickly became a title for Jesus. Although at the time there was only limited Jewish speculation about the Messiah, Jewish expectations of the Messiah were very varied.2 The predominant view was that the Messiah would be a human and earthly deliverer and not a divine figure. It was expected that the Messiah would usher in God’s rule of peace and justice.

It is questionable whether Jesus used the title of himself. If he did so, he needed radically to reinterpret it so as to reject any idea of leading an armed uprising.

Son of God

The title ‘Son of God’ in Mark’s gospel, rather than deriving from Jesus himself, seems to be used by the evangelist to emphasize the true nature of Jesus. It is used in the opening verse of the gospel to announce what the book is about. It is used at Jesus’ baptism, so that the reader knows the true nature of Jesus. It is used by those possessed with demons, who were thought to have supernatural insight. The title also occurs at the transfiguration. At Jesus’ trial, the high priest, on behalf of the Jewish people, rejected the application of the title to Jesus, whereas at his crucifixion, a Roman centurion, on behalf of the gentile world, declared, ‘Surely, this man was the Son of God.’3

To the first believers, who were Jewish, Jesus’ sonship would have been understood as indicating God’s special favor and Jesus’ moral obedience. In Psalm 2:7, God says to the King of Israel, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ Coronation implied adoption by God, because in the ancient world a king was regarded as a quasi-divine figure. At his baptism, the words of the Psalm were applied to Jesus. John particularly emphasized Jesus’ obedience to the Father. ‘I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me’ (John 6:38). Jesus told the Jewish leaders, ‘Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does’ (John 10:37). In his final prayer to the Father, Jesus said, ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do’ (John 17:4). The Synoptic gospels also emphasized Jesus’ obedience in their account of his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus prayed ‘Abba Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’ (Mark 14:36).4

Lord

The term ‘Lord’ or Kyrios in Greek was quickly adopted by gentile Christians as a title for Jesus. It may have been used during his ministry as a respectful form of address, but in both Jewish and Hellenistic religions it was a title applied to God.

There can, I think, be little doubt that the writers of the New Testament regarded Jesus as divine. The hymn quoted by Paul in Philippians speaks of Christ Jesus ‘being in very nature God’ (Phil. 2:5). The emphasis on his divinity, the Canadian scholar Larry Hurtado suggests, was brought about by praying and singing hymns to Jesus, by celebration of the Lord’s Supper, by confession of faith in Jesus and prophetic pronouncements of the risen Christ5 Even so there seems to have been some hesitation to speak of Jesus simply as ‘God’ and those verses which appear to do so in English versions of the New Testament may have been mistranslated. For example, the translation of Romans 9:5 is disputed. Compare the New International Version which says that from the Israelites comes the human ancestry of ‘Christ, who is God over all, for ever praised’, with the New English Bible which says that from the Israelites, ‘in natural descent, sprang the Messiah. May God, supreme above all, be blessed for ever.’ In the latter translation, the doxology does not refer to Christ. Jewish opponents of Paul rejected his belief that Jesus was the Messiah; they did not accuse him of departing from the monotheism which was central to Jewish belief.

The fourth gospel went furthest in its claims for Jesus. Jesus said to Philip, ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father . . . I am in the Father and the Father is in me’ (John 14:9-10, see also 8:48-58). The Johannine community seems to have felt that their beliefs were still within the bounds of Jewish monotheism, but rabbinic Judaism, which was emerging after the fall of Jerusalem, was less sympathetic to the speculative forms of Judaism found in apocalyptic literature, and felt that the Christians had gone too far. By that time those who believed in Jesus were being expelled from some synagogues (John16:2).6

Councils and Creeds

The Doctrine of the Trinity

Unlike the New Testament writers, the early Fathers of the church had little hesitation in speaking of Jesus as God. Ignatius (c.35-c.107), the prophet-bishop of Antioch and a martyr, wrote, ‘Our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary.’ Clement (fl c.96), Bishop of Rome, spoke of the ‘living God that suffered and is worshipped’. It was not until the fourth century that the deity of the Holy Spirit was so clearly articulated.

How did the teachers of the early church affirm the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit whilst also claiming to believe in Only One God? The answer was the doctrine of the Trinity, that there is One God in three persons. The answer, however, was not convincing to Jews and Muslims and has continued to be a puzzle to many people, including some Christians. The biblical justification for the doctrine is sometimes found in Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 1:2 and Isaiah 6:3, but none of these passages speak of a God who is eternally three in one.

It is easy to get bewildered by what may seem the philosophical hair-splitting of the doctrinal debates of the early church. Essentially the orthodox Church wanted to defend its conviction that in the person of Jesus Christ and in the experience of God present in Christian life and worship, the believer was met by very God. Neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit were intermediaries. Christians thought of God as Creator or Father, as Redeemer or Son, and as Sanctifier, the one who makes us holy, namely the Spirit. The usual questions to a person seeking baptism or confirmation are still:

Do you believe and trust in God the Father who made the world?

Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed humankind?
Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God?

By the doctrine of the Trinity Christians have, however, wanted to say more than that God’s activity is known in three ways. The doctrine is intended to give an insight into the very nature of God. God is not a solitary monad. Just as no human being can live fully in isolation from other people, since in this world it is only possible to be a self in a field of selves, so the interior nature of God is relational.

It is important to recognize that traditional beliefs about the Trinity and about the status of Jesus Christ, which are often called Christology, were shaped by opposition to views which the majority of Christians felt were untrue to scripture and to their experience of faith. It has to be admitted that the doctrinal controversies were colored by political concerns, especially after the emperor had become a Christian and wanted to use the religion to unify his subjects. The language of the argument, in which opponents were denounced as heretics and ‘anathema’ or ‘accursed’, may seem unchristian, but shows how passionately Christians of that time felt about these issues. None the less, the resulting divisions of the church were to weaken it in the eastern Mediterranean world and make it vulnerable to the spread of the new religion of Islam in the seventh century.

Arius

One of the most important controversies about both the oneness of God and the divinity of Jesus was sparked by Arius (c250-c336), who was a priest in Alexandria. He sought to protect the absolute sovereignty and transcendence of God and held that God could not be present in a human life. Jesus was only divine in the sense that he had been ‘divinized’. He was subordinate to God and a creature, however unique and perfect. ‘There was’, Anus said, ‘a time when he [Jesus] was not.’ Arius was strongly opposed by St Athanasius (c.296- 373), who was Bishop of Alexandria. For a time the party who supported Arius was in the ascendant and Athanasius more than once was ousted from his diocese. Nevertheless his view triumphed at the Council of Nicaea (modern Iznik in north-west Turkey), which was an assembly of bishops convened by the Emperor Constantine, held in 325. A creed was agreed that said that Jesus was ‘of one substance’ (homoousios) with the Father. The creed known as the Nicene Creed, however, which includes the affirmation that Jesus Christ is ‘of one Being with the Father’ and which is still used by many churches, probably dates to a later council held at Constantinople in 381.

Three Persons in One God

The tendency of Eastern Christian thought has been to start with the evident distinction of persons in the Trinity and then to try to understand the mysterious unity of God. Gregory of Nyssa, (c.330-c395), who was bishop of Nyssa, but exiled for a time by the Arian party’ used this analogy: ‘We may be confronted by many who individually share in human nature, such as Peter, James and John, yet the "man" in them is one.’7 The Eastern approach can sound as if Christians believe in three gods. Western thought started from the unity of God. Augustine used this famous analogy: the Father is the lover, the Son the loved one and the Holy Spirit the love between them. Modern theologians, who work with traditional terminology, try to hold together the two approaches. It is also pointed out that the term translated ‘person’ meant in the Greek world a mask and not, as in modern usage, a centre of self-consciousness.

Jewish and Muslim Objections

To Jews and Muslims, the Christian position did not satisfy their insistence on monotheism. Although the Qur’an always refers to Jesus in respectful terms, it denies the doctrine of the Trinity and that God had a Son. Surah 112 says clearly: ‘He is God, One, the ever self-sufficing, the Eternal. He does not beget and he was not begotten, and there is not any like him.’ The suggestion that God had a Son is dismissed in several places. One verse will serve as an example. ‘Wonderful originator of the heavens and the earth! How could he have a son when he has no consort and He (Himself) created everything, and He is the knower of all things’ (Surah 6:102).

One or two modern Muslim writers, rather than just repeating the condemnation of Christian doctrine have tried to understand it, but they are the exception. Sayyid Ahmad Khan wrote, ‘In the western world "father" is a term applied to the originator of something … the son is he whom God has formed with his hands . . . If we would express it in Arabic idiom, then father means rabb (Lord) and "son" al- ‘abd al-maqbul (the chosen servant) and these meanings agree exactly with the application of these terms in the Old and New Testaments.’ A Persian writer, Shin Parto, in his Life of Jesus wrote, ‘The Christians say he is Son of God, but it is better to call him Son of Love, one who was born in love, taught men love, and was crucified for love and liberty.’8

Jews, also, insist upon a pure monotheism. In the Middle Ages, Jewish thinkers argued about whether Christianity should be regarded as polytheistic.

The great teacher Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) thought Christianity was both idolatrous, because of the use of icons, as well as polytheistic, because of the doctrine of the Trinity. Maimonides wrote, ‘Know that this Christian nation, who advocate the messianic claim, in all their various sects, all of them are idolaters . . . All Torah restrictions pertaining to idolaters pertain to them.’9

‘If someone believes that he [God] is one, but possesses a certain number of essential attributes, he says in his words that he is one, but believes him in his thought to be many. This resembles what the Christians say: namely, that he is one but also three, and that three are one.’10

The twelfth-century French scholar, Rabbenu Jacob Tam, also known as Jacob ben Meir (1100-71). however, held that Christians were not idolaters because Christianity was monotheistic.

The eleventh-century Spanish theologian, Judah Halevi (1075-1141). whilst arguing the absolute superiority of Judaism over Christianity and Islam, regarded both the other religions as having a role in preparing for the Messiah, because they helped to spread monotheism.11

In the twentieth century, and especially since the establishment of the state of Israel, there has been renewed Jewish interest in Jesus and a number of books have been written about him by Jews. Many of them concentrate on the historical Jesus. One Israeli writer, Pinchas Lapide, claimed that ‘Jesus is closer to me than to many a Christian theologian in Europe today.’12 He gave various reasons for this assertion. He and Jesus lived in the same place, namely the Holy Land, with its geography, weather and fauna and flora. The mother tongue of both was Hebrew and Aramaic. Both regarded the Hebrew Bible as sacred Scripture. Both he and Jesus had an Oriental imagination, shown in the stories which Jesus told, and both shared a concern for the history and people of Israel.

Various attempts have been made to relate Jesus to the Jewish life of his day. Some Jewish scholars picture Jesus as a charismatic holy man or hasid. Others think he was a patriotic rebel. Rather than speaking of him as a false Messiah, it has been suggested that Jesus should be seen as a ‘failed Messiah’. Others have seen him as a preacher who was close to the Pharisees.

Jews, however sympathetic to Jesus, cannot accept that a human being was divine. A few Jewish scholars are prepared to see that in Jesus there is a disclosure of God similar to that at Sinai, which is the bedrock of the Jewish experience of God. Rabbi Irving Greenberg has said that God who chose once can choose and choose again. Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the Director of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, has written:

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, indeed of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, is my Jewish God . . . Christ comes to the dialogue room and I experience him perhaps in something of the same way in which Christians experience the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Fascinating, perplexing, enlightening, puzzling, distinctive - not my God. And yet, as it were -- and paradoxically -- an outpouring and an outreaching of the Ein Sof, the ‘Without End’, whom I believe, both Jews and Christians address.13

Although Jews and Muslims reject the Christian claim that Jesus was divine and the Trinitarian understanding of God, both religions, like Christianity, struggle with the way in which the transcendent God relates to the transient world. Christians often argue that, as in human life the most adequate form of communication is by personal meeting rather than the written word, so God’s fullest revelation also needed to be a human life. Jewish and Muslim critiques of Christian doctrine, however, should remind Christians that they too believe in Only One God and need to beware of ways of stating the divinity of Jesus which appears to compromise this.

Raimundo Panikkar, a Catholic priest and brilliant scholar who is of mixed Indian and Spanish descent, who has been a pioneer of interfaith dialogue, has developed the doctrine of the Trinity as a framework for Christians to relate to other religions. He describes three aspects of the divinity and three corresponding forms of spirituality. The first is the silent apophatic dimension, which transcends any human concepts, which he relates to the Father who expresses himself only through the Son. The second is the personalistic dimension, which Fanikkar relates to the Son, who is the personal mediator between God and man. The third is the immanent dimension, which relates to the Spirit. Panikkar suggests that the apophatic spirituality of the Father is similar to the Buddhist experience of Nirvana, whilst the personalistic approach relates to the Jewish and Muslim stress on the Word of God. The immanent spirituality of the Spirit resonates with the Hindu sense of the non-duality of the self and the Absolute.14

The discussion about the relationship of Christianity to other religions has given new relevance to a long-standing dispute between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches about the relation of the Holy Spirit to the other two persons of the Trinity -- the so-called ‘filioque’ (‘and the Son’) dispute. The Western Church has insisted that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and witnesses to the Son. The Orthodox Church, seeing the Father as the source of unity, holds that the Holy Spirit proceeded only from the Father. This has allowed teachers of the Eastern Orthodox churches to affirm the activity of the Holy Spirit in all cultures. His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana has written that the Holy Spirit, who the Orthodox liturgy repeatedly says is ‘ "present everywhere filling all things". is the Spirit of Truth working and inspiring human beings in their longing and search for truth in any religious setting.’15

Christology

The Chalcedonian Definition

Besides questions about the unity of God there were also long debates about how Jesus could be both God and Man.

Anus, who, as we have seen, said that Jesus was created by God and was not himself God, claimed that God had adopted Jesus, perhaps at his baptism. To Anus’ opponents, this meant that to be met by Jesus Christ was not to be met by God himself and that to worship Jesus, if he was only a creature, was idolatry. At Chalcedon, a city near to Constantinople, a council was held in 451, which drew up what is known as the Chalcedonian Definition, that Christ is to be acknowledged in ‘two natures . . . concurring into one person and hypostasis’. The word hypostasis literally means ‘one subsistence or substance’, although, to add to the complication, it was used in rather different senses by different theologians. The intention of the Chalcedonian Definition was to affirm the unity of Christ’s person, but it had the effect of destroying the unity of the church.

Those who held that there was only one nature in Christ, the Monophysites, were never reconciled to the Chalcedonian position, and the Oriental churches, such as the Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Armenian Orthodox still reject the formula.

A third position was taken by the Nestorians, who not only held that there were two natures in Christ, but that there were also two distinct persons, the one divine and the other human. They, therefore, rejected the Chalcedonian view that there was only one hypostasis in Jesus.

In the spring of 1997, I visited the ancient capital of China, X’iang. Besides visiting the Terracotta Army, we went as well to the Provincial Museum, known as the ‘Forest of Stelae’. Amongst these inscribed pillars is one from 781 CE which records the presence of Nestorian Christians who presented to the emperor a copy of the Bible, which had been translated by a Syrian called Raban. The stone says that the emperor was impressed by the scriptures and ordered that a monastery dedicated to the new religion should be established in the city. Centuries later, Marco Polo made contact with some Nestorian Christians when he traveled to China in the fourteenth century.

This visit reminded me of how little many Western Christians know of the ancient churches of the East. By calling them ‘heretical’, Mediterranean Christians forgot about their existence. The so-called ‘Nestorian Church’ is properly called the ‘Church of the East’ and is the ancient church of Persia. Nestorius was an interesting character and a very holy man. He was Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 and died in about 451. There is some doubt whether he actually taught ‘Nestorian’ doctrines or merely opposed theological innovations. For example, he resisted those who called Mary the ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos literally ‘bearer of God’) and his condemnation may have been because of ecclesiastical rivalries.

Modern Christological Debate

The Chalcedonian Definition failed to unite the church, partly because it does not so much provide a solution as define the problem.

None the less, because of other theological disputes, it was not until the nineteenth century that Christology again became a major subject of discussion. It is probably true that until the nineteenth century most Christians thought of Jesus as God who lived a human life. Now a considerable number of Christians see his divinity in some special feature of his humanity, such as his intense awareness of God, or his total self-giving and sacrificial love.

Liddon and Strauss

One of the last well-known statements of the classical position was made by the Anglican scholar Canon Henry Liddon (1829-90) in his 1866 Bampton Lectures on The Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ The lectures were in part a response to David Strauss’s The Life of Jesus, of which the novelist George Eliot (1819-90) was a translator. It has been said that ‘it is impossible to be more radically skeptical than Strauss’.16

Strauss (1808-74) regarded the gospels as almost entirely the mythical creation of the early church. The miraculous was banished from the plane of history. In reply, Liddon argued that the claims that Jesus made for himself in the gospels could only be explained in two ways. Either Jesus was an impostor or he was, as catholic theology claimed, God incarnate. The agnostic intelligentsia of Europe, Liddon argued, could not admire the moral virtues of Jesus whilst dismissing his claims to be divine. If he was not God, he was a fraud and therefore no example of morality -- a popular summary of the argument was that Jesus was ‘either mad, bad or God’. For Liddon, Jesus was without qualification God. The divine attributes of omnipotence and omniscience were to be ascribed to the incarnate Lord. Liddon was slightly uneasy about the verse in which Jesus said that only the Father knew the date of the End, but claimed that ‘the knowledge infused into the human soul of Jesus was ordinarily and practically equivalent to omniscience’.17

A nineteenth-century hymn illustrated by the use of paradox the belief that the incarnate one was also possessed of the full powers of God.

0 wonder of wonders that none can unfold
The Ancient of days as an hour or two old,
The Maker of all things is made of the earth,
Man as worshipped by Angels, and God comes to birth.18

Such an attitude is alien for many Christians today. Schooled in a historical approach to the world, they see Jesus as a historical figure, with, as we have already suggested,19 the knowledge of a first-century Jew and with human emotions and feelings.

Schleiermacher

Further, in their attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus many liberal and critical scholars start with the human Jesus. This was the approach of Friedrich Schleiermacher.

For Schleiermacher, as we have seen,20 the essence of religion lay in the individual’s feeling of dependence upon the Infinite. Jesus embodied an absolute dependence on God and it was the ‘glorious clearness’ of the God-consciousness which Jesus exhibited that was the reason to call him divine. Schleiermacher accepted that there are other mediators of this sense of absolute dependence. He gave little importance to the resurrection of Jesus and believed that the disciples had attained a full measure of faith in him during his lifetime. Human redemption for Schleiermacher was achieved by the incorporation of believers into Jesus’ God-consciousness.

Ritschl

Looking for Jesus’ divinity in some outstanding quality which he displayed is an approach that has been adopted by a number of Christian thinkers. The important German Protestant theologian Albrecht Ritschl (1822-89) saw Jesus as the symbol and representative of the moral law. Ritschl’s starting point was in the Christian church, the fellowship of believers, historically derived from and actually dependent upon Jesus Christ, whose will was identical with God’s purpose for humankind. The deity of Jesus could only be recognized from within the church and was not derived from history but from experience. ‘By what he has done and suffered for my salvation Christ is my Lord, and by trusting for my salvation to the power of what he has done for me, I honor him as my God.’ This emphasis was especially important as scholars became more aware of the complexity of historical research into the life of Jesus.

The Quest for the Historical Jesus

During the nineteenth century, a number of writers tried to write historical biographies of Jesus, which, as we have seen, was not the purpose of the evangelists. A famous example was the Life of Jesus written by Joseph-Ernest Renan (1823- 92). His aim was to rescue Jesus from the embellishments of later over-enthusiastic disciples. Miracles were dismissed as legends. ‘No miracle has ever taken place’, he wrote, ‘under conditions which science can accept. Experience shows, without exception, that miracles occur only in times and countries in which miracles are believed in, and in the presence of persons who are disposed to believe in them.’ His aim was to highlight the high moral teaching of Jesus and he gives an attractive picture of Jesus.

The problem with Renan’s book and other lives of Jesus was that they were very selective in the material that they used and were liable to create a Jesus who was in their own image. This was pointed out by Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), a brilliant theologian and musician, who later settled in equatorial Africa as a missionary doctor, in his famous book The Quest of the Historical Jesus (Eng. trans. 1910). Schweitzer’s criticism of the approach of the great philosopher Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) to the historical also applied to other biographers of Jesus. ‘He is like a spider at work. The spider lets itself down from the roof and after making fast some supporting threads to points below, it runs back to the centre and there keeps spinning away. You look on fascinated, and before you know it you are entangled in the web.’21 Schweitzer particularly drew attention to the apocalyptic passages in the gospels which were ignored by modern writers. He claimed that Jesus saw himself as the one who was to inaugurate the Final Kingdom. He expected the imminent end of the world and this conditioned his ‘unrealistic’ ethical teaching. Yet even though Jesus was wrong in his expectation, Jesus still makes the demand of absolute love upon us by his own example: Jesus cannot be reconstructed by historical research but known only by those who obey his call.

Schweitzer ended his Quest of the Historical Jesus with a memorable passage:

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old by the lakeside, he came to those men who knew him not. He speaks to us the same words: ‘Follow thou me" and sets us to tasks which he has to fulfil for our time. He commands. And to those who obey him, whether they be wise or simple, he will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings, which they shall pass through in his fellowship and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who he is.22

Bultmann

One significant attempt to avoid the ambiguities of history, similar in some ways to that of Albrecht Ritschl, was made by Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976), a German theologian who was much influenced by the writings of the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). A brilliant and radical New Testament critic, Bultmann despaired of any certainty about the life of the historical Jesus. His long two-volume Theology of the New Testament devotes only thirty pages to ‘The Message of Jesus’. He was concerned that Christian faith should not be at risk by some new historical discovery. He was also keen to ‘demythologize’ the biblical message so that it would be accessible to his contemporaries. He found in Heidegger’s analysis of human existence in terms of authentic being, a way of communicating the gospel. The response of faith to the preaching of the cross of Christ, he claimed, could liberate us from anxiety and inauthentic living, which is characterized by bondage to the past, fear of the future and a search for this-worldly securities, to experience the joy of authentic living which is based on the reality of love which frees men and women from the burden of the past. Bultmann insisted that this new authentic life was only possible through faith in Christ, although some critics questioned this.

‘God Was in Christ’

For myself, as I have suggested, I do not think the ambiguity of the historical evidence prevents us from having an outline picture ofJesus. I see in his life and death the embodiment of the boundless love of God. I am, therefore, sympathetic to the attempt to see his divinity in his humanity and find most helpful an influential book written in 1947 by the Scottish theologian, Donald Baillie (1887-1954) called God Was in Christ Baillie tried to explain the incarnation in terms of the paradox of grace. The essence of this, he wrote, ‘lies in the conviction which a Christian man possesses that every goad thing in him, every good thing he does, is somehow not wrought by himself but by God’.23 Paul, for example, said, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am’ (1 Cor. 15:10). There is also a verse in the familiar hymn ‘Our blest redeemer’ by Henriette Auber (1773-1862) which says:

And every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness
Are his alone.
24

This sense of God acting in them is familiar to the devout Christian. Baillie then suggested that ‘this paradox of grace points the way more clearly and makes a better approach than anything else in our experience to the mystery of the Incarnation itself; that this paradox in its fragmentary form in our own Christian lives is a reflection of that perfect union of God and man in the incarnation on which our whole Christian life depends, and may therefore be our best clue to the understanding of it’.25 Baillie made clear that what is only fragmentary and fleeting in the experience of the Christian is complete and continuous in the person of Jesus Christ.

In the 1960s, Bishop John Robinson, whose book Honest to God provoked a theological furore, developed this position. He spoke of Jesus as ‘the man for others’:

It is in Jesus, and Jesus alone, that there is nothing to be seen, but solely the ultimate, unconditional love of God . . . It is as he empties himself not of his Godhead but of himself . . . that he reveals God. For it is in making himself nothing, in his utter self-surrender to others in love, that he discloses and lays bare the Ground of man’s being as Love.26

Partly because of Baillie’s book, a number of more liberal Christians today prefer, as I do myself, to say ‘God was in Christ’, echoing Paul (2 Cor. 5:19 KJV), than to say baldly, ‘Jesus is God’, although this assertion is part of the basis of the World Council of Churches. To say without qualification ‘Jesus is God’ seems to overshadow his humanity and to obscure the Trinitarian nature of Christian belief. Christian worship, properly understood, is of God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit; it is not worship of Jesus by himself, although this might be the impression given by a number of modern hymns.

Jesus as the Christ

Some theologians have sought to distinguish between Jesus and the Christ One example is the influential thinker Paul Tillich (1886-1965), who was born in Prussia and moved to the USA in 1933, after he had become the first non-Jewish academician to be banned by the Nazis. By Jesus, Tillich meant the man of Nazareth, who was a historical person, even if our knowledge of him is uncertain. By Christ he meant the principle of New Being, which is the eternal principle of God’s self-revelation, which his contemporaries recognized in Jesus.27

Other writers, such as Raimundo Panikkar who has been mentioned already, have made a distinction between the Logos - the eternal principle of God’s self-revelation - and Jesus of Nazareth in whom that principle is expressed. They suggest that the same eternal principle may be recognized in other great spiritual teachers such as the Buddha and Lord Krishna, and that too exclusive a focus on Jesus is liable to ignore the evidence of God’s presence in the other great faith traditions of the world.

Such a view is also the usual Hindu reaction to Christian claims that Jesus was the unique Son of God. For example, Gandhi, who despite being influenced by Christian teaching remained a Hindu, said, ‘I cannot ascribe exclusive divinity to Jesus. He is as divine as Krishna, or Rama or Mohammed or Zoroaster.’28

‘The Myth of God Incarnate’

Recently, some Christian thinkers have questioned whether the language of the doctrines of the Trinity and of the Incarnation continue to have any meaning. At least, they say, they should be seen as significant ‘myths’ rather than as having factual content. The alarm that such views cause to more traditional Christians is increased by the confusion caused by the word ‘myth’. ‘Myth’ has the popular meaning of ‘a widely held but false notion’. Scholars, on the other hand, as we have seen earlier, mean by it ‘a traditional narrative involving supernatural persons’, of which the truth is not literal but to be understood as illuminating the meaning of human life. Radical thinkers, such as those who in the 1970s contributed to the book The Myth of God Incarnate,29 should not be seen as rejecting the Christian faith, but as trying to hold on to its essential meaning in terms of a way of life, in the face of the uncertainty of historical knowledge and the view of some philosophers that all knowledge is a human construct.

We come back to the question, to which Schleiermacher and Barth gave very different answers, about the extent to which the Christian message can be fitted in to contemporary ways of thinking. This is also seen in the difference between those who see Jesus as in some way embodying a universal principle, as is the case of theologians in the tradition of Schleiermacher, and those, like the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth, who stressed that humans can in no way sit in judgment on God’s revelation. Together with Pastor Martin Niemöller, Barth drafted the Barmen declaration (May 1934), which was the basis on which the Confessing Church opposed National Socialism and those Christians who colluded with it. The first article of the Declaration summed up Barth’s theological standpoint: ‘Jesus Christ, as He is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.’ Barth in his later years somewhat modified his position, but he stressed that the basis of Christian understanding is faith in God’s revelation in Jesus Christ and this can not be subject to human judgment.

The Atonement

Although we have focused on Jesus’ divine status, for many people their experience of him as Saviour is more significant The World Council of Churches in its basis, which has already been mentioned, says it is a ‘fellowship of Churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour’. Often, as Ritschl suggested, it is in the experience of being forgiven through the cross of Christ that people come to recognize Jesus as their Lord. The peace and joy of that pardon is so complete that it could only come from God.

There have been many attempts to explain how the cross is effective in making people one with God. The technical term is the doctrine of the Atonement, although this has never been officially defined in the same way as the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation.

The Penal Theory

Some Conservative and Evangelical Christians have tried to make the so-called ‘substitutionary’ or ‘penal’ theory of the atonement a touchstone of true belief. This theory, also known as the ‘juridicial’ theory, regards sin as an infinite offence to God. God is so holy that he cannot look upon sin and because God is just, a punishment must be exacted for sin. That punishment was met by Jesus Christ, who was punished instead of sinners. As Paul says, ‘God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor. 5:21). Literally interpreted, this leads to the claim that Christ is a substitute for each individual who, because of sin, deserves the penalty of death. Christ is punished instead of the sinner. As Paul Gerhardt (1607-76) wrote in a hymn:

Mine, mine was the transgression,
But thine the deadly pain.
30

Expiation for Sin

Another theory, especially associated with Archbishop Anselm (c.1033-1109) is that Christ, who is spoken of as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’, is the sinless offering who makes a universal expiation (or compensation) for the sins of all people. As a seventeenth-century hymn put it:

For of thy Lord had never died
Nought else could sinful man betide
But utter reprobation.
31

It is questionable whether either theory has the biblical support that is claimed for it. The real difficulty, to my mind, is that they separate Jesus from God, giving a picture of an unforgiving God whose pardon could only be bought by a bloody sacrifice.

The Victory of the Cross

Another theory, known as ‘Christus Victor’ (Christ the Conqueror) pictures Christ on the cross overcoming the power of evil. This speaks powerfully to many African Christians. ‘The devil is a reality in Africa,’ write Elizabeth Amoah and Mercy Amba Oduyoye from Ghana,

Witches actually operate to release life-denying forces into the world. Individual people may be possessed and used by negative forces to prevent life-affirming and life-giving environments and activities. Evil is real, and evil is embodied in persons as well as unleashed on people by spiritual forces. Further, the spirit world is a powerful reality in Africa . . . Such a cosmology calls for a Christology that consciously deals with the relation of Christ to God, the relation of Christ to the spirit world and how the Christ, in the context of the belief in spirits stands in relation to Africans in their dependence on God.32

I recall too as a student in India walking with a Church of South India pastor to a very remote village in Andhra Pradesh. On the way, we saw a deadly snake. I sensed the fear of those who lived in a world which they believed was controlled by evil forces, from whom Christ could deliver them.

Many traditional Christians believe in the devil and that some people are possessed by evil spirits. As the fourth-century Latin hymn writer Prudentius (b.348) put it:

Begone, thou crooked serpent,
Who, twisting and pursuing
By fraud and lie preparest
the simple soul’s undoing:

Tremble, for Christ is near us,
Depart, for here he dwelleth,
And this, the Sign thou knowest,
Thy strong battalions quelleth.
33

The dangers of belief in the devil can be that one is tempted to demonize opponents, as, for example, when Christians have spoken of Jews as children of the devil. The belief can also seem to question God’s ultimate responsibility for all that God created. My own picture is of God’s redemptive love eventually reconciling all beings to the divine, which is suggested by Paul’s vision of the time when God will ‘be all in all’ (1 Cor. 15:28). Victory is not the defeat of evil but its redemption. Although such a view would be shared by many liberal Christians it is not the view of the majority of Christians.

‘Love to the Loveless Shown’

The theories of the Atonement so far mentioned are all sometimes called ‘objective’, which is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross made an objective factual difference to sin and to human beings’ relationship to God. So-called ‘subjective’ theories see the cross as a revelation of God’s love which brings about an inner change in the believer. The willingness of God’s Son to accept a brutal and unjust death should move us to repentance and the acceptance of God’s mercy. The human analogy of the father and the prodigal son is taken as the key to understanding the atonement. As a Swiss theologian, Paul Wernle, wrote: ‘How miserably all those finely constructed theories of sacrifice and vicarious atonement crumble to pieces before this faith in the love of God our Father, who so gladly pardons. The one parable of the Prodigal Son wipes them all off the slate.’34

This theory of the atonement is particularly associated with Peter Abelard, a brilliant thinker and one of the most colorful of medieval church figures. He described much of his life in his History of My Troubles He was born in 1079, a son of a knight. He sacrificed his rights of inheritance by going to France to study philosophy. His views often brought him into dispute with his contemporaries and he was twice condemned for heresy. Whilst teaching in Paris, he was also given a private pupil called Héloïse, with whom he fell in love and by whom he had a son called Astralabe. The couple married secretly, but her father was furious. Abelard was castrated and embraced the monastic life, whilst Héloïse was forced to become a nun. Abelard argued that the love of Christ, shown in his life and passion, called forth a human response of love. ‘The purpose and cause of the incarnation’, he wrote, ‘was that God might illuminate the world by his wisdom and stir it to the love of himself.’ For Abelard, Jesus is the great teacher and example who arouses a responsive love in human beings. Such love is the basis of reconciliation and forgiveness, and he liked to quote Luke 7:47, ‘Much is forgiven to them that love much.’

The New Testament

The variety of pictures used to illustrate the significance of Jesus’ death reflects the New Testament, where many different images are used. The letters of Peter for example draw attention to Jesus’ patience under suffering, which are seen as a fulfillment of the ‘Suffering Servant’ passage in Isaiah 58:2-10. Peter also compared Jesus’ death to that of the scapegoat and the Passover Lamb. The letter to the Hebrews argues that Jesus’ perfect self-offering brought to an end the sacrificial system of the Temple. It is not surprising that a similar variety of interpretations and illustrations are to be found in subsequent Christian devotion.

Believers in every generation have found peace in fellowship with the Crucified and Risen Saviour. At times, it has been external enemies or a threatening environment which has been most troubling. For others, inner guilt and self-reproach have been a heavy burden. Today, perhaps fewer Christians in Europe and America have such a keen sense of sin as seems to have been felt by Christians at the time of the Reformation. A comparison of Reformation and contemporary liturgies shows a change of emphasis. There is perhaps also more emphasis on what Christians might through the grace of Christ become, rather than on the legacy of past sin, whether inherited or original or actual sin. Asian and African Christians, on the other hand, are very aware of the suffering and evil that dominates so many lives.

For me it is the example of Jesus’ self-giving love which is the moment of truth in which, in the light of Christ, I both know my sin and that despite it I am loved and accepted as I am. In the famous words of Isaac Watts,

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing; so divine
Demand my soul, my life, my
all.35

The Man for Others

Some Christian devotional literature dwells so much on the punishment that Christ suffered for our sake that it seems to have an unhealthy preoccupation with his blood and the torture that he suffered. After the horrors of mass genocide in this century, it is hard to speak of Jesus’ agony as uniquely awful, horrible as it was. Instead, Jesus may be seen as representative of all who suffer, voicing their agony in an uncaring world. This is the sentiment of the modern hymn writer Timothy Rees (1874-1939):

Today we see your passion
Spread open to our gaze
The crowded street, the country road
Its Calvary displays...

The groaning of creation

Wrung out by pain and care
The anguish of a million hearts
That break in dumb despair;
0 crucified Redeemer
These are your cries of pain;
0 may they break our selfish hearts
And love come in to reign.36

For quite a number of people today, it is a concern for those who suffer that may lead them to discipleship. Jesus is the victim, whom those who suffer can feel is one with them. He also identified himself with the struggle for human dignity and freedom and so attracts those Christians who are committed to agencies for the relief of poverty and campaigns for world-wide social and economic justice. This Christology is perhaps to be found most clearly in some of the Christian songs of protest For example, in Sydney Carter’s ‘Judas and Mary’, Jesus says:

‘The poor of the world are my body’, He said,
‘To the end of the world they shall be;
The bread and the blankets you give to the poor
You’ll find you have given to me,’ He said,
‘You’ll find you have given to me.’
37

Jesus identified with the poor and needy. In Honest to God, John Robinson wrote: ‘Christ was utterly and completely "the man for others", because he was love, he was "one with the Father", because God is love.’38

Jesus the Liberator

But Jesus was also one who struggled against injustice. For female theologians from Africa, Asia and Latin America, Jesus, besides identifying with the poor, is a model of true humanity who can inspire others to struggle for liberation. They note the place that women occupy in the gospel story. Women ministered to him during his ministry and it was to women that he first appeared after he had been raised from the dead. ‘The gospel’, writes Thérèse Souga, a Catholic from Cameroun, ‘leads me to discover that Jesus bears a message of liberation for every human being and especially for those social categories that are most disadvantaged.’39 Louise Tappa, a Protestant from Cameroun, says in the same way, ‘The Christ of history is the one who defined his mission as a mission of liberation.’40

A statement entitled ‘Asian Church Women Speak’, from a conference held in Manila in 1985, said,

We rediscovered Christ’s liberating and salvific mission which encompasses all; we encountered the Christ of the poor. . . Most of all we felt confirmed by Christ’s radical breakthroughs and supportive stance for women during his time. We saw Mary, the mother of Jesus, no longer as a passive ethereal being, detached from the suffering millions of Asia. We now see her in a new light, as a strong woman who can identify and be with today’s grieving mothers, wives and daughters in the bitter fight for freedom.41

Women from Latin America say the same: ‘The Bible is a book about life and liberation . . . The Gospels restore to women our human dignity as persons loved and cherished by God.’42 Indeed, women from all three continents, Africa, Asia and Latin America, say that ‘In the person and praxis of Jesus Christ, women of the three continents find the grounds of our liberation from all discrimination: sexual, racial, social, economic, political and religious . . . Christology is integrally linked with action on behalf of social justice and the defense of each person’s right to life and to a more humane life.43 This means that Christology is about apartheid, sexual exploitation, poverty and oppression.

Such a view of the saving work of Christ leads to political action, but this is very controversial. The Christology being developed today in Africa, Latin America and Asia is likely to promote as heated arguments as any that shook the Church in the ancient world.

For a fuller discussion of the some of the issues in the first part of the chapter see James D. G. Dunn, The Parting of the Ways (SCM Press, 1991), which has a full bibliography, and his Christology in the Making (SCM Press, 1989); and R. Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology (Chapman, 1994). The writings of G. L. Prestige and J. N. D. Kelly are valuable for the doctrinal debates of the Patristic age. For more recent theological debate, H. R. Mackintosh’s Types of Modern Theology (Nisbet, 1937), and J. M. Creed, The Divinity of Jesus Christ (Cambridge University Press, 1938), both reprinted by Collins/ Fontana, are useful, and also John Macquarrie’s Twentieth Century Religious Thought (SCM Press, 1963). D. M. Baillie’s God was in Christ (Faber and Faber, 1961) is important for Christology, as are G. Aulén, Christus Victor(1931, SPCK, 1961), and F. R. Barry, The Atonement (Hodder and Stoughton, 1968), for the doctrine of the Atonement.

 

Notes:

1. Alan F. Segal in Jews and Christians Speak ofJus~s, ed. Arthur E Zannoni (Fortress Ness, 1994), pp. 131 -- 32.

2. Norman Solomon, Judaism and World Religion (Macmillan, 1991), pp. 131-69.

3. The references are Mark 1:1; l:11;5:8;9:8; 14:62; and 15:39.

4. See also Romans 5:19.

5 Larry W. Hurtado, One God One Lord (SCM Ness, 1988).

6. James G. Dunn, The Parting of the Ways (SCM Press, 1991), especially chapters 9-11.

7. Gregory of Nyssa, On Not Three Gods, 375 AD, in The Christology of the Later Fathers (SCM Ness, 1954), p. 265.

8. Quoted by Geoffrey Parrinder in Jesus in the Qur’an (Sheldon Press, 1965), pp. 130-31.

9. Maimonides, Commentary on the Mishnah (1965), vol. 2, p. 225.

10. Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed, trans. S. Pines (Chicago, 1963), p. 111.

11. See further Daniel Cohn-Sherbok, Judaism and Other Faiths (St Martin’s Ness, New York, 1994) pp. 32-42; and David Novak, The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism (Edwin Mellen Press, 1983); and chapter 1 of Jewish-Christian Dialogue, (Oxford University Press, 1989).

12. Hans Kung and Pinchas Lapide, Brother or Lord (Font] Collins, 1977), pp. 1-2.

13. Tony Bayfield in Dialogue With A Difference, eds. Tony Bayfield and Marcus Braybrooke (SCM Ness, 1992), p. 27.

14. Raimundo Panikkar, ‘Toward an Ecumenical Theandric Spirituality’, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, vol. 5, 1968, pp.522-33.

15. HB Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana in Current Dialogue, World Council of Churches, no. 26, June 1994, p. 46.

16. J. M. Creed, The Divinity of Jesus Christ (Cambridge University Ness, 1938; Fontana/Collins 1964), p. 59.

17. H. P. Liddon, The Divinity of Our Lord, p. 466.

18. ‘The great God of heaven is come down to earth’ by H. E. Bramley (1833-1917), English Hymnal (Oxford University Press, 1906), 29.

19. See above, p. 34.

20. See above, p. 11.

21. Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1921), p. 63.

22. Ibid., 3rd edn, 1954, p. 401.

23. D. M. Baillie, God Was in Christ (1947, Faber and Faber, 1961 edn), p. 114.

24. English Hymnal 157.

25. Baillie, God Was in Christ; p. 117.

26. John Robinson, Honest to God (SCM Press, 1963), pp. 74-75.

27. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology (1951-63), vol. 2, p. 99

28. M. K Gandhi, Christian Missions (1941), p. 112

29. The quotations are from the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1991. Two well-known collections of essays which take this approach are The Myth of God Incarnate, ed. John Hick (SCM Press, 1977); and The Myth of Christian Uniqueness eds. John Hick and Paul F. Knitter (SCM Press, 1987).

30. ‘O Sacred head sore wounded’, Hymns and Psalms, 176.

31. ‘O sinner, raise the eye of faith’, English Hymnal 103.

32. In With Passion and Compassion, eds. Virginia Fabella and Mercy Amba Oduyoye (Orbis, 1988), p. 38.

33. ‘Servant of God, remember’, English Hymnal, 104.

34. P. Wernle, The Beginnings of Christianity, vol. 1, p. 109, quoted by Baillie, God Was in Christ, p. 172.

35. Hymns and Psalms, 180.

36. Ibid., p. 424.

37. New Life (Galliard, 1971), p. 27.

38. Robinson, Honest to God, p. 76.

39. Fabella and Oduyoye, With Passion and Compassion, p. 23.

40. Ibid. p. 31.

41. Ibid. p. 121.

42. Ibid. p. 186.

43. Ibid. p. 188.

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