The Doctrine of Christ

John Telgren


One of the traditional classifications of an area of theological reflection is known as "Christology."  This is a study of the biblical teaching and practical implications of the biblical doctrine of Christ.  The earliest heresies in Christian history were in this area.  There were those who taught that Jesus only seemed to be human, but was not really human.  There were other heresies, but this one was the most prominent one.  The earliest church councils met to deal with these heresies and affirm the biblical doctrine of Christ.  Clearly, the Bible teaches that Jesus truly became flesh (Jn 1:14), that he participated in flesh and blood and became like us in all things (Heb 2:14, 17), which means that he even experienced true human temptation (Heb 4:15), and had to learn obedience as a human (Heb 5:8).  If Jesus did not become flesh, if he were not human, he would not have been able to represent humanity as a human and become our High Priest to offer up his blood for forgiveness of sins.  The only mediator between men and God is the "man" Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5).  Then later came the other christological debates, such as what happened to Christ when he became human.  When he "poured himself out" as it says in Colossians 2, did he become less than God?  The biblical answer is that Jesus is Lord, and continues to be worshipped and served as Lord throughout eternity.  Throughout Christian history, and especially after the protestant reformation, there were many debates such as this.  In order to articulate sound biblical doctrine, many groups formulated creedal statements, which became tests of orthodoxy.  Some of these became official and carried authoritative status, while others were simply summary statements of biblical doctrine.


As I reflect on this, I am reminded of some of the writings of Soren Kierkegaard, a Christian philosopher.  Many of his writings blasted theologians and scholars for using theology and scholarship to avoid the high demands of Christian discipleship.  Instead of a Lord to be followed and worshiped, Christ became an academic subject to be analyzed, studied, and dissected.  While there is a place for in depth study of scripture, study should never take the place of discipleship.  The knowledge of God is about faithfulness to Him, not about the study of him.  We study in order to understand God, not to understand the Bible.  There is a difference. 


This is a pitfall not just for the university classroom or the theologian's circle.  This can be just as much a pitfall in the congregational Bible class and the pulpit as well.  The Bible is not the goal, but a guide to God.  God is the goal.  There is a lot about Jesus in the book of Hebrews, some of it hard to understand unless you have been reading the Old Testament too.  We need to keep in mind in all has a practical purpose.  It is there to bring us to greater fellowship with God, to encourage us when we are weak, to motivate us to steadfastness.  In short, we are to be followers of Christ, not mere studiers of Christ.