The Deity of Christ
A tool of offense and defense!
In 1 Peter the Apostle Peter gives us all a very important command; Ã¢ÂÂbut honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15, Holman Christian Standard Bible, HCSB)Ã¢ÂÂ Unfortunately for the Church today fewer and fewer people are willing to stand up for the hope that is in them as born-again believers. Over the past several years we have seen many well founded denominations chose to move away from the doctrines from which they were founded, and chose to blaze for themselves a new path of Ã¢ÂÂtolerance and loveÃ¢ÂÂ while turning away from the only source of true love, Jesus Christ.
Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are often challenged by those who do not to defend the faith. Many do not have the knowledge, experience, or tools to do this. This is where Ã¢ÂÂTheology in CommunityÃ¢ÂÂ comes into play. This is a series of books that began with Ã¢ÂÂSuffering and the Goodness of GodÃ¢ÂÂ in 2008, then Ã¢ÂÂThe Glory of GodÃ¢ÂÂ in 2010. This year they released their third addition Ã¢ÂÂThe Deity of ChristÃ¢ÂÂ which is what this review will be on today.
Ã¢ÂÂThe Deity of ChristÃ¢ÂÂ is edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson with contributions from 7 others. In this book they address 10 common topics of challenge to the deity of Christ; as it is viewed today, in the Old Testament, Synoptic Gospels, JohnÃ¢ÂÂs Gospel, Church History, World Religions, Missions, and others. Having come from a background as a PastorÃ¢ÂÂs son, I did not spend too much time on the Biblical aspects of ChristÃ¢ÂÂs Deity because that is something I feel like I am well grounded in. However, some of the other chapters were very informative.
I have had this book now for probably three months, which is longer than the publisher likes normally without a review, but this book was so in depth that I could not just read it once. This is a book I had to read and mull over numerous times. I believe every follower of Christ should invest in a book like this and use it for the tool that it is. Although this tool is very in depth, and written by scholars, there is no doubt that these men took time to make this a book every believer could read. For a volume that only has 255 pages actually in the chapters, the amount of information contained in this book is remarkable.
Chapter 7, which is Ã¢ÂÂThe Deity of Christ in Church HistoryÃ¢ÂÂ by Dr. Gerald Bray was one of the chapters I spent a lot of time in. I am not as knowledgeable as others on the founding fathers, so reading this chapter was actually of great interest and great value to me. One point I found interesting was the fact that many so-called scholars instead of looking at the facts presented from the actual Word of God dismiss them as evidence because the Gospels show Christ as 100% God and 100% Man. Another excellent point made by Dr. Bray was the fact that although there are some miracles in each of the Gospel accounts, that is not the full focus of any of the Gospels, showing that so convinced were the authors of ChristÃ¢ÂÂs deity that they did not feel the need to build up any of the miracles to a point of sole focus.
Although Pastor Appreciation Month is over, this is a book I would recommend as a gift to any pastor, or any other serious student of the WORD of God. With all the technical writing, and the re-reads I still rate this book a 5 out of 5. There is no doubt that we are in a time where we will have to continue to defend our faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity, and this tool of offense or defense is worth having.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255: Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
November 13, 2011
Much needed book on the deity of Christ!
We live in an American culture where it is fashionable to make Jesus everything you want Him to be. Unfortunately, the Jesus of too many AmericanÃ¢ÂÂs, and Christians none-the-less, is not the Jesus presented in the Bible. If the Burger King slogan Ã¢ÂÂHave it Your WayÃ¢ÂÂ were to have a Christological bent, then the slogan for the Jesus of America would be Ã¢ÂÂJesus, Have Him Your Way.Ã¢ÂÂ
The Deity of Christ (Theology in Community Series) ed. by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson is a clear call amidst the often confusing voices claiming to present the Jesus of the Bible and history. Amidst the quagmire of the Ã¢ÂÂeveryone JesusÃ¢ÂÂ and in a world where Jesus has been reduced to my homey and Ã¢ÂÂBFFÃ¢ÂÂ, this book brings us back to the center of Christology. This book draws us to one of the most foundational attributes of the Jesus Christ the Son of the living God Ã¢ÂÂ his deity.
In the opening chapter, The Deity of Christ Today, Stephen J. Nichols bounces off the work of Stephen Prothero and argues that we have gone from a creedal Jesus, to a human Jesus that is close and ended up with a Jesus that has liberated itself from Christianity and the Bible (p. 27). Stephen points out that there have been many attempts within our American culture to present Jesus. Movies like The Passion of Christ, consumerism and our nifty slogans and even politics where Jesus is somehow on everyoneÃ¢ÂÂs side, show us that our cultural attempts to display Jesus have left us with Ã¢ÂÂpersonal Jesuses who look far more like their makers than like the Jesus of sacred Scripture and the historical creeds (p.31).Ã¢ÂÂ
So how do we save ourselves and our culture from the Jesus of our own making? Nichols suggests that we need to get back to the tradition of the creeds and the tradition of Scripture. We need the creeds because they have helped to solidify the teaching of Scripture pertaining to, of many things, the deity of Christ. While creedal tradition can help we must ultimately rest our understanding of Christ on Scripture. When we rest on Scripture we cannot help but conclude that Jesus is God.
In The Deity of Christ there is much that is to be commended. In his chapter, The Deity of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels, Stephen J. Wellum rightly points out that it is Scripture that gives us the material from which we formulate our articulation of Jesus and not the fashionable opinions of the day. Wellum states,
Scripture provides not only the raw data for understanding who the historical Jesus is but it also provides the God-given interpretive framework, structure, and categories by which we grasp his identity and thus construct an objectively grounded and warranted Christology. In this way, Scripture serves as our epistemological norm for understanding who Jesus is apart from all historical-critical reconstructions of the text (p. 64).
WellumÃ¢ÂÂs no nonsense words set the foundation for the rest of the book. It is Scripture and not manÃ¢ÂÂs culturally changing opinions that shape and inform our understanding and presentation of Jesus.
Of particular notice is Stephen J. WellumÃ¢ÂÂs chapter entitled The Deity of Christ on the Apostolic Witness. Among many things, Wellum does an excellent job explaining the christological aspects of Philippians 2:5-11. His explanation of the kenosis is spot on and even well informed readers will find it helpful.
Concerning Christology within church history, Gerald Bray presents an even handed description and explanation of the churches formation and articulation of the doctrine of the deity of Christ. BrayÃ¢ÂÂs discussion is a dose of good medicine for those who want to cast doubt on whether the early church fathers Ã¢ÂÂinventedÃ¢ÂÂ the deity of Christ. Bray rightly points out that their debates were not hinged on questioning the deity of Christ but rather they assumed and affirmed the deity of Christ. Ã¢ÂÂThe issues debated during the decades of classical creedal formation were more about how belief in his deity should be expressed and harmonized with monotheism then whether he was divine at all (p. 169).Ã¢ÂÂ Concerning the correlation between the churches formation and development of the doctrine of the deity of Christ WellumÃ¢ÂÂs words are worth quoting at length:
"If human beings had invented the deity of Jesus, we would expect them to emphasize his miraculous deeds as the main evidence for this, and the more improbable the miracles were, the better. There would have been little reason for them to have added the more mundane details found in the Gospels if they had not been part of JesusÃ¢ÂÂ claims about himself. The conclusion must be that Jesus taught these things about himself, and it was for that reason that his disciples worshiped him as God. For all their reflection on the person and natures of Jesus Christ, none of the fathers of the church ever believed that, in confessing the deity of Christ, he was adding anything to the teaching of Jesus himself. Their aim was to explain the evidence that had been set before them in the historical events of the life, death and resurrection of the man whose claims they believed and whose teaching the followed. What that explanation was is the substance of the development of the doctrine of Christ in the history of the church (p. 175-76)."
The concluding chapter by J. Nelson Jennings tackles the ever timely issue of the preeminence of Christ among the religions of the world. Jennings challenges the church and the missionary abroad to proclaim Christ as God in the flesh and as the only God worthy of worship. Christ is not whoever each religion worships for this demolishes the necessity and imminent need of missions, not to mention the many aspects of the doctrine of Christ and salvation. Ã¢ÂÂRather, the relationship between ChristÃ¢ÂÂs deity and Christian missions consists primarily in Jesus Christ the ascended God-man orchestrating, empowering, and intruding into peopleÃ¢ÂÂs lives through his followersÃ¢ÂÂ cross-/intercultural witness (p. 267).Ã¢ÂÂ In regards to religious pluralism, Jennings addresses its foremost contemporary proponent John Hicks. Hicks contends that there are many ways in which people can find a point of contact through which they can be saved and know God Ã¢ÂÂ not just Jesus. Hicks further believes that each religions communication of truth demonstrate the many ways in which divine truth can be believed and found (p. 278). Jennings rightly counters Hicks by reminding us that man does not have to search in his own for his own truth formation of God and salvation. The Bible clearly teaches us that God has come in the flesh for all through the incarnation of Jesus Christ (John 1 & I John 1). The counter claim to religious plurality is the incarnational reality that Jesus is God!
Overall, The Deity of Christ is an engaging, insightful and reader friendly guide through the multifaceted doctrine of the deity of Christ. This is not an esoteric work but rather a book that is aimed at the laymen, pastor, Sunday school teacher and student of the Bible. This book serves as both a refresher course on the deity of Christ as well as a timeless reference guide to explaining many of the great Christological passages and phrases of Scripture. As the third contribution to the Theology in Community series from Crossway, The Deity of Christ is a welcome addition to the much needed area of contemporary expressions of the doctrine of Christ. This book will serve the church well for years to come.
September 27, 2011
Jesus is God: The Deity of Christ
The Deity of Christ, a Theology in Community book edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson brings together fresh insight into the discussion of the deity of Christ. Nine contributors cover the biblical, historical, theological, and contemporary issues for today's reader.
There are many books that deal with the deity of Christ. Some are very scholarly and can be intimidating for the average reader. Typically these books deal with the biblical veracity of the deity of Christ or the historical debates that have taken place in ages past. Occasionally one can read of the influence that false teaching in church history has had on groups like Mormon's and Jehovah's Witnesses. This book covers these topics from a vantage point that the average reader will appreciate and understand.
What sets this work apart from the others is the chapters that deal specifically with cults and mission work. In fact, these were my two favorite chapters. Alan Gomes writes on The Deity of Christ and the Cults and J. Nelson Jennings writes the chapter titled The Deity of Christ for Missions, World Religions, and Pluralism. These two chapters make combine the biblical truth regarding the deity of Christ and the historical debates within early church history together to lay a foundation explaining cults (Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the United Pentecostal Church). Understanding this foundation serves well when examining the deity of Christ with missions and how it relates to world religions and the rise in religious pluralism.
Understanding the truth that Jesus is God is not some dry doctrinal maxim for theologians to debate. The chapters gathered together for the Theology in Community series remind us of the rich, undeniable, necessary reality of contending for the faith and the urgency of doing so in our world today.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
August 15, 2011
Great defense on the deity of Jesus
This books contains 10 chapters each written by different pastors and scholars in looking at the deity of Jesus. This book examines the deity of Christ through the gospels, the book of Revelation, Church history, cults, world religions and even in the Old Testament. The book even examines the deity of Christ as it relates to us today and in our work in missions.
This book does a great job in defending the deity of Christ and you learn a lot about how cults and world religions look at the deity of Jesus.
August 11, 2011