If the season of Advent holds cheer that delights and dazzles a child’s heart, it holds challenge also that probes and haunts the most scintillant of learned minds. In his Cambridge Lectures on Christian Doctrine, Professor J. S. Whale makes the observation that “the Christological debates of nineteen centuries are a monument to the uniqueness of Him whom Christians know as the Incarnate Son of God.” A moment later he goes on to say that Jesus is inexplicable just because He cannot be put into a class. His uniqueness constitutes the problem to be explained. It is impossible to describe Him without becoming entangled in paradoxes. The great merit of the Creeds is that they left the paradox as such.

It is this uniqueness, in which the event of the atoning Cross is linked with the event of the incarnational Birth, that gives to us what Professor H. R. Mackintosh long ago called The Originality of the Christian Message. (The phrase is actually finer and firmer than the too subjectivistic theology with which the author supports it.) The fitness of the phrase is due partly to the telling appropriateness of the word “message.” No theology, least of all a Christology, is worthy of the New Testament that is merely treatise or discourse: it must be message.

For this reason I find particular stimulus in the theological writings of such contemporaries as Lutheran T. A. Kantonen, Presbyterian John A. Mackay, Methodist Edwin Lewis, and Anglican Stephen Neill. Their Christological concern is acute and their evangelical commitment at this point is unambiguous.

Consider Bishop Stephen Neill’s recent books, The Unfinished Task and Creative Tension. They are skillful attempts to bring into fresh focus the redemptive ...

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