The supernatural Christ of the creeds has been relegated to the dustbin of superstition.

A mid the sweeping changes in recent theology, one landmark stands superficially intact: Christendom acknowledges Jesus as its fundamental datum. No little confusion exists, however, about Jesus’ identity and character. How should naturalistic, modern man interpret the first-century itinerant prophet? Dietrich Bonhoeffer during his Nazi imprisonment put it this way: “What is bothering me incessantly is the question … who Christ really is, for us today.”

Jesus himself posed this question to his followers near Caesarea Philippi: “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” (Matt. 16:13). Numerous views on this were advanced; Peter alone perceived that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).

From Pentecost to comparatively recent times, Peter’s confession of Christ was upheld as the church’s standard of orthodoxy. The councils of Nicea (A.D. 325) and Chalcedon (A.D. 451) affirmed Christ’s full deity and humanity cojoined in the God-Man. The great pillars of Christendom—Augustine, Aquinas, the Protestant Reformers—and the principal confessions of Protestantism all came down on the side of the received Christology.

The eighteenth century, however, brought a frontal assault on orthodox doctrine. Renaissance humanism in philosophy and science invited theologians to accept only those phenomena they could observe in nature. Following the theological Enlightenment, the supernatural Christ of the creeds and confessions was relegated to the dustbin of superstition and ignorance. The traditional concept of “true God, true man” was deemed an absurdity. Since then, modern Christologies have emerged that tend to produce an impoverished ...

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