It is hard to imagine a Christological heresy in the contemporary setting.

The central theme of the New Testament is the person and work of Jesus the Christ, the risen Lord whom we worship. Therein lies the unity of its message. Once it was established in early church tradition that the best way to understand the biblical witness was to view Jesus as the incarnation of the eternal Logos and the Son of God, theologians fell into the habit of reading the New Testament material along those lines and lost sight of differences in its various documents.

Today we have seen a complete change of approach. The emphasis has shifted from the unity of the text to its diversity. It is no longer assumed that Mark, for example, said the same things about Jesus as Paul did. It became the custom to speak of John’s theology and Luke’s theology—of numerous theologies by no means always in agreement—and not to think of any New Testament position on anything.

The results for Christology have been far-reaching. New Testament scholars report not one but several different Christological models in the text. There is a second Adam model in Paul, a logos model in John, an adoptionist model in Jesus’ own words, and so forth. And they are thought to be mutually exclusive ways to understand Christology. John’s view, for example, rules out seeing Jesus as anointed prophet or adopted Son, and his view was the one that triumphed in the subsequent orthodox consensus.

According to this new approach, there is no “orthodox” view of Christ in the New Testament, no single doctrine to which all faithful Christians ought to adhere. The inference can also be drawn that even today the theological soundness of anyone’s position on Christ’s person cannot be questioned so ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.