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What is "Christology"?

July 3, 2024 | Brad Campbell

Over the course of the next five weeks, this blog series is exploring the basics of the Christian theological vocabulary. Last week, we began with defining the term “theology.” Beginning this week, we will define various terms that have a direct correlation to “theology,” but are uniquely defined and thus given great importance for our understanding of God and his work in our world.
What is “Christology”?
Like the word “theology,” “Christology” is a compound of two Greek words: Christos (Christ) and logos (words). Thus, Christology is any words about, for, or to Jesus Christ. It explores various aspects and titles of Christ, each communicating a unique aspect of Jesus’ identity and mission. The names attributed to Jesus in the scriptures include Jesus, logos (“Word”), Image, Son of Man, Son of God, Christ, Lord, and God. Each title reflects a significant theological truth. For instance, the name “Jesus” (from the Hebrew name “Joshua,” meaning “God saves”) signifies his role as Savior, while logos (or “Word,” as in John 1:1-5) points to his divine nature as the ultimate revelation of God. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the very image of the invisible God (Col 1:15-20). The title "Image" refers to Christ as the perfect representation of the invisible God. Christology is important for the Church to study and pay attention to because it is what makes our faith unique among other religions. Without the person of Jesus Christ, we are simply like other semitic religions awaiting a coming Messiah. We, on the contrary, believe that the Messiah has come as the ultimate Word of God in Jesus Christ whose life and ministry have reconciled all the world to himself. 
Christ: Fully God and Fully Human
Central to Christology is the truth that Jesus Christ is the only human in history to be both fully God and fully human. The Nicene Creed, a foundational belief statement of the Christian faith, articulates this belief by describing Jesus as the "begotten Son of God, born of the Father, of one being with the Father." This means that Jesus is one with God in his divinity. He is not a created being but eternally flowing from the being of the Father, sharing the same substance with him. Simultaneously, Jesus' humanity is crucial for his being and for our salvation. As described in the Gospels, Jesus came down from heaven and became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary so that people like you and me could be freed from the bounds of sin and death. The New Testament dances in the tension between Christ’s humanity and divinity; but Paul writes about it most beautifully and succinctly in Philippians 2:5-11: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What does Christology have to do with the Church?
Christology is intrinsically and inextricably linked to the life of the Church. As noted above, we cannot be “Christians” without “Christ.” The Church's understanding of Christ directly influences its faith, worship, and mission. This understanding shapes the church's identity and approach to its mission in several ways. First, Christology defines the gospel message, centering on the person and work of Jesus, and enables the church to communicate the message of salvation, love, and hope effectively. It also guides worship, ensuring that it honors Jesus' divine nature and redemptive work, maintaining the focus on glorifying God and nurturing a deeper relationship with him. Furthermore, Jesus' mission to bring about the Kingdom of God and demonstrate God's love, justice, and mercy serves as a model for the church's mission, emphasizing evangelism, discipleship, and justice.
Christology also inspires service, as Jesus' life and teachings provide a blueprint for serving others with humility and compassion. This understanding motivates the church to engage in acts of service and charity, reflecting Christ's love to the world. It promotes unity by fostering a sense of shared purpose and mission, encouraging cooperation within the church community and across denominations. Christology offers ethical and moral direction, aligning the church's actions with the values and principles demonstrated by Jesus. It empowers discipleship by equipping believers to grow in their faith and follow Christ's example, participating in the church's mission to make disciples of all nations. At its core, Christology serves as a foundational framework that clarifies and directs the church's purpose and mission, ensuring faithfulness to Jesus' teachings and example in its efforts to worship, serve, and share the gospel.


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