Archive for the ‘christology’ Tag

Christological Monotheism

In doing some research to preach on Colossians 2:6-7, I have consulted some great resources for Christological monotheism. The idea that Paul was placing Jesus into the identity of YHWH, by using his name “Lord”, was a real epiphany for me during seminary. I get so excited about the profound christology embedded in this now empty and rather pedestrian phrase—Jesus is Lord!

Communicating the insights of Christological monotheism and their implications for the church has been a struggle and a joy. I was surprised to discover two missional books take up CM. Missiologist Alan Hirsch devotes an entire chapter to it in his book The Forgotten Ways, drawing out the implications for following Jesus in all spheres of society (echoes of Kuyper). In Promoting the Gospel, John Dickson refers to CM as “the Bible’s most basic doctrine.” He reminds us that because Jesus is Lord our mission is doxological and our doxology should be missional. Indeed, the fact that Jesus is Lord affects the whole of the christian life and mission of the church in the world! What would our churches, our neighborhoods, our cities, our countries look  like if we began to grasp the all-encompassing, integrative, redemptive, implications of the lordship of Jesus Christ?

Here are some helpful resources on the topic of Christological Monotheism:

Advertisements

Theology of Mediation – II

In Colossians Paul tells us that Jesus is the Agent of creation: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him.” Paul goes out of his way to use three prepositions to denote Christ’s work in creation, which he repeats in vss. 19-20. How should these texts shape our theology of Mediation? Why the close attention and repetition of prepositions?

Greek Philosophy

I believe that Paul is deliberately engaging Greek philosophy and turning it on its head. In Greek philosophy there was this preoccupation with creation being made from something, some agent. With the Thales it was water. Everything was made from water. Then came Heraclitus who said that everything was made from the logos, which was some kind of fiery, fluctuating thing. Then came along, Plato. And Plato was more sophisticated than the Pre-Socratic philosophers. He didn’t think that the world came from stuff, it came from some metaphysical principle which he called the Forms. The Forms were these eternal realities that determined what finite created things would look like. But the point is that everything came from the forms, and if you read Plato closely, you might see that he posits this thing called a Demi-urge, but either way there is this Agent or substance that does the creating.

Trinitarian Creation

When it comes to Paul, we discover that God needs nothing to create. He creates ex nihilo, out of nothing. God creates in Jesus, a Person, not a substance. Together with the what St Irenaeus called this the “two hands of the Father” God created all things. This is important because, contrary to a lot of Greek philosophy and early Christian theology, God isn’t bound up with his creation. He is not to be confused with the rocks and the trees. There is ontological distance between God and creation, so he can freely and lovingly relate to us and our world and we need not worship the world. God isn’t in the rocks and trees. He made those things with his two hands, Son and Spirit. This is not pantheism—God is in everything. The rocks and trees aren’t meant to be worshipped; they are to point us their sovereign and free Creator for worship. See, God creates as a Trinity, out of his boundless self-sufficiency and pleasure and creativity. He doesn’t need anything and isn’t compelled by anything, like some eternal substance.

Why is this important? Because God in Christ, through Christ with the Spirit is completely free and sovereign. There is no water, logos, forms or eternal matter or primordial gas that competes with his sovereignty and freedom to create. As firstborn in whom all things are made we discover that Jesus has priority over all things, nothing existed before him. As image of the invisible God, we find that Jesus has absolute preeminence over all things. Not only is he the rightful heir, number one, but he is also the sovereign ruler, the best.

Think of it like this. In many sports it is possible to be ranked #1 and not be the best team or player on the circuit. It is only the end of the season that we find out who is the best. Jesus not only has the priority of number one, but he also has the preeminence of being the best, most sublime, supreme creator and lord over all things. Why? Because all things were made in him and through him.

Did the Roman Imperial Cult Factor into Paul’s Letters?

Jim Hamilton interviews Justin Hardin on the Roman Imperial Cult. Hardin’s doctoral work was done in Galatians under John Barclay, who opposes the notion of the Roman Imperial cult as a presence in Paul’s polemics. N.T. Wright has written extensively on this, in support of a Pauline Imperial Cult polemic. Hardin sides with Wright.