The previous post briefly identified the challenge of both beginning and progressing in Christology. Irrespective of the chosen methodology, the first general principle that must be adhered to is a commitment to behold Jesus biblically. If one thinks that this is so obvious that it does not need to be stated, and much less expounded upon, then they have thought very wrong. Paul addresses a crisis in the church at Corinth by warning the believers not to give heed to different versions of Jesus being heralded (2 Cor 11:1-4).
The religious history of America alone is an astonishing case study of how the conception of Jesus held by the church has undergone drastic changes based on cultural and political trends. The thoughts about Jesus which we entertain, the words we write or preach about Him, and the songs we sing to Him must all be fastened closely to Scripture or they will always drift into a form of our own making. Our challenge is like that of children splashing in the breakers at the sea. Unaware of the current pushing them down the coast, they turn from their play to suddenly find the lifeguard tower is two hundred yards away.
No one realizes they have a wrong view of Jesus. The problem is precisely that no one thinks they have a problem. That includes me, and that includes you. Messages, experiences, feelings, and ideas have all brought us to a point of being convinced that Jesus is a certain way. Yet this ‘convincing’ didn’t happen over the pages of Scripture, and this fabricated vision of what Jesus is like remains unquestioned in our hearts and minds until something challenges it. It is only by constantly turning to the Bible that we can experience this epiphany where we are able to see that a current has indeed caused us to drift. We are challenged, corrected, and ultimately aligned with truth. Our worship and our discipleship are tethered once more to reality and therefore grounded in authenticity.
Over the years I have been asked the same question many, many times. “How can I go deep in Christology – is there a book I can get?” I really wish there were more books on Christology that I could recommend with enthusiasm. Perhaps it is actually better that they I don’t know of them. The answer is “no”. There is no “book”. I am profoundly grateful for resources that help shed light on the truth about Jesus. I am personally indebted to many. However, our eyes must first fasten themselves upon the sacred words of the inspired text and only then move outward to glean from resources.
Our propensity is to do the opposite, as the question above betrays. We want the process of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18) to last only as long as the line at the cash register on the way out of the bookstore. For the less patient and more technologically savvy, the delay can be reduced to the seconds it takes to download an eBook onto our tablet. This is fantasy of modernity, and Jesus will never be acquired in this way. The result, inevitably, is that an incomplete or erroneous picture of Jesus is then projected upon our partial knowledge of what the Bible says about Him. Verses taken out of context become the centerpiece for another spin on what Jesus was really all about on the earth and what He most cares about now. We dress the concept of Jesus up in whatever way is convenient, and that name is used as the tagline for another exploit of Christian consumerism or the mascot for the latest cause.
No one is immune from this, but so much of it could be avoided by the simplicity of immersion in Scripture. The different versions of ‘Jesus’ in our day do not exist because the Bible fails to offer a clear, consistent, and cohesive presentation of His identity. It is true that there are different interpretations of certain facets of His life, person, and work. Yet for those who believe in the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture, this spectrum of divergence is narrow. The cause of the vast majority of the dissonance related to Jesus is a just a failure to carefully and lovingly consult the Bible. All else is in vain if this is not our starting point. And from this point of inception until we see His face, Scripture must hem us in on the right and the left during every step of the journey of beholding Jesus by faith.
This post is part of the series titled Jesus at the Crossroads. If you would like to support this website and Stephen’s ministry, simply give via the paypal link on the right or click here for more information on specific needs and different ways to partner with Stephen financially.