Fundamentals Of Christian Faith: Christology, Eschatology And Soteriology
One fact that everyone agrees, regardless of belief, is that Jesus of Nazareth transformed the history of mankind. There never was and never will be anyone like Him. He is the subject of more books, plays, poetry, movies, and manifestations of worship than any other man in the history of mankind. He divided human history into BC and BC – ‘before and after Christ,’ Christology is widely in academic and philosophical circles around the world. Therefore, we call Christology, the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and the part of Christian theology that studies Jesus Christ. It deals with several aspects, like for example its nature, whether divine, human or both. Also, its role in human redemption and the relationship between Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit. However, in the early centuries of the church all of these arguments cited were being heavily debated. In that period, the church had to deal with various adversities that fought to prove different and contrary beliefs, for example the doctrine that did not believe that God the Father and God the Son had the same nature.
Another issue that arose in past times, was the fact that everyone was taught that there is only one God, and the fact that Jesus was doing godly things brought many questions into the conversation of how to reconcile and understand this. Writer Keith Mathison explains in one of his articles, that “the Pharisees reconciled it by concluding that Jesus was a blaspheming liar, and they condemned Him. His followers, on the other hand, reconciled it by concluding that He was who He said He was — the Word who was with God and who was God (John 1:1), the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). ” It was back then and still is today a challenge to know “how we can confess that God is one and also confess that Jesus is God”, and the answer to the question of “Who Jesus is?” is very a challenge that is present in our world since people first knew of Jesus, it is something that many seek to find. The role of Christology applies directly to that, since through Christology, and the knowledge of the person of Christ, there are several possible ways to go and explore. The typological path explains Christ from Old Testament prophecy. The historical route concentrates all the actual episodes in which Christ played a leading role.
When using the book Classical Christian Doctrine as our guide when studying doctrines and subjects that are in it, we see that the author looks back to many teachers that back in time, explained and studied deeply the subjects and important aspects of it. He brings up Origen, who explained the relationship of Jesus Christ and God as that he was His son. “He argued that the Son had existed from all eternity with God. This teaching is referred to as the eternal generation or begetting of the Son.” The councils of Nicaea and the one later on in the Nicene Creed, were highly influenced by this concept of Origen, since “The bishops who met at Nicaea modified some of his views and suppressed others, but his thinking had a major impact on what came to be considered the correct way of understanding the nature of God.”
We are able to see therefore,in the tradition of Christian theology, Christology focuses on all Christ-related dogmas, especially the Holy Trinity dogma as mentioned before. Christological dogmas are the truths that have been consolidated in different councils, such as the Council of Chalcedon or the Council of Nicaea, which adds to all the phases and challenges that this doctrine along with the church in the past had to face and overcome, and all the steps in its formation were essential to all the information we get today and the teachings of the church and of Christology we live surrounded by today as Christians.
Eschatology is the one that studies biblical prophecies about the future. This is why eschatology is best defined as ‘the doctrine of the last things.’ Certainly biblical eschatology is an area of theology that arouses more curiosity among Christians, and has a wider range of interpretations. Eschatology is the climax of divine revelation. It talks about the main reason for the creation of the material world, and the fulfillment of God’s eternal purposes for humanity. Eschatology studies both prophecies that have already been fulfilled and those that will still be fulfilled. Therefore, all that was ‘prophetically future’ at the time of its writing is addressed in biblical eschatology. As the article “Milk and Meat” – Answering Questions on Christianity by the Life Bible-Presbyterian Church Adult Sunday School defines it, “it is the capstone of systematic theology with every branch of theology finding its resolution in it. Eschatology is derived from the Greek word, eschatos (εσχατος), which means to be in the last gasp, at the point of death. This doctrine is concerned with death, the end of the world, the ultimate destiny of humankind, the final events in the history of the world of humankind: the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and Paradise.
Eschatology can also be divided into two segments: general eschatology and individual eschatology. General eschatology deals with the future of the world. Individual eschatology deals with the individual future of man. Eschatology is always a subject that will be in discussion, especially because of the last two decades, which witnessed a boom of eschatology in theological discussions. As scholar Wolfhart Pannenberg brings up in a article he wrote (Constructive and Critical Functions of Christian Eschatology), discussions and new theories are being discussed and considered since “the impact of Jürgen Moltmann’s theology of hope. But a recovery of the eschatological concern in systematic theology has been due for some time, since Johannes Weiss’ successful thesis of 1892 that Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God was not primarily a program for moral or social action, but had its roots in Jewish apocalypticism and envisaged a cosmic catastrophe that would occur when God in the imminent future would replace this present world by the new creation of his own kingdom without any human ado. ” (Pannenberg)
The subject of Eschatology may have gotten a lot of negative criticism since according to Ronald E. Heine, as we see in his book, the subject attracts many “religious quacks”. He explains that by saying how as early in the second century there were people who would set timetables for when things were coming to an end, but he points how “such misrepresentations of eschatology should not detract us from the importance of the subject in Christian doctrine” (Heine), since it is a field that entails the important doctrines of the return of Christ, the resurrection of dead, the judgment, the end of the present world order and the future life, and the author concludes saying that it is a subject that studies “Christian Hope”.
Heine in his book Classical Christian Doctrine also brings up an important moment of the history of this subject, which was the treatise On the Resurrection, brought up by Origen, that was arguing against Christians who think that the bodies that are resurrected will be the same “bodies we have now”, and along with other teachers like Irenaeus and Tertullian for example, Eschatology was shaped into what we know today. This subject will always be in the scenery of discussions and theories, but that only proves its importance and effects in the Christian doctrine.
Soteriology is perhaps one of the fields of theology that is most debated. This is because theologians start a debate on biblical soteriology, which has been going on for centuries, with different positions on the topic. Soteriology is basically the redemption doctrine. Soteriology is the theological area that studies salvation in all its aspects. The word ‘soteriology’ comes from the Greek terms soteria, ‘salvation’ or ‘deliverance’; and logos, ‘word’.
Biblically, redemption is God’s work in all ways. Man is saved from his state of sin to the state of heaven by Christ in the christian concept of redemption. The sinner is redeemed from his sins by Christ’s death. If Christ comes, it will completely annihilate the fallen and immoral nature of man. Then will also come the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23). At this point salvation will find its full fulfillment (Hebrews 9:28).
The salvation doctrine has a great place in theology and ministerial practice, but today it does not have adequate evidence. The existing uncertainty for the correct definition of redemption has generally caused major problems for the church. In our day, the Church focuses on culture, sociability, social projects, contextualization, while forgetting the primordial ‘Salvation is by Grace. ‘ It is not enough to win crowds into the walls of the Church, it is necessary for the individual to recognize that he is a sinner, separated from God, and that by his own strength he cannot solve his problem so that he can understand the reality of salvation.
No doubt the date of October 31, 1517 played an huge effect on what he know today as soteriology, and it was of great transcendence in universal history. The Reformation “exalted biblical truths that changed our evangelization. ” (Eliff) One way or another, all evangelical Christians are heirs of the Reformation. Although it was a movement of profound cultural, social and political repercussions, it is good to grasp the theological foundations of this message and, in particular, the soteriology. The study of biblical soteriology is very important for anyone who is Christian.
In addition, we also need to recognize that the will of God in the Bible is explained to us in various ways. On the one side, we have God’s decision will, which He decides will actually happen, and in fact it is ultimately achieved. On the other hand, we have the preceptive will of God, that is, what he commands and desires men to do and which, in the form of a command, is addressed to all people, but which are not always fulfilled. Associated with this second aspect is God’s desire for all to turn to Him, and the deep grief at the perdition of those who reject Him. These are two distinct aspects of the will of God that are not at odds, although we recognize our inability to understand the Lord’s mind. Besides the paradox of the will of God, there is also a paradox that God, without forcing or violating our freedom, effectively draws us to Himself in a manner that is both voluntary and irresistible. He does not simply make a decision in us, but does something deeper: He actively transforms the source of our will, motivation and affection, the heart (Jeremiah 31. 33), from which the love of indescribable beauty begins to flow naturally. Perhaps this way of understanding soteriology raises even more questions than the previous ones, perhaps it is the least pleasing to the intellectual and emotional “feelings” that our culture has produced in us. And, contrary to popular belief, it leaves no room for our human pride, contrary to popular belief, without God we are totally unable to have the faith we need, and we contribute absolutely nothing to our salvation. This is the theology that invites us to embrace the mystery and to remain silent when facing the silence of the Bible, and recognizing our condition as sinners whose intellect and emotions are insufficient to contain the reality of the Creator. These truths are far from being the product of a crude and dry theology, they are actually a great source of security and joy, which assures us that our salvation is assured by none other than God Himself.
Although there are many and many theories and aspects involved in this subject, the main thing for us to know is to understand that salvation is so wonderful that it exceeds human understanding. As much as we study, there will always be something mysterious to us, and that is not exclusive oo steriology. The only thing left for us is to recognize the greatness of God’s grace in contrast to the depth of human depravity. If we do this, we will hardly contradict biblical teachings in the area of soteriology.
- Mathison, Keith. “An Introduction to Orthodox Christology: Why Christology Is Important. ” Ligonier Ministries, https://www. ligonier. org/blog/introduction-orthodox-christology-why-christology-important/.
- DOCTRINE OF LAST THINGS (ESCHATOLOGY). https://www. lifebpc. com/images/ssadult/SS_Doctrine of Last Things. pdf.
- Pannenberg, Wolfhart. “Constructive and Critical Functions of Christian Eschatology*: Harvard Theological Review. ” Cambridge Core, Cambridge University Press, 10 June 2011, https://www. cambridge. org/core/journals/harvard-theological-review/article/constructive-and-critical-functions-of-christian-eschatology.
- “October 31, 1517. ” Church Bulletin Inserts, 25 Nov. 2019, https://bulletininserts. org/october-31-1517/.
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