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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Monday, October 27, 2003

Systematics Journal Entry #8

Today we read our theologians’ views on the person and nature of Jesus Christ.
And as much as our three authors were meshing with one another last week, they are flying in very different directions this time.

Williams’ focus in the assigned chapter was not specifically on Christology, per se. He seemed to be addressing the issue of dogma in general, and the Incarnation as the foundation thereof. He is specifically offering his take on Lex Mundi: A Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, written by M. C. Moberly in 1889. William's offers his Christology within this writing not directly, but as support for his arguments about the nature of and necessity for properly developed dogmatic expression within the church.

Feminist theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, however, is quite direct, even scathing, in her assault on traditionally patriarchal understandings of Jesus, and especially the damage done by the emphasis on Jesus’ masculinity as an ontological expression of human perfection. However, I found her answer-- to reshape our perception of Christ by overlaying and intermingling the Old Testament image of Wisdom/Sophia-- made me uncomfortable. Quite frankly, it seemed to me a case of two wrongs not making a right, and just as much of a distortion of the image of Christ as she was trying to argue against.

Additionally, I was very offput by Johnson’s efforts to bring in the “universal, nonexclusive character of the wisdom tradition.” Her belief that “Jesus/Sophia personally incarnates Wisdom’s gracious care, in one particular history, for the benefit of all, while she lays down a multiplicity of paths in diverse cultures by which all people may seek and, seeking, find her.” (p. 133) I see as not opening the way to Christian understanding of the Gospel, but departing from it in a well-intentioned but misguided effort to be inclusive. It goes too far.

The foregoing explains why I’m glad that Migliore’s reading was the one I did last. He also is concerned about not portraying the salvation offered by Jesus Christ from an exclusivist position. However, he does not fall into relativism. His preferred approach he terms diological: one in which “Christians and people of other faiths must both take their own faith commitments with the utmost seriousness and enter into open dialogue with others.” (p. 162). He is willing and eager to enter into conversation with other faith traditions, but maintains from the outset that “theological reflection on any topic is Christian to the extent that it recognizes the centrality of Jesus Christ and the salvation he brings.” his christology is open, but also anchored.

Golly, I like this guy.


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