Why do christology? H. R. Mackintosh has 4 reasons (via Purves)

One of the things that Purves highlights in his discussion of H. R. Mackintosh is the way that theology and piety are inextricably linked. Theology arises from a certain kind of experience, we might say. Or as Purves himself puts it, “faith is the fruitful soil of doctrine” (79). Theology, then, develops as the church’s attempt to describe the experience, or dynamics, or way of being in the world engendered by – faith. Some of this comes to expression when Purves discusses how Mackintosh answers the question of why christology – or, detailed reflection upon the person of Christ, i.e., who he is – developed in the early Christian centuries. So, without further ado, here are Mackintosh’s four reasons to do christology.

Andrew Purves, Exploring Christology & Atonement: Conversations with John McLeod Campbell, H. R. Mackintosh, and T. F. Torrance (IVP Academic, 2015), 76.

Why do Christology? Mackintosh suggests that four motives may be found in the New Testament itself. (1) It was believed that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and that God’s revelation ended with him. If so, who was / is he? (2) Jesus’ exaltation and his gift of the Spirit mean that he is Lord, begetting in believers a transcendent life and a hope in his coming again to be revealed as central and omnipotent. If so, who was / is he? (3) The apostolic church, extending the mission beyond the Jewish circle, discovered that Jesus was for the whole world. His significance was universal. If so, who was / is he? (4) The self-witness of Jesus quickened the thought of his awareness of a unique sonship, which raised all manner of questions concerning his relationship to God. If so, who was / is he?



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