A Brief Thought on Christology
"Conservative evangelical faith asserts, with traditional orthodoxy, that Christ was both God and Man; but the actual emphasis is heavily on his being God. It is because he is the Son of God that his suffering makes atonement...the story of the virgin birth shows that Jesus was more than merely human; and a Jesus who was merely human, however sublime and noble a man, could not have functioned in atonement as conservative evangelicals understand it...He is never merely teacher or leader or perfect man...Conservatives are nervous about any tendency which would understate the divine character of Christ; they are not equally sensitive about any tendency which would understate his humanity. 'Liberalism' and 'humanism,' as they imagine them, tend towards a human Jesus, and they in opposition tend towards a being who not only comes from God but is God..." (p.28)
"While traditional orthodoxy holds that Christ is both God and man...the emphasis of fundamentalist religion falls heavily on the deity of Christ. He is indeed man, but the essential thing to affirm is that he is God. This becomes stronger when one turns away from informed conservative apologetics and looks at the ordinary fundamentalist believer. He has probably never heard of Athanasius and knows nothing of the idea that Christ is equally God and man. What he believes about him is that he is God. He is God walking about and teaching in a man's body. Everyone knows that Jesus is a man, no virtue and no value is to be got from recognizing that he is a man; it is the recognition that he is God that counts...to put it negatively...any approach to Jesus that starts out from Jesus as man falls under suspicion and has to be rejected, unless it is immedaitely qualified with an even stronger assertion that he is God." (p. 168)
I was thinking about this and I remembered how shocked I was, in one of my religious studies classes, when Father Burns asked us, "If Jesus was human--'like us in all things except sin' [Philippians]--does that mean he maybe didn't know what he wanted to do with his life? That he could screw up a quote? That he was confused and discouraged at times? That he had wet dreams?" Getting comfortable with that idea made me realize that I had never really grappled with the idea of Jesus being intellectually and emotionally human. Not really.
The evangelical Jesus is about as minimally human as Jesus could be and still have a human body--if I may put it bluntly, he's sort of God with meat on top. (Well-behaved meat, too; I never pictured Jesus with so much as morning wood.) He's a God who (temporarily) gets thirsty and tired and killable and that's pretty much all. And it just now struck me that there's an interesting theory you can get from this: The more difficulty you have picturing Jesus as geniunely human, the more likely it is that your theology thinks of humanity as contemptible. (And while I'm not ready to stand behind this next statement fully, it quite possibly follows from this that the more contemptuous of humanity your theology is, the more likely it is to have a punitive, potentially cruel model of holiness.)
I'm not ready to fold this observation into a chapter yet, but I thought I'd toss it out there in case anyone wants to think about it or discuss it.