Christology Outline

By Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt

INTRODUCTION

Since the focus of Christianity is on Christ, the believer must have a clear understanding of his person and work. Christology is the study of his person; soteriology is the study of his work. The two are obviously related: who Christ is will determine what he is able to do. Virtually every heresy denies the deity of Christ and therefore also denies to some extent his work on the cross for us. As a rule, liberal (and some Neo-Orthodox) theologians deny Christ's deity, while some fundamentalists tend to underemphasize his humanity.


I. INCARNATION - HYPOSTATIC UNION

A. Definition: Two natures (full deity and full humanity) inseparably united in the one person of Christ.
B. Support:
  1. Full Humanity: Jn. 8:40; I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:l4,l7
  1. Sinless Humanity: II Cor. 5:2l; Heb. 4:l5; I Jn. 3:5.
  1. Full Deity: Jn. l:l-3; l0; 30; Heb. l:l0-l2; Rom. 9:5; Col. 2:9.

II. KENOSIS

A. Definition: At the incarnation, Christ gave up not only the environment of the Godhead and his position as Ruler, but also the use of his divine attributes.
B. Support:
  1. Jesus demonstrated non-use of omniscience (Mt. 24:36), omnipotence (Mk. 6:5), omnipresence (Jn. 4:4), righteousness (Heb. 4:l5;9:l4), justice (Jn. 5:30), and infinitude (I Cor. l5:3).
  2. Phil. 2:6,7. Jesus did not "hold onto" his equality with God, but rather "emptied" (Grk.: kenoo) himself of his divine privileges.
  3. Jn. l4:l0. Jesus "can do nothing of Himself" (Jn. 5:l9), but "the Father abiding in Him does His works" (Jn. l4:28). See also Acts 2:22; 10;38.
  4. Heb. 2:l7 - Jesus had to be made like us in all things (see also I Cor. l5:2l).
C. Importance: Jesus lived just like we do--by dependence on God and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:10-17).

III. DESCENT

A. Definition: Sometime between his death and resurrection, Jesus visited the waiting place of the dead.
B. Support:
  1. I Pet. 4:6. Christ announced his victory and their salvation to Old Testament believers.
  2. I Pet. 3:l9. He proclaimed defeat and judgement to either Noahic demons or the unbelievers of Noah's day.
  3. Eph. 4:9. "Descent" refers either to the incarnation, Christ's burial, or the underworld.
C. Note: The meaning of the above passages used to support this doctrine are not very clear, and no other essential doctrine is based on this tenet. Therefore, avoid dogmatism on this issue.

IV. RESURRECTION

A. Definition. Christ rose bodily from the dead, resulting in an empty grave. Theories that the resurrection was spiritual or in the minds of the apostles are excluded.
B. Purpose
  1. It validates the authority and truthfulness of Jesus and his message (Mt. l2:39,40; Jn. 2:l9; see also I Cor. l5:l4).
  2. It objectively demonstrates our forgiveness: that Christ's death was effective for forgiving sins (Rom. 4:25; I Cor. l5:l7; I Pet. l:3). The image of the Old Testament priest re-emerging from the Holy of Holies is alluded to in the book of Hebrews and elsewhere. The fact that the priest survived was evidence that the sacrifice had been accepted by God.
  3. It affirms the fact of the believer's future resurrection and eternal life (I Cor. l5:l8-23).
  4. It assures the believer's position in Christ (Rom. 6:4,5; Eph. 2:6) and the power to live the Christian life (Eph. l:l9,20).
C. False explanations and their refutations
  1. Stolen Body Theory. Someone stole the body, which explains the disciples' belief in the resurrection as well as the empty tomb.
  1. Swoon Theory. Jesus didn't really die. He was given a drug while on the cross which simulated death, and later recovered, revealed himself to his disciples as resurrected, and then lived out the rest of his life in hiding.
  1. Hallucination Theory. The disciples didn't really see Jesus raised from the dead. They hallucinated seeing him, because they wanted so badly for him to be alive.
  1. Legend Theory. The story of the resurrection is not factual, but reflects a legend which the early church came to believe.

V. ASCENSION

A. Definition. Christ was taken up into the sky bodily, and seated at the right hand of God in heaven.
B. Purpose:
  1. He may have presented his sacrifice to the Father (Heb. 9:l4--although this may have occurred while he was dead).
  2. He went to prepare a place for believers (Jn. l4:2,3).
  3. He went to be "glorified" which allowed the Holy Spirit to be sent to the church (Jn. 7:38,39). The exact meaning of this term is unclear.

VI. SESSION

A. Definition. Christ sits at the right hand of God, interceding for believers and guiding the church as its head during the present age.
B. Purpose:
  1. To mediate between us and the Father (I Jn. 2:l,2; Heb. 7:25).
  2. To rule and guide the church (Eph. l:20,23).

VII. SECOND ADVENT

A. Definition. Christ will physically return to earth to rule, descending bodily from the sky (Acts 1:9-11).
B. Purpose:
  1. To take over the world and rule it as king for a thousand years (Rev. 19:11-16).
  2. Reward the members of the church for their deeds done in the body (II Cor. 5:10; I Cor. 3:10-15).

ASSIGNMENT:

1. Know the refutations of the false resurrection theories.
2. Know the four doctrinal implications of the resurrection and the designated memory verses for each.

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