The Starting Point of Dogmatic Christology: Ingolf Dalferth’s “Crucified and Resurrected”

crucified and resurrectedIngolf Dalferth’s Crucified and Resurrected strikes me as, at heart, a densely-argued exploration of how to properly orient dogmatic Christology. Originally published as Der auferweckte Gekreuzigte in the early 1990’s, Baker Academic has now opened up Dalferth’s work to the English-speaking world through the careful translating efforts of Jo Bennett.

Dalferth tells readers that “dogmatics describes the inner rationality of the Christian way of life” (p.xxi). Thus, one possible way to consider Crucified and Resurrected is as an examination of the inner rationality of how Christians think through God’s saving activity in Jesus Christ. In regards to this subject, though, where should one start?

This brings us to Dalferth’s central argument. He claims that:

The Christian faith confesses the resurrection of Jesus Christ as an eschatological saving event, simply because it proves that not even death prevents God from maintaining living fellowship with those with whom he wants to be together: it demonstrates unequivocally and irrevocably the life-giving power of God’s desire for fellowship and his love for his creation. (p.28)

The more controversial part of his thesis lies in his insistence that it is the confession of Jesus as crucified and resurrected—and not the incarnation—that must form the primary starting point of Christology. This assertion takes place in the context of a dialogue he engages in with progressive scholars on the one hand, and more conservative scholarship on the other. Some more progressive scholars see the doctrine of the incarnation as a later, superfluous addition to Christianity while most more conservative scholars insist on the primacy of incarnational thinking as the christological starting point. Dalferth explains his perspective: Continue reading

Anathematize Them: A Review of David Wilhite’s The Gospel according to Heretics

gospel according to hereticsWhy should the Church ever listen to heretics? How do you define a heretic in the first place? In David Wilhite’s engaging and informative introduction to the early christological conflicts of the Church, The Gospel according to Heretics, he takes on these questions and more with admirable clarity, depth, and sensitivity. Wilhite teaches at George W. Truett Seminary in Texas and specializes in the study of North African Christianity in late antiquity, giving him a good background for taking readers into the world of the Patristic era.

In much traditional Christian thinking, heretics were viewed as evil and malicious (p.2). They were to be avoided and their voices were to be silenced if efforts to persuade ended in failure. The early church father Irenaeus, in his work Against Heresies, records that the Apostle John supposedly once fled from a building in order to avoid the heretic Corinth’s (3.3.4). Ignatius also exhorted readers in his Letter to the Trallians to, “cover up your ears in order to avoid receiving the things being sown by them” (9). Continue reading