This is a follow-up of sorts to my post on Non-elitist Theology pt. III. We’ve already looked a bit at what it is, what the main facets of it are, and why it’s helpful to study. But it is weighing on my heart how dreadfully important it is to give ourselves to it. Again, I’m not just talking about arguing fuzzy theological points and learning prestigious language for our faith. I’m talking about knowing a Man. And I mean really knowing Him.
I’m sure anyone reading this has already heard of the documentary about a certain crypt discovered in Jerusalem that supposedly undoes the very foundations of Christian faith. If you miraculously haven’t heard of this, rather than being repetitive of thousands of other sites on the internet, I’ll just refer you to David Sliker’s wordcast to find out more. Short story is that a couple of guys think they have found Jesus’ dead body. Biblically, of course, this is impossible, but even looking at the simple scientific facts, it is extraordinarily unlikely. Even so, there are raging debates over it all over the internet.
I ran across one such site the other day. I won’t directly link to it because there was some borderline language in the comments, but basically the author was tremendously hopeful that this discovery would ring a death knell to organized religion as we know it. It’s not difficult to find opinions like this on the internet, and while it’s painful to read every time, I understand that we can expect it from people who are not saved and who unashamedly disdain Christianity. (It gives us some specifics to pray for, too…)
The article itself, however, did not disturb me as much as the comments section. There were many people voicing hearty agreement — it was about time that something like this came to the forefront and dispelled this “Jesus myth.” A few athiests wrote in agreement with the principle of bringing down organized religion, but they thought the findings were unconvincing. There were a couple of agnostic “religion is just a hobby, do what you like” people who were staying solidly in the middle of the road, refusing to side either way, but saying that even if this really did turn out to be Jesus’ body, then it shouldn’t really affect Christianity that much.
There were a couple of livid responses from Christians who quoted a some Bible verses, with very little comment, and rebuked the author for daring to question scripture. These were very scant, as the author commented that he had been deleting most of them due to their redundancy. A few other believers posted very carefully worded replies, trying to draw out questions or further conversation from the athiests, yet avoiding hot-button topics like God, sin, eternity, resurrection, etc., — and consequently wound up saying nothing at all of substance.
What bothered me most was seeing the responses from Christians who were unfazed by the results of the discovery, not because they thought it was bogus, but because they didn’t consider the resurrection to be that important to the Christian faith. Their sentiment was, “So what if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? His teachings are still the same. Why argue about specifics like whether or not He was actually resurrected?”
That hurts to read. And that is a huge reason why Christology is so important.
Not once in that entire string of arguments and debate did I see someone refer to who Jesus truly was. Nobody brought up the fact that He was God. Nobody even mentioned that Christianity is based on His Person, not only His teaching. Folks were running around discussing and debating ideas, concepts, and spirituality, without ever once pointing out that Christianity demands that Jesus is a real Man who is also really God. People who said they believed in Him saw no reason to worry about whether or not He really was who He said He was — just so long as we are nice to each other and do what He said, we don’t need to worry about pesky little things like His identity as the Son of God.
This is a problem, folks. Admittedly, the internet is not a great place to get an accurate cross-section of the human population, but even so, the number of people who seriously subscribed to these ideas was rattling to me. It blows my mind that anyone would want the message without the Man. If Jesus is not exactly who He claimed to be and exactly who the Scripture record portrays Him as being, then His message is not worth listening to. I still love C.S. Lewis’ statement that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or truly and genuinely Lord. Thankfully, He is exactly who He claimed to be, and no amount of archaelogical digging will ever turn up anything different.
We have got to know who Jesus is. Once we reduce Christ to a philosophical concept, we have missed the point entirely. Once we feel like His Person is open to question, and that it’s okay to reevaluate it in light of our current state of “enlightenment,” then we do not know Him at all. Praise the Lord if we value the Sermon on the Mount in our lives — but if our Christianity is only based on living the Sermon on the Mount (which, according to our society, simply means being nice to each other), apart from giving ourselves fully to the One who gave us that Sermon, then our faith is empty and our message is dead.
The Person of Jesus Christ is coming under increasing scrutiny and attack in our society, and real people are being shaken by it. Real people, Christians, are being convinced that Jesus was a historical figure and nothing more, a good Man with a solid message who gave us good instructions for how to live. Well… except for that cross part. And that stuff about being empowered by the Holy Spirit. And that “one way to the Father” bit. And that living for eternity jargon. And don’t even get us started on those ridiculously nonsensical ideas about miracles.
We have got to know who this carpenter from Nazareth is.
While we are busy snubbing our intellectual noses at the idea of a real God who really became Man, who really died and rose again to give us the only real way to connect with the one real God — that real Man is enthroned in heaven, waiting for the timing of the Father to return to the earth and establish His kingdom. This is no superstitious joke, and there is no way to philosophize it away. He is really coming back, and it will really not be good news for people who don’t know Him. We don’t have time to run in circles and debate what He Has clearly said about Himself. We don’t have time to pass judgment on whether or not it sufficiently satisfies our weak, blind ideas of what is or is not reasonable and possible. He is really coming soon, and millions of people are not ready for it.
We all need to give ourselves to knowing Jesus (Christology in its purest form). We need to know that He is fully God and fully Man, know why we believe it, and know why it’s important. We need to understand His two natures and His one unconfused Person in order to be able to withstand the barrage of both humanistic “reason” (using the term loosely) and spiritualistic delusion.
This is also why we need messengers, those who have a living, real, vibrant understanding of Jesus’ nature and character. We need people who know whom they believe. I’m not just talking about apologetics — although it’s great and necessary that we have a good grasp on such things, in the long run, it’s not going to change anyone’s heart. We do of course want to be defenders of the faith, but at the same time, Jesus is God. He can totally, absolutely defend Himself (and do it better than we ever could, to boot). But we need clear voices in this day and hour. We need people who can stand up and declare that Jesus is not just an intriguing historical figure. We need people who can testify with certainty that God really became a man, really died, and really came out of the grave, leaving us with only two options: we can either believe He is who He says He is, or reject Him altogether.
We need bold, meek apostolic preachers who will call a biblically illiterate, confused generation of believers out of the dangerous place of dabbling in the wisdom of this age and trying to reconcile it with the truth of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2 to see how well that works). We need those who will put the knowledge of God into the hands of a generation that desperately needs to know it — those who know Jesus more than just in theory, but who can testify of what they have truly experienced (1 John 1:1-3). We need people who will accurately represent Jesus as more than just a string of good teaching, but as a real Man who is really returning to establish a kingdom on earth.
It’s true that some people will mock this message. But it’s also true that some will be impacted by it. We must speak the truth in love and humility. We must be those who know our God, and we must be those who call our generation to do the same.