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REVIEW: ‘The Person of Christ,’ Donald MacLeod

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment

MacLeod published The Person of Christ in 1998, as the seventh installment of the Contours of Christian Theology series (ed. Gerald Bray). IVP Academic markets this series as “a series of concise introductory texts focused on the main themes of Christian theology,” which is a well-enough categorization. MacLeod, through ten chapters and 303 pages, offers a fairly standard evangelical account of the history of the doctrines of Christ–notably his preexistence, his relationship to and within in the Trinity, and his own nature and person.

I came to this text as one who desired to study the nature of Christ but who had never formally done so. MacLeod’s work does not read easily at times, although it is hard to believe that this is essentially his own fault. He spends most of each chapter detailing the ways in which both ancient and contemporary theologians have understood the various facets of Christ’s nature. He highlights the Gnostics, Docetics, the German liberals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and others. It is almost inevitable in any text not devoted specifically to the different movements for the specifics and distinguishing marks to become muddled. MacLeod is no exception to that rule, and many chapters are nearly overwhelming dense to one who does not have prior training in both the questions and proposed answers that are given in each chapter. For this reason, The Person of Christ would do well as a book read under the direction (current or past) of an academic who has already studied Christology, unless one wants to spend an inordinate amount of time with this book. While the work has helpfully made me aware of certain readings of pertinent Christological passages (especially of those of the German theologians), The Person of Christ does not seem to warrant a slow and steady reading for one who is merely curious about the doctrines and would like individual study.

Final analysis: The Person of Christ is best read as a survey to one already familiar with the various theological questions or as an introduction to one under the tutelage of a person already familiar with Christology.

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Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (VIII)

VIII. To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same;(a) making intercession for them,(b) and revealing unto them,  in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation;(c) effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His word and Spirit;(d) overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.(e)

(a) John 6:37, 39; John 10:15, 16
(b) 1 John 2:1, 2; Romans 8:34
(c) John 15:13, 15; Ephesians 1:7-9; John 17:6
(d) John 14:16; Hebrews 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:13; Romans 8:9, 14; Romans 15:18, 19; John 17:17
(e) Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26; Malachi 4:2, 3; Colossians 2:15

 

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (VII)

VII. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself;(a) yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.(b)

(a) Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 3:18
(b) Acts 20:28; John 3:13; 1 John 3:16

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (VI)

VI. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ til after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.(a)

(a) Galatians 4:4, 5; Genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8

 

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (V)

V. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father;(a) and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.(b)

(a) Romans 5:19; Hebrews 9:14, 16; Hebrews 10:14; Ephesians 5:2; Romans 3:25, 26
(b) Daniel 9:24, 26; Colossians 1:19, 20; Ephesians 1:11, 14; John 17:2; Hebrews 9:12, 15

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (IV)

IV. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake;(a) which that He might discharge, He was made under the law,(b) and did perfectly fulfill it;(c) endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,(d) and most painful sufferings in His body;(e) was crucified, and died,(f) was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.(g) On the third day He arose from the dead,(h) with the same body in which He suffered,(i) with which also He ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father,(j) making intercession,(k) and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.(l)

(a) Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:5, 6
(b) Galatians 4:4
(c) Matthew 3:15; Matthew 5:17
(d) Matthew 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46
(e) Cf. Matthew 26-27
(f) Philippians 2:8
(g) Acts 2:23, 24, 27; Acts 13:37; Romans 6:9
(h) 1 Corinthians 15:3-5
(i) John 20:25, 27
(j) Mark 16:19
(k) Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24, 25
(l) Romans 14:9, 10; Acts 1:11; Acts 10:42; Matthew 13:40-42; Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (III)

III. The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure,(a) having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;(b) in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell;(c) to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth,(d) He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.(e) Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father,(f) who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.(g)

(a) Psalm 45:7; John 3:34
(b) Colossians 2:3
(c) Colossians 1:19
(d) Hebrews 7:26; John 1:14
(e) Acts 10:38; Hebrews 12:24; Hebrews 7:22
(f) Hebrews 5:4, 5
(g) John 5:22, 27; Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (II)

March 28, 2013 1 comment

II. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature,(a) with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;(b) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance.(c) So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.(d) Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and  man.(e)

(a) John 1:1, 14; 1 John 5:20; Philippians 2:6; Galatians 4:4
(b) Hebrews 2:14, 16, 17; Hebrews 4:15
(c) Luke 1:27, 31, 35; Galatians 4:4
(d) Luke 1:35; Colossians 2:9; Romans 9:5; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Timothy 3:16
(e) Romans 1:3, 4; 1 Timothy 2:5

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (I)

March 28, 2013 1 comment

I. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man,(a) the Prophet,(b) Priest,(c) and King,(d) the Head and Savior of His Church,(e) the Heir of all things,(f) and Judge of the world:(g) unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed,(h) and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.(i)

(a) Isaiah 41:2; 1 Peter 1:19, 20; John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:5
(b) Acts 3:22
(c) Hebrews 5:5, 6
(d) Psalm 2:6; Luke 1:33
(e) Ephesians 5:23
(f) Hebrews 1:2
(g) Acts 17:31
(h) John 17:6; Psalm 22:30; Isaiah 53:10
(i) 1 Timothy 2:6; Isaiah 55:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 1:30

Chalcedonian Creed

November 18, 2012 Leave a comment

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeable, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Crist Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

** The Chalcedonian Creed was formulated at the Council of Chalcedon, 451 a.d. Among the most prominent topics of discussion was the divinity, humanity, and relationship between the two of Christ.

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