Jesus And Christ, Ctd

A reader writes:

Just a quick thought about your meditation on the gospels, and your grappling with the relationship between doctrine and story, humanity and divinity.

100524_r19634_p233 It is worth pointing out that inasmuch as the doctrines of the 4th and 5th centuries sought to articulate Jesus’ “divinity” – that he was “God from God,” and so God’s very self-expression in our common history – those doctrines did as much to preserve the distinctiveness and integrity of his humanity, and so to place brakes upon any tendency, whether explicit or subtle, to blur the distinction of “God” and “creature.”

That Jesus did not go about declaring himself “God” throughout his ministry is in fact entirely keeping with the view that Jesus, precisely as a human person, is God’s “being with” and “being for” us. That God can do this is, of course, a statement of faith. That God has done this is, from the point of view of that same faith, utterly astonishing – and the greatest gesture of love imaginable. God becoming human is an event that leaves nothing out from our human experience: not suffering, not death, and not even the experience of God’s otherness.

In Jesus, God is “other” to God’s own self. And it is in the space of that otherness – that creatureliness – wherein our humanity dwells. The Incarnation means that God “assumes” what is and remains “other” to God. Which is why, from the point of the view of the article you cite, Jesus’ own doubt, fear, pain, and sense of abandonment is so essential to affirm. God knows and undergoes this too.

Another writes:

In the spirit of expanding the conversation I query whether the Incarnation as defined as the pre-existence of Jesus as God from eternity is indeed the core of the Christian faith.  On this point see Hans Kung in On Being A Christian and Christianity

Kung is persuasive to me where he argues that the core of the faith is Jesus, who was crucified and who God raised from the dead and who is now at God's right hand. In the earliest New Testament documents, the letters of Paul and the Gospel of Mark, as well as in the original Kerygma as analyzed by C. H. Dodd in The Apostolic Preaching, Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son, the Son of Man, the Servant of God.  See for example Peter's sermon to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10.

Kung argues that the classical definitions of the Trinity and the Incarnation are the result of an interpretation of the evangelical facts in terms of Greek metaphysics - but that one may be a Christian without at the same time adopting Greek metaphysics.  In my judgment, Kung's passionate interpretation of  "Jesus from below" is compelling evidence for his thesis.