Section B - The Doctrine of Christ
Chapter B1 “The Importance of the Doctrine”
Without a coherent doctrine of Christ it is impossible to build a doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.
B2 Division of the Doctrine
The doctrine has normally been divided as follows (Loc. 1438):
A) The theanthropic person of Christ
B) the states of Christ
C) the office of Christ
I THE DOCTRINE OF THE PERSON OF CHRIST
Past critiques have focused on Lutheran apologists and their exhaustive work. Pieper responds (Loc. 1453) that the extensive writing was largely due to the critics’ objections to a traditional understanding of Christ.
Short Summary of the Doctrine
Luther (footnote 5, Loc. 2995) observed that prior to any creeds, the Church knew about the person and nature of Christ.
divine and human
unity of person
communion of natures
value of death of Christ
possessing divine gifts
retaining a human nature
infinite is held in the finite
1) The True Deity of Christ (Loc. 1489)
Contrary to some scholars who claim Jesus never asserted his deity, the New Testament requires we confess it. In Matthew 16 Jesus affirms Peter’s confession of him as the Son of God. This is the confession on which the Church has always stood. John 1:1 and Matthew 16:16 are not properly viewed in a metaphorical sense but quite literally. The Son has the same essence, the same actions, and the same attributes as the Father (John 10:28-30). Pieper further adduces John 5:17-19 which was clearly understood by the Jews as a statement of his deity. We find the same attributes in John 8:58 and 17:5, as well as John 1:3, 10:28-30, 5:21, 28-29, and John 2:22 and 1:14. He is to be honored as God (John 5:23; 20:28.
Pieper affirms (Loc. 1559) that a denial of the deity of Christ is related to a Pelagian notion that man earns heavenly reward by emulating the man Christ. Yet if Jesus is not entirely divine his death is no more than an example to us and has been stripped of its merit. The Christian view of salvation is tied to the merit of Jesus, as Luther expounds in his comments on Galatians 2:20.
The True Humanity of Christ (Loc. 1592)
Pieper begins by surveying historic errors in considering Christ’s humanity. He then concludes, “Scripture teaches clearly and plainly the true and perfect humanity of Christ (veritatem et integritatem humanae Christi naturae) (Loc. 1597). Pieper states (Loc. 1610) that denial of the humanity of Christ is due to rationalism which assures the union of divine and human to be impossible. He further suggests a link to Pelagianism which denies the need for a substitutionary atonement.
Scripture asserts a need for atonement by one who is perfect in his own right (divine) and like the ones for whom he substitutes (human). Pieper summarizes the history as follows: “The axiom of Gregory Nazianzen: τὸ ἀπρόσληπτον ἀθεράπευτον (what was not assumed was not redeemed [healed]} condemned any curtailment of the human nature of Christ. The Lutheran teachers took over this axiom…” (Loc. 1634).
Pieper closes this section with a biblical defense of Jesus’ identity as “Son of Man” being a claim to divine authority and human attributes.