Doing “Christology from Above” vs. Doing “Christology from Below”

These terms refer respectively to high Christology and low Christology. When we say “high Christology,” we are conceptualizing the Christological operations of Jesus through the Godhead –it is the notion that Jesus Christ is God the Son, which is one of three “selves” in the Godhead with God the Father and God the Holy Ghost/Spirit. I find that having a “high Christology” is predicated on placing more importance on the divine nature and divine personhood of Jesus over that of his humanity. This, then, is opposed through “low Christology,” where such a perspective is more oriented towards the humanity of Jesus –here, it is about Jesus the man, Jesus the flesh and bone human being, Jesus the historical person, and Jesus’s ministry.

When situating oneself on either the “Above” or the “Below” side of the Christological argument, a decision must be made about the Jesus of History and the Christ of faith. As I mentioned earlier, low and high Christologies respectively place emphasis on the historical Jesus and the divine Christ. Such emphases are based on “Jesus of History” and “Christ of faith.” In the former, which logically aligned with a “low Christology,” the point of focus is on Jesus the man –in other words, it is on the historical events associated with Jesus’s ministry and how those events help us develop a composite of the historical Jesus. Now, on other side of this, there is the “Christ of faith,” which aligns with a “high Christology” –this is in favor of appraising Christ as God the Son and, then, taking into account, as aforementioned, the role of God the Son with God the Father and God the Holy Ghost/Spirit.

It is possible to say, therefore, that all that I have discussed so far are critical to the development of a “Christological profile.” I would like to describe this term as a more panoramic view of the complexities and contradictions that arise when we take note to the “nature” and “person” of Jesus Christ. This “profile,” as it were, is not necessarily a monolithic object of understanding –for example, in a Kantian way –but, instead, merely a lay of the land that must be reckoned with in all its complexity and contradiction in order to actually take a side: upholding the humanity of Jesus over the divinity of Christ, or vice versa and, ultimately, situating one’s Christological claim as one that is “low” or “high.”

Each of these “formal questions “are “formal” as opposed to “material” because, I would argue, they are contingent on metaphysical claims rather than ontological claims. That is to say, they are grounded in metaphysical abstracts, not in ontological concretes. In other words, we cannot make ontological claims about the “nature” and “person” of Jesus Christ, since any study of being in that regard would be disingenuous and finite. There is nothing particularly concrete about the “nature” and “person” of Jesus Christ, no matter how “low” one’s Christology might go. Instead, when we provide “formal questions” in Christology, we are speaking of abstract being –being that is metaphysical.

Yet, when we discuss the abstract being of Jesus Christ, there are hermeneutical questions at work –namely, the what, the how, the where, and the why. One important hermeneutical question would be this: what are we interpreting, how are we interpreting the what, where are we placing our hermeneutical lenses, and why is our hermeneutical lenses being placed where it is being placed? These questions open the possibility for situating one’s Christology as “low” or “high” –it comes through the ways and means that we understand Scripture. This situatedness is relative to how one chooses to do hermeneutics with respect to Christology. The hermeneutist has to weigh the contextual and intercultural aspects of Christology as they come to bear on the “nature” and “person” of Jesus Christ –it becomes about understanding the contextualization of Scripture as an intercultural experience between our time and the time in which the Scriptures were written. From this, we have contextual and intercultural Christologies –in the former, a kind of Christology based on a strict contextual reading as part of hermeneutical practices, and, in the latter, a different kind of Christology that takes into account the “many faces of Jesus Christ,” not only literally throughout time, but figuratively with respect to “high” and “low” Christologies.

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