Christology vs. Soteriology

First, when discussing the term “Christology,” we are concentrating particularly on the nature and person of Jesus Christ in relation to Scripture –this is specifically referring to what “nature” and what “personhood” can be derived from canonical Gospels and the Pauline epistles. In this regard, “Christology” is, on one hand, seeking to understand the “nature” of Jesus Christ within the Godhead of the Trinity and, on the other hand, examining the Jesus Christ’s “person,” or personhood by way of the historical man. Here, what we have represented in Christological are two preoccupations: the divinity of Christ and the humanity and Jesus. This sort of distinction is essential, particularly if we are trying to articulate what “Christological” means –we do so, I believe, by trying to reconcile the humanity of Jesus with the divinity of Christ. These two understandings become important to the establishment of Christology during the early Church, where factions were involved in disputes over the nature and person of Jesus Christ. At the very heart of these questions was the human-divine dialectic of Jesus Christ. What arises from these questions is something like this: do we say that Jesus was full divine or fully human? In posing such a question, we are questioning the “nature” and “person” of Jesus Christ –we are wrestling with how we choose to understand what Jesus does, how Jesus does it, and why Jesus does what he does. We frame this, then, either from an awareness of what we think divinity is as the Divine, and what sense the humanity of Jesus relates with the Divine.

Now, the term “soteriology” involves a study of salvation. Perhaps, to put it a little more explicitly, I would argue that “soteriology” is based on a methodical understanding of what has salvific value and, then, how any such salvific value gives forth an existential salvific meaning. But, nevertheless, any examination into “soteriology” must first have some ideological grounding in a “Christological” claim about the nature and person of Jesus Christ –that is to say, firmly grounding a “soteriological” claim on an understanding of the “nature” and “person” of Jesus Christ. This is precisely why I would argue that “Soteriology” is inextricably linked to “Christology,” where any definition of the former must arrive out of a definition of the latter. Essentially, when we speak of salvation, we do so through speaking about how we think Jesus Christ functions Christologically. But, more importantly, we arrive at soteriological claims through Christological claims through situating our ideology of Jesus from “above” or “below.” To this end, it becomes possible to consider soteriology as one that can be “above” or “below,” where a “soteriological” claim can hail either from a position of “low soteriology” or “high soteriology.”


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