Matthew 22:37

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind..." Matthew 22:37

Monday, 24 September 2012

...On the Logos Christology of the Early Church (John 1:1-18) - Part 1

What is Logo Christology?

This was an early Christian understanding of the terminology John used in the opening of his Gospel, where he writes "In the beginning was the word or Greek logos".  In Greek philosophy the Logos was thought to be intelligent communication, and sometimes divine attributes were assumed for this Logos.

How did this become a part of Christian thought?

John was a contemporary of a Jewish philosopher by the name of Philo who lived between 20BCE - 50BC.  Philo was a Hellenistic Jew and was well taught in the Greek philosophical tradition, he ascribed the Logos to Jewish scripture though he wasn't the first to do so, and some debate is made as to whether or not this wasn't a Jewish idea at the very beginning (so that Plato may have borrowed from Jewish scripture), but for our purposes we'll assume Philo's role in introducing this thought during this time period.  John used a philosophical notion, but even in its use he gave it a deeper meaning than anyone who used it before him.  In the Logos becoming flesh and dwelling among us, and revealing to us the glory of God, we see the love, compassion, and grace of God.  Though he is over all created things, visible and invisible he shows us how much he loves us by personally coming into the world to die for our sins, so the things we don't deserve are given in abundance, things such as new life, solid hope, and the promise of eternity.

Logos Christology and the Trinity

The early church, as it grew, developed doctrines and teachings to help its members understand the major beliefs, one in particular stood out.  The Church knew that Jesus was God, yet they knew he was distinct from the Father, so the question was how Jesus can be God and the Father be God and there not be two Gods deserving of worship.

Enter the early apologists (apologia is a Greek word meaning "in defense of"), men like Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Athangoras and later Origin; they were 2nd -3rd century theologians, who laid the foundation for what we call the doctrine of the Trinity.  Tertullian was actually the one who coined the Latin word Trinitas, where we get Trinity.  It is safe to say that these men did not formulate the doctrine to what it is today, but they were instrumental in establishing much of the ground work.

Remember that it was always the divinity of Christ that was held in question, not by the Church but by those who stood opposed to the church.  This has always been attacked by heretics, and I think, will always be attacked, as scripture itself teaches;

["evil men and women, who are imposters will continue from bad to worse, leading people away from the faith and being deceived themselves, knowing this you should continue in the things you were taught and strive to be even more convinced, considering also those who have been your teachers.] 2Timothy 3:13-14 (paraphrased)

Calling Jesus Divine
When John put pen to paper and began to write this Gospel, we can see the very nature of the book from the outset.  He says "in the beginning" which is a reworking of the Genesis use of "in the beginning" (Genesis 1:1), yet we see what wasn't clearly seen before; Christ's eternality, in that he was already God at "the beginning", he was not made a god or created before 'creation' (which is a heresy we'll look at later).  When John uses beginning its for our clarity, we being finite know of beginnings and ending, A to Z, but God in his infinity, is not bound by time as we are, and so for our clarity; "In the beginning the Logos already was".  Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, except Tertullians theology was in deep conflict with the Logos Christology, as well as the Cappadocian fathers' formula, and the current creeds as well.

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