The past few books on Christology I’ve read all mentioned something to the effect of emphasizing a Spirit-Christology rather than emphasizing a two-natures (what might be called Chalcedonian Christology). Spirit Christology recognizes and emphasizes the Holy Spirit’s work in Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, passion, resurrection, exaltation. Chalcedonian Christology (articulating Jesus as fully human, fully divine) may focus on communicatio idiomatum–how the human and divine attributes function in the span of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection, exaltation.
Those articulating a Spirit-Christology would not want to abolish categories related to Chalcedonian Christology. The authors would suggest that Spirit-Christology allows for Jesus to be connected with the tradition of the prophets, and perhaps is more holistic than Chalcedonian-Christology.
Both Chalcedonian Christology and Spirit-Christology have scriptural support. For the advocates of emphasizing Spirit-Christology, they see Chalcedonian Christology as focusing arguments on the natures of Jesus that could (though unintentionally) lead to harm. An example would be if only Jesus’ humanity suffers on the cross, does God really identify with humanity? How could Jesus be fully incarnate if he did not experience the suffering in both his divinity and his humanity?
What I’ve found interesting about those advocating for an emphasis on Spirit-Christology is the disparate persons who advocate for it:
- Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, a feminist New Testament scholar, who articulates Jesus as the prophet of Sophia (Wisdom, often thought of as the Holy Spirit in Proverbs.)
- Marcus Borg, who sees Jesus as following the Spirit resonant in his work on the historical Jesus. (Interestingly, Schüssler Fiorenza criticizes the historical Jesus movement because of its lack of consideration of how its own paradigms include biases supported by patriarchal (she uses “kyriarchial”) frameworks. I read these works back to back, which was fun.)
- Sammy Alfaro claims that a Spirit-Christology can help Hispanic Pentecostals articulate a Christology reflective of their context. He views Jesus as the Divino Compañero, who accompanies Hispanics in their struggles. He turns toward Hispanic Pentecostal hymns for support, perceiving a pneumatic Christology in them.
- Jürgen Moltmann suggests an eschatological Christology can include the Spirit and hold that together with the two-natures Christology. Jesus’ ministry is inaugurated at baptism with the sending of the Spirit, and Jesus relies upon the Spirit throughout his life and work. With Moltmann, pneumatology and Christology are always interconnected with one another.
For my own work (humility and pneumatology), it seems that discussions on humility are situated within the context of Christology, and particularly kenosis (Phil. 2:5-11). An emphasis on Spirit-Christology could allow me a way to speak of humility within the loci of pneumatology, and hopefully look beyond the kenosis hymn and the crucifixion for traces of humility the doesn’t equal humiliation.
Of course, my own ideas on this are rough, but that’s a part of this process, right?