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The Forgotten Christ: Exploring the majesty and mystery of God incarnate

By Stephen Clark
May 2008 | Review by Dan Peters

Synopsis

Few things are more essential to the health of the church than clear understanding of the Bible's teaching concerning the person of Jesus Christ. Doctrine informs devotion, and this, in turn, motivates discipleship. Neglect or misunderstanding of Christology will inevitably weaken Christian character and conduct.

  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844742103
  • Pages: 256
  • Price: £14.99
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Book Review

The six essays in this book were originally papers prepared for the 2007 Affinity Theological Study Conference. Although never explained in the book, the main title presumably refers to the effects of liberal, modern scholarship – the way in which the divine, incarnate Christ of the Bible has largely been jettisoned as a mythical irrelevance.

The authors of these papers, by contrast, are evangelical scholars whose high view of the Saviour is evident throughout.

The essays cover a wide range of topics, and most of the key areas of Christology are touched upon. The reality of Christ’s two natures is a prominent theme in Philip Eveson’s study; his sufferings are dealt with by Paul Wells; his present heavenly ministry by Matthew Sleeman; and his relationship to the Holy Spirit by Richard B. Gaffin Jr. There is also a more historical paper by A. T. B. McGowan and a very narrowly focused exegetical contribution from Greg Beale.

As with most compilations of essays by different authors, the book is uneven in quality. The contributions by Wells and Sleeman both labour much to say little. The former also features some worryingly careless language in relation to Christ’s two natures – like ‘the deity of Christ held back from his humanity in the dereliction’, and, ‘his humanity suffered and died’.

This contrasts markedly with Philip Eveson’s reverent precision in a heart-warming examination of Christ’s psychological life. He reminds us of how fully our Saviour relates to our struggles.

Readers will also profit from McGowan’s work. He keeps us from losing the wood for the trees by recalling the very heart of the incarnation – the Son became man in order to be the last Adam, a new representative head in place of the first one. And this particular role of Christ is there too in the book’s most outstanding essay, Richard Gaffin’s study of 1 Corinthians 15:45-49. It is not a light read, but if you are prepared to get to grips with it you will gain new insights from this masterly piece of exegesis.

This book is not for the new Christian delving into Christology for the first time. It is for more advanced readers and, overall, those in that category will find it a worthwhile read.

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