Gottfried Thomasius View Of Kenotic Christology Religion Essay


The apotheosis of Jesus Christ has been a accountable of absorption from the age-old decades of the accumulation of the Christian Church. It has not been afterwards its consecutive controversies. Several aboriginal councils were convened to abode the assorted issues apropos the Godhead and in particular, the actuality and attributes of Christ. Of these, the fourth abundant board of Chalcedon accustomed the ambit of the actuality and attributes of Christ in the accustomed view. [1] In an advance to bright the actuality and attributes of Christ, the German theologian Gottfried Thomasius appear a assignment amid 1853 and 1861 entitled: Christi Actuality und Werk (Christ’s Actuality and Work). [2] In this essay, Thomasius alleged absorption to the Greek chat kenosis begin in Philippians 2:7 in demonstrating his access of the elimination of Christ during the incarnation. Thomasius’ appearance of kenosis contributed appreciably to the absorption in the apotheosis advance of Christology. His assignment became the base for added studies into what is added frequently alleged Kenotic theology. This cardboard will advance to appearance that Thomasius’ appearance of kenosis is not absolutely constant with the blueprint of Chalcedon and did not abundantly accede with the accustomed advance of the incarnation.

Development of Analytical Theology

As the aboriginal abbey began to abound so did capricious opinions as men began to anticipate about the doctrines of scripture in a analytical way. “Was Jesus God? First-century Christians saw that the acknowledgment was not simple. Attributes is not simple, so why afresh should we apprehend the Creator of attributes be simple?” [3] 

Within the aboriginal four hundred years of Christianity there arose six aloft heresies and they all circuitous an aspect of the actuality of Christ. [4] Then, as now, there are doctrines, which men battle with and that still bisect themselves over. Alike today there are those who would say that some things are too circuitous to absolutely accept such as Robertson McQuilkin who said, “As we access the Bible absorbed on advertent all the accuracy God intends for us to understand, we should appraise our expectations and attitudes, as there are limitations on what is possible.” [5] 

Not withstanding, it is the obligation of every Christian to chase out the truths of God’s chat and to anxiously abstraction it in adjustment to body a competent arrangement of beliefs. With attention to the actuality and attributes of Christ, the words of Millard Erickson arena all the added accurate back he said, “All departures from the accustomed article of the actuality of Christ are artlessly variations of one of these [six] heresies. While we may accept adversity allegorical absolutely the agreeable of this doctrine, abounding allegiance to teaching of Scripture will anxiously abstain anniversary of these distortions.” [6] 

The Board of Chalcedon

The aboriginal councils of the Christian abbey were all-comprehensive gatherings of abbey leaders and advisers who were brought calm in adjustment to abode the issues that disconnected the abbey and accustomed to set alternating declarations that authentic the able compassionate of these arguable apostolic issues that had an appulse on the church. Anniversary of the abundant councils formulated assertive article about these issues of controversy, which afresh became the accustomed appearance of the Christian church.

Concerning the aboriginal abundant board of Nicea, Norman Geisler states, “The Nicene Canon (A.D. 325) states the compatible acceptance of all accustomed Christianity that Christ was absolutely God and absolutely Man. All heresies apropos Christ abjure one or the alternative of these.” [7] One of the absolute important issues to the Abbey was, and appropriately should accept been, a able compassionate of the actuality and attributes of Christ. In attention to the board of Chalcedon, which was convened in 451, J. H. Hall wrote:

“The assignment of Chalcedon can be accustomed alone in the ablaze of a alternation of Christological declarations alpha with the Board of Nicea (325). The Nicene Canon declared that Christ is of the aforementioned all-powerful actuality with the Father, adjoin Arius, who accomplished that Christ had a alpha and was alone of agnate substance. The Board of Constantinople (381) both ratified and aesthetic the Nicene Creed, in action to continuing Arianism, and declared adjoin Apollinarianism, which declared that Christ’s animal body had been replaced by the all-powerful Logos. Moreover, Constantinople declared that the Angelic Spirit accretion from the Ancestor and the Son.” [8] 

As questions connected to abound about the attributes of Christ in the incarnation, so did controversy. The above-mentioned councils accustomed the churches assessment with attention to the celestial of Christ that He is absolutely of the aforementioned actuality as the father.

Later questions arose with annual to the animal ancillary and all-powerful ancillary of the attributes of Christ. The Nestorian appearance captivated to a break of the two natures of Christ as adjoin to the Eutychian view, which theorized that Christ had alone one nature. [9] The Nestorian appearance was alone at the board of Ephesus but Eutychianism was afterwards embraced. Seeing the connected discord, Pope Leo I instigated Emperor Marcion to alarm a new board and it was absitively that it would be captivated in the burghal of Chalcedon.

The Board of Chalcedon accomplished three important things. J.H. Hall states, “First, it reaffirmed the Nicene tradition; second, it accustomed as accustomed the belletrist of Cyril and Leo; and third, it provided a analogue of the faith.” [10] Hall continues, “There existed two overarching concerns- aliment of the accordance of Christ’s actuality and enactment of the two natures of Christ.” [11] 

The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril of Jerusalem aspect a area of Epiphanius, Ancoratus, 118, c. AD 374, as actuality that which independent the Nicene canon which was apprehend and accustomed at Chalcedon. [12] What Chalcedon finer accomplished was ambience alternating assertive ambit about the attributes of Christ. That which is formulated to the compassionate of these two natures charge accordingly abatement aural these ambit in adjustment to abide orthodox.

In ambience these ambit of orthodoxy, assertive attributes charge be maintained. One of the best important issues involves immutability. The Analogue of Chalcedon abiding the connected immutability of Christ. The board acknowledgment was as follows:

“Therefore, afterward the angelic Fathers, we all with one accordance advise men to accede one and the aforementioned Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at already complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, absolutely God and absolutely man, consisting additionally of a reasonable body and body; of one actuality with the Ancestor as commendations his Godhead, and at the aforementioned time of one actuality with us as commendations his manhood; like us in all respects, afar from sin; as commendations his Godhead, begotten of the Ancestor afore the ages, but yet as commendations his adulthood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the aforementioned Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, accustomed in two natures, afterwards confusion, afterwards change, afterwards division, afterwards separation; the acumen of natures actuality in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of anniversary attributes actuality preserved and advancing calm to anatomy one actuality and subsistence, not as beggared or afar into two persons, but one and the aforementioned son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; alike as the prophets from age-old times batten of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself accomplished us, and the canon of the Fathers has handed bottomward to us.” [13] 

The Chalcedonian Canon provided the abbey with a annual that Christ absolutely bedevilled two audible natures, both a animal ancillary and all-powerful ancillary and that he existed in one actuality in an changeless way. [14] 

Gottfried Thomasius’s appearance of kenosis

In the aboriginal allotment of the 19th century, back Ferdinand Baur became assistant of canon at Germany’s Tubingen University, he [following in the footsteps of G.W.F. Hegel] began in ardent to advance the actual believability of the New Testament and in accurate the Gospel of John. [15] But afterwards a alternation of textual and archeological finds, Adolf von Harnack, who himself already sympathized with Baur, alone his assumptions advertence in 1897 that, “The assumptions of Baur’s school, one can about say, are now wholly abandoned.” [16] This battle sparked by the acceleration of avant-garde criticism produced abounding such debates and it serves to allegorize the apostolic altitude aural which Gottfried Thomasius and alternative German theologians wrote.

Gottfried Thomasius was a Lutheran theologian who in the mid-eighteen hundreds, attempted to advance an adequate Christology that could bear the criticism of his day. [17] In an advance to do so, he appear his Christi Actuality und Werk. David Law states,

“The aboriginal copy of Christi Actuality und Werk appeared amid 1853 and 1861. Because of the criticism collapsed at the aboriginal volumes of the aboriginal edition, Thomasius began revisions for the additional copy afore all three volumes of the aboriginal copy had appeared. The additional copy was appear amid 1856 and 1863. A third and abridged edition, edited afterwards Thomasius’s afterlife by F.J. Winter, was appear amid 1886 and 1888, but it is the additional copy that is admired as the complete and accurate annual of Thomasisu’s kenotic Christology.” [18] 

Subsequent publications showed Thomasius’s efforts to clarify on his angle of kenosis. David Law states, “In “Beitrag” Thomasius argued that the tensions aural Lutheran Christology could be bound alone by reformulating the article of the actuality of Christ in agreement of a self-limitation of the Logos”. [19] In aspect this self-limitation is the abstraction abaft Thomasius’s appearance of kenosis. Law gives a added authentic description of this abstraction stating,

“It was aloft all Thomasius’s addition to kenotic Christology that accustomed him as a aloft theologian. The noun “kenosis” and the adjective “kenotic” are acquired from the use of the appellation ekenosen in Phil. 2:7, area we apprehend of “Christ Jesus who, admitting he was in the anatomy of God, did not attention adequation with God as article to be exploited, but emptied himself [heauton ekenosen], demography the anatomy of a servant, actuality built-in in animal likeness.” On the base of the use of the appellation ekenosen in this text, “kenosis” has appear to be acclimated as autograph for a alternation of issues arising from the affirmation that Christ is both absolutely all-powerful and absolutely human. How can divinity and altruism coexist in the one, affiliated actuality of Christ afterwards abrasive the candor of either nature? “Kenotic christologies” are those christologies which advance to abode this botheration by arguing that Christ “emptied” himself of some aspect of his all-powerful attributes in adjustment to become a animal being.” [20] 

The angle of Christ elimination himself of some aspect of the all-powerful attributes in an act of self-limitation has austere acceptation and questions the immutability of God the Son.

This comes into absolute bucking with the annual of Chalcedon in several key areas.

First, Chalcedon accustomed that the apotheosis of Christ did not change, aftereffect or abate any attributes of celestial Christ had afore the incarnation. He is “without change…” [21] . Secondly, Chalcedon affirmed “the acumen of natures, actuality no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of anniversary nature, actuality preserved and advancing calm to anatomy one actuality and subsistence…”. [22] The accustomed appearance is that the apotheosis of Christ did not aggregate a accident of any aspect of his all-powerful nature, through the act of kenosis or any alternative such theory.

Kenotic Theology

“Although Thomasius’s access and that of kenotic Christology in accepted gave way in Germany in the 1880’s to Ritschlianism, kenotic Christology enjoyed a additional beginning in Britain…”. [23] In the years following, absorption would abate but afresh accidentally abound afresh as theologians already afresh reexamine the kenotic theory.

“In contempo years there has been a renewed absorption in kenotic Christology (see, for example, Evans, 2006). Any accepted advance to codify a articular and applicable kenotic Christology will charge to acknowledgment to Thomasius’s work, aloft all to his Christi Actuality und Werk.” [24] .

In Christian Canon Millard Erickson gives his analogue of kenoticism stating, “The additional Actuality of the Trinity laid abreast his audibly all-powerful attributes (omnipotence, omnipresence, etc.), and took on animal qualities instead.” [25] In this view, Jesus is not God and man simultaneously, but successively. Kenoticism implies that Jesus is both God and man, aloof not at the aforementioned time. [26] 

Others accept anticipation to advance the position of kenoticism in not such an abrogated way. Instead they absorb the abstraction into a added balmy anatomy of kenotic theology. In a analysis of Michael J. Gorman’s Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Anecdotal Soteriology, Timothy G. Gombis of Cedarville University states,

“In affiliate 1, Gorman develops Paul’s “master story” that demonstrates the kenotic appearance of Jesus Christ and reveals the actual appearance of God as kenotic. He focuses on Phil 2:5-11 and argues, based on a absolute allegorical analysis of the passage, that the arrangement “although [x] not [y] but [z]” reveals the anecdotal aisle of the kenosis of Jesus. By this, Gorman agency “although [status] not [selfishness] but [selflessness]” (p.16). Jesus Christ had cachet as God himself but did not accomplishment this, application it for his own abundance of claimed gain. Rather, he pursued several “progressively degrading” positions on a movement of “downward” mobility,” activity eventually to the about base afterlife on a cantankerous (pp. 16-17). For Gorman, this access is not appropriately accustomed to beggarly that Christ did this admitting the actuality that he was in the anatomy of God. Rather, Christ pursued this aisle because he was in the anatomy of God. In alternative words, and this is a acute point for Gorman, Christ’s actuality in the anatomy of God is best acutely apparent in his self-emptying and self-expenditure (p. 25). In this sense, the actual appearance of God is kenotic (self-emptying) and cruciform (cross-shaped).” [27] 

In this passage, the analyst (Gombis) addendum that the columnist (Gorman) thinks the kenotic passages are not acutely understood. Noting this misrepresentation, he suggests a able appearance of kenotic theology. Whether or not Gorman is accurate in his assumptions charcoal abstruse about it does allegorize the abreast accomplishment to redefine the implications inherent in kenotic theology.

Classical Theology

The added classical appearance of the actuality and attributes of Christ are theologies based added on the Chalcedonian blueprint and are abounding in the apostolic community. Some theologians accept attempted to abode the botheration of formulating an adequate compassionate of the animal and all-powerful attributes of Christ consistently befitting a alert eye aloft the ambit of the accustomed or Chalcedonian compassionate of the incarnation. From the abstruse of Robin Le Poidevin’s Appearance and the blended Christ: an Incarnational delemma, the columnist states,

“One way of compassionate the reduplicative blueprint ‘Christ is, qua God, omniscient, but qua man, bound in knowledge’ is to booty the occurrences of the ‘qua’ declamation as acrimonious out altered genitalia of Christ: a all-powerful allotment and a animal part. But this appearance of Christ as a blended actuality runs into absurdity back accumulated with the accustomed understanding, adopting a philosophically and theologically advancing perdurantist annual of chain through time, or abnegation altogether the abstraction of the blended Christ.” [28] 

Here the columnist credibility out a blueprint of Christology of the animal and all-powerful natures but at the aforementioned time, recognizes that it conflicts paradoxically with the Chalcedonian ambit of the incarnation. In this respect, abounding theologians still appearance acquiescence to and admit the accent of the Chalcedonian councils absolute statement.

The Chalcedonian ambit accept been a basal in allegorical apostolic anticipation for centuries. George P. Pardington, who was a well-esteemed assistant of canon amid the Christian Alliance, makes this clear. In his canon album Outline Studies in Christian Doctrine, He deals with passages in Philippians 2:6,7 and alternative verses that appearance the attributes of the preexistence of Christ and the incarnations, stating,

“These and alternative phrases accurate ineffable relationships aural the Godhead, which we cannot comprehend. On Phil. 2:6 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says: “Form (Greek, morphe) is that by which a actuality or affair strikes the vision, the alien appearance”. There is annihilation in this passage, which teaches that the Eternal Chat (John 1:1) emptied Himself of either His all-powerful attributes of His attributes, but alone of the apparent arresting appearance of the Godhead. “He emptied, bare Himself, of the badge of Majesty” (Lightfoot). “When break demanded, He acclimatized His all-powerful attributes” (Moorehead). [29] 

Pardington’s appearance of the kenotic passages in no way contradicts the Chalcedonian ambit back Christ did not accord up any of his all-powerful attributes or attributes.

Contemporary Debate

Roger Olsen has acclaimed that the differing opinions amid evangelicals. He states,

“Kenotic Christology-emphasizing the charge to booty with absolute calmness Jesus’ accurate humanity, including bound consciousness- has fabricated cogent appropriate amid evangelicals, while alternative evangelical theologians accept resisted and criticized it.” [30] Olsen continues to alarm what he characterizes as a actual acrimonious agitation amid added accelerating and bourgeois Evangelicals stating, “As afresh as the mid-1990’s agnosticism accuse were befuddled by bourgeois evangelicals at added abstinent and accelerating ones who dared to use the kenotic burden in autograph about the incarnation.” [31] 

Theologians who acknowledge the Chalcedon blueprint would be Bernard Ramm and Carl Henry. [32] Examples of some who are added abrupt adjoin kenoticism would be Thomas V, Morris, Donald Bloesch, Millard Erickson and Stanley Grenz. [33] While Grenz is somewhat analytical of kenotic theology, he about does not accept the acceptable Chalcedon blueprint either. [34] Olsen states,

“Two evangelical theologians who accept attempted to advance the frontiers of Christology are Clark Pinnock and Stanley Grenz. Both assert that Jesus Christ is absolutely God and absolutely human, but they are annoyed with the classical announcement of that acceptance in Chalcedonian Christology (hypostatic union). They are not so abundant absorbed in abnegation it as in addition it with new and added accessible anticipation forms. Bodies today, they argue, are not as acquainted as age-old bodies were to the actuality ontologies of Greek metaphysics, and the times alarm for a new announcement of the article of Jesus Christ’s altruism and divinity.” [35] 

While the purpose of this cardboard is not to appraisal the assorted forms of Christology consort by abounding theologians amid the ranks of evangelicals (and they are many), it is about anxious with the classical Chalcedonian blueprint of the incarnation, and whether or not kenotic canon adheres to it and why this is important.

While there are those who acerb abutment the Chalcedonian formula, there are others who feel that it is flawed. Roger Olsen addendum that both Clark Pinnock and Stanley Grenz are “dissatisfied with the classical announcement of that acceptance in Chalcedonian Christology (hypostatic union).” [36] He already afresh credibility to the assignment of Stanley Grenz to allegorize this stating,

“Grenz argues in Canon for the Association of God (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000) that classical Incarnational Christology avalanche abbreviate biblically and logically and revises it application the eschatological aesthetics (the approaching as the locus of being) of German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg. According to Grenz, Jesus Christ is the Logos, who is not to be anticipation of as preexisting and afresh “descending” into animal history but as absolute God and accordingly acceptance to the aeon of God by advantage of his resurrection.” [37] [Emphasis is Olsen’s].

Olsen continues with his appraisal of Grenz assuming how it is at about-face with classical Christology. This is area the agitation becomes accordant to this analysis with annual to the Chalcedonian formula. Olsen states,

“The capital aberration amid this Christology and classical Christology [Chalcedonian] lies in its abnegation of a logos asarkos – aerial or preincarnate Logos or Son of God. For Grenz, Jesus Christ is the Logos, the additional actuality of the Trinity. Whatever tensions or problems may abide in Pinnock’s and Grenz’s Christology, they are not so abundant revisions of the hypostatic abutment as restatements of the basal Christological eyes in new terms.” [38] 

The desert of the basal tenants of the Chalcedonian blueprint present some acute difficulties, decidedly in ablaze of the article of the Preexistence of Christ which was affirmed at Chalcedon.

One of the issues in attention to the attributes of Christ apropos his Consciousness. Back did Christ appear to the ability of who he was? Theologians like Myer Pearlman were added agreeable to leave this catechism accessible stating, “Just absolutely back and how this backwardness came charge abide a abstruseness to us. Back we anticipate of God advancing to us in the anatomy of a man we charge reverently exclaim, Abundant is the abstruseness of godliness!” [39] Erickson would say, “There were aural his actuality ambit of experience, ability and adulation not begin in animal beings.” We charge admit that in ambidextrous with Christ, he was added than aloof a man. He had and maintained all the qualities of a all-powerful attributes and a blameless animal attributes as well. [40] 

Another important affair that charge be addressed is that the hypostatic abutment is abiding and everlasting. What Christ became in the apotheosis is what he shall abide always (Heb 2:17, 7:24). [41] This is a botheration for the kenotic appearance of Christ back that in the kenotic view, according to Erickson. [42] Jesus is both God and man, aloof not at the aforementioned time. This would betoken a accomplishing abroad with what Jesus became in the apotheosis afterwards his ascent and glorification.


The catechism that this analysis is anxious with may be answered by adage that Gottfried Thomasius’s aboriginal appearance of kenosis is not absolutely constant with the blueprint of Chalcedon and did not abundantly accede with the accustomed advance of the incarnation.


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Erickson, Millard J., Christian Canon Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998.

Geisler, Norman L. Back Skeptics Ask: a handbook on Christian Evidences Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing, 2008.

Gombis, Timothy G. in analysis of Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Anecdotal Soteriology, Journal of the Evangelical Apostolic Society Vol. 52, Is. 4 2009, p. 866.

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Hall, J.H., “Chalcedon, Board of (451),” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

Law, David R. Gottfried Thomasius (1802-1875) in The Blackwell Companion to the Theologians Volume 2, ed. Ian S. Markham Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2009.

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McQuilkin, Robertson. Compassionate and Applying the Bible Chicago: Moody Press, 1992.

Mitchell, Daniel R. “The Accordance of the Actuality of Christ,” Class lecture, Liberty Baptist Apostolic Seminary, April 15, 2010.

Olsen, Roger E. The Westminster handbook to Evangelical Canon Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

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