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Critical Thought Construction
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by by Schubert M. Ogden,
The Point of Christology (Cambridge:  Harper and Row, 1982, paperback 1991).

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Schubert Ogden was one of my professors at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, in the mid-1970s and 1980. The book is based on a series of lectures and articles.

Ogden demonstrates his incisive razor logic to provide insights and tightly argued reasoning about pitfalls and possibilities in dealing with the concepts of Christology in a modern age.

He deftly presents the logic that shows the limitations and logical problems of liberal, neo-orthodox and post-liberal theologies in dealing with the concepts of the Divinity of Christ.  He considers options of how each of these viewpoints might overcome some difficulties in dealing with the meaning, both practical and metaphysical, of God in the human life of Jesus, and its meaning for us.

He likewise points out the logical problems of classical (medieval) theology of Thomas Aquinas, based on pre-Christian Greek philosophical categories, commonly called "orthodox," though over 1000 years after the apostolic witness.  He points out the problems with the so-called historical Jesus, a goal defined from the post-Enlightenment concepts of objective history and scientific concepts of "facts."

This is a goal he explains as logically unavailable to us, since we have no direct contact with Jesus, except through the apostolic witness, in the New Testament texts.  He challenges us to return to the primal apostolic witness, reminding us that the purpose of the preaching, oral traditions and writings in the final New Testament form.

He defines Jesus not as the historical Jesus, a source for evaluating the apostolic witness, but the Jesus of the apostolic witness as the Primal Source of the revelation of God in human life.  He defines a difference between the empirical-historical data, erroneously sought by rationalist and scientistic investigators after the historical Jesus, and the existential-empirical data of the apostolic witness to Jesus.

The underlying point is that the apostles were not modern objective historians writing a history.  They were proclaimers preaching and writing a testimony of faith to their experience with and in Jesus.  This is the basis of a modern similar personal encounter, what we might call an existential experience, with God through Jesus.

The book is dedicated to another of my professors, John Deschner, a great friend and colleague of Ogden, with whom he dialogued (argued and sharpened ideas) live before the year-long Systematic Theology class every year, a very brave and authentic approach to theological training.

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First written and reviewed on Amazon 9 March 2006
Revised and posted on Thoughts and Resources 9 September 2006
Last edted 17 October 2019

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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