Most theologians believe that in the human life of Jesus of Nazareth, we encounter God. Yet how the divine and human come together in the life of Jesus still remains a question needing exploring. The Council of Chalcedon sought to answer the question by speaking of “one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in divinity and also perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly a human being.” But ever since Chalcedon, the theological conversation on Christology has implicitly put Christ’s divinity and humanity in competition. While ancient (and not-so-ancient) Christologies “from above” focus on Christ’s divinity at the expense of his humanity, modern Christologies “from below” subsume his divinity into his humanity. What is needed, says Ian A. McFarland, is a “Chalcedonianism without reserve,” which not only affirms the humanity and divinity of Christ but also treats them as equal in theological significance. To do so, he draws on the ancient christological language that points to Christ’s nature, on the one hand, and his hypostasis, or personhood, on the other. And with this, McFarland begins one of the most creative and groundbreaking theological explorations into the mystery of the incarnation undertaken in recent memory.
How to regard Christ Jesus as the God who saves? In this fine study, Ian McFarland offers a contemporary answer to this question by way of learned and hugely instructive pursuit of what he styles a ‘Chalcedonianism without reserve’. Refusing to cleave thinking about Christian from thinking about salvation and anchoring the doctrine of the person of Christ in a trinitarian account of creation, McFarland’s vibrant dogmatic argument for the continued viability of theological thinking in Chalcedonian tradition is a compelling and much needed intervention in contemporary Christological debates.
—Rev. Professor Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen
Ian McFarland’s The Word Made Flesh: A Theology of the Incarnation proposes “a Chalcedonianism without reserve” that develops the best of Orthodox, Catholic, and Reformation christological traditions in lively conversation with contemporary biblical scholars and theologians (as well as philosophers and natural scientists). McFarland’s book is a clear-headed, imaginatively written, bold rethinking of how Jesus Christ informs and upholds a clear distinction between Creator and creature, as one hypostasis in two natures whose resurrection, ascension, and return are less further episodes in Jesus’ humanity than God’s complete vindication of this crucified Lord—a humanity glimpsed in Scripture, baptism, and Eucharist, and most comprehensively our embodied logoi (as Maximus the Confessor puts it) participating in God’s logos become flesh. This is, in short, a veritable theological summa that will be central in future conversations and arguments about the Word made flesh.
—James J. Buckley, Professor Emeritus, Loyola University Maryland
McFarland’s theology has a rare combination of pellucidity and breathless excitement. Here, he makes a bold case for a Chalcedonian Christology that resolves key modern objections in a strong reading of the divine enhypostasis in the human person of Jesus. In this endeavor, he thinks alongside the whole arc of Christian thought, and challenges us to think alongside him.
—Judith Wolfe, Professor of Philosophical Theology, School of Divinity, St Mary's College, University of St Andrews
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