Easier Said Than Defined

A response to Robert A. Krieg

Robert Krieg emphasizes the distinction between a "Christology from above" and a "Christology from below." But it seems that making this distinction is misleading. As Krieg admits, any Christology that takes its cue from Chalcedon is bound, in some sense, to be both "high" and "low"-equally "emphatic" about the human and the divine in Christ. Hence it is odd to speak of Jacques Dupuis’s Christology as somehow unusual in combining "Christology from above" with "Christology from below"; and just as misleading (in this writer’s view) to dub Roger Haight’s as "solely" "Christology from below."

So if "emphasis on the humanity" is not, per se, the problem for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), what is? Let me suggest that three other issues are what are really at stake; and while Krieg touches on them all, it is perhaps useful to sharpen his focus.

1. Exclusivism. It is certainly the implicit claim of Chalcedon (a.d. 451) that the person of Christ is not merely quantitatively superior to other revelations from God, but-as the second person of the Trinity-qualitatively, exclusively, and finally so. From the CDF perspective one need not therefore go nearly as far as a "mere man" view of Jesus to be subject to critical attention; any Christology that appears to threaten this absolutist claim is suspect. Hence we see the resistance to the idea that "other" religions could have something to offer...

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About the Author

Sarah Coakley is the Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Professor of Divinity at Harvard University and an Anglican priest of the Diocese of Oxford. Her most recent book is Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy, and Gender (Blackwell).