Human & Divine

Did Jesus Have Faith?

Just over a year ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a notification concerning certain elements in the theological works of the Salvadoran priest, Jon Sobrino, SJ. The substance of the complaints centered on Christology: the congregation found Sobrino’s teaching inadequate regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, the self-consciousness of Jesus, and the salvific value of Jesus’ death.

Christology is not a trivial issue. Getting Jesus right is at the heart of Christian identity. But both the substance and the style of the congregation’s composition reveal a troubling tension in contemporary Catholic theology. On one side are those, like Sobrino, whose thought is forged with explicit attention to specific cultural contexts and who claim their teaching about Jesus is faithful to Scripture; on the other side are the ecclesiastical officers who also claim to interpret Jesus faithfully vis-à-vis Scripture, within the framework of the doctrinal tradition of the great councils and the popes.

It is not troubling that there should be criticism and response among theologians, or question and answer between theological teachers and representatives of the church’s magisterium. Such exchanges are part of the healthy functioning of the body of Christ, in which the different gifts are exercised as the Spirit...

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About the Author

Luke Timothy Johnson, a frequent contributor, is the R.W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Two of his most recent books are Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity (Yale) and Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church (Eerdmans).