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Christ in Postmodern Perspective
Colin J. D. Greene of Seattle Pacific University has written an excellent book on Christology.
By Ed Knudson
Colin Greene has written a very helpful book on Christology. (Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking Out the Horizons (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003)) What he does is present how Christ has been understood within several major periods in church history: the cosmological Christ in the ancient period, the political Christ of medieval times, the anthropological Christ of the modern era, and then explores meanings of Christ in our own postmodern era.
For the latter he uses especially initial insights from the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman's book Postmodernism to focus on the cross and resurrection of Christ. No longer should grand metanarratives, especially that of the modernism, be allowed to get in the way of the central fact of what Jesus Christ means for us and the world now and for the future.
Greene subjects several contemporary theologians to critical review including Karl Barth, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Jurgen Moltmann. He is critical also of those in the Jesus Seminar who reduce Jesus to a social reformer and prefers the view of N.T. Wright with its emphasis on the kingdom of God and apocalyptic of Second Temple Judaism. "The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed and represented and the kingdom the early Christians knew was still imminent implies the interconnectivity of mysticism (a space, a clearing where God is present and his company can be enjoyed), metaphysics (a way of understanding the linkages between the nearness of the kingdom and the fragility of history) and politics (the praxis of kingdom living that undermines and subverts the domination systems of this present evil age). In all this, we must accept what we have been at pains to demonstrate throughout this study, namely, the dangerously unstable and potentially ideologically destructive nature of worldviews." (p. 365)
Those believing in a cosmological Christ were bewitched by neoplatonism, those in a political Christ were dominated by ecclesiastical worldly power, and those believing in an anthropological Christ were/are actually more committed to the Enlightenment/modernist project of individual human freedom and agency. Greene says that "The socio-political task of a contemporary Christology is to relate all notions of freedom to the eternal Lordship of the crucified and risen Christ and so dispense with the illusory metanarrative of human emancipation." (p.386)
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