What Difference Does Your Christology Really Make?

Polycarp was an early Christian who was converted under the ministry of the Apostle John.  He became the Pastor of the church the church in Smyrna which is in modern day Turkey.  It is also one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.  He was a very humble and loving man.  At age 86 he was still active and a leader.  A riot broke out in the city and like most mob justice, it spread like a prairie fire on rumor and rage.  The Christians, as usual were the target of this persecution.  Several were beaten and killed, then someone asked where was Pastor Polycarp. He tried to hide and wait it out, but was discovered by a child who reported him.  His arrestors took him to the Roman proconsul who offered him the oppotunity to save his pain and his life by simply denying Christ.  He refused.  “Eighty and six years have I served Him and He never did me any injury.  How then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” They bound the old saint to a stake, piled the wood high around him, lit it on fire, and sat back to watch him die.  The story is told that he sang and the flames that were supposed to extinguish his life merely rose up as a wall around him.  The proconsul angered by this ordered a soldier to pierce him with a spear. 

His last recorded prayer was as follows:  “I praise you for making me worthy to be received among the numer of the martyrs this day and this hour, so that I share in teh cup of Christ for the resurrection of my soul.”

When we approach the topic of Christology, it is important to consider that Christians are in a long red line of people who have considered Jesus Christ to be more than a man, more than a religious leader, more than a prophet.  They have considered Him to be the Son of God, in actual fact, God the Son.  Polycarp is only one of millions of Christians who have been willing to back up this precious belief with their blood. 

Another interesting thought is that these martyrs did not back up their belief by shedding blood, but by having their own blood shed by their accusers.  In most cases these martyrs prayed for their accusers following the example of Christ. 

I begin with this very old and very simple story to emphasize the importance of the subject of Christology.  Those of us who have the benefit of living in 21st centry America where our rights are constitutionally protected are among the most privileged in history.  We find it hard to relate to Christians living in the Roman Empire who had no Bill of Rights.  We find it hard to relate to Christians living around the world today in Muslim controlled or Communist controlled countries who have no Bill of Rights.

As a result, we tend to approach theological topics in a very laid back and academic way.  After all, no one is going to start a riot and burn us at the stake if we get a different answer than theirs, at least most.   So we have an attitude that seems to say, “You can believe what you want to and I will believe what I want to and it’s not worth debating.”  The early Christians did not have tha luxury.  They had to focus like a laser on theology.  Their theology, and especially their Christology, had to be spot on.  They had to be ready to give an answer. 

I believe that the 21st first century will be much like the 1st century.  More martyrs will be made and are being made.  Theology is becoming important again.  Christology is coming to the front of the discussion again.  Where people used to assume that most people believed in the deity of Christ in this country, now it is 50/50.  Maybe if they are polled secretly you might get a higher percentage, but Christians are not speaking up and perhaps it is because they have been out of the discussion for so long that they are uninformed. 

One goal of this blog is to get a discussion going about the nature of the person of Christ.  I am teaching a class on this subject right now and I will post my notes for my class and for anyone.  I hope they are helpful and enable Christians to articulate their faith in Christ clearly and accurately, and to have the firm and settled faith of Polycarp and the long red line of Christianity.

One Comment on “What Difference Does Your Christology Really Make?”

  1. Debbie Pulte Says:

    Fellow Christians,

    In my whole “church going” life, the topic of Christology has never come up in conversation or preaching, and I am a bit embarrased to say I had no idea it existed! I have never been challenged to examine who Christ is beyond His physical life here on earth. I have always believed He is the true Son of God, and part of the trinity, but I have never thought to examine it from the viewpoint of BEFORE Christ became man. WOW – has this been inspiring in my understanding of Him! I have pretty much focused on the New Testament my whole life since so many of Jesus’ wonderful teachings come from there. I never knew, or understood how the Old Testament tied in with all of that, and for the first time in my life I’m beginning to see that there is so much to it than I could have ever possibly imagined. Thank you, Pastor Kelly, for bringing this all to the forefront and for being such a tremendous teacher of His Word. I look forward to continuing to learn with the wonderful, warm, welcoming crowd of Wellspring Church!

    Many Blessings ~

    Debbie 🙂


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