"Who do you say that I am?"
This is the question that Christians down through the centuries have tried to answer.
There are various ways in answering the question of who he is:
- We can reflect on what the Scriptures say about Jesus
- We can analyze his titles
- We can reflect on the dogmatic definitions of the Councils in the past
- We can examine the various images of Jesus in our tradition and culture
- We can reflect on his story
- We can reflect on our own story and experiences
There have been debates in how to go about doing Christology: from above or from below? A descending Christology or an ascending Christology? The Jesus of History or the Christ of faith?
Much of the writings on Christology, especially those coming from the West, tend to be abstract and divorced from the concrete situation and experience of Christians.
Some of these are one-sided. In the past, theologians focused on trying to explain what the dogmatic definition about Jesus as true God and true man really mean and what the hypostatic union is all about.
Many are pre-occupied with the historical question: did Jesus really do this? did he really say that? Did this really happen to him? Thus, Christology end up with the study of a figure in the past without addressing the question of Christ's continuing presence in the Christian community and the lives of ordinary Christians.
These approaches have been influenced by the cultural context of the theologians and their audience.
In a culture where people are highly philosophical and speculative, an abstract Christology about the hypostatic union will emerge.
In a culture where the people are rational-scientific and who tend to doubt everything, a culture that is becoming de-christianized or post-christian ,a historical-critical approach may be necessary.
But what about a people who are mostly poor, who have deep faith in Christ, who are more intuitutive, who have the sense of the miraculous, who are fond of images, who love to listen to stories and who like to sing, what kind of Christology is appropriate for them?
I believe that for Christology to become more meaningful and relevant, it has to become more local, more contextual and inculturated.
Who do you say that I am?
The answer must come from Filipinos and for Filipinos.
The Filipino way of answering this question will not be abstract or systematic.
It will have to be a narrative Christology. We must tell and re-tell the story of Jesus and reflect on this story.
We will know and understand Jesus more deeply not by just analyzing his image or titles but by listening to his story.
Christology is therefore, a narration of and reflection on the story of Jesus in the light of our faith, in the context of our concrete situation and our culture, and in relation to our own stories.