Category Archives: Christology

No need for a Protestant Giussani today: a brief response to Archie Spencer

Worshipping, preaching and witnessing Jesus Christ as the unique and only Savior of the world is a complicated issue for some Christians today.

A good refresher course in the study of Christ as Savior and Redeemer would be situated in the CDF document¬†Dominus Iesus (2000), or something more substantive as Jesuit Father Edward Oakes’ recent book, Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology (Eerdmans, 2011). There are other books to recommend but I am not writing to make those suggestions.

Archie Spencer,ThD, an Evangelical Christian theologian wrote a piece titled: “We stand in need of Protestant Giussani today.” Dr Spencer is a competent theologian with interests in a wide variety of reformed and evangelical matters including Christology. He teaches Systematic Theology at Northwest Baptist Seminary (Canada). In fact, he’s interested in the Christological controversies Christianity faced in the first three centuries of salvation history, particularly the Alexandrian type. Spencer is also versed in the method of Communion and Liberation and its founder, Father Luigi Giussani. ¬†In my opinion, Spencer wrote a well thought-out essay (noted above); Catholics and mainline Protestants ought to read Spencer’s article (and then re-read it) for he clarifies the key point of what it means to be saved by Jesus Christ. He, however, opens a can worms that many in the Protestant world find difficult to preach today: Truth is objective, personal, merciful and exclusive.

It can be argued that orthodox Catholics converge with the Evangelicals in ways (e.g., Christology) many mainline Protestants do not today. I appreciate much of what he proposes: Jesus Christ is either the center of my life, or He’s not; either Christ is my only Savior, or He’s not. Right-believing, right-worshipping and right-living Christians can’t utilize other methods for Christian life. BUT Dr Spencer doesn’t complete the case.

Respectfully, I note two glaringly missing points in Spencer’s article: (1) Christians can’t be satisfied with the separation of the Body of Christ (the Church) with various ecclesial communities; the divisions among Christians is a scandal for those baptized in Jesus Christ. The other matter missing (2) is the issue of right-worship –the sacred Liturgy and sacraments administered by a valid priesthood is the only realistic way to make Christ known, lived and proposed to the world. Protestant worship is missing some very essential matters of right belief. The lex orandi tradition is very limited in Evangelical, Lutheran and Anglican (Protestant) worship.

Hence, I would never be able to support the idea that Christians in other ecclesial communities need a “new” Giussani without wrestling in a more direct way with the fact that unity among Christians and a proper, that is, faithful worship are non-negotiables and that we can’t be satisfied with the religious status quo. To love Luigi Giussani and his Christocentricism is to be catholic and to live the Catholic faith. Christians, including Catholics and Orthodox have Luigi Giussani pointing the way, and exhorting us to live under the banner of Jesus Christ in a Church that lives properly the faith handed down to us from Apostolic times. I doubt that Giussani would say that it is a good thing to keep the divisions in Christianity alive and to worship without the Eucharist and the other sacraments as a reasonable proposal. Giussani always points in an uncompromising way to the fullness of truth as lived in the Roman Church (even to the point of accepting the Church of the millennium).

It is theologically and humanly incoherent to believe otherwise.

When you meet Christ, you accept his history

Father Sergius Bulgakov expressed himself very adequately when he said: “He who has once met Christ, His Savior, on his own personal path, and has felt His Divinity, has, in that very moment, accepted all fundamental Christian dogmas — Virgin Birth, incarnation, Second Glorious Advent, the Coming of the Comforter, the Holy Trinity. To this I want to add: Or else he has not yet met Christ, or, at any rate, has not recognized him.”

— Father Georges Florovsky in The Work of the Holy Spirit in Revelation

Jesus is the true vine



Jesus the true vine.jpg

Saint John’s gospel uses the agricultural image of vine and a vine dresser to express a relationship that is unique. Quite singular when you think that neither the Jews nor the Muslims would admit in terms of intimacy between the Creator and creature, Father and Son, God and me. So, why is Christ called the ‘true vine‘ and why are we his ‘branches’?  The short answer is because it is our Christian belief, our Christology, that God is waiting for humanity to bear fruit, sin notwithstanding.  The Incarnation, and the proclamation of  the Good News tells us of the wine of love, obedience and prayer with the goal of uniting God and humanity in a truer way.

That we are expected to “bear much fruit
and to rely on the Lord for all things there is a hope that we
remain in Him and  that His “words remain in you
“. There is a dependence on God in a radical manner that is unheard of in most of relationships. To remain, to abide, to stay close to Jesus is the key of the spiritual life. Not to remain in Christ is reject the offer of Grace. The question of what it means to remain in Christ is given by the second reading: keep the commandments, of both Testaments of sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church. Concretely, we are nourished by Christ Himself in the sacraments of the Church, notably in the Holy Eucharist.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Exaltation of the Cross Pdella Francesca.jpg

Consummatum est. It is completed — it has come to a full end. The mystery of God’s love toward us is accomplished. The price is paid, and we are redeemed. The Eternal Father determined not to pardon us without a price, in order to show us especial favor. He condescended to make us valuable to Him. What we buy we put a value on. He might have saved us without a price –by the mere fiat of His will. But to show His love for us He took a price, which, if there was to be a price set upon us at all, if there was any ransom at all to be taken for the guilt of our sins, could be nothing short of the death of His Son in our nature. O my God and Father, Thou hast valued us so much as to pay the highest of all possible prices for our sinful souls– and shall we not love and choose Thee above all things as the one necessary and one only good?


Blessed John Henry Newman

Meditation on the 12th Station

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Son of Man must be lifted up…
“The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which, the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing in advance His second coming” (Roman Martyrology)

Thumbnail image for cross tree.jpg

Today is a most glorious feast, one in which no Christian can ignore and claim to be a faithful follower of the Word made Flesh, the Savior of the world. It is only by and through the cross is life given and death killed. Nevertheless, this way of following was difficult for the Twelve, the Apostles, the disciples, indeed, all peoples who were attracted to Jesus and his call Life: the cross is a non-negotiable in following the path Christ has set for us. In time Christians would accept the cross as the Tree of Life, a triumph over death.
Sometime between AD 148-155 Saint Justin Martyr speaks of the cross as the standard symbol of Christians (First Apology 55-60) and by AD 211 we know that Tertullian told his students that Christians rarely do anything of substance without making the sign of the cross (De Corona 3:2) thus making the sign of the cross is a ancient symbol of blessing and one which grasps our hearts and minds and clearly identifies to Whom we belong.
We adore you O Christ, and praise you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Let us lift up our voices high;

With radiant faces let us cry:
Christ, through your cross you made death die!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Joy to you, Cross of Christ the Lord,
Throne of our God be all adored:
Endless the songs your saints afford.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
O holy Cross, life-giving Tree
Through which the Church has victory:
By you, our Lord has set us free.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Praise to the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three-in-One
From ransomed souls Christ’s blood has won.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, WLP
888 with Alleluias; GELOBT SEI GOTT

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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