An Unforgettable Life

Christianity arose out of a particular human life ending in a disturbing, terrible death—then, resurrection.

The meaning of Christianity is undecipherable without grasping the meaning of Christ’s life and death and living presence. “Christ is the central spot of the circle; and when viewed aright, all stories in Holy Scripture refer to Christ” (Luther, Serm. on John 3:14).

It is from Christ that Christianity derives its name, its mission, its identity, its purpose, its very life (Acts 11:26; John 15:1–5; Augustine, Hom. on the Epist. of John 1).

Christian Teaching Is Personally Grounded At the heart of Christianity is a relation to a person. It is not essentially an idea or institution. It is a personal relationship to Christ. He is the one to whom faith clings and in whom faith trusts.

“Being a Christian does not mean, first and foremost, believing in a message. It means believing in a person” (Gutiérrez, PPH: 130). Christian teaching hopes to show the way that leads to faith in this person.

The Christian community emerges and lives out of personal trust in this person (Chrysostom, Comm. on John 57). There is a discipline that attempts to understand this personal relationship. The discipline belongs both in the academic world and the worshiping community. It studies God, hence is called theology. One of its major forms, Christian theology, studies God as known in persons who live their lives in close relation to this person.

Any who wish to reflect seriously upon Christian worship and the Christian life will want to know as much as possible about this relation. Those who are distracted from this purpose signal that they have elected not to inquire into classic Christian teaching, whose central interest is this relation. Those who remain focused on this inquiry must then try to understand why this one person is so important in this community.

Christians know God as the One revealed in Jesus.

Other ideas in Christianity are measured in relation to that idea of God known in Jesus. The approach to that idea of God knowable only through the story of Jesus must begin with the study of Jesus himself.

Oden, Thomas C. (2009-07-23). Classic Christianity (p. 214). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


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