Christmas, Christology, and Chalcedon

“The kingdom of the Christ-child gets to work when we stop, and pause, and look in wonder once more at the baby lying in the manger.”  N. T. Wright

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas.  I love this season.  If you were to hang around with the Hubbard family you would learn that we do all we can to get the full experience of the holidays.  We have a myriad of traditions that we love doing together.  From cutting down our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving to giving everyone in the fam pajamas as the first gift they open on Christmas Eve, pajamas we wear to bed and then all day on Christmas.  We really love Christmas.  I even like the Christian cliches…  “The reason for the season,” “Keep Christ in Christmas,” “Wise men still seek Him.”  The thing is that with all the trappings, tradition, and fun, the core of Christmas comes back to the Nativity and the baby laid in a manger.  It is such a cute and cuddly story, and almost everyone is drawn to it.  And during Christmas the Gospel is preached almost everywhere, even by people who do not intend do so, just by singing carols and showing Charlie Brown Christmas.  But of course, for many, at the same time they declare the wonder of the Gospel they also miss the wonder of the Gospel because they stop their amazement at the manger.  But Christmas beckons us to look deeper into the manger and see the identity of the Baby within.

The Christmas message is a glory-filled life-changing message, but only when the identity of Jesus becomes clear.  But we must be careful, because we can make two significant mistakes when examining Jesus.  First, we can embrace a view of Jesus that denies his full identity as the God-man, morphing him into a Jesus that makes him acceptable to the culture or that fits with our desire to be our own god.  Or we can lose our sense of awe and worship, holding a proper orthodoxy (correct view of Jesus) but failing to find our full hope and joy in Christ and placing our full faith in Him.  Either approach will end up with an insufficient Jesus.

During the third and fourth centuries the early church studied Scripture and addressed several heresies concerning the nature of Jesus.  This led to the Chalcedonian definition, which gives the clearest explanation of the theology of Jesus (aka- Christology) in the Bible.  This explanation of the identity of the baby in the manger has been embraced by Christianity of all strains since it was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD.  So, when we ask, who is this baby born on Christmas Day?, here is the answer.

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

Have a merry, Christ-centered Christmas.  And may we deeply know the true Jesus and worship Him fully.  Because this Jesus can transform our lives.

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