I was told that I should read a challenging book ever so often to keep me humble and make me a better reader and student of God. God The Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen J. Wellum was one such challenging book for me! As a lay minister, I had not yet been exposed to a seminary-level treatment of Christology (though I took a VERY liberal Christology class in college!). Though, I was not prepared for the in-depth treatment of the doctrine of Christ presented by Wellum, I was extremely blessed through reading this book. The more I read about the various factors that influenced the development of a biblical Christology, the more I came to realize how vital a work like God The Son Incarnate is for the Church in the post-truth days of postmodernism that we live in today. Wellum’s Christology is a thorough, excellent, and orthodox treatment of Christology that is committed to high scholarship and biblical faithfulness.
To be completely honest, God Is The Son Incarnate is not for the faint of heart! This book is very scholarly and packed with terminology that would probably only be familiar with those steeped in Christological language or systematic theology. Wellum provides readers with very thorough and understandable definitions of terms such as: ahypostasia, enhypostasia, perichoresis, etc. He spends much time explaining the meanings of nature, persons, homoousia, etc. while showing readers how nuances in defining those words can result in heresy or heterodoxy at the bare minimum. Wellum also discusses how vagueness can impact future understanding of Christological statements such as the one laid out in Chalcedon. A basic understanding of these terms and concepts is essential to glean the benefits from God The Son Incarnate, and it will be well worth the digging once the reader gets to the gold.
Wellum began the book by providing the epistemological warrants for Christology today. In essence, Wellum lays out the post-Reformation impacts of how thinkers perceive truth and whether we can even arrive at the truth at all. He shows that views of truth were negatively shaped by The Enlightenment, Modernism, and Post-Modernism, and are not effective for giving the Church a biblically faithful Christology. He then presents a case for biblical authority and gives readers a biblical warrant for Christology today. This section was excellent in presenting biblical truths on Christology which are often taken for granted or assumed by modern orthodox evangelical Christians and Church leaders. My favorite section of the book was the ecclesiological warrant for a Christology today because it allowed me to see the development of orthodox Christology from the days of the Church Fathers through today. This laid the groundwork for his final section on a warranted Christology for today. He spent much time presenting the Kenotic views of Christology, showing where they departed from Chalcedonian orthodoxy and describing a necessary return to orthodoxy in light of the arguments posed by both Kenotic and secular Christologies.
After laying out such a strong, complex, orthodox Christology, Wellum reminded readers that Christology is not primarily about mere head knowledge. He said, “Ultimately our Christological reflections must not lead to idle speculation and curiosity; they must lead to our lives being given to him in complete faith, trust, obedience, and worship.” This is why I recommend God The Son Incarnate for serious students of theology and scripture. Though the average church member may not find this book appealing or enjoyable, every Christian is shaped by their view of Christ and must have a biblically faithful Christology. Pastors and church leaders would be wise to read and allow these truths to permeate their hearts, draw them to a deeper faith in Christ, and shape their teaching of God the Son incarnate as they preach and make disciples in their homes and ministries.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.