God Incarnate // Oliver D. Crisp

I’ve grown to appreciate analytic theology, especially in the hands of someone like Oliver D. Crisp. Or, perhaps, I like God Incarnate just because it is a volume of Christological topics — and I very much like Christology. Either way, Crisp sharpens his analytic clarity (and charity) to explore, refute, and defend various Christological positions.  Crisp’s Christological standard, so to speak, is classical orthodoxy — as defined in the great symbol of Chalcedon (451 AD). In addition, Crisp is very Reformed (though, at times, a little “Deviant”), and he knows that. 

Few chapters stood out more than others: “The ‘Fittingness’ of the Virgin Birth,” “Christ and the Embryo,” and “Materialist Christology.” A couple reasons why I liked these in particular: (1) Despite being pegged as “logical positivists,” some analytic theologians, like Crisp, would use ‘fittingness’ language to push one position as better than another. For example, in the case of “The ‘Fittingness’ of the Virgin Birth,” Crisp affirms that the virgin birth is not a theological necessity (i.e., Christ did not have to be born this way), but that it was more fitting of the Christ to born of a virgin (cf. Anselm of Canterbury). (2) Any kind of theology can be esoteric, and that’s what I first thought of “Christ and Embryo,” but I quickly found this chapter to be one of the most fascinating Christological contributions to bio-ethics. (3) Sometimes, analytic theology exposes certain positions as half-baked thoughts — which can become problems. “Materialist Christology” takes various human constitutions to task: how one thinks about souls in humans affects how one thinks about Christ’s person, and vice versa. Finally, (4) Crisp is conscientious about not saying things like “this is the only way of seeing things.” Indeed, all he offers is just one way — of a Reformed bend — to defend traditional Christological positions. There is room in analytic theology, it seems, for various kinds arguments for various kinds of positions. 

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