How to Read Christology and Still Keep Your Faith

Supper at Emmaus, Bartolomeo Cavarozzi (1615-1625).

“Christology” is everywhere. That is, if we take its basic etymology and understand it simply as “speech concerning Christ.” People can utter his name flippantly, even blasphemously. Popular films and novels can be “christological.” And there are many serious books about Jesus, written for a mainstream, theologically-minded audience. As Gerhard Lohfink states in the preface of his Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was (2012): “There are innumerable books about Jesus. The reason is obvious: we can never finish with him, and every age must encounter him anew.”1 Lohfink says that, while some of these books on Jesus are very good, others are “very bad,” and the reason is that “they are far from understanding that the real ‘historical Jesus’ cannot be grasped independently of faith in him.”2 Here we can see three things: a judgment that some christological books can be “very bad,” the possibility of knowing and understanding the “real, ‘historical Jesus,’” and faith as one of the necessary criteria for interpreting him correctly.

Christology is also not immune to theological fashion. It is trendy. Theologians down the centuries, except for the few who are utterly “unworldly” and even saintly, compose their accounts of Christ not only to serve the truth, to enlighten believers, and to convince the skeptics; some also write Christologies to make a name for themselves, “to win a place in the biblical sun.”3

There are christological writings from various perspectives and contexts: liberationist, feminist, political, ecological, cultural, and so forth. Teilhard de Chardin’s “cosmic Christ” continues to appeal to certain readers. And if it could be argued that Christologies “from above” served well an earlier epoch when Christ’s divinity, robustly upheld, was gratefully received by believers, it is now asserted that such an approach fails to speak to a contemporary world that, on the one hand, has grown skeptical of the supernatural, and, on the other hand, sorely needs a human and humanizing Jesus. Lohfink writes:

So we see Jesus as an opium for the soul and as a political revolutionary. Here, he is the archetype of the unconscious, there a pop star. He appears as the first feminist and as the faithful advocate of bourgeois morality. Jesus is used by those who want to see nothing change in the Church, and he is used as a weapon against the Church. He is instrumentalized over and over again to confirm people’s own desires and dreams. At present, he must, above all, stand for the legitimation of universal tolerance, which is no longer interested in truth and, therefore, threatens to slide off into arbitrariness.4

So are there “many Christs”? Not at all. But the array of christological writings, each presenting an “interpretation” of Christ, can be bewildering. This essay addresses itself to Christians who are interested in reading Christology. More specifically, I write for those who wish to read and learn (and indeed there is much to learn) while keeping their creedal faith intact. I wish to help them to navigate the expansive terrain, the sheer scope of the literature, and to steer clear of landmines and trenches. For they will find it a formidable task, if no one will guide them through it. Any good theological library will have an extensive collection of christological literature. And every year, more and more books are being written, published, and promoted. Which ones should they read? By what criteria should they approach a particular author, adopt a particular perspective, embrace, or at least be sympathetic to, a particular interpretation? Let me offer six pieces of advice.

1. Trust the Gospels

“The key question for studying Jesus is,” according to N.T. Wright, “can we trust the Gospels?”5 This is a legitimate question, but to answer it more fully will take us far beyond an essay such as this. The short, correct, and defensible answer is: Yes, we can. Wright elaborates:

I simply record it as my conviction that the four canonical Gospels, broadly speaking, present a portrait of Jesus of Nazareth which is firmly grounded in real history. … The portrait of Jesus we find in the canonical Gospels makes sense within the world of Palestine in the 20s and 30s of the first century. Above all, it makes coherent sense in itself. The Jesus who emerges is thoroughly believable as a figure of history, even though, the more we look at him, the more we feel once more that we are staring into the sun.6

At the end of his foreword to Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI says very simply: “I trust the Gospels.”7

I would consider this the most essential rule of thumb when reading modern Christologies. Many of them either take for granted that the Gospels are merely human writings and, therefore, just as fallible and open to doubt as any other, or, as we have seen in the case of the Jesus Seminar, magisterially pronounce one saying of Jesus as authentic and another as simply put in his mouth by the evangelist, the redactor, or the early Church. If one begins from the standpoint of “suspect all, trust nothing,” and adds to this an overweening sense of intellectual superiority, then one ends up with another reconstructed version or interpretation of the Gospels that is deemed better and more plausible than the rest. But, as Lohfink puts it, “for a scholar who works theologically, it cannot be a question of reconstructing a ‘historical Jesus’ against the New Testament and its interpretation of the figure of Jesus. Any theologian who does that exalts herself or himself above the first witnesses and the Church and, thus, abandons any chance of understanding Jesus.”8

The four canonical Gospels, together with all the other writings in the New Testament, are believed by Christians to be, not only human compositions, but also inspired Scripture. Written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they are 100 percent human and 100 percent divine. As such, their truthfulness, permanence, universality, uniqueness, and completeness as far as salvation is concerned, are guaranteed. They are human documents that can be subjected to scientific inquiry, but not only so. At the same time that they are rigorously studied, they must be read, so to speak, on one’s knees.9 While faith and trust in the fundamental veracity of the Gospels and, indeed, of the entire New Testament, is sine qua non, one must also be somewhat “savvy” about these writings: for instance, that they are “an amalgam of believing witness and historical reminiscence with the aim of eliciting and developing the reader’s own faith”10; that they have undergone several stages of development, beginning with the actual historical events in Jesus’ life, after which these were interpreted and preached by the apostolic community, and then came the final stage of Gospel composition by the evangelists. They are portraits, not photographic prints; reliable memories, not AV recordings.

The strong “hermeneutic of suspicion” operating today in the intellectual and scholarly milieu has been around for some time. What must change is a return to a humble and grateful acceptance of the biblical text as God’s word (without ceasing to be human words). Theologians, and we ourselves, must “read the whole Bible with consent (and not suspicion) and with the anticipation that, being imbued with the hidden presence of the infinitely true, good, and beautiful God, it may say something to them that they have never heard before.”11

2. “Interpretation” Is Not a Bad Word

This second rule of thumb can be put more positively: All is interpretation; all history becomes meaningful only when interpreted; interpretation (presumably correct interpretation) brings real knowledge. I have found no one better than Gerhard Lohfink to explain this.12

Lohfink observes a tendency for historical “reconstructions” of Jesus to be closely (and lamentably) linked with “a radical critique of the Gospels that seeks to discover the real Jesus, not with the Gospels, but against them.”13 A good number of scholars will insist that “overpaintings” and exaggerated claims concerning Jesus are found everywhere in the Gospels; or else, the early Christians were merely (and mistakenly) understanding Jesus in ways that the man himself did not intend. “But this confuses two different things: what the Gospel critics call dogmatic exaggerations are nothing other than ‘interpretations’ of Jesus, and interpretation is not the same as exaggeration. Many Christians rightly reject such words as ‘exaggeration,’ ‘overpainting,’ ‘overdrawing,’ ‘mythologization,’ and ‘idolization.’ They should not be defensive, however, against the word ‘interpretation.’”14

Lohfink persuasively argues that, in fact, there is no such thing as a “pure fact.” The pure datum, even in science, and especially in historical inquiry, must be interpreted through the eyes and mind of the inquirer. What is presented to every reader or audience is inevitably and necessarily an interpretation—albeit presumably a good one—by the competent and honest scholar. “Even the most accurate and strictly factual depiction of history cannot do without constant interpretation.”15 In the same way,

the Gospels must not be regarded as mere collections of “facts” about Jesus. They are not an assemblage of documents from a Jesus archive in the early Jerusalem community. Obviously, the authors of the Gospels had a multitude of traditions about Jesus at their disposal, but they used these traditions to interpret Jesus. They interpret his words, they interpret his deeds, they interpret his whole life. They interpret Jesus in every line, in every sentence.16

Lohfink sums it up: Without interpretation, there can be no understanding. Two things must be added to this insight.

The first is that, what we have in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, indeed, in all of the early apostolic preaching, is not “mere” interpretation where one version or account is as good as another. The apostolic preaching and, later, the actual composition of the NT documents are an inspired interpretation. A robust belief in scriptural inspiration goes hand in glove with faithfulness to the Church’s belief about Christ: both are fully human and fully divine.

Second: the truest and most reliable interpretation of Jesus Christ can only be achieved by, and within, the community to which the Scriptures themselves are entrusted, the community that is most authorized to preserve the memory of Jesus and to pass on that understanding in faith. That is the Church. And so we come to a third rule of thumb in reading Christology today.

3. Seek the “real Jesus” with and within the Church

Everyone wants to know the “real Jesus.” Is this an attainable aspiration? Can historical research and scholarship give us the unexpurgated, unembellished, demythologized Jesus? Is he the “historical Jesus” offered to us by scholars in various hues and versions? No; Rausch is adamant that “the ‘historical Jesus’ reconstructed by scholars is not, and can never be, the living Jesus of Christian faith.”17 This does not mean that there is validity, after all, in separating the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith.” No, there is only one Jesus Christ, but his total reality goes beyond the written page of the scriptural account. The “real Jesus” understood by such theologians as John P. Meier and Luke Timothy Johnson is “the glorified Jesus reigning at the right hand of the Father, present to his people in the Spirit, mediated by Scripture and tradition, encountered in Christian service, discipleship, and liturgy.”18 Meier says, “We cannot know the ‘real’ Jesus through historical research, whether we mean his total reality or just a reasonably complete biographical portrait. We can, however, know the ‘historical Jesus.’”19

“The ‘Historical Jesus,’” wrote the senior devil Screwtape, “however dangerous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged.”20 C.S. Lewis is, of course, being ironic here; he is reacting to much of the scholarship in his day when the “Jesus of history” was interpreted in mutually incompatible ways. These reconstructions need to be deconstructed. If they only work with the Gospels and engage in their research with unbiased erudition and integrity, theologians can affirm a “Christ of faith” who is in unbroken continuity with the “historical Jesus” of the Gospels. In writing his Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict XVI explained that he wanted,

to the best of my ability, to incorporate all of this (all that is most useful according to Church teaching and modern exegesis), and yet I wanted to try to portray the Jesus of the Gospels as the real, “historical” Jesus in the strict sense of the word. I am convinced, and I hope the reader will be, too, that this figure is much more logical and, historically speaking, much more intelligible than the reconstructions we have been presented with in the last decades. I believe that this Jesus—the Jesus of the Gospels—is a historically plausible and convincing figure.21

But, again, having confidence that the Jesus presented to us by the Gospels is “the real ‘historical’ Jesus” is not the same as asserting that that is the “real Jesus” in his totality. In an important sense, the “real Jesus” is much greater than the sum of all historical research. To repeat Meier’s point: the “historical Jesus” is accessible to us through research on the Gospels; the “real Jesus” is accessible to us in faith.

With Lohfink we can appreciate more the necessity of the Church in coming to a proper understanding of Christ. He has already stressed that “the interpretation of world and history is a fundamental process without which human beings cannot grasp reality at all.”22 Now he goes a step further: all interpretation, even in the sciences, as in history, is performed, not merely by individual researchers, but by an interpretive community. His insight is worth quoting at length:

In reality, individual historians do not work alone. Alone, they are nearly helpless. They presuppose the work of many others; they examine a great number of prior works that have already been produced by others. They have to depend on the statements and interpretations of earlier historians. …

Thus, as with all serious research, there is something like a research community of historians. We need only think of the many dictionaries and reference works every historian has in her or his library. To put it more bluntly: there is something like an interpretive community of historians. Obviously, in this interpretive community, as in all the scholarly professions, outsiders, contrary thinkers, oddballs, and blockheads try to make themselves heard. They too are necessary.

And, of course, there are struggles between groups, extreme positions, battles over positions, and quotation cartels, that is, groups of scholars, who quote each other but persistently keep silence about the results of other groups’ research. But above all, there is endless combat. That is inevitable in every serious field of research.

But despite the never-ending battle among historians, they form something like an interpretive community that, up to a point, even creates consensus. Otherwise the mainstream of historical research and the great scholarly standard works that are used throughout the world would be completely unthinkable.23

Lohfink’s immensely helpful insight is that interpreting Jesus rightly means putting him “in context”—Jesus within salvation history and among his people Israel. We must hasten to add that this is still true today: Jesus is best understood among his people, the Church. The only interpretation of Jesus in which we can have supreme confidence is that which is performed by the rightful and authorized interpretive community which is the Church. I say that the Church legitimately “performs” this interpretation: in the scholarship of her dedicated theologians, in her teaching, preaching, liturgy, sacraments, catechesis, evangelization, in short in her total and ongoing life.

Romano Guardini, one of the 20th century’s most esteemed theologians, once observed that the way in which people today look at and see Jesus almost uncannily parallels the way the various world religions look for the hidden God; that just as there have been many images of God, so also there are many images of Christ.24 And then he asks, almost hauntingly: Who can “protect” Jesus from us, from our cunning egos? The only place where this can be done, in which Jesus “can be seen rightly and listened to,” is the Church.25

4. Reverence the Mystery

Gerald O’Collins has a good phrase for how theology (or, more specifically, Christology) ought to be done: it is “watching our language in God’s presence.” Although inevitably one’s language proves “inadequate and provisional,” the effort of “trying things on for size” is still worth doing.26 The theologian is “bound by the modest task of getting things straight.”27 Such modesty—the refusal “to unveil what should remain hidden”28—should characterize the christological task, but is often in short supply among theologians.

“The more we look at Jesus, the more we feel that we are staring into the sun.” Wright’s apt comment reminds us that we are always on the threshold of the supremely holy, before a burning bush which demands that we reverently take off our sandals. Jesus of Nazareth, to be sure a historical person who can be studied like other figures in history, will always remain a “mystery,” and not simply a “problem.” It is instructive that Guardini, in his preface to his classic The Lord (ET 1954), speaks of “mystery” at least six times. So does Benedict XVI all throughout his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy. “Mystery” does not mean total incomprehensibility. To gaze at a theological “mystery” is to “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor 13:12). Mystery is translucence, not opacity.

Theological mysteries are truth and, therefore, light for the mind, but the truth is so vast, the light of such intensity, that the mind is dazzled and amazed. When a man meets a mystery of the faith, he finds, not a deficiency, but an excess of intelligibility: there is just too much to understand. … Like the ocean, the revealed mysteries of God have a visible surface, beneath which lie hidden and unfathomable depths.29

One fine example of both modesty and reverence for mystery is a recent book by the American Jesuit James Martin. Combining competent use of scholarly opinions and his own faith-filled meditations on the Gospel stories, along with moving (and sometimes hilarious) narratives of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Martin’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage comes highly recommended by this writer. Martin, for example, writes:

The traditional belief about Jesus’ simultaneous humanity and divinity may raise as many questions as it answers. “Fully human and fully divine” is, to use a loaded word, a mystery. Something, not to be solved, but to be pondered.

This book will explore that question, but it will not set forth any new theological propositions. For one thing, I believe in the traditional Christian understanding of Jesus Christ. For another, I’m not a theology professor.30

To keep on reminding oneself that one is standing on “holy ground” and is face to face with “mystery” is not to hamstring theology nor to say that theologians are ultimately making irreverent and incoherent claims. The one who writes Christology, and the one who reads it, especially if both are believers respectfully seeking the face of Christ within the body of the believing community, have the special assistance of the Holy Spirit who guides them into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13). The most helpful Christologies are those written by scholars with a “connatural” instinct for the truth, a spiritual “sense” (sensus fidelium) of aligning one’s vision of Christ with the panoply of the Church’s great minds. One can see far, gazing into Christ our sun, by sitting upon the shoulders of spiritual giants. “‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16).

5. Stick to the Big Picture

Lest the reader think that all I am counseling is extreme wariness and caution when it comes to modern Christologies, let me say that there is much that can be learned, and the benefits far outweigh the occasional, outrageous interpretation. Nevertheless, there are pillars of Christian teaching and touchstones of orthodoxy which might be described as “non-negotiable”: conciliar teaching, especially of the first seven ecumenical councils; creedal affirmations; a supernatural worldview (e.g., that miracles are possible and indeed happen); and so forth. This is “big picture” Christianity, the far more marvelous “forest” of great and everlasting beliefs, compared to which, the individual “trees” on which some theologians stake their professional reputation seem paltry indeed. “The only safety,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity (‘mere Christianity’ as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective.”31

When all else fails and the reader is left wondering what to make of a particular theologian’s proposal, when he or she is confronted with either “maximalist” or “minimalist” positions regarding Jesus’ self-knowledge, for example, or with differing explanations of how his death achieved our redemption (though these are often complementary rather than mutually exclusive), my advice to the baffled reader is to ask: How helpful is this to me? Does it increase my love for Christ and for his body, the Church? Does it bolster my trust in the truthfulness of the Scripture and its human writers? Does this author, whose Christology I am reading, write as a skeptic or as a believer, an “impartial historian,” or one who wishes to draw me into the graced presence of Jesus Christ?32

In the end, theology—classically understood as “faith seeking understanding”—must lead us back to strengthened and deepened faith. This brings me to my last piece of advice.

6. Choose Your Teachers with Care

Theologians and exegetes are only human; their writings are not “inspired.” What they offer are their considered and professional opinion which can even be called “expert” opinion, but they are nonetheless “opinions.” When reading a Christology, one can be well served by a healthy (but not cavalier) skepticism. Unless one is an academic student of theology who needs to understand and evaluate an author under pain of flunking, the ordinary reader of Christology need not try to understand and accept everything that is written. I myself, a lecturer and ongoing student in theology, adopt the following attitude: If a particular author’s writing is unusually opaque or tedious or generally unhelpful, whether to my mind or my spirit, I chuck the book and move on to another. Life is far too short, and there are far too many books, to bother with writers who can’t seem to write to save themselves, or whose claims are far too inflated, whose language too inflammatory, and whose tone is too “know-it-all” and arrogant.

C.S. Lewis advises readers of theology to ensure that they have a “mixed diet” of both new and old books, and if there has to be a choice of either one or the other,

I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and, therefore, much less protected than the expert, against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial, and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. … It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.33

Therefore, have a serene, balanced, and informed approach to “the experts.” No one has all the right answers, no one knows it all. In the end, a good basis upon which to choose to read this author or that book on Christology is: Whose interpretation will you trust? By now, the careful reader of this essay will have noticed my own authorities and preferred writers: Benedict XVI, Gerhard Lohfink, and Gerald O’Collins are on my short list. And I am beginning to like James Martin very much.34 I am not saying that other theologians cannot possibly teach me something worthwhile or insightful. Nevertheless, it is good advice to warn the reader: Caveat emptor!

In Closing

In his Confessions, St. Augustine recounts the mysterious incident that finally led him to faith in Jesus Christ. By this time this learned scholar has listened to many points of view, has read many books, and has had many arguments with St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan. Filled with turmoil of spirit and almost in despair, he is in a garden with his friend Alypius and has flung himself weeping on the ground, when he heard a child-like chant: Tolle et lege (take and read) which went on and on. Mystified, he saw the Bible beside him and picked it up. The first passage he read, from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, finally pushed him over the edge of doubt and into committed faith in Christ.

Tolle et lege. To read books concerningJesus does not replace reading the Gospels—indeed, the entire Scriptures which from Genesis to Revelation speak about him. Books on Christology can be very inspiring; not one is inspired the way the Bible uniquely is. And while an individual theologian or an unusually insightful exegete might illuminate a particular aspect of our faith or a passage in Scripture, none can surpass the Teacher himself. “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’” (Lk 24:32). We who read Christology must ever walk the road to Emmaus with Jesus so that he too might make our hearts burn within us as he opens our minds about him.

  1. Gerhard Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2012), xi.
  2. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, xi.
  3. Gerald O’Collins, The Calvary Christ (London: SCM, 1977), xi.
  4. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 16.
  5. Tom (Nicholas Thomas) Wright, Simply Christian (London: SPCK, 2006), 82.
  6. Wright, Simply Christian, 85.
  7. Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), Jesus of Nazareth. Part One: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, trans. Adrian J. Walker (New York, etc.: Doubleday, 2007), xxi.
  8. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 21 (italics added).
  9. Cf. Avery Dulles, Revelation and the Quest for Unity (Washington & Cleveland: Corpus, 1968), 77-78.
  10. Gerald O’Collins, Faith under Fire (Melbourne: Polding Press, 1974), 6-7.
  11. Gerald O’Collins and Daniel Kendall, The Bible for Theology: Ten Principles for the Theological Use of Scripture (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1997), 19.
  12. The entire chapter 1 (“The So-Called Historical Jesus”) of his Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was (2012) is well worth reading.
  13. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 2.
  14. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 2.
  15. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 12.
  16. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 2.
  17. Thomas P. Rausch, Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Christology (Collegeville: Liturgical/ Michael Glazier, 2003), 7.
  18. Rausch, Who is Jesus, 7.
  19. John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, vol. 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1991), 24.
  20. C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (London: Geoffrey Bles/Centenary, 1943), 119 (Letter XXIII).
  21. Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, xxi-xxii.
  22. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 15.
  23. Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 13-14.
  24. Cf. Romano Guardini, “Das Gleichnis vom Säemann,” in Wahrheit und Ordnung. Universitätspredigten 7 (Würzburg: Werkbund Verlag, 1956), 3-13, 159-69, cited by Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 17.
  25. Cited by Lohfink, Jesus of Nazareth, 18.
  26. Gerald O’Collins, Faith under Fire (Melbourne: Polding Press, 1974), 4.
  27. Gerald O’Collins, The Calvary Christ (London: SCM, 1977), 83.
  28. The Catechism of the Catholic Church § 2521.
  29. John Saward, Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2002), 48.
  30. James Martin, Jesus: A Pilgrimage (New York: HarperCollins, 2014), 5.
  31. C.S. Lewis, Introduction to the 1944 English translation of St. Athanasius’ De Incarnatione (London: Geoffrey Bles/Centenary Press, 1944), 6.
  32. After reviewing various Christologies, O’Collins ends with praise for Malcolm Muggeridge, whose Jesus book “reminds us sharply that we are not saved by historical scholarship alone. A book that can be technically faulted by professional exegetes turns out to be religiously compelling. … Our knowledge of Jesus Christ is far too serious a business to be left to theologians and exegetes alone.” Cf. Gerald O’Collins, What Are They Saying About Jesus? (New York/Ramsey: Paulist, 1983), 78-79.
  33. Lewis, Introduction to De Incarnatione, 6.
  34. Martin has several wonderful passages in his new book. Here is another example: “Mary Magdalene reminds us that the most powerful tool for spreading the Good News is not knowledge, but experience. There is place for both in the Christian life, and scholarship and learning have provided inestimable riches for the faith. But the true disciple does not say simply, ‘I have studied Jesus,’ but as Mary Magdalene did, ‘I have seen the Lord’” (Jesus: A Pilgrimage, 407).
Dr. Jake Yap About Dr. Jake Yap

Dr. Jake Yap is full professor of systematic theology at the Loyola School of Theology, Quezon City, Philippines. He teaches fundamental and dogmatic theology courses. As a lay consecrated brother with the Servants of the Word, he serves lay people through retreats, conferences, leadership training, and Christian community building.


  1. Thank you, Dr. Yap, for this excellent and helpful essay. I’m glad to see that Lohfink’s works are getting more attention in the English-speaking world. His recent book No Irrelevant Jesus: On Jesus and the Church Today (2014) is a very accessible and insightful book for a wider, popular audience.


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