What is “Christology”? What is “high Christology” and “low Christology”?


You must have been speaking with a theology student! Most people don’t speak of these things in every day conversation. But, it is good for all of us to know at least a little something about them. After all, they have to do with our Savior … and He is very important to us!

Christology is the study of Jesus Christ. It is primarily concerned with His nature: who and what He is, and what we should believe about Him. High Christology and low Christology are two different ways of approaching this study.

A high Christology takes as its starting point and its foundation the pre-existent Logos, the Word, the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He who is “high” above us. John’s Gospel is a prime example: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn 1:1,14) . This type of Christology is also called a “descending Christology” because it starts with the Second Person of the Trinity and moves downward, as it were, towards mankind as it contemplates the Incarnation, when God took on a human nature.

A low Christology takes as its starting point and its foundation Jesus as a human being, a historical figure. It depends on research and analysis of the Gospels, which provide for us much of what we know regarding Jesus’ life on earth. This type of Christology is also called an “ascending Christology” because it starts with the human being Jesus and then rises up towards heaven as it contemplates the relationship between Jesus and God, He who is entirely “other-worldly” and “other-than.”

Both approaches to the study of Jesus are susceptible to error, if you’re not careful. We must remember that neither the humanity nor the divinity of Jesus can ever be compromised. Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine.

It sounds simple enough, but Christology can get really complicated really quick. If you would like to read more on this topic, I suggest starting with Jesus, the Christ, by Thomas G. Weinandy, or To Know Christ Jesus, by Frank (“F.J.”) Sheed. During Lent, we will be doing a 5-part study on the sufferings of Christ. This may be helpful to you as well.

Peace of Christ to you,

Nicholas Hardesty,
WIMM Board Member
Director of Religious Education, Blessed Mother Catholic Church

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