2019 Theology Symposium - Abstracts

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Keynote Speakers
Revd Prof. Gerald
Revd Prof. Demetrios Barthrellos
Dr Vassilis Adrahtas
Chris Baghos
Dr Mario Baghos
Dr Margaret Beirne
William Chami
Dr Deborah Guess
Prof. James Harrison
Michael Ibrahim
Dr Philip Kariatlis
Dr Jin Heung Kim
Daniel Kisliakov
Dr Jason Tsz-Shun Lam
Dr Greg Liston
Dr Andrew Mellas
Dr Joe Mock
Dr Vicki Petrakis
Josfin Raj
Grahame Rosolen
Martin Samson
Prof. Keith Thompson


Keynote Speakers


Revd. Prof. Demetrios Barthrellos

Cambridge Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, Hellenic Open University (Patra)

"The Sinlessness of Christ: An Ancient Dogma and its Contemporary Significance"

Abstract: TBA


Revd Prof. Gerald O’Collins SJ AC

Jesuit Theological College SJ AC

"New Testament Scholarship Supports Christology"

Abstract: Witness coming from the Gospels supports orthodox faith in who and what Jesus is. He claimed more than prophets: he ‘came’ in his own name (Mark 2:17). He identified himself with the reign of God. To accept the divine kingdom was to accept Jesus. He worked miracles and taught in his own name (‘I say to you’). He claimed authority over the Sabbath, the Temple, the Law, and the forgiveness of sins; this provoked the charge of blasphemy. As Son of Man, he was decisive for the final salvation of human beings. His claims were mostly implicit but, nonetheless, claims to divine identity and prerogatives. St Paul and the tradition behind him acknowledged Jesus as divine Lord (1 Cor 16:21; Phil 2:6-11, which echoes Isa 45:23-24). The apostle’s opening salutation (e.g. Rom 1:7) put Christ as Lord on a par with God our Father. Paul also used the Jewish confession of monotheism to portray Jesus as agent of creation alongside God the Father (1 Cor 8:6). Historical witness (to the message of Jesus, his resurrection, and the heroic discipleship of followers) provides evidence for faith in him. Yet faith goes beyond the evidence and is inspired by the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit.




Dr Vassilis Adrahtas

Western Sydney University

"Reflections on the Empathy of Christ: The Notion of προσωπική οκείωσις in the Christology of John Damascene"

Abstract: Much of John Damascene’s Christology is structured on the basis of a dialectics between being (God) and becoming (human). Thus in Christ we witness simultaneously what is natural to the Trinity and what is natural to humans –both in terms of energy and will. Furthermore, John Damascene asserts that by becoming human the Logos assumed the blameless passions of fallen human nature. However, the ontological perspective of John Damascene’s Christology seems to break down when he refers to οκείωσιςin The Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Chapter 69), for there certain aspects of Christ’s humanity (e.g., his cry of abandonment on the cross) are seen in terms of personal appropriation (προσωπική οκείωσις) and not in terms of either natural being (ν) or natural becoming (γενόμενος).

To understand personal appropriation in John Damascene’s Christology one has to distance themselves from ontological conceptualisations, on the one hand, and re-conceptualise ethical conventions, on the other. The aim of the present paper, though, is not just to put forward Christology in terms of ontological ethics or ethical ontology, but to suggest an eschatological approach to the Christ-Event. When John Damascene moves beyond the ontology of being and becoming towards the ethics of a personal praxis that appropriates the totality of human experience, he particularly warns against semblance (δόκησις), that is, he speaks about something utterly real. But what kind of reality does he have in mind? For him Divine Economy as the revelation of the Eschaton in history is first and foremost identified with Christ’s novel and paradoxical life; a life that relates salvifically to everyone through an all-encompassing empathy. 


Chris Baghos (PhD cand.)

University of Sydney

"The Holy Ascetic as a ‘New Adam’ in the Dialogues of St Gregory the Great"

Abstract: Certain scholars have examined the traditional Christian perception of the saint as contributing to the preservation and renewal of the created order, especially as it is reflected in monastic literature pertaining to the Eastern desert outskirts of the Roman Empire. Benedicta Ward is important in this regard as she has considered the saints’ positive ecological function the result of their having taken on Christ’s role as ‘the New Adam’ (Ward, trans., ‘Introduction’ to The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks (London: Penguin, 2003) xii). More precisely, Ward has examined the theme of the holy ascetic as a facilitator of paradise by virtue of their Christomimesis, as found in the different versions of the History of the Monks of Egypt (late fourth to early fifth century) and Sayings of the Desert Fathers (mid to late sixth century). Interestingly, Ward’s most thorough treatment of this theme is featured in her assessment of the spirituality of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (Ward, ‘The Spirituality of St Cuthbert’ in St Cuthbert, His Cult, and His Community to AD 1200, ed. Gerald Bonner, David Rollason & Claire Stancliffe (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1989) 71-72). She has thus made room for an exploration of how the patristic understanding of the cosmological consequences of the Fall and their reversal was transmitted from Byzantium to the Insular world during the early Middle Ages. I will subsequently attempt to demonstrate the significance of St Gregory the Great’s Dialogues (c. 593)in this regard; a work whose influence on Celtic and Anglo-Saxon hagiographies can hardly be overestimated. More to the point, I will highlight how the Dialogist has credited several of his Italian subjects with the restoration of paradise owing to their faith, humility, and resulting participation in Christ. I will therefore outline Gregory’s essential role in a common articulation of sainthood which extended from the deserts of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor to the Irish bogs and English marshlands through the various woods of the Continent.


Dr Mario Baghos

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College

"Tradition contra Positivism in Representations of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"

Abstract: Orthodoxy is traditional, which, according to this word’s etymology (the Latin ‘traditio’), denotes an integral passing on of representations, gestures – truth – from one generation to the next within the Church of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It can be argued that Orthodoxy maintains an authentic and consistent representation our Lord Jesus, as recorded in the Scriptures, reflected upon by the Fathers, formulated in ecumenical councils, and represented artistically in iconographic and hymnographical form. This is because Orthodoxy, as the body of Christ, is permanently connected to its Lord and Saviour as manifested at each Eucharistic liturgy where his body and blood are truly partaken of; not to mention that many saints continue to encounter the risen and ascended Lord within the Church throughout the generations.

In contrast, much biblical criticism since the nineteenth century has unfolded along the parameters of historical positivism that is anchored on the empirical demonstration of ‘truth’ apart from any theological reflection. While having some merit in terms of its assessment of factors peripheral to theology – e.g. analyses of geographical settings –positivism nevertheless approaches Christ using the same a-theological criteria. As such, it distinguishes between the ‘Jesus of history’ and the ‘Christ of faith,’ where Jesus as a man is explored apart from any faith-based representations of him as both God and man. In this way the positivist approach has yielded representations of our Lord Jesus that are inconsistent with the traditional/ecclesial representation.

After exploring the difference between Orthodox and positivist approaches towards our Lord Jesus Christ, this paper argues that the positivist emphasis on an accurate ‘historical’ (i.e. for them, not faith-based) reconstruction of the life of Jesus based on a selected reading of the New Testament scriptures actually results in a harmful construct; a ‘Jesus’ that can in no way have any salvific effect on the world. Moreover, it contradicts the ongoing traditional experience – at once both historical and theological – of our Lord and Saviour within the sacred body of his Church; an experience that is exemplified by the saints’ communion with Christ even in this life.


Dr Margaret Beirne RSC

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College"

“Christ is alive!” – Pope Francis’ Apostolic Invitation to Youth"

Abstract: One of the challenges to the Christian Churches in this century is how to reach out to young adults, both those who have become distanced from the religious tradition into which they were baptised and the many others who continue in the practice of their faith but who seek, often unknowingly, a deeper level of spiritual fulfilment. In October 2018, Pope Francis led a Synod of Bishops in Rome with the explicit focus on young adults, thirty-four of whom were invited to participate as observers alongside the hierarchical majority. The Pope’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, entitled Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive!), is a remarkably fresh and attractive invitation addressed “to Young People and to the entire People of God”. This paper will analyse the Exhortation, focusing particularly on how Francis develops a Christology that has huge potential appeal to young adults.    


William Chami

University of Notre Dame

"How Did the Son Know that He was the Son in His Human Mind? A Theological Enquiry into the Self-Consciousness of Christ"

Abstract: The self-consciousness of Christ is a contemporary Christological issue which seeks to understand the awareness that the God-man, Jesus Christ, possessed of himself during his life on earth. The present question primarily concerns itself with exploring how the Son knows that he is the Son in his human mind. That is, how does Jesus, through his human mind and self-consciousness, come to know and apprehend himself as the divine Son of God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity? Traditionally this question has been asked and answered that, through the beatific vision, which is the vision of God experienced by the saints in Heaven, the Son knew himself as divine in his human mind. This idea of Jesus ’beatific vision was advanced in explicit form by authors in the 12th and 13th centuries, and had continued to dominate the Western theological landscape until around the 20th century. In recent decades, theories have been advanced by scholars which seem to preclude any notion of beatific knowledge in the Incarnate Son. The aim of this paper is to elucidate the traditional position of the Western Church in regard to this question, while also exploring the reason behind the hesitancy of contemporary theologians to embrace the traditional doctrine of Christ’s beatific vision.The final section of this paper is dedicated to advancing a theory of how Jesus knew himself as God in light of the recent work completed by Thomas G.Weinandy, which I believe rightly centres the Son’s self-knowledge in relation to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.


Dr Deborah Guess

Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity

"An Eco-theological Reflection on the Christology of Rowan Williams"

Abstract: The current environmental context renders an urgent invitation to Christian thought to explore the meaning of Jesus Christ in relation to creation. One fruitful way of proceeding is to engage with the patristic and creedal theology expounded by Rowan Williams in his recent book Christ the Heart of Creation. Of particular eco-Christological interest is Williams’ understanding that the Incarnation is grounded in a relationship between God and world that he calls “non-dual, non-identity.” By this Williams means that God and world are not two “things” that can be added together, but neither are they  essentially one thing: although the finite is ultimately grounded in the infinite, the difference between infinite and finite is absolute and therefore the God-world relationship is asymmetrical and non-competitive. This claim implicitly counters the ecological sin of acting as if humans are rivals with God, entitled to exercise something that resembles divine status or power in relation to the natural world. If it is impossible for human beings to be in competition with God in this way, then an alternative, more temperate way of living within the planet’s ecological boundaries can be theologically endorsed. Further, it is the Creator’s very otherness or difference to the world which points to the inherent value of creation, which we may therefore treat with love and respect. Williams’ Christology suggests that what it is to be truly human is to live humbly not only in relation to God and in full acceptance of divine love for all of creation, but also in relation to Earth as our authentic home.


Prof. James Harrison

Sydney College of Divinity

"Romans 1:3-4 and Adoptionist Christology: Situating a Theological Debate in Its Julio-Claudian Context"

Abstract: The notion of ‘adoptionism’—that the human Jesus was adopted by God as ‘Son of God’ at his baptism or resurrection—is well known to us through its representatives in Early Christianity. These include the work of Shepherd of Hermas (Parable 5) and figures such as Theodotus of Byzantium (Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiatica 5.28.2) and the Ebionites (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.21.1; 4.33.4; 5.1.3). The debate periodically breaks out again in New Testament scholarship, with John Knox and James G. Dunn being its famous representatives in the twentieth century. Most recently, Bart Ehrman has argued that Christian scribes have edited out adoptionist language from several New Testament texts (Luke 2:33, 48; 3:22) precisely because they could be misconstrued as endorsing that theological viewpoint (Misquoting Jesus, 159). A pivotal text which might be taken as endorsing an adoptionist Christology is Romans 1:2-4. This paper will investigate this text, written during the early reign of Nero, against the backdrop of the ‘adoption’ practices of Augustus as he attempted to secure an heir. Moreover, the senatorial decree of the apotheosis of Augustus and Claudius as ‘Son of God’ upon their deaths will be explored, as well as unofficial portraits of the apotheosis of other family members (Gaius, Lucius, Germanicus). It will be argued that the apostle Paul constructs in Romans 1:2-4 an alternative narrative to Julio-Claudian Sonship and apotheosis. Paul argues for (1) a messianic son of Davidic descent as opposed to an adopted Son by Julian legal decision, (2) a risen Son as opposed to an apotheosised Son, and (3) a humiliated and divinely vindicated heir as opposed to the Augustan paradigms of a deserving heir. Given that the apostle Paul rejects all forms of Julio-Claudian adoptionism, ancient and modern derivations of an adoptionist theology from Romans 1:2-4 represent a grave mistake.


Michael Ibrahim

St Cyril’s Coptic Orthodox Theological College

"A Clash of History and Memory: Reassessing the Christological Contributions of Severus of Antioch"

Abstract: Severus of Antioch is arguably the most controversial theologian of the sixth century. Memorialised as πνευματοφόρος and ‘rational tongue’ by supporters,and as ἀσεβείας ἀρχῶν by opponents, the figure of Severus looms large over the theological discourse of the period. Despite Justinian’s prohibition on Severus’ writings within the Byzantine empire, a formidable corpus was transmitted in Syriac. The polarised traditional interpretation of Severus’ Christology gave way in the twentieth century to  a more nuanced scholarly reading, which viewed his thought as faithfully (if not rigidly) Cyrillian, thus placing his Christological position closer to the centre of the doctrinal spectrum. Between 1964 and 1993, the Theological inheritors of Eastern Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian traditions met to study their respective conceptual schema, where the issue of Severian Christology was a significant topic. The conclusions reached by this dialogue were overwhelmingly positive. However, this enthusiasm quickly evaporated, when the forensic historical analysis of the academy met the pious memory of the faithful. Further, the scholarly study of respective dogmatic positions presupposed a static vision of dogmatic expression, undermining the dynamic reality of the conceptual exploration of the period, for which Severus was a central figure.

This paper seeks to demonstrate the significant dynamic role played by Severus in refining not only non-Chalcedonian Christology through a sensitive appropriation of Chalcedonian distinctions, but also in influencing the pro-Chalcedonian position through his insightful critique. This leads to an interpretation of dogmatic expression which is more clearly articulated as a result of conflict, not despite of it. In doing so, a more positive symphony of history and memory is facilitated, providing an interesting avenue for further, deeper bilateral Christological dialogue in the twenty-first century.


Dr Philip Kariatlis

St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Theological College

"Christology, Christification and Human Becoming"

Abstract: The doctrine of deification [θέωσις], which has typically enjoyed a central place in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, especially in the way it has informed the related understandings of soteriology and spirituality respectively, has, in more recent times, also experienced a kind of resurgence in contemporary Christian thought more broadly. This has largely been due to the promising phenomenon of ecumenical receptivity, a fresh approach to dialogue which has seen different Christian denominations seeking to respond to contemporary challenges in a spirit of shared exploration. Within contemporary Eastern Orthodox circles more specifically, deification has, on the whole, been understood as an all-encompassing doctrine with both anthropological and economic dimensions—namely, a term relating both to the divinely initiated process by which human persons grow towards genuineunity with God, but equally importantly, to the pre-eternal purpose of God’s divine economy. Beyond broad agreement in this however, there are distinct perspectives that can also be easily discerned within the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Whereas in the past, the concept of deification was almost exclusively presented from within an essence/energies distinction framework, other writings, more recently, have attempted to present a more prosopocentric—or person-centred—approach. In light of these discernible distinctives—or perhaps, complementary—this paper will examine the extent to which a plausible case can be made for deriving an understanding of deification, not primarily from within an essence/energies distinction framework—as has traditionally been the case—but rather from one focusing on humanity’s union with the incarnate Son of God, the crucified and exalted Christ, resulting in humanity’s ‘Christification [Χριστοποίησις].’ Furthermore, it will examine the extent to which this understanding sheds light on what it means to be human.


Dr Jin Heung Kim

SCD Korean School of Theology

"Aquinas, Vermigli, and Apostoliscum: a Comparative Study of the Two Theologians’ Exposition of the Christology in the Twelve Articles"

Abstract: Peter Martyr Vermigli was one of the most influential theologians in the Reformed Protestantism in the sixteenth century, who had profound knowledge of the Scholasticism in the via antiqua tradition. Like as his Italian big senior Thomas Aquinas, Vermigli presented his doctrine of Christ to the common people by exposition of the Twelve Articles. A comparative study of both theologians’ Christology by their respective works on the Apostoliscum, we can find some significant common ground between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant understandings of our Lord, and at the same time identify the diverging points that still hinders the unity between the two churches. It also gives us a viewpoint to evaluate today’s understanding of Jesus Christ. 


Daniel Kisliakov (PhD cand.)

University of Divinity

"Bulgakov’s Christology as a Pillar of Modern Orthodox Ecclesiology and How that can be Nurtured in the 21st Century"

Abstract: Given the soteriological importance of Christology, one of its important characteristics is that its implications are broader than initially appear to be the case. This is the case with ecclesiology. It is a curious fact of history that ecclesiology is a relatively modern discipline. For the Orthodox, it can be traced back to the 20th century, when global events raised questions about the nature of the Church and what it represents. The rapid pace of that development meant that much of it remains as uncertain as it was a century earlier.

In particular, the Christological basis of ecclesiology was critical to the emergence of an ecclesiological perspective in the theology of the Russian exiles. It was also critical to theology’s creative aspect. In the post-Soviet world, new questions have been asked about its significance. Can creative theology be reconciled with neo-patristics? Was Fr Sergius Bulgakov’s desire to develop Christology with sophiology a problem? Does understanding of Christology lead to better understanding of ecclesiology in order for the Church to have a proper understanding of its place in relation to the world?

The present paper considers the future direction of 21st century Orthodox ecclesiology in light of insights gleaned from Bulgakov’s Christology. It builds on recent work by Orthodox theologians more broadly who have investigated that. It also looks to avoid excessive focus on sophiology. Questions such as whether the criticisms of sophiology were sufficiently justified, or indeed whether it was necessary, are considered alongside the notion that theology is a process of active engagement with the Holy Spirit. The paper concludes with suggestions for how that which Georges Florovsky referred to as the “theology of repetition” can be avoided, while continuing to nurture a living, Christological basis for ecclesiology, recognising the role of the Church as a critical aspect of communion in Christ.


Dr Jason Tsz-Shun Lam

Melbourne School of Theology

"Christonomy: Accomplishing the Christ-reality in a Secular Age: The need of a Christian ethics in the modern world from Bonhoeffer’s view"

Abstract: Following the Kantian critiques, morality would lead to religion but is merely the formal rather than material principles of reason. It is a consequence of establishing an ethical agent longing for autonomy in face of heteronomy; the pair of concepts seem to have formed a dichotomy between the modern and traditional. In line with this, “moral religion” could be accepted in the post-Enlightenment era but “theological ethics” is excluded from the public realm. Nevertheless, Kant also pointed out that the absoluteness of morality can only be guaranteed by a postulation of God and thus a strong tension is sensed.

In face of this modern challenge, a special term Christonomy was coined in Bonhoeffer’s Ethics with few investigations to date. Throughout his entire works, Christ is always regarded as the middle (Mitte) of human beings. But this can only be seen in faith and Bonhoeffer’s ethics is thoroughly Christological in form. For him God has already reconciled the world with Him in Christ, and thus we cannot separate Christ from the world. Reason can be affirmed in Christian ethics but not as an abstract principle; instead it must be restored in Christ the incarnated divine logos.

In spite of his “faithful” inclination, Bonhoeffer had called for a non-religious Christianity in Letters and Papers written in his late days in prison. It is because modern people cannot get back to the theonomous or religious a priori situation. Therefore the term Christonomy was coined to combat the modern conditions. It is not merely an abstract concept but is to be practiced by disciples. This points to an inclusive ecclesiology developed since Bonhoeffer’s early works and we’d see how it works in contemporary world with examples drawing from Hong Kong and China as Christians are minority in the contexts.


Dr Greg Liston

Laidlaw College, Auckland, New Zealand

"Eschatology and the Munus Triplex: On the Threefold Anointing of the Spirit"

Abstract: The traditional understanding of Jesus Christ as prophet, priest, and king, and of Christian participation in this munus triplex, can be refined, complemented, and extended through viewing this theologumenon eschatologically. In particular, viewing the doctrine of eschatology through the lens of the Spirit enables us to see the vast breadth of Christ’s interaction with humanity across the full expanse of time. Viewed in this manner, all aspects of Christ’s existence in the new, redeemed time he currently experiences impact us at our present moment of existence in fallen time. The Spirit takes Christ’s past (a prophetic ministry effecting our salvation through his suffering and exaltation), Christ’s present (a priestly ministry enabling a filial relationship), and Christ’s future (a kingly ministry manifesting our future glory), and brings them all to bear on the church’s present reality.

An exploration of recent attempts to partially employ this theologumenon into the service of eschatology reveals considerable advances in how Christ’s three-fold offices can be employed as a theological heuristic. These developments also reveal a lacunae that needs to be addressed. Karl Barth emphasized Christ’s prophetic office — bringing forward to us a revelatory encounter of Christ’s reconciliatory work and presence. Thomas Torrance speaks of Christ’s priestly role — ontologically effecting our salvation through vicariously bridging the gap between humanity and divinity. These perspectives could be extended still further with a detailed exploration of the eschatological aspect of Christ’s kingly office — the proleptic reality of the Kingdom of God.


Dr Andrew Mellas

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College

"Dancing with Adam, Eve and Christ: The Liturgical Christology of St Romanos the Melodist"

Abstract: In Romanos the Melodist’s hymn On the Passion of Christ, there is a curious interplay between the climactic moments of Christ’s life and the experience of the first-created humans. The Melodist bids all creation to tremble and groan at the passion of the Creator but then sings of how “only Adam dances.” This striking refrain echoes throughout the song, slowly weaving an image of the descent into Hades and subtly suggesting that when Christ raises Adam and Eve, it is a dance of salvation that transforms the human soul into heaven. Romanos sings of the death of God but his story song also ponders the cosmic significance of the passion and the mystery of the person of Christ. He alludes to the Christology of Chalcedon—“Christ was both man and God, not separated into two”—but foregoes expounding dogma, evoking a liturgical experience of theology. By composing hymns rather than theological treatises, Romanos invited the faithful to become part of the biblical story unfolding before them and experience theology. Can the liturgical dimension of Christology rekindle the postmodern desire to experience the mystery of Christ? This paper will seek to answer this question by exploring the Christology of Byzantine hymnody through the lens of Romanos’ hymn On the Passion.


Dr Joe Mock

Australian College of Theology

"Distinctives of Heinrich Bullinger’s Christology"

Abstract: The Swiss reformer, Heinrich Bullinger, had to contend against the theological views of Rome, Luther and the Anabaptists. Several Trinitarian heresies raised their heads in the 16th century which needed to be opposed by Bullinger. In many ways, understanding Bullinger’s Christology is the key to grasping his theological thought.

Bullinger was not a speculative theologian but constantly underscored what Scripture taught. He frequently quoted from the Church Fathers not only to demonstrate that the Reformed faith was catholic and orthodox but also to point out that his understanding of the Scriptures accorded with theirs. He, therefore, centred his discussions on christology around the creeds of the church, especially the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian Creed and the Athanasian Creed. He also affirmed the validity in these formulations of the use of non-biblical language to explain aspects of christology.

This paper examines the distinctive features of Bullinger’s christology as it is unpacked in four of his key works spanning more than thirty years, viz. The Two Natures in Christ (1534), The Consensus Tigurinus (1549), The Decades (1549-1551) and The Second Helvetic Confession (1566). These works indicate how Bullinger understood the dynamics of the heresies of the Early Church and how the right understanding of Scripture to combat them was necessary to oppose the threats of the heresies threatening the church in the 16th century.

Bullinger strove to clarify a right christology vis-à-vis the Eucharist in view of Luther’s use of the communicatio idiomatum to argue for the ubiquity of Christ’s resurrected body. He also explained Christ’s role as priest and king. Hans Asper’s famous portrait of Bullinger shows him holding a book revealing several Bible passages which indicate the centrality of Christology in Bullinger’s thought. The key passage is Matthew 17:5 which is found on the title page of all of his works.


Dr Vicki Petrakis

"Salvation through the Incarnate Logos in St Gregory of Nazianzus"

Abstract: The incarnate person of the Logos in St. Gregory the Theologian’s works maintains theological importance for the nature of the human being and their salvation. The Logos holds both substantial and relational significance with the Father, creation and humanity. St. Gregory’s Christology is shaped according to the Logos’ assumption of flesh via the human nous, for the purpose of recovering the divine image in the human person, so that we may be made one in Christ. The divine-humanity of Jesus is an exalted manifestation of God’s nature exceeding earthly experiences, but also comprises the compound which makes up his body and soul (Or. 29.18). St. Gregory recognises this union of two natures in a single personhood in Christ, resulting from the mixing of the two, where the divine dominates (Or. 29.19). In his Christological repertoire he uses many novel descriptions for defining the union of Christ’s two natures, aimed to show the ontological significance of Christ’s divine humanity. This paper will examine the unifying and salvific purpose of the incarnate Logos’ assumption of flesh. The first section will discuss Christ’s relationship with the Father as Son and Logos, for revealing how God’s economy reaches the human person through the standard of divinity. The paper will then focus on the Logos as the instrument and the means of unifying God and the human being and finally show how St. Gregory achieves this unity through his Christology. The incarnate identity of the Son is given impetus from three persons working in harmony and will (Or. 30.12), making the divine fleshing of the Logos the outward manifestation of the life of the Trinity.


Josfin Raj

New Life Biblical Seminary (India)

"Towards an Inclusive Dalit Christology: From Broken People to an Inclusive Community"

Abstract: With the emergence of dalit theology in India, dalit theologians claim that a real Indian Christian theology has been emerged. However, it is not the case when we analyze contemporary dalit Christological discourses because of its emphasis on the caste systemand its emphasis on the“historical Jesus”. This paper analyses early Christianity and Christological expression and finds its similarity with current dalits of India and proposes an inclusive Christology for the broken people.

The early Christian community represented the “dalits”of that time who were oppressed by the powers of religious, political, and intellectual world. The context of Jewish, Roman, and Hellenistic oppression and persecution caused the dalitness of the early church. Albeit the early church represented different communities of faith in the Palestine and beyond from the first century to the fourth century C.E., this work limited to the communitiescommon struggle for identity in its strange context. The response of the early Church to their weird context was not with communal nationalism or establishing “Christendom” by annihilating existing socio- political power. But rather they were in the process of emancipation and solidarity with the existing structures, not as subjugators, but as having a dignified identity. It reflected in their Christological expressions as they addressed Jesus as “the Christ” or “the Lord” or “the Logos” in the strange context. Such Christological expressions bestowed them a positive identity in Christ that eventually helped them to aspire and work for socio-economic and cultural emancipation that went along with national integration. This inclusive community building was possible with their inclusive faith confession on Jesus Christ. It would be a relevant proposal for the process of inclusive community building inIndia.

Caste analysis on dalits bifurcate them within and stands as a hurdle in the process of inclusive community building. Dalit theology emerged in this context and retains such bifurcation. This study questions these criteria to interpret a person as dalit and reframes from etymological meaning, that is, the criterion for dalit is one’s dalitness [condition of brokenness], not caste. This vision on dalit could embrace ‘all’people irrespective of their caste or class inthe society. Perhaps, the present dalit Christology is not an inclusive dalit Christology in the wider sense of the term “dalit”. That means, the emergence of dalit Christology not only fails to solve the caste issues but also promotes caste conflicts in India. Therefore, a common ground for  Indian Christology is to be sought on the basis of “dalits”in its wider sense of the meaning, which will enable, on the one hand, to solve caste conflicts and on the other hand to work for the emancipation and integration of inclusive community in India.

The outline of my work can include four parts. The first part frames the (ab)use of the term“dalit”and the realities of their life throughout history. It also analyses the Christian theological reflections on “dalit”.The second part analyses the faith confession of the early faith church community in their context of dalitness. The third part re-views the contemporary dalit Christology in the light of the early faith confession. In the final part, an attempt is made to propose an “inclusive dalit Christology” to solve issues in the caste-conflicted society like India. Hence, this paper proposes a Christology relevant for “Dalits” in India in the light of the early faith confession on Christ.


Grahame Rosolen (PhD cand.)

School of Theology, Charles Sturt University

"The Enduring Importance of the Incarnational Christology of Athanasius"

Abstract: The Christological insights of Athanasius, originally articulated in the 4th century, have echoed down the centuries and remain just as relevant in the 21st century study of Christology because of the insightful way Athanasius explored the relationship between the identity of Christ and what Christ accomplished for humanity. Athanasius explored Christology from an incarnational perspective and viewed most Christological concepts by linking them back to the incarnation in an analytical manner. The humanity and divinity of Christ poetically explored by Gregory of Nazianzus is complemented by the analytical approach of Athanasius. More recent theologians such as Torrance, Hooker, Hayes and others when wrestling with Christology have been able to make effective use of the insights of Athanasius, especially in relation to the incarnation. The notion that the incarnation is both necessary and sufficient for the revelation of God to humanity is a concept from the writings of Athanasius which remains relevant today. The revelation of God through the incarnation has enduring efficacy because Christ is dually qualified to reveal God. Christ is both the content of the revelation, by means of his divinity and the effective mechanism of revelation, by means of his humanity. The Christological centrality of the incarnation asserted by Athanasius remains relevant and can be restated in every age to provide a lens for exploring Christology. In the incarnation God participates with humanity in Christ and humanity is able to participate in what Christ accomplishes. The participation is inaugurated in the incarnation and consummated in the cross and resurrection.


Martin Samson PhD (cand.)

Flinders University: Humanities and Social Sciences; Theology

"Developing Pauline Christology as a Spiritual Quest for the Historical Jesus"

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to explore epistemologies and methodologies for making Christology relevant to theology and worship communities. It will include a development of theological scientific method that can bridge conversation with positivist methods.

The line of argument is that the Historical Critical approach and the four quests for the historical Jesus have placed Christology, the search for knowing how Christ works in our world, at risk of been seen as religious myth. However, for Paul, knowledge of the historical Jesus was not based on physical evidence, meetings or texts. He based his knowing (pepeismai: persuaded through experience) on his spiritual experience at Damascus (Romans8:38-39). He gave us a Christian anthropology (1Cor:15) that tells us how Christ established a new basis for experiencing the spirit. I name the process of our coming to understand it: the spiritual quest for the historical Jesus. Paul did not create a theory of knowledge but his anthropology, based on the first and second Adam, creates the Christological basis for an epistemology is one which restores the unity of reality which had been lost in the process of cognition. (Steiner, Pagels)

In 1 Cor:15 Paul can be read as saying that through Christ the necessary changes in the human condition were brought about for cognition to overcome the duality of consciousness. The soma psychikon of the first Adam, as the first protos, provides the physical body which is subject to the senses, sin and death, and the soma pneumatikon, as the last eschatos, of Christ which is subject to charis, grace, reverence, freedom and beauty of the spirit. (Hiebel, Coakley)

These ideas have a Western Christian tradition of developing spiritual senses for perceiving God, and an eastern Christian tradition in Theosis and the Mystical Union with God. The term ‘spiritual sense’ is used to designate non-physical human perception, rather than the non-literal interpretation of scripture. The physical and spiritual senses could be seen as two different sets of powers or faculties, two states of the same fivefold sensorium directed as different aspects of the same object. This paper will propose that the transformation comes through Christ working within us. In this sense an epistemology correlating with Paul’s saying: Not I but Christ within me (Gal 2:9-21) gives rise to a post-positivist theological scientific methodology that can provide spiritual evidence based/scientific studies if Christology. I will argue that this provides Christology on equal footing with positivist methods and opens up the possibility of Christology having dialogue with noetic sciences too.


Prof. Keith Thompson

University of Notre Dame Australia

"Webb’s Analysis of Smith’s Christology"

Abstract: In his seminal text Jesus Christ, Eternal God, Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter (Oxford University Press, 2012), the late Catholic theologian Stephen H. Webb wrote that Joseph Smith, “knew more about theology and philosophy than it was reasonable for anyone in his position to know as if he were dipping into the deep, collective unconsciousness of Christianity with a very long pen…Smith identifie[d] Jesus Christ not only with God but also with the eternal power that fuels the cosmos and the laws by which that power is regulated. Everything radiates with the energy of Jesus. This is truly the beginning of a Christological metaphysics of matter.” What was it that impressed Webb in the theology of Joseph Smith? In this paper I will explore Webb’s analysis of Smith’s theology and the additional theological insights of LDS scholars following Smith’s First Vision.



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