Have you ever walked into someone else’s fight? That’s how I felt reading Walvoord’s Christology.
The fight was the Southern Baptist’s war against all forms of liberal theology. Walvoord’s Jesus Christ our Lord is a thorough conservative doctrinal stance on who Jesus is. It’s a polemic aimed at everyone who deviates from orthodoxy, as defined by Walvoord.
The first chapter on the history of Christology was the most interesting and set the tone for the book. Walvoord described many positions before labeling them unorthodox. One of the ironies of this stance is the modernist method by which Walvoord criticized his liberal opponents. Walvoord showed little respect for the human authors of scripture as he pulled various scriptural references together across centuries to argue his point. Here’s an example:
By the process of elimination, it can be demonstrated that the Angel of Jehovah could not be either the first Person or the third Person. According to John 1:18 … (46)
The scriptures are not a puzzle to be pieced together by “process of elimination!”
Another frustrating element of this book was his lack of interest in Jesus’ earthly life. After spending 74 pages describing the pre-incarnite Christ, Walvoord takes 30 pages to review his life on earth, with little attention given to the substance of his teaching. Surely with four gospels worth of material that is our best source for developing a robust Christology!
Despite many concerns with Walvoord’s method and tone, I will keep the book on my self for its encyclopedic value. Everything from messianic prophecies to atonement theories are listed neatly and described concisely.
Over 40 years have passed since Walvoord penned his polemic. Battle lines have changed. More accurately, what was once a fierce battle is now little more than an historical curiosity (in most parts of the world). An incarnational model of scripture—one that respects the fully human and fully divine nature of the written Word—excises the persuasive power from Walvoord’s systematic deductions.
—John Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago: Moody, 1969).