The Joy of Christology? a book review

The problem with much Christology, of both the high and low varieties, is that it can be dry-as-dust boring. Just the mention of the term, and eyes glaze over. The church historians may remember the fire and intrigue of earlier eras, theologians may happily enter the world of doctrinal abstraction, but for most of us, Christology remains opaque. We may be happy that someone is thinking about it somewhere, but we never delve too deeply ourselves.

Michael Reeves, author of the delightful Delighting in the Trinity and teacher of theology at Wales Evangelical School of Theology has once again helped us discover the joy of serious theological reflection. Rejoicing in Christ uncovers the joy in all that Christ is and has done for us. In five chapters (plus a brief introduction and conclusion), Reeves worshipful prose reflect on Christ’s divinity; his humanity;  his life, death, and resurrection; how we share in his life; and his victorious return and the renewal of all things. This is a short book, but meaty–doctrinally delightful and exuding with praise for the God revealed in Jesus Christ!

In writing this book, Reeves is picking up on the tradition of worshipful theology once common among the Puritans, “Once upon a time a book like this would have been utterly run of the mill. Among the old Puritans, for example, you can scarcely find a writer who did not write–or a preacher who did not preach–something called The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Christ set Forth. The Glory of Christ or the like” (9). In fact these Puritans are Reeves dialogue partners throughout. He refers often to the works of Richard Sibbes, John Owens, Jonathan Edwards and the like. The caricature of the dour Puritan is not evident anywhere in these pages. Other theologians, pastors, poets and artists of other eras are also woven into his larger Christological song.

I love this book. I appreciate the way that Reeves reveals Jesus as the eternal Word. He declares, “Here, then, is the revolution for all our dreams, our dark and frightened imaginings of God, there is no God in heaven who is unlike Jesus” (14). Reeves invites us to reflect on how the person and character of Jesus shows us what God is like–not who he became when taking on flesh, but the sort of God, God always was. He reflects on who Jesus was and how he shared in the Trinitarian life before his Incarnation. But his Christological reflections also wrestle with Christ’s humanity and what Jesus shows us about what it really means to human–taking up again our function as ‘image bearers of God’ (52). In his incarnation we discover the Christ who has been ‘lifted up on the cross, lifted up from the grave, lifted up to the throne: all to share with the world his victorious life (81). Reeves chapter on our sharing in the ‘life of Christ’ and Christ’s return do not shrink back from reflecting on suffering and difficulty, but uncover the joy of abiding and the hope of restoration. This entire book will help you appreciate the way Christ has given us ‘every blessing in the spiritual realm’ (Ephesians 1:3).

My one small critique, if you may call it that, is that this is sold by IVP’s academic imprint (IVP Academic). While this book should certainly be read by scholarly folk, I would hope that regular readers would not be scared off by this being an ‘academic book.’ This book is great for any thoughtful Christian. I give it five stars!

Notice of material connection: I received this book from IVP academic in exchange for my honest review.

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