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A Jesus We Can Follow

Equipped with a mug of coffee, I sat down to hear Professor Stackhouse's absorbing and instructive lecture on Kenotic Christology 101. To read his review "A Christ We Can Follow" [January/February 2011] is to enroll in a seminary-level course, learning from a scholar who is orthodox but not afraid to ask needful questions or challenge pious assumptions.

His clear organization permitted me—a novice in this area—to follow the problems associated with a traditional understanding of the Incarnation and how new varieties of kenotic theology can address them. He responds to the objections with such biblical perspicacity and creedal fidelity that I was fully persuaded of his modest conclusion: "kenotic Christology deserves a serious look." I appreciate Stackhouse's honesty about the limits of theology and his refusal to explain away paradox.

The title of the review captures my sentiment: I can only follow a Jesus who is fully human—whether in his being or in his experience—but also fully divine. For that reason, I am inclined to agree with the kenoticists: "The doctrine of divine immutability, and its correlate, divine impassability, are simply wrong in the light of the Christ event as witnessed in Scripture …. God can change and God can suffer." Kenotic Christology, at first blush, seems to threaten orthodoxy with its accent on the humanity of Jesus. But it actually turns out to be a protector of orthodoxy by keeping us closer to the Jesus of the Gospels and rejecting the "perfect being philosophy" that diminishes his roles as an obedient example and empathetic advocate. Well done, professor.

Christopher Benson
Denver, Colorado

Emigrant Nation

David Skeel's engaging review of Mark Choate's study of Italian emigrants ["Emigrant Nation," January/February] raised some excellent questions for scholars of immigrant communities to pursue, particularly around issues of religious institutions, religious life, and the role of religious ...

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