Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Layman's Christology

Mark Jones, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christology (Geanies House, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2012). 81pp. Paperback. $6.99.

Reviewed by Ryan McGraw

Someone said once that it takes all of our learning to be plain. This little volume on Christology is a wonderful model for taking a high level of learning, digesting it carefully, and presenting it to the church in popular form. Mark Jones here introduces the subject of Christology to a lay audience with few footnotes and with simplicity of style. He has gleaned the best material from his wide scholarship in historic Reformed orthodox theology (especially Thomas Goodwin and John Owen) and provided a simple presentation of the person and work of Jesus Christ without becoming simplistic.

The work stresses the person of Jesus Christ primarily. Jones’s notes correctly that believers have largely neglected the biblical implications of the full humanity of Christ as well as of the unity of his two natures in one person. Addressing questions such as whether Christ has one or two wills, how his divine and human attributes relate to his work and many similar questions helps us to understand who Jesus, which determines what He came to do. After treating Christ’s person in two substantial chapters, the third and last chapter presents the work of Christ via His offices of prophet, priest, and king, both in His estate of humiliation and of exaltation.

For a readable and accessible introductory volume, Jones’s work is full of profound insights. For example, on page 21, he refers to the distinction that many Reformed theologians have made between “the whole Christ, and the whole of Christ.” The whole Christ is present in His ordinances, enabling believers to hold communion with Him in both natures. However, the whole of Christ is not present in that His human nature is physically in heaven and not upon the earth. This distinction becomes particularly useful in distinguishing the Reformed view of the Lord’s Supper from the Lutheran and Catholic views.

Jones’s section on the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Christ is of great value (36-43). He rightly treats Jesus Christ as the man who was pre-eminently filled with the Spirit and who on this ground becomes the prototype of the work of the Spirit in believers. This note is often neglected, but it has great practical potential in the lives of believers.

Many people today have a misinformed or even a sentimental view of who Jesus Christ is. Modern scholars continue to “search” for the historical Jesus only because they will listen to any source of information about Him except the Scriptures. Mark Jones drives us back to the Scriptures in light of the historical teaching of Reformed theology in order to give us a clear picture of Jesus Christ that should instruct our minds and warm our affections. You may be surprised by the Christ that you find in this book. However, what may surprise you is how profound and glorious the Christ presented in Scripture always was and remains to be.

This review was originally published in Modern Reformation. Used by permission of the author.