December can be a somewhat awkward time for Christians. On one hand, it’s a time when churches tend to speak about Jesus a great deal, something we wish were a given throughout the year. On the other hand, the Jesus that’s described can often resemble the values of culture instead of the description found in the Bible. For a great book on the topic, check out “Jesus Made in America“.
One way to transcend our cultural context is to take church history seriously. That doesn’t mean we treat church fathers and councils as being on the same level as Scripture. Rather, it means that we recognize that we have cultural blind spots (yes, we have blind spots!), which can be exposed when we become familiar with the writings of teachers from previous generations. As the Bible teaches, there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. What better counsel for us this Christmas than to read the Church’s unified testimony to what the Bible teaches concerning the Incarnation?
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
[The Definition of the Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD – read more here]