Paul Tillich (d. 1965) pointed out, “The essence of theology as we know it in the West is bound to an inadequate Greek concept of “static essence,” whereas what is needed is a set of concepts which can press “dynamic relation.”
As Michael Goulder puts it, “The official stance of the majority of churches is that Jesus is in two natures, one Divine and one human. But we have no accepted account of what it means for an individual to have two natures.” In other words, there’s a vacuum in our understanding of Jesus. Largely due to the work of Alexandrian archbishop Athanasius, the Council of Nicaea reasoned Jesus is both God and human. But Nicaea and following councils didn’t satisfactorily work out the relationship between Jesus’ Divinity and humanity. This is the problem.
Liberal Christians retreat from theology, even the theology of Jesus, and so miss the mark. For Christianity has to be rooted in sound doctrine about Jesus. We must find words, however limited, for God’s revelation in Jesus. Otherwise Jesus becomes putty for fundamentalists and new agers. We need precise words for Jesus. Otherwise, all of Christian theology is built on a foundation of sand.
Few can throw themselves into the dance of theology gracefully. Most end up with no theology, no starting place, and no actual window to look upon God. This is where Alan Watts’ (d. 1973) book, Beyond Theology, takes us. Others gravitate toward systematic theology, which is rigid, exhaustive, and prison like. Few can elegantly dance between the two (no theology and exhaustive theology). Theologians are either hell-bent on mystery leaving no room for certainty of any kind. Or they leave little room for mystery and nuance, which are the touchstone of the mystics.