Jesus offers much for the soul afflicted by PTSD wounds. Indeed, the traditional Christian understanding of Christology enables us to understand PTSD on the mortal physical level. It also enables usto receive solace and healing on the spiritual level of our souls. Academic theology categorizes the broad field of Christology into several types. Fortunately for the person who seeks healing from PTSD, each of these categories promotes healing. In order to appreciate more fully what Jesus can offer us in terms of healing we must first arrive at a basic understanding of Christology. Achieving this we will then be able to can apply it to the healing of PTSD.
What is Christology?
In academic terms:
Christology is the Study of how Jesus is the Christ.
Note that the statement already assumes that Jesus is the Christ. The question is how we know him, understand him, as the Christ. The Early Church rapidly discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was more than simply a human being, more than just a prophet. They discovered that he was also divine.
But just how divine was/is Jesus? Was he a demi-god, part human and part God, but not fully a god, say, like Hercules? Was he God Junior, or God-lite, less calories, but still tastes great? Early Christians quickly came to discover and accept the same Christology that mainstream Christianity still embraces today. They understood that:
Jesus is 100% Fully Human and 100% Fully Divine.
This is important for several reasons. It is important in
- worship, prayer, and mysticism
- understanding salvation (Soteriology)
- terms of healing from PTSD and trauma.
What is Soteriology?
Soteriology is the Study of How We Are Saved.
Every religion has a soteriology, whether they understand it as how they are saved from sin, misfortune, united with God, achieve enlightenment, escape from material reality, or experience ultimate reality. For Christianity we are saved from sin through the person of Jesus. The exploration of how that happens is the study of Christian soteriology.
Christology is Important to a Comprehensive Soteriology
How Jesus is the Christ makes a difference in whether our soteriology makes sense. Above we stated that mainstream Christian Christology is that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. In fact, for our salvation to work, to be redeemed from our sins and utimately united with God, it is imperative that Jesus be 100% Divine and 100% Human. Why is that?
Jesus Must Be Fully Human to Catch All of Human Sin
For Jesus to be able to take on all of human sin, he must be 100% human. If he is only 98% human, then he cannot take on all of my sin. Remember, I was an officer in the United States Field Artillery; I then went on to become a Roman Catholic theologian. If anyone knows how to sin in a creative fashion, it’s me!
But in order to be able to catch all my creative and not so creative forms of sin, Jesus must be fully human. It is as if the only suitable net that can snare every possible human sin must be a net that is in a fully human mesh. Jesus, fully human, is the net that catches all forms and possibilities of human sin.
Jesus Must Be Fully Divine to Get Rid of All Human Sin
So, the fully human Jesus can pick up all of my human sin. But now that he has a big bubbling garbage pail full of stinking human sin, my sin, how can he fix it? How can he get rid of it, permanently? His complete humanity allows him to collect all of it. His full divinity allows him to completely dump it out, rinse the container, and restore it to its designer’s pristine intention.
Sin and the Fixing of Cracked Pots
It takes full divinity to be fully redeemed and forgiven of my sins. While some may think I am a crack pot, because of sin I am like a fine pot that has been ruined: cracked, slimed, and tossed away. This is true if the cracks, slime, and neglect are due to my own sins or sins against me.
Sin’s Two Dimensions: Physical and Divine
Sin has two dimensions; it affects us on both the physical and the spiritual planes. Sin harms me physically, but it also harms my relationship with God. If I sin against someone then I have committed at least three offences: I have harmed my relationships with
- the person who I directly harmed
- God, as the creator and lover of that person
- myself, both as individual, and as a being created and loved by God
- I have even harmed my relationship with the Creation.
The full humanity of Jesus allows him to take on the action and effects of the committed sin. The full divinity of Jesus allows for the restoration of the damaged relationships with the person I have harmed and the damage with God, as that person’s creator and lover. And, the full divinity of Jesus allows for the relationship with myself to be restored and healed. The healing of relationships requires full divinity.
The full restoration of my former condition can only be done by God, my creator, in the person of Jesus. The pot cannot fully restore its cracks, only the potter can restore the pot back to good as new. That restoration requires full divinity.
While I can choose to repent (always a good thing) it takes my creator to wipe away the damage and cracks of sin. This is an action of full divinity. In order for Jesus to fully take away my sin, he must be fully divine. If Jesus is less than fully divine, a mere “godling,” then he cannot completely eradicate the sin that damages my soul. Lucky for me, he is completely divine.
To fully take on all of human sin, Jesus must be fully human.
To fully redeem us from sin, Jesus must be fully divine.
Jesus must be fully human and fully divine.
Otherwise Jesus would be inadequate to the task of saving and restoring all of creation, which includes the likes of you and I.
In the next essay we will take this academic theory on Christology and apply it to the soul wounds of PTSD. The fundamental truth inherent in the traditional Christology of the Church allows us the peace of mind and possibility of complete prayer, forgiveness, healing, and immersion in God.
Remember that just because some people in charge of the organizations of Christianity have turned out to do evil acts (clergy abuse), that does not invalidate the fundamental revelation of Jesus as the Christ, fully human and fully divine.
Semper Pax, Dr. Z