Johann Christoph Blumhardt and Christology

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Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805-1880) was a Lutheran pastor in Württemberg. He was known among the Lutheran Pietists who built the relation between Southwest Germany [then] with the Basel University of Switzerland mission Society. Certain authors consider this relationship as fostering the trans-Atlantic faith healing movement. Moreover, Johann Blumhardts’ Christological notion of eschatology was very prominent at this time. He developed this kind of eschatology from the series of divine manifestations of healing and power over evil forces. Macchia with other writers observed that Johann’s encounter with the phenomenon of demonic possession and the subsequent overcoming of this power through intense spiritual exercise led him to this conviction that “Jesus is Victor”. 

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This insinuates a kind of Christology that shapes a Pentecostal sense of salvation. Jesus is Victor designates a Christology of power. This form of Christology emphasizes the consistent triumph and rule of Jesus over the cosmic powers. Thus, it concentrates on how Jesus reshapes the human person subdued by the evil forces. Hence, Johann attempted to discuss a Christology that is more real in the sense that, the historical Jesus is not limited only to the time Christ lived on earth. Rather, he argues that Christ continues to break into the world after His ascension. This implies that the continuous presence of Christ indicates that He is more immanent and concrete to the human situation. Accordingly, this reveals that the spiritual and the ordinary human condition are brought together.

These two aspects are to be met in the human predicament. One can equally discover that Blumhardt tactfully combined the Lutheran Pietist spirituality with radical healing. His view of radical healing brings out the idea of salvation that is mediated, a view Macchia did not directly share the way Blumhardt conceives it. Blumhardt remarks that “God was breaking into the world to set the captives free through the events of physical as well as psychological and spiritual healing”. 

The meaning of this statement will enable us to understand the direction Macchia will adopt in his appreciation of Blumhardt. The statement can be analyzed in two ways. Firstly, the phrasal verb “break into” gives us the idea of the kingdom of God in our midst. This breaking-in of the kingdom becomes the means God makes his presence felt among the living in the world. Macchia will draw from this to illustrate how God manifests Himself to the lowly and the oppressed people. This is already giving space for the social understanding of the kingdom which the younger Blumhardt adopts.  

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