Schaff, Phillip. The Person of Christ: The Perfection of Humanity Viewed as a Proof of His Divinity. Hannibal: Granted Ministries, 2011. 224 pp. $16.00. Purchase at Granted Ministries for $10.00.
This work published by Granted Ministries is a combination of the original 1865 edition which was published by Bible House and the last edition which was published by the American Tract Society in 1882. This is the second edition published by Granted Ministries.
Dr. Schaff (1819-1893) was born in Switzerland and educated in Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1844 where he served as a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York Seminary until his death. During that time, he became a much respected church historian. This work, in particular, takes a long hard look at the man, Jesus Christ, upon which the church is founded.
This work is divided into three sections. The first section looks at the Person of Christ. Over ten chapters, the reader will learn of the life of Jesus from His birth to his Crucifixion. The last two chapters of the first section offer a summary of what was gleaned from Scripture as well as a look at what Christ had to say about Himself.
The second section studies false theories regarding the person of Jesus Christ. First, the author offers a study on the denial of miracles before moving on to dealing with the hypothesis of imposture — that is, Jesus was pretending to be sinless. The next false theory dealt with is that of self-deception. Many might know of this as part of C.S. Lewis’ Liar, Lunatic, or Lord argument for the authority of Christ as both Lord and Savior. The final false theory dealt with is that of poetical fiction. Here, Schaff looks specifically at two men who have attempted to promulgate this theory with different emphases.
The final section is a collection of many testimonies of unbelievers throughout the history of the church. To our knowledge, none of the men Schaff quotes ever became a believer in Christ. Nonetheless, they all spoke highly of Him.
Written in the latter half of the 19th century, this work remains timeless in both its subject matter and usefulness for the church. Dr. Schaff is, as usual, impeccable in his research and support for his arguments. He also lays out such a complete and compelling argument that for one to walk away from this conversation and not believe is doing so willfully. Even though the book was written some 150 years ago, the arguments remain accessible even if a bit weighty. This work is certainly not beach reading but can definitely be read by anyone with a thirst to learn more about the person of Jesus Christ.
I appreciated the opening remarks for each section of the book by Granted Ministries. These help today’s reader to better understand the implications of what is being read as well as how to apply it to every day life.
Again, though this is an “advanced” book (Granted Ministries has it labeled as a “level 2″ book of 3 levels) I would not hesitate to offer it to a new believer or even someone who is wanting to know more about Christ as an unbeliever. Ultimately, faith is from God and to God through the power of the Holy Spirit and no one can argue another person into the kingdom. That does not mean that resources outside of Scripture can be used to this end. Dr. Philip Schaff’s work, The Person of Christ, is one such resource that can be used for this end. It deals with one topic and one topic only — Jesus Christ. There is no better topic for either the believer or unbeliever to study. I recommend this work to all regardless of faith.