Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In On Being a Christian, Küng’s first concern is to address the question of the distinctiveness of Christianity. He locates this distinctiveness in the person of Jesus Christ. From this, Küng turns to Christology, an analysis of what may be known about Jesus Christ, how it may be known, and what to do with this knowledge once one has it. This involves a discussion of the historical-critical method of biblical study, which attempts, among other things, to place the biblical narratives in their historical contexts and to realign the reader’s perception of the narratives with how a person of the period might have understood them.

Küng examines the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ within their historical contexts as well as vis-à-vis the actual content of the narratives. Suffering is one of the themes that emerges in the context of the Crucifixion. The miraculous, not only Jesus’ miracles in the Gospel narratives, but also the even more pressing questions of the Resurrection and the virgin birth, also receive careful examination. The practice of being the Church is his next theme. Küng posits that being the Church is a distinct way of being, and he works through what that means by drawing not only on the teachings of Jesus and Paul but also on the practices of the early Church. His final discussion of evangelism considers how the understanding of the Gospel that he has so far portrayed may be presented in a diverse and increasingly secularized world.