In this piece, Hinlicky criticizes "Lutheran" theologians like Bultmann and Tillich for making Christology a function of soteriology. They do so on the basis of the young Melanchthon's statement in Loci Communes 1521: "Christ is known by his benefits." Hinlicky's alternative is to see the event of justification as a function of what one says about Christology.
A couple of things about this.
1. First things first. Bultmann and Tillich are Lutheran theologians? I guess they might have attended Lutheran Churches. Frankly, John Calvin was more in line with historic Lutheranism than these fellows. I mean, at least he believed in the Trinity, right?
2. Is making Christology a function of soteriology such a bad thing? My question would be, how else would one formulate a Christology? In other words, the entire point of Christology is soteriology. Unless we are willing to engage in abstract speculation about whether or not the Incarnation would have happened without the Fall (like Osiander, Irenaeus and Dun Scotus), then there is no point to the Incarnation other than rendering infinite satisfaction to the Father in the form of active and passive righteousness and deifying out nature by the power of his resurrection (here I follow the historic Lutheran position of the two greatest Lutheran theologians, Luther and Gerhard).
Secondly, Hinlicky makes a category mistake here. He confuses the reductiveness of their theological formulations for the starting point of their theological propositions. In other words, Bultmann and Tillich have weak and pathetic concepts of what Christ does for us so they have weak and pathetic concepts of Christ. For them, he basically doesn't have to really be God, because at the end of the day all he really does is change our existential self-understanding. This is simply a continuation of Schleiermacher's tradition, where again, all Jesus really needed to do was communicate his God-consciousness.
If your starting point is he saves us from "sin, death, the Devil, hell and the law" then we will not have a reductive Christology at all. In fact, this is the classical basis of the great Fathers of the Church's Christology. Read Athanasius' On the Incarnation of the Word. Christ, argues Athanasius, must be God, because he saves us from sin, death and the Devil. He must be God because he deifies us- by which he merely means that he facilitates the "corruptible putting on the incorruptible." We look to what Christ does, and therefore conclude who he is. He is a human being, who does what only God can do. Therefore he must be true God and true man in one person.
This way of doing Christology not only possesses catholicity, but as Johann Gerhard shows, goes back to beginning of creation, in that this is the starting point of Christology with the protoevangelium. Only a man would be the "seed of the woman." Only God could "crush the Serpent's head."
3. For these reason, I do not think we can escape saying that "Christ is know by his benefits."