June 19, 2012

Quest For The Historical Jesus

Albert Schweitzer

Godless men and the Holy Scriptures do not mix very well, they're like oil and water. As such, in the 19th century we entered in the Quest for the Historical Jesus. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the philosophies of people like Immanuel Kant, Hegel, and their ilk. We also have the new thoughts on Christianity that plant themselves in Liberal Theology. From things like the Enlightenment, Rationalism and a desire to make society and church anthropomorphically (man) centered and not theocentric (God) centered, we see the corruption of Christianity to the point that it is no longer Christian. Liberal Christian "experts” and Christian "scholars" after the 18th and 19th century (and after the abuses of the Church for centuries) felt the need to adapt to the anti-Christian heterodoxy and the “cult of reason” sentiments that surfaced in things like the French Revolution. In a so-called attempt to save Christianity from itself, scholars tried to rescue Christianity from irrelevance by putting it on a Procrustean bed and proceeded to amputate the Faith until it became invalid theologically. What remained when they were done was no longer Christianity but a syncretistic “Christianized” new age pantheism that mostly relied on reason, rationalism and virtually no metaphysical or supernatural elements. This thereby precluded or removed the true God from the picture-who is Jesus. At least the Jesus we read of in the Bible that is fully man and fully divine. Begotten (μονογενής), not made. You know, the One that died for our sins and was raised again the third day in accordance with Scripture.

As a way to refine (or redefine) Jesus and contort belief in Jesus for what amounts to a new generation of non-believers or Christians in name only (CINO's) we run smack into the idea of a Quest for the Historical Jesus (visualize a theological Titanic and a secular iceberg). Enter people like D. F. Strauss, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Bultmann and their ilk played a paramount role in this derailing of Christianity. Regardless of how highly touted these men were for their intelligence and insight I view them primarily as an un-Christian lot. To me, theirs was an inane godless pursuit that made Jesus nothing more than an ordinary man or myth with a knack for teaching…and he was really nice too (usually). A radical Rabbi that was in the wrong place at the wrong time that was “removed” before he really had a chance to affect a political change in the Roman Empire (or at least create a Social Gospel-type change that would usher in a kingdom of goodness). Too bad He got crucified first. From a modernist demythologized view we see a trivialized and nearly pointless death of a dissident from a Roman backwater called Jerusalem. All of this nonsense is an attempt by mostly non-believers to secularize the church and attach it to the most prevalent and prevailing ideas of the society or culture in the last century or two.

The problem with this is that people (mostly godless), don’t like the Gospel of the Bible because it offends their sensibilities (a la 1 Corinthians 1:23). So the quest for the historical Jesus was an attempt by people that really don’t understand their Bibles to water down the Gospel and Bible itself to its rudimentary parts that had been demythologized and had removed the supernatural from Christianity. This is to say it wasn’t even Christian anymore because to remove the supernatural from the Faith is to remove God. They were trying to (and still are) to remove Jesus’ deity. Plenary inspiration of the Scripture is ditched and the Bible became nothing more than idle ramblings of regular men about their thoughts on God. In centuries of advance and “wisdom” (mostly worldly) we had advanced to the fact that the Bible was nothing more than a book of myths that needed to be demythologized to find truth. It was then clearly viewed as fallible and errant. It was to be viewed as nothing more than literature, therefore the characters within are nothing more than vehicles to convey the purpose of the story. People like Abraham, David and Jesus then become nothing more than characters like Macbeth and Odysseus.

The modern (and poorly named) higher criticism enters the picture and essentially eviscerates the text by dealing too heavily with a false presupposition (the Bible is not the inerrant word of God) and dwells too much on the rhetoric, semantics and historical-critical concepts that led to what these new “experts” viewed as an error prone text that had been heavily edited or redacted. Although some new valid truths could’ve come from these methods it is highly improbable that most would be of any value (in my conservative and fundamentalist view). This is especially true considering the absolute antithetical and anti-supernatural bias many go in with wishing to “gut” the Scriptures. This is no different than sending a white supremacist in to document the truth about a Jeremiah Wright sermon. There might be some truth in what the person will write but it will be so heavily tainted with bias and prejudices, it will be hard to pick out the truth, if not impossible.

The most current incarnation of this blasphemous nonsense has culminated in the Jesus Seminar that only allows for Jesus to have said a fraction of what has been attributed to Him by Scripture (about 18%). The word “experts” is a dubious term for these heretics unless it is used to describe them as unorthodox apostates. Many of the self-proclaimed Historical Jesus seekers including some of the sources I’ve read claim there is nothing heretical about wanting to find the Historical Jesus. I beg to differ. If the heart is inclined to darkness, their intents might very well be heretical and it is foolish to assume otherwise. So instead of simply accepting the Scriptures are supernaturally and divinely inspired, they take semantics, lexicography and grammar into a fool’s paradise by dismantling it and turning it into a language minefield. As accurately as I believe people like N.T. Wright may try to be in his assessment of the Historical Jesus, I will reserve comment until I see a review of all his findings. He is an adherent (however loosely) of Schweitzer who was essentially a non-believer that arrived at his conclusion based on what appears to be pure rationalism and historicism. Schweitzer is considered a theologian by history books, I consider him nothing of the sort. If he went to his grave believing what he espoused, he died as an apostate regardless of how many humanitarian deeds he did. Considering we need to approach God and Jesus with fideism, his approach was self-defeating from a Christian point of view.

Trying to interpret the Scripture with the intent to try and understand its truth better is fine. Trying to read into the text and then interpret the Scripture so to impose intent of the person trying to interpret it is demonic and is not even Christian (or the utmost in stupidity, naivety or ignorance). It’s bad enough when people do it blindly following the “wisdom of the world” and think they are pursuing what they view is truth. It is sadder still when they are chasing a twisted version of it that is tainted with influence of the culture around them. A culture that says there are things like contradictions and intentional mistruths to manipulate people in the Bible. This of course is an approach to the Scripture that either believes there is no inspiration or assumes God is doing the deception and manipulation. What is worse are so-called Christians in Seminaries and institutes of “higher learning” that utilize “higher criticism” with malevolent intent to do no different than the Devil did with Jesus on the roof of the Temple when he tempts Jesus with a deliberate and premeditated misquote of Psalms 91:11-12 in Luke 4:10-11. Just as Satan in a premeditated manner leaves out “in all your ways”, he therefore changes the intent and context of the passage.

This is no different than a person that enters the Scripture intent on mangling it with a presupposition to produce a non-supernatural output. I see these two things as the same. Both are issues of motives and what comes from the heart…a heart that is either for God or against Him. Obedient or Disobedient. A heart is either mutilated and desensitized by sin,therefore reprobate or a heart is softened and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel 36:26~ “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Used properly the Scriptures are capable of giving us a clear historical picture without the need for “scholarly” accompaniments. Accompaniments are for those that are not comfortable with plain truth as it is revealed in Scripture. This discomfort whether people will admit it or not - is a lack of faith.

“Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrew 4:12.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17”

Scripture when used improperly, misquoted, or read into…becomes the tool of the Devil himself.

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