What should we do with the Gospels?

Monday Musings for January 24, 2022

Good morning, Musers,

The Gospels are (arguably) the most read of all the ancient documents. But the thing that makes them so popular is also the thing that makes them so hated: they record the life and times of Jesus Christ.

“Christ” is not a surname. It is an attribution… and I think contemporary English readers have been underserved in this area. The word “Christ” should always be preceded by the word “the.” Then, instead of it sounding like Jesus was the son of Mary and Joseph Christ, we would read Jesus — the Christ... and we would get it. That means that Jesus was “the Anointed One” ... which the ancient readers understood to be the Messiah.

Contemporary Christians understand that Jesus was the Messiah... academically. But since most of us do not have a Jewish heritage, we virtually ignore this fact. This is a huge error... probably fanned by the flames of the dispensationalist’s pressure to keep Israel separate from the Body of Christ. This is interpretive pressure, however… not biblical pressure. The apostle Paul taught that Jews and Gentiles were all in the Body of Christ... and that there was no difference between those categories or persons (Romans 3:22)... but I digress.

Even after the Church was born, understanding that Jesus was the Messiah was still the point. You had to “get” this to understand who Jesus was to God and to the world… and it is still the thing we have to get. Jesus was the Christ... the Anointed One... the Messiah, sent from God.

I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that Jesus hid his messiahship more than he revealed it during his corporal ministry. But when he did reveal it, he revealed it as the point of his coming. Jesus commended Peter’s understanding that he was the Christ... the Son of the living God! Just a note that he put the word “the” before the word “Christ” ... and this is what sends a lot of scholars packing.

You see, if Jesus was who he said he was — and who his followers taught that he was — then the world that dismisses God a priori is in trouble. If God does not exist, then “God’s Word” is not a thing. But the Gospels are still historical records... and these records record Jesus’ miracles. So, what’s a scholar to do? They cannot dismiss the reports. Instead, they dismiss God.

Now, scholars interpret the texts as they must... given their presuppositions that only the physical world exists. They agree that Jesus existed... that he was a great teacher and a great moral leader. However, he could not have been the Son of God because God doesn’t exist... and he could not have performed miracles because miracles cannot occur. They conclude that people who wrote the New Testament added these to create the Jesus of Christian mythology.

As a Christian, I do not agree with the conclusions of every historian or textual critic. I do support their processes, however.... all truth being God’s truth. Therefore, I do not fear programs like “The Jesus Seminar” or persons like Bart Ehrman. God weighs every thought and word.

 

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