Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Raging Battle For The Jesus Of History

Of a certainty there has been no more controversial subject in historical studies than that of the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the head and the Chief Cornerstone of the Christian faith. In Christianity almost every word recorded within the pages of holy writ refer ultimately to Jesus. For the skeptic, and agnostic this poseses a problem of epic proportions. For the question is asked how can we truely know this Jesus of history?

This sort of conundrum has led to a host of various interpretations of history and faith as it pertains to the discovery of the "real" Jesus. It was during the 18th Century Enlightenment that German, Deist scholar Dr. Hermann S. Reimarus (1694-1768) set forth a totally different and radical view of who Jesus was. He set forth the idea that Jesus was a political and social idealist who never intended to start a religion and failed in his mission to liberate the Jews politically. He gave no creedence to the Jesus of faith or miracles for that matter. (Please Go Here To See Why He Was Wrong)

Partially due to the era of Enlightenment, there have been countless individuals who have set out to define, shape and reevaluate who Jesus was. To display how heated and contentious this subject can be Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) reviving thoughts set forth by German Professor G. Wobbermin tried to solidify the idea that the "historical" Jesus was even different from the "historic" Jesus. The distinction, he claimed, was that the "historic" Jesus was responsible for untold evil and repression of individuals down through the ages, while the "historical" Jesus was a person of meekness who truely sought to help individuals. In essence, in this argument, the "historic" Jesus is a product of what Christians and the church "believe" about Jesus and that "belief" is not necessarily patterened after the "historical" person.

Jesus very own words seems to negatively cap this argument in some way:

Mt. 10:34-36 ~ "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35-For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36-And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household."

Again, there have been countless others such as E.P. Sanders and in more recent times apostates such as John Dominick Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar (The Who's Who Of Apostates), and a host of other agnostic professors some of which have been featured HERE, such as Elaine Pagels, Bart D. Ehrman and James D. Tabor and even atheists such as Robert Price and Richard Carrier that have set forth their own versions of the historical Jesus. So among scholars as we have noted, there is a battle for the historical Jesus.
Dr. John P. Meier, Professor of New Testament at the University Of Notre Dame, in his landmark works "A Marginal Jew- Rethinking The Historical Jesus" Volumes 1-3 Poses a question in Volume 1 of the Series as such:
  • "...what do we mean when we say that we are pursuing the "historical Jesus" or the "Jesus of history"?..."By the Jesus of history I mean a Jesus that we can "recover" and examine by using the scientific tools of modern historical research." ~ Dr. John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, Rethinking The Historical Jesus Volume 1, (1991 Doubleday) pg. 25.
One of the primary influences within modern scholarship pronouncing the differences between the historic and historical Jesus was German Lutheran, New Testament professor and father of biblical form criticism, Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) He rejected the historical Jesus as a basis for faith and claimed the genre of the gospels to be kerygma which he described as a development of preaching, having taken a literary form. Regarding the person of Jesus however, he set forth the following:
  • "...we can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary..." ~ Rudolf Bultmann "Jesus And The Word" pg. 14
One of the reasons this is so important and controversial is because we can't and don't necessarily know "everything" about the Jesus of history. For instance, we do NOT know his favorite colors, food, or shoes etc. Other even more significant historical information such as what Jesus did in his intermediate years is still a mystery to us. These are the things that we can only wonder about the Jesus of history, but yet we have received from him enough to evaluate and know the Jesus of our faith.

These thoughts and recent discoveries (1945) of alternate gospels at Nag Hammadi, Egypt have caused some scholars to proclaim that we now have the missing pieces necessary to help us find the "real" Jesus. These finds, however have been less than convincing and in many cases clearly legendary dated too late to shed any light on the person of the First Century Messiah and savior of the world, and contain messages more associated with gnosticism than Christianity in any era.

For the person who doesn't mind delving deeply into the epistemology of their faith and further past traditional biblical studies, these thoughts and this debate quite naturally lead to other questions that I pose and ask you to contemplate and respond:
  • Is the Jesus of history the same as the Jesus of faith?
  • Whom must the Christian know in order to gain salvation, the historical Jesus or the Jesus of faith?
  • Are we required biblically to know the Jesus of history in order to come to saving faith?
As you may tell this is and can be a rather complicated study. We know from scipture that we must believe God in order to receive:

Heb.11:6 ~ "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

However this verse addresses a matter of faith and not necessarily history.

In essence this post os for them that are into serious analysis of their faith and examination of Jesus. One thing I am confident of is that Jesus can stand any thorough examination that we require. He remains the only figure in history that invites us to emainine him and know his realness. Remember what Jesus said to Thomas:

John 20:24-29 ~ "24-But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25-The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26-And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27-Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28-And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29-Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Thank God, Jesus can stand any examination whether one of history or one of faith.


Picture Courtesy of Greg Webb, Black Jesus Picture Collection

Recommended Resources:
The Case For The Real Jesus ~ Lee Strobel, 2007 Zondervan
Dethroning Jesus ~ Darrell Bock & Daniel B. Wallace, 2007 Thomas Nelson
Reinventing Jesus ~ Komoszewski, Sawyer & Wallace, 2006 Kregel
The Missing Gospels ~ Darrell Bock, 2006 Nelson Books
The Jesus Legend ~ Paul Eddy & Gregory Boyd, 2007 Baker Academic

Read more!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


1 Timothy 4:1-2 ~ "1- Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2- Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Please See my Study On Homosexuality & The New Testament For Additional Information
Invariably, some will read this title and think that I am calling people related to this topic devils. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am merely stating that the following scriptural interpretations are inspired by the "Prince of Darkness" or the devil himself. Therefore this is his doctrine spreading as if it were truth of the Word of God.

Recently I was made aware of a certain conversation in which a "supposed" COGIC Elder set forth an unscriptural argument and dropped a few names in effort to give himself credibility in his statements. Here is an excerpt taken from that particular web site conversation:

"I am HAPPILY married to the very happy & satisfied Evangelist Katherine Woods; we have three very bright children and lead a much fulfilled life. I am also an ordained Elder, anointed by our late Presiding Bishop, Bishop Louis Henry Ford. Not all Elders in our great churchare bigots, that believe those who are different than us are bound to hell. Now that you've been invalidated concerning my personal affairs, allow me to continue.

David, the great psalmist and writer who was "after God's own heart" was a homosexual.Allow me to present two scriptures as spiritual backing and to interpret into modernity.

"And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul." I Samuel 18:1-3

"I am distressed for thee my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." II Samuel 1:19-27
"…what MAN do you love more than you love your wife? What man do you have so close to your heart that the love for a woman is overshadowed by that of a man? Presuming you have noman in your life that you love more than your wife (if you're married, kind sir)…., Is there a Man you know that is married, (knit to a woman) yet loves a man more? Of course not! Because David loved Jonathan with all he had. David and Jonathan were homosexuals. Discredit me scripturally, or shut up and save the personal attacks for someone who's inept.How many psalmists, artists, musicians, and artistic individuals do you know who practice homosexuality? What's your reasoning…Oh wait, allow me to assume (as you have) what your response might be…you're probably saying "THAT OLD DEVIL JUST PICKS ON THE ARTSY FOLK" huh? I think not. The next time you want to rebut in a way that is as disrespectful as you did, please come with evidence and not just attack. You give me so much fuel to continue my quest in educating the saints of their sons and daughters who happen to be same-gender loving."
I'm sure your next rebuttal will be full of Greek and Hebrew which you have no real interpretation of. However, please note that I am well versed in both. Medicine isn't the only thing I've studied; I also happen to be an Elder who was taught to study the scripturefor its full intent and not for what has been taught through our ignorance of scripture.

Either way, I'm ready.
Dr. Elijah Woods, M.D

First, I would like to say that this gentleman also left his phone number on the message board which HAS NOT checked out. In fact I personally called the number to the hospital that he left and there was no current record of him. He could have been an employee in December of 2007 when this message was made but he IS NOT there now.

In addition I have spoken with Bishop Robert Sanders of Illinois Third Jurisdiction COGIC concerning the identity of this gentleman. Bishop Sanders was previously one of Bishop L.H. Ford’s (Pictured Right) Administrative Assistants and Security Chief in Illinois 1st Jurisdiction. Bishop Sanders has traveled extensively with Bishop L.H. Ford and was familiar with most individuals that Bishop Ford Ordained especially late in his ministry. Not only that, but he is a long time resident of Chicago, Illinois and knows most of the COGIC Elders there. Although the name sounded familiar he could not connect a face.

Further Bishop Sanders suggests that this gentleman produce a certificate of Ordination with Bishop Ford’s signature in order to confirm his identity and credibility. Further the Bishop states the following:
"Anyone preaching and using those scriptures or any biblical scriptures as a pretext in favor of homosexuality is not a scholar of any kind and does not represent the Church Of God In Christ with a message as such." Bishop Sanders further stated that, "There is no way that a knowledgeable person could take those scriptures and even suggest what he’s suggesting…He doesn’t know what he’s talking about." ~ Bishop Robert R. Sanders 9/9/08 (Pictured Left)

We have received information that this gentleman (Dr. Elijah Woods) serves under a Bishop in Wisconsin. We are trying to confirm this information.

It is noteable that the message of this poster is irrely similar to the message of Bishop T.D. Jakes regarding the same and similar subject matter. Elder D.L. Foster has done an outstanding job of exposing his fallacious doctrine HERE.

Read more!