Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, Legend, or Lord?

This week's (4/12) message is a challenge to discover the truth of Jesus' claims to be the Son of God in the flesh. Most non-Christian people who really investigate Jesus' life find it difficult to believe that Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic. The accounts of his life don't suggest a man who was a huckster like the old-time patent medicine salesmen or P. T. Barnum. Neither do they suggest a megalomaniac a la Jim Jones or Josef Stalin. Nor does Jesus seem like the crazy but essentially harmless folks now populating mental institutions who believe themselves to be famous people. But a great number of people, particularly in the West, are attracted to the idea of Jesus as a legend. There are great numbers of New Testament scholars who say that the "Jesus of history" was a Galilean peasant with many admirable qualities, but that the more "startling" claims about Jesus (i.e., miracles and especially resurrection) were later fabrications made up by the authors of the Gospels. There are good reasons to believe that the Jesus represented by the Gospel writers is historically accurate (that is, good reasons other than the fact that we already believe in the Jesus presented there). But to find the solid scholarship supporting the Bibles' historicity, you may have to do some digging. Here's a list of some the best books available from some of the best scholars of which I'm aware:
  • Jesus According to Scripture by Darrell Bock
  • The Missing Gospels by Darrell Bock
  • Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham
  • God Crucified by Richard Bauckham
  • Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll
  • The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith by C. Stephen Evans

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