I am fairly confident that I'm going to rub someone wrong here, but it really is time that we started seeing a more public response--and condemnation--of a radical, liberal program that is propagating itself across the United States and around the world under the horrible misnomer of "The Jesus Seminar." Started by Robert Funk in the mid-1980's, the Seminar (as the group likes to call itself) appointed itself to determine which portions of New Testament scriptures are true and which are not. In an atmosphere that I can only describe as faux-objectivity, Funk assembled a team of "scholars" to embark on this review. To be kind, their objectivity, or even their capacity to recognize or apply logic, is less than convincing to me. As a simple yet glaring example, Robert J. Miller (a "Fellow" of the related "Westar Institute" also founded by Funk) posted a defense of the Seminar on the Seminar's official website. Miller points to "two glaring deficiencies in Jesus scholarship." The first is a "scholarly silence" on the "data base" for the "historical Jesus." In other words, Miller and the Seminar feel that scholars have failed to review the Gospels in a comprehensive, "historical-critical" manner. The second deficiency, though, complains that Bible scholars are not educating the public about the historical Jesus, even though "[t]he historical-critical approach to the Bible is taught in all mainline Christian seminaries...."
Did you catch that? To me, there is a problem with these purported "deficiencies." If historical-critical analysis has not been done, then it could not be taught in seminaries. On the other hand, if the historical-critical analysis is already being taught, then "scholars" are not silent. If one of the deficiencies exists, the other cannot. I don't know about you, but I quickly become wary of people who initiate a defense of their work by claiming that they have addressed two mutually exclusive "deficiencies." If they are this confused at the outset of their project, I am hard pressed to imagine that they have any hope of reaching a rational, much less correct, conclusion.
Assuming that the Seminar could logically reconcile this problem, their faux-objectivity glares from many other sources, not the least of which is Robert Funk himself. In 1998, Funk published "The Coming Radical Reformation: Twenty-one Theses" in his organization's newsletter. The theses include the following assertions:
These are but a few of his statements. Thus we see that the Seminar's founder denies the existence of God, calls people to "find a new plot" to replace the story of Christ, and rejects the notion that God's commandments and Christ's own words set objective standards that have lasting application. It seems as though Darwinism and carbon dating should be our new gospel, and prayer is utterly meaningless. With that as a backdrop, what kinds of conclusions would you expect to find in the "Jesus Seminar?" You have probably already guessed. According to the "Jesus Seminar," Christ was just some ordinary person. Miracles never happened. There was no resurrection. There is no "sin." There is no "salvation."
How can they come to these conclusions? Simple. They start with the simple assumption that Christ was not God. They prove this by asserting that Christ never said He was God. They prove this by asserting that any scriptures to the contrary are not true. They prove this by asserting that Christ would not have said that He was God. They prove this by asserting that Christ was not God. They prove this by asserting that Christ never said He was God. They prove this by asserting that any scriptures to the contrary are not true. They prove this by asserting that Christ would not have said that He was God. They prove this by asserting that Christ was not God. Does this sound like a circle to you? You're right!
As far as I can tell, the Jesus Seminar is nothing more than the work of atheists and skeptics who have a sincere desire to put their names in lights, sell books, and mislead people who are scripturally illiterate. The Truth of Christ is simple and straightforward:
Contrary to anything else that you may hear, there is nothing new about any of this. Ancient creeds of the Christian faith have always acknowledged the deity of Christ. The Gospel of John begins with a recognition of Christ's deity:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(New International Version). The Truth of Christ is simple. Receive Christ. Believe on the name of Christ. Be a child of God. Be Christian.
God bless you--