On the Person and Teachings
Craig S. Keener (Baker Academic: Nov 1, 2011), 928 pages.
Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume's argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume's argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports. ~ Book Description
John Eldredge (FaithWords: Oct 12, 2011), 240 pages.
Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things. In Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge removes the religious varnish to help readers discover stunning new insights into the humanity of Jesus. He was accused of breaking the law, keeping bad company, heavy drinking. Of being the devil himself. He was so compelling and dangerous they had to kill him. But others loved him passionately. He had a sense of humor. His generosity was scandalous. His anger made enemies tremble. He'd say the most outrageous things. He was definitely not the Jesus of the stained glass. In the author's winsome, narrative approach, he breaks Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, just as he set masculinity free in his book, Wild at Heart. By uncovering the real Jesus, readers are welcomed into the rich emotional life of Christ. All of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst like fireworks with color and brilliance because of his humanity. Eldredge goes on to show readers how they can experience this Jesus in their lives every day. This book will quicken readers' worship, and deepen their intimacy with Jesus. ~ Book Description
Peter S. Williams (Paternoster: Jan 2, 2012), 250 pages.
Peter Williams examines the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life from an apologetic perspective, clearing the ground from pre-conceived ideas and prejudices and opening up five ways to consider the claims of Jesus' life and ministry. The author brings a philosopher's perspective to the quest for the historical Jesus and argues that understanding the spirituality of Jesus is the path to our own spiritual enlightenment. He takes issue with 'new-atheist' discussions of faith and historical Jesus studies before guiding readers through a cumulative case for the understanding of Jesus. ~ Book Description
Dorothy L. Sayers (Hodder & Stoughton: May, 1938).
Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as "a bad press." We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine—"dull dogma," as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama.
Dorothy Sayers on Taming Jesus said...
"The Greatest Drama Ever Staged" in Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World: A Selection of Essays (Eerdmans: 1969), p. 15.
Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as "a bad press." We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine — "dull dogma," as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man — and the dogma is the drama... This is the dogma we find so dull — this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and the hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore — on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personatlity and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certifying Him "meek and mild," and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious ladies. To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggested a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand.
Thomas V. Morris (Wipf & Stock Publishers: Jul 2011), 222 pages.
In The Logic of God Incarnate, Thomas Morris seeks to defend Chalcedonian Christology from charges of incoherence as well as heterodox alternatives. Whereas Morris's Our Idea of God is addressed to general readers, The Logic of God Incarnate focuses on scholarly readers, those who wrestle with the more mysterious aspects of the Christian faith. In his Preface, after telling how his interest in the subject developed while doing graduate work at Yale, Morris says: "In the course of thinking about the Incarnation for some years now, I have come to see that a few simple metaphysical distinctions and a solid dose of logical care will suffice to explicate and defend the doctrine against all extant criticisms of a philosophical nature. That is what this book attempts to show". The Incarnation, of course, makes the extraordinary claim that Jesus was in fact fully God and man. Extraordinary, however, does not mean illogical or absurd. "The Christian claim is that because of the distinctiveness of divinity and humanity, it was possible for the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, to take on human nature while still retaining his deity. The two particular natures involved, despite appearances to the contrary, allowed this unusual duality". In becoming man, the Son did not lose or even temporarily surrender His divinity — Morris respects, but does not accept, what he regards as a fatal compromise implicit in kenotic Christology. In being assumed by God, the man Jesus did not lose his humanity — though we must understand that his humanity was "fully human," realizing God's design for man, not the "merely human" being we tend to think of, taking ourselves as models. Accordingly, "The God-man is, according to orthodoxy, both fully human and fully divine, but at the same time more deeply or fundamentally divine than human. The Person bearing the two natures is an essentially divine Person". ~ Gerard Reed at Amazon.com
Edward Everett Hale, "Easter" in Easter: A Collection for a Hundred Friends (Smith: 1886), pp. 60-6.
The sects in the Church might be judged by a comparison of their favorite holidays. And so might eras in history be judged. It is matter of real interest, then, to see how all poets and prophets of all divisions of the Church unite on this day, to proclaim it the Sunday of Sundays, the High Holy Day of the year. For this is to say that poet and prophet, of every sect and those least sectarian, have found out at last that the Christian Religion stands for Life. Life instead of form; Life instead of Laws; Life instead of Grave-clothes; Life instead of Tombs; Life instead of Death ; — that is what Christianity means, and what it is for. You would be tempted to say that the Saviour had already enforced this completely in what he said to men; tempted to say that Easter morning was not needed either for illustration or enforcement. Certainly the gospel texts are full of the lesson. "Because I live, ye shall live also." "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." "This is Life Eternal — to believe on thee." And central text of all, the text we have chosen for the motto of this church, "I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." If texts alone ever did anything, these and a thousand more would show what The Truth is, and The Way. But one is tempted, in bitter moods, to say that texts never do anything, that words never achieve or finish anything. One is tempted to remember how he said that any man who prepared God's way is greater than any man who only proclaims it, how prophets and prophesying were done with, mere talk was over — praise the Lord! and energy, action, force had come in instead, praise the Lord! Yet, if anybody did still trust in talk, he might take a lesson from these Gospels.
Barack Obama on Easter said...
Opening Remarks at the Annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, cited at the Baltimore Sun (April 18, 2011).
Then comes Holy Week. The triumph of Palm Sunday. The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we’re reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection. In the words of the book Isaiah: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this "Amazing Grace" calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son — his Son and our Savior.
Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace, ed. Robert Stewart (Augsburg Fortress: February 2011), 224 pages.
This volume highlights points of agreement and disagreement between two leading scholars on the subject of the textual reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the best-selling book Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, and Daniel Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. This conversation between Ehrman and Wallace allows the reader to see in print how each presents his position in light of the other's. Contributions follow from an interdisciplinary team featuring specialists in biblical studies, philosophy, and theology. The textual reliability of the New Testament is logically prior to its interpretation and thus important for the Christian religion. This book provides interested readers a fair and balanced case for both sides and allows them to decide for themselves: What does it mean for a text to be textually reliable? How reliable is the New Testament? How reliable is reliable enough? ~ Product Description
John Dickson (Zondervan: Dec 14, 2010), 128 pages.
Uniquely among the world's religions, the central claims of Christianity concern not just timeless spiritual truths, but tangible historical events. At the heart of the of the Christian faith are things that are meant to have happened in Palestine between 5 BC and AD 30. It's as if Christianity happily places its head on the chopping block of public scrutiny and invites anyone who wants to come and take a swing. Some of Christianity's claims are so spectacular that they provoke a firestorm of questions, scrutiny, debate, and misinformation whenever they are discussed. The popularity of The Da Vinci Code and the frequent airing of TV documentaries delving into the darker uncertainties of Christianity show that such skepticism flourishes in the Western world today. In The Christ Files you will learn how historians know what they know about Jesus. Historian John Dickson embraces the need to examine Christianity's claims in the light of history, opening readers to a wealth of ancient sources and explaining how mainstream scholars — whether or not they claim Christian faith personally — reach their conclusions. Christianity arrived on the historical scene at a time of great literary activity. While many texts penned by ancient philosophers, historians, poets, and playwrights can reliably inform us about Jesus himself and about the culture in which he lived, others are not so credible. Dickson skillfully highlights both types of sources along with the historical methods used to study Christianity's claims. He also shows how historians asses the reliability of available data, and provides an honest but informed perspective on where historical issues are clear-cut and where personal faith comes into play. The Christ Files is a must-read for those looking to expand their understanding of early Christianity and the life of Jesus. ~ Book Description
Michael R. Licona (InterVarsity Press: Oct 2010), 720 pages.
The question of the historicity of Jesus' resurrection has been repeatedly probed, investigated and debated. And the results have varied widely. Perhaps some now regard this issue as the burned-over district of New Testament scholarship. Could there be any new and promising approach to this problem? Yes, answers Michael Licona. And he convincingly points us to a significant deficiency in approaching this question: our historiographical orientation and practice. So he opens this study with an extensive consideration of historiography and the particular problem of investigating claims of miracles. This alone is a valuable contribution. But then Licona carefully applies his principles and methods to the question of Jesus' resurrection. In addition to determining and working from the most reliable sources and bedrock historical evidence, Licona critically weighs other prominent hypotheses. His own argument is a challenging and closely argued case for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Any future approaches to dealing with this "prize puzzle" of New Testament study will need to be routed through The Resurrection of Jesus. ~ Synopsis
From the Foreward, in Craig Blomberg's The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (InterVarsity Press: 1987), p. ix.
There is, I imagine, no body of literature in the world that has been exposed to the stringent analytical study that the four gospels have sustained for the past 200 years. This is not something to be regretted: it is something to be accepted with satisfaction. Scholars today who treat the gospels as credible historical documents do so in the full light of this analytical study, not by closing their minds to it. ¶ A problem arises in this television age from the exposure of the public to a bewildering variety of opinions about the gospels in particular and the New Testament in general, including both the current scholarly consensus (if such a thing exists today) and every sort of way-out interpretation of the data, with little or no guidance being given about the criteria by which competing views are to be assessed and a reasonable conclusion reached.
John Dickson (Lion UK: Jul 9, 2010), 176 pages.
An in-depth investigation into the history of Jesus, from his early beginnings to how he was viewed in the Enlightenment, the 20th Century, and beyond. In this lovely full-color book, the question of how much anyone can really know about Jesus of Nazareth is addressed. From the Gospels to the word of modern-day theologians to historical record, all accounts are examined in minute detail in attempt to uncover the truth. By reviewing ancient evidence, interviewing leading experts, and setting out a robust historical method, the reliability or unreliability of different sources, interpretations, and arguments is clearly established. Christianity prides itself on being a historical religion. Here this pride is subjected to a very close scrutiny and it is shown both how vital this is and yet how different Jesus was from the way he is so often portrayed today. ~ Book Description
Cullen Murphy on Who Jesus Was said...
"Who Do Men Say That I Am?" in The Atlantic (December 1986).
It may be that Jesus went to his death not knowing quite who he was, regardless of what other men thought. He certainly went to his death with public opinion sharply divided and with his own disciples profoundly confused. There is obviously no consensus even today — even among Christians — as to what the real message of Jesus was and how it should apply to our lives, if it should apply at all. Despite the credal affirmations of the mainstream Christian churches, there is also no consensus — not if one looks at what real people actually believe — as to the identity of Jesus. Was he, as traditional Christian dogmatics hold, both God and Man — "the Word made flesh," a human being who was "consubstantial with the Father"? Did he partake of the divine in some more diluted and, as many twentieth-century churchgoers have doubtless concluded, inherently more plausible manner? Was he simply another of those charismatics who appear from time to time, destroy some complacency, do some good, and bequeath to the human race the symbol of an exemplary life?
"The Self-Emptying of Love" in The Incarnation: A Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God, Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O'Collins, eds. (Oxford: 2004), p. 249.
The first and most powerful source of the appeal of a kenotic theory is the great religious power and meaning that is intrinsic to the idea of a God who sacrifices and suffers with and on behalf of his creatures. If I am caught up in terrible suffering it is one thing to be assured of the love and kindness of another person. It is quite another thing for that other person to give the assurance by entering into my situation and suffering with me or even for me. A God who empties himself out of love for human beings, who recklessly as it were gives up divine privileges to endure all the hard realities of human life, is a God whose love is credible and inspires love in return.
Emmanuel, or The Incarnation of the Son of God (Oxford: 1879), pp. 236-8.
If the Incarnation of the Eternal Son, as it is set forth in the Scriptures, be a truth of God — if the Divine Person Who had glory with the Father, having taken upon Him the nature of His creature, really condescended to go through the humiliation and pain and distress which is written of Him, it stands to reason that the loving humility and abnegation of self displayed in such endurance, must be the chief feature in the character of the God-man, which we must in our degree possess, if, in the words of the Holy Ghost, Christ is to be " formed in us."
Emmanuel, or The Incarnation of the Son of God (Oxford: 1879), pp. 38-9, 41.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "All things were made by Him." "The Word was made flesh." Now what is a word or λδγος? As understood by St. John and the men of his time, it is thought embodied in language. It is that which is in us set forth in that medium of articulates sounds which God has given to us, in order that we may make our very selves known to our fellows. The most true and fitting words give us the most exact conception of the heart and soul of him whose words they are; and so the Personal and Eternal Word is the setting forth, so to speak, of the hidden intellect, love, and goodness of God, so that His creatures may be able to apprehend Him, Whom neither man nor angel hath seen or can see. So that the Word, being perfect, is the perfect utterance, or showing forth, or manifestation of all that is in God.
The Incarnation: Collected Essays in Christology (Cambridge University Press: 1987), pp. 1-2, 3, 6-8.
There can be no doubt that the doctrine of the Incarnation has been taken during the bulk of Christian history to constitute the very heart of Christianity. Hammered out over five centuries of passionate debate, enshrined in the classical Christian creeds, explored and articulated in the great systematic theologies, the doctrine expresses, so far as human words permit, the central belief of Christians that God himself, without ceasing to be God, has come amongst us, not just in but as a particular man, at a particular time and place. The human life lived and the death died have been held quite literally to be the human life and death of God himself in one of the modes of his own eternal being. Jesus Christ, it has been firmly held, was truly God as well as being truly man. As we have seen, this belief is not only expressed in the doctrine of the Incarnation, but also in countless hymns and devotional rites that belong to the very stuff of living Christianity, not to mention the art and sculpture which it has inspired down the centuries.
Kathryn Tanner (Cambridge University Press: December 2009), 322 pages.
Through the intensely intimate relationship that arises between God and humans in the incarnation of the Word in Christ, God gives us the gift of God's own life. This simple claim provides the basis for Kathryn Tanner's powerful study of the centrality of Jesus Christ for all Christian thought and life: if the divine and the human are united in Christ, then Jesus can be seen as key to the pattern that organizes the whole, even while God's ways remain beyond our grasp. Drawing on the history of Christian thought to develop an innovative Christ-centered theology, this book sheds fresh light on major theological issues such as the imago dei, the relationship between nature and grace, the Trinity's implications for human community, and the Spirit's manner of working in human lives. Originally delivered as Warfield Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary, it offers a creative and compelling contribution to contemporary theology. ~ Product Description
C. Stephen Evans, ed. (Regent College Publishing: Dec 1, 2009), 360 pages.
This collection of essays, by a team of of Christian philosophers, theologians, and biblical scholars, explores the viability of a kenotic account of the incarnation. Such an account is inspired by Paul's lyrical claims in Philippians 2:6-11 that Christ Jesus though God in nature, "emptied himself" or "made himself nothing" by becoming human. The biblical support for such a view can be found throughout the four gospels, and the book of Hebrews, as well as in other places. A kenotic account takes seriously the possibility that Christ in becoming incarnate, temporarily divested himself of such properties as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Several of the contributors argue that this view is fully orthodox, and that it has great strengths in giving us a picture of God who is willing to become completely vulnerable for the sake of human beings, and one that is completely consistent with the very human portrait of Jesus in the New Testament. The proponents of kenotic Christology argue that the philosophical accounts of God's nature that have led to rejection of this theory ought themselves to be subjected to criticism in light of the biblical data. Some essays test the theory by raising critical questions and arguing that traditional accounts of the incarnation can achieve the goals of kenotic theories as well as kenotic theories can. The book also explores the implications of a kenotic view of the incarnation for philosophical theology in general and the doctrine of the Trinity in particular, and it concludes with essays that examine the validity of the ideal of kenosis for women, and a challenge to traditional Christology to take a kenotic theory seriously. CONTRIBUTORS: C. Stephen Evans, Gordon D. Fee, Sarah Coakley, Stephen T. Davis, Ronald J. Feenstra, Bruce N. Fisk, Ruth Groenhout, Edward T. Oakes, SJ, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Thomas R. Thompson, Edwin Chr. van Driel. ~ Book Description