Friday, December 15, 2006

Did Jesus Exist?

Being that it's Christmas and I'm busy (when I'm not blogging or reading blogs) getting ready for the happy occasion of Christmas Eve/Day. As it's Advent I'm trying to prepare myself appropriately (though again I'm spending too much time blogging -- I think I'm addicted). Anyway, I was approached by email from a person seeking a debate partner for Earl Doherty. I must confess I'd never heard of him, but apparently he's a Canadian Humanist, who argues that Jesus never existed. That is a fairly surprising assertion that has little scholarly support. Obviously there are many scholars who discount the orthodox Christian affirmation that Jesus is God incarnate. The idea of a virginal conception is rejected by many good Christians.

Remember that the Jesus Seminar hasn't argued over whether Jesus existed, but over which verses can be traced to him. The bold Red verses are few, but they're there. Though honored to be asked, I chose to decline. I simply do not have the time to spend on such an adventure.

And so the real debate isn't over whether Jesus lived, but over who he was. Was he a prophet, a revolutionary, a sage, a hippie, a Superstar, a philosopher, or God Incarnate. For the last one, you have to ultimately operate on faith. It is unlikely that anyone but a Christian would affirm this position. Muslims honor Jesus as a prophet, but not as the incarnate Son of God. So, although I've become more "liberal" in my thinking but I'm not ready to jettison this particular defining doctrine. By faith I confess that in Jesus of Nazareth, the one we call the Christ, is truly the Revelation of God in the flesh. The manner in which he incarnates God to us, is of course another matter for discussion.

1 comment:

Kenn Chaplin said...

Another Canadian (Rhodes Scholar no less) with a compelling book called "The Pagan Christ - Recovering the Lost Light" is Tom Harpur. He raises the issue of the historicity of Jesus, tracing legends similar back to ancient Egypt, and concludes by suggesting that everyone - Christian or not - has access to the Christ experience. I do not do the book justice by summarizing it so long after having read it but it really has opened my eyes to see the beauty, sans literalism, of so many Christian traditions.