Thursday, November 9, 2006


John Piper, in his recent work What Jesus Demands from the World has an excellent introduction entitled, "A Word to Biblical Scholars (and those who wonder what they are doing). In this chapter Piper speaks on the Quest for the Historical Jesus. One may wonder, "what is wrong with questing for the historical Jesus?" Nothing, if the information gathered is from the NT Gospels. But unfortunately, in recent centuries, scholars have gone elsewhere to search and gather information on the "historical Jesus."

Piper says, "The quest for the Historical Jesus is not that nothing sure can be said about Jesus, but that the effort to go behind the four New Testament Gospels launches one onto a sea of speculation that has arrived at no island that could be called a reliable portrait of Jesus" (p.30).

It is commonly agreed among scholars that there have been (even up to the present) three historical "quests" for this Historical Jesus.

The First began with Benedict Spinoza in 1632 and then was enhanced by Albert Schweitzer in 1875. The premise behind this first quest was to downplay and even diminish the supernatural that is found in the four NT Gospels. If there is a miracle, there has to be some explanation to "explain it away," Spinoza would say.

The second quest was headed by Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Kasemann and other German scholars in the early 1970's who also wanted to exterminate the supernatural miracles of Jesus from the Jesus record. They wanted to find the historical Jesus "behind" the gospels and see the sources that the Gospel writers used when penning the gospel record.

The third quest (and even continuing to the present) began in the early 1980's and some would say is headed by modern NT Scholars. It attempts, once again to seek to undermine the authority and integrity of the NT Gospel accounts. Piper notes, "No reliable or lasting portrait of Jesus has ever been reconstructed from going behind what the four Gospels portray. There is no reason to think this will change" (p.33).

In sum, I add my word of agreement with Piper in saying that the NT Gospels are all that we need to find out who the "Historical Jesus" really is. There is NO need to search anywhere else - especially "Q" (since it doesn't even exist). The Jesus of the Gospels is the most radical Jesus that anyone could ever construct. That is the glory of the Gospels. That is the glory of the Gospel. To destroy the supernatural in the NT Gospel accounts is to destroy the supernaturalness of Jesus and thus say He was not able to perform miracles. If this is their Jesus, then there is no Salvation with this Jesus. However, the NT Gospel accounts declare over and over and over (with many witnesses) that Jesus is indeed the One who is sent from God - and who is Himself very God - and one of the ways he proved this claim was by His supernatural miracles that are so accurately penned for us in the four NT Gospel accounts.

"The Critical need in the church and the world is the "real Jesus" of the Gospels" (p.35). Piper quotes Johnson [in The Real Jesus] by saying, "The Jesus to whom Saint Francis of Assisi appealed in his call for a poor and giving rather than a powerful and grasping church was NOT the Historical Jesus but the Jesus of the Gospels. One must only wonder why this Jesus is not also the "real Jesus" for those who declare a desire for religious truth, and theological integrity, and honest history."

To that, I conclude by saying "AMEN." There is no need to go anywhere else but the four NT Gospel accounts - which are completely accurate, historical and verifiable to reveal who this Jesus of history really is. Praise be to God for the Supernatural work of Jesus Christ!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does Piper believe in 'Q'?

geoffrey kirkland said...

No, Piper does NOT believe in "Q." I am confident from other sources and from his writing in the intro to this book, "What Jesus demands from the world" that he does not hold to "Q."

Thanks for the comment,

G

girl next door said...

I cannot wait to read this one... it sounds great!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Geoff ... you nailed it on the head.

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