The claims of Theological liberalism:
1. It is difficult to dig past the layers of myth in the NT documents to find the true historical Jesus
2. He was most likely a social revolutionary who taught the golden rule and lived in solidarity with the outcasts
3. He died for his opposition to the status quo
4. His teachings were so profound that they transcended his death to become a new way of life
5. Only a generation after his death, the story of the real Jesus had become encrusted by myth. Miracles were attributed to Jesus. His birth, life, and death were re-imagined as supernatural events.
6. The task of the student of the NT is to dig past the layers of mythology to discover the real Jesus.
This makes Jesus very safe. He’s just a dead Jewish peasant.
We can now reconstruct Jesus in a way that fits with our ideals
Assumptions underlying Theological Liberalism:
A. Philosophical naturalism
1. Miracle stories are necessarily false.
3. By discounting or re-interpreting the miracle stories you can arrive at the historical root of the Gospel accounts.
B. Historical agnosticism:
1. Supernatural events are beyond the scope of historical inquiry.
2. Historians can only study those events that are part and parcel of common human experience.
1. Naturalism assumes that every event must be explained by observable natural processes.
2. If God exists and created the cosmos, naturalism is a false assumption
3. History is the study of what happened
4. The historian must take historical documents at face value…innocent until proven guilty
5. Historical agnosticism means discounting evidence a-priori
The earliest strata of NT material claims that Jesus is divine.
1. Jesus is called Lord throughout the NT. The word kyrios was used in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) to translate the Hebrew YHWH
2. Paul’s epistles were mostly written before any of the gospels. He consistently presents Jesus as divine. Example: Colossians 1: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross
3. Mark is probably the earliest Gospel. Mark’s use of prophecy from Malachi 3 and Isaiah 40 in Mark 1…“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’
4. Titles for Jesus in Mark’s Gospel are divine titles
The Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28)
The Son of Man (Mark 2:28)
The Son of God (Mark 1:1)
The NT teaches Jesus’ virgin conception
1, It is recorded in two gospels
2. There’s no evidence falsifying their records. Any modern attempt at reconstructing Jesus’ life by discounting the NT record is necessarily fiction.
3. Matt and Luke represent two independent streams
a. Luke’s account may have been directly from Mary’s lips.
b. Matthew’s may have been from Jesus who heard the story as a boy.
It was necessary:
1. God certainly could have interrupted the transmission of original sin by merely creating a brand new man from the dust. But in doing so in Mary, he redeems rather than recreates
2. In doing it through Mary without the involvement of a human male, he communicates that Salvation is a Divine act.
3. Through the virgin conception, God communicates the truth of the Incarnation: Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son is established.
God became flesh and lived among us. He took on human nature by way of addition, not admixture.
1. There was some kind of sexual interaction between God and Mary
2. Jesus is half God, half-man
3. God transformed himself so that he became a man
4. God joining himself to a human being at some point after conception
5. God merely took on the appearance of a man.
6. Jesus is an Exalted Angel, perhaps Michael, but not God.
7. Jesus was God but emptied himself completely of divine attributes to be the Spirit-filled man.
God took on humanity from the beginning and joined himself to humanity at the point of conception.
1. If he had not done so a part of our life would remain tinged by sin. “that which He has not assumed He has not healed…” Gregory Nazianzus.
2. God joining himself to humanity at conception reveals that a true union was established. Two complete and yet distinct natures, one Person.
3. The Mediator between God and man must be both God and Man.
4. Infinite wrath requires an infinitely valuable atonement. Only an infinite being can endure infinite wrath
From the 39 Articles of Religion
II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man: The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.