Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rejecting Institutional Christianity vs. Rejecting Jesus Himself

The conclusion to Michael Kruger's recent review of Bart Ehrman's recent book How Jesus Became God:

In the end, it is difficult to know what to think of Ehrman's new volume. While it certainly provides a helpful introduction to some of the key issues in early Christology, it is hampered by a problematic methodology, a lopsided treatment of some of the historical evidences, and a disposition bent on finding contradictions and problems (that may not actually be there).

It would have been much more refreshing if Ehrman could have simply argued that, yes, the earliest Christians believed, from a very early time, Jesus was the God of Israel (who, by definition, is pre-existent), and they believed this because Jesus presented himself as the God of Israel, but the earliest Christians (and Jesus) were simply wrong. But, instead, Ehrman has taken a different path. Rather than arguing they were simply wrong, he has tried to argue that neither Jesus nor the early Christians really believed this in the first place (at least at the beginning). Of course, historically speaking, the latter argument is much more difficult to sustain than the former. But, at the same time it is also more attractive.

It is easier to reject the claims of institutional Christianity than it is to reject the claims of Jesus himself.

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