I'm back in my office this morning, following a quick trip to New Orleans / Baton Rouge for a conference and some R & R. It's not often I'll take a Sunday out in the middle of a series, but this conference was too good to pass up.
The Greer-Heard Conference, held at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, was entitled "Can we trust the Bible on the Historical Jesus?" Styled in a point-counterpoint format, this conversation was headlined by two eminent scholars: Dr. Craig Evans and Dr. Bart Ehrman. While you may not recognize their names, in our little scholarly world, they are straight-up ROCK STARS! One of them - Dr. Evans - believes the answer of the question to be yes. The other, Dr. Ehrman, believes the answer to be no. So why discuss it if we know their answers before we begin? Because this is a key question many are asking today. To understand the answer, however, we've first got to understand the question.
Can we "trust"? To trust means to rely on fully. While many will answer "yes" to the question as asked above, many of those same people fail to spend anytime reading the Bible. So my question then becomes do they really, REALLY trust it? If they really relied on it fully, it would be a much more integrated part of life.
"Historical Jesus" - The search for the "historical Jesus" is not the same as the search for the Jesus of faith or even the Jesus of the Gospels. What most scholars mean when they use that phrase is that they want a Jesus who meets modern historical standards of historical skepticism and science. They want hard-proof to affirm Jesus' claims. But the Bible isn't a book developed for historical science nor is it intended to be treated as such. While the Bible has no fear of such an investigation, the Gospels were written from a faith point of view and reflect that concept. Rather than demand that the Gospels measure up to my pre-ordained standards, I'm much more content to let the Gospels speak for themselves. Regardless of my opinions, the Gospels stand as a testament to the words of Jesus, his actions, his miracles, his passion, his death and resurrection. So can the Bible be trusted to tell me that? You BET!