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PERSPECTIVES

Peter Jennings “Search For Jesus” Comes Up Empty

By Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer

CBN.comI felt like I was back in college. During one semester at the politically liberal university I attended I enrolled in a class called “Philosophy of Religion.” As a Christian I was excited that I would be able to take a course that focused on the Bible.

Well, the professor, a former Jesuit Priest, did focus on the Bible -- but his aim was to discredit the Scriptures and show how erroneous they were. I was so disheartened by the class that I wrote a song to encourage my classmates in their faith.

I was reminded of that song as I watched Peter Jennings special report, “The Search For Jesus.”

My philosophy teacher tells me
The Bible is just a fallacy
It really is not reality
They’re only stories people made up in their minds

He says you can’t take the Bible literally
Too many people take it scientifically
You can only read it academically
And when you read it, well it’s just mythology

My answer to him and to Jennings is, “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

Jennings started the program with the most noble of intentions. “We tried to be respectful of what people believe. After all, all but the most skeptical believe that Jesus actually lived.”

Almost immediately, however, he began taking shots at the integrity of the Gospel accounts and the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Speaking of the Gospel writers, Jennings declared, “It is pretty much agreed they were not eye witnesses.”

I thought to myself, “Agreed by whom?” I spent a year and a half in seminary, and at my school it was pretty much agreed that the Gospels were what they said they were -- an eye witness account.

Don’t get me wrong, folks. I don’t mind a lively philosophical debate -- I enjoy it in fact. But to have a debate you must have opposing viewpoints. Jennings chose to only include the opinions of scholars who viewed the Bible as a human document, full of inconsistencies and error. There was not a single scholar who supported the view that the Bible is truly the inspired Word of God.

At each major event in the life of Jesus, Jennings and his band set out to discredit the Gospel record. Again and again Jennings said things like, "Not as the Gospels indicate, but … "

At times the assertions made by the guests were outright assaults on the person of Jesus and the creeds of Christianity. For example, Robert Funk of “The Jesus Seminar” suggests that the virgin birth never took place. In his view, Jesus may have been the illegitimate son of Mary and the virgin birth was merely a cover up. (By the way, if this concept were true, it would completely negate our redemption in Christ -- if Jesus were born in sin then He had no right to take our sins upon Himself at Calvary).

Another thing I learned in seminary was the concept of letting the Bible interpret the Bible -- in other words, instead of reading your preconceived interpretation into the Scriptures, draw the interpretation from the Scriptures. Time and again these scholars refuted the Gospel accounts, and yet they offered no other evidence in defense of their positions. The inference was that the Bible couldn’t really mean what it says it means.

The answer that screamed in my head was, “Why not.” After all, with no historical documentation to back up their assertions, other than the Gospels themselves, these scholars reconstruct Jesus in their own image and dismiss the figure of the Son of God that the Scriptures portray.

Discussing the meaning of the parables, Funk even declares, “Jesus doesn’t mean what he says.” And just how did you come to that conclusion, Mr. Funk?

The prevailing opinion of Jennings’ scholars is that Jesus was a political figure, bent on the overthrow of Rome and the establishment of the kingdom of God in Israel.

The problem is that this view contradicts Jesus’ own words in the Bible, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm" (John 18:36).

While some of the scholars believed that Jesus actually did perform some miracles, the explanation was that Jesus merely relieved people of their fear, thus making the burden of pain easier to bear.

In dealing with the crucifixion, again these academics dismiss the Scripture in favor of their own view. They ignore the biblical version of the story that shows the Roman Governor Pilate questioning the motives of the Jewish leaders. Instead, the suggestion is made that Pilate cooperated with the Sanhedren, commanding them to, “get them to me fast.”

It is with the resurrection that the scholars are split in their opinion. Some dismiss it outright as a concoction devised by Jesus’ followers to keep the movement alive. Others point to the devotion of early Christians as proof of the resurrection of Jesus. Rev. N.T. Wright, canon theologian of Westminster Abbey in London observes, “If Jesus would have stayed dead, his followers would have given up or found another Messiah. But they didn’t.”

Jennings ends the program with his analysis of the life of Jesus. “He had a vision for a just world that he believed in so strongly he was willing to die for it -- and his vision transformed the world -- miraculous.”

Those who believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God would counter that it was not merely a vision that changed the world -- but it was the power of God.

Based only on their interpretation of history, these scholars make their speculative assertions. Throughout the program I asked myself, “Where is the defender of the Scriptures?” There are many scholars who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and who defend that view with historical, archaeological, and scriptural evidence. Why weren’t they given an opportunity to make the biblical case?

Like many scholars who dismiss the assertions of the Bible because they cannot be understood from a purely scientific perspective, Jennings and his group of academics err, “… holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power" (2 Timothy 3:5a).

I suggest that any person who is honestly searching for Jesus do as Paul instructed Timothy in the second half of that same verse, " … avoid such men as these."

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Craig von BuseckCraig von Buseck is Ministries Director for CBN.com. Send him your e-mail comments on this article.

 

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