Following up on my last two posts which dealt with finding a place from which to properly discover and discuss who the God of Christianity really is, here is an exerpt from NT Wright, from The Meaning of Jesus – Two Visions (pp 214,215):
The key issue in all theology is how to speak truly of God. If we are to speak of something that transcends space and time, this is beyond our ordinar world, how do we know what we are talking about? How can we know whether we are talking sense, let alone true sense? How can we be sure that we are not … merely projecting our own self-image or our authority-figure fantasies on to the cosmic stage and calling them “god”? The mainstream Christian answer has always been that, though the one true God is in various ways beyond our imagination, let alone our knowledge, and though even such knowledge as we may have is beyond our own unaided power to attain, this God has not left us to speculate, imagine, or project our own fantasies onto the screeen of transcendence; this God instead, through self-revelation, has given us such knowledge as is possible and appropriate for us. And the same mainstream Christian answer has gone on to say that this self- revelation has taken place supremely in Jesus, the crucified and risen messiah of Israel.
The whole point of such a claim is, of course, that the one true God is known in Jesus himself, the human being who lived, worked, and died in first-century Palestine. Take that away, or split the historical Jesus off from the Christ known in faith, as some have tried to do, and you are left without a revelation of the one true God within our own world, the world of physicality and history.
… by close attention to Jesus himself, we are invited to discover, perhaps for the first time, just who the creator and covenant God was and is all along. (Italics are mine)
This passage strikes at the heart of many attempts to write-off Christianity as just another invented religion. The key is in Jesus himself, the guy who we read about in the Gospels. It is important, then, for those who don’t want to face this Jesus, to try to discredit history through bad – even dishonest – scholarship. At least honest atheists have stopped trying to prove that the man Jesus didn’t exist, which proved to be just embarrassing. Not only is it reasonably certain that the Jesus of the Gospels did in fact exist and was executed by Pilate, the evidence for the resurrection is compelling, to use Anthony Flew’s adjective.
If someone wants a revelation of God, here it is, in the 1st 4 books of the New Testament. The 4 authors have their own viewpoint, as eyewitnesses and reporters always do, but contrary to Bart Ehrman’s foolish interpretations, the paint a remarkably whole picture of Jesus.
This, of course, brings us back to the issue of whether the Gospels are, in fact, inspired documents. However, even if we just look at them as any ancient text, they serve their purpose. Christians do not (or should not) worship the Bible; it is, however, the Word of God – that which formerly was in oral form, reduced to writing. However, our faith is based on Jesus himself, who continues to reveal himself to Christians today.