By Lewis Willis
The Akron Beacon Journal (May 8, 1998, A6) reported that the Jesus Seminar has spoken again. Their latest statement might prove to be far more controversial than their previous utterances.
The Jesus Seminar, founded in 1985 and based in Santa Rosa, California was originally reported to include 100 scholars who worked on their projects, but the latest infidel pronouncement says that only 75 scholars were involved in their newest hatchet job on God’s Word. You will remember that in 1993, the group issued their conclusion that Jesus said only 20% of the 1500 statements attributed to him in the Scriptures. The remainder were supplied by his friends, according to these religious giants.
Now, after five years of analysis, the Jesus Seminar has issued its findings on the actions attributed to the Lord during his earthly ministry. Not surprisingly, they are of the view that very few of the things Jesus is said to have done in the New Testament actually occurred. To be exact, they say “of the 176 events catalogued , . . . only 28 actually occurred with any historical probability.” Among the events ascribed to Jesus which “did not make the cut” are: most of his miracles, the historical accuracy of his arrest, trial, and passion, and his resurrection.
The Jesus Seminar found no historical basis for Gospel stories such as Jesus walking on the water, his rebuking of the wind which calmed the sea, his multiplying of the loaves and fishes to feed the multitude, and his changing water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. They assert that the miracle stories “are forms of propaganda used in those days to advocate or promote a figure” and they are nothing more than “storytelling.”
About the only things this group agreed on in their votes on the various incidents are: Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, his home was Nazareth, his mother’s name was Mary, and his name was Jesus. “Everything else is fiction,” according to Robert Funk, former president of the Society for Biblical Literature. There are few accurate historical details, according to these infidels, in the accounts “that a person named Jesus was executed during the prefecture of Pontius Pilate (A.D. 26 to 36); that Jesus was arrested after some incident at the Temple and that some Jewish officials, probably the high priest and his associates, urged Pilate to execute Jesus; that he was crucified at a place called Golgotha; that he was flogged in accordance with Roman practice; and that his disciples fled when he was arrested.”
The Seminar further reported that “the notion that the disciples of Jesus discovered an empty tomb . . . to be unlikely.” Funk reported that “the empty tomb story was actually created by Mark 40 years or so after Jesus died and probably had nothing to do with the original experience.” In fact, they believe the story of the end of Christ’s life on earth is “dangerously anti-Semitic.”
The Consequences If This Assertion Is True?
There are some serious consequences if the Jesus Seminar is to be believed.
1. The most obvious consequence is that the biographers of Jesus — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — were liars! They told these incidents as fact! If they are not true, these men lied about these matters and are totally untrustworthy as witnesses of the life of the Lord (Acts 1:21-22).
2. Since these liars wrote the first five books of the New Testament, their testimony is tainted, to say the very least. How can we believe anything they wrote? John also wrote 1, 2, 3 John and the book of Revelation, all of which must now be challenged as valid, if these people are to be believed. That’s a total of nine New Testament books that are in dispute.
3. The apostle Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, preached that Jesus was approved among the Jews by miracles, wonders, and signs (Acts 2:22); that Jesus was delivered by the Jews to the Romans who crucified him (2:23); and that he was raised from the dead and that Peter was an eyewitness of this event (2:32). All of these facts are disputed by the Seminar. Therefore, Peter cannot be trusted and 1 and 2 Peter must also be questioned as truthful. Added to the nine New Testament books previously called into question are two more books which are wrong in their most fundamental message. Eleven (11) books should be removed from the New Testament if these people are to be believed.
4. Neither can we believe the apostle Paul because he also taught the story “of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18ff), some- thing the Seminar disputes. Not only must we reject Paul’s testimony to the church at Corinth, but how can we believe anything else he might say? He wrote 13 other books of the New Testament, and their truthfulness is also now in question, if the Seminar is to be believed! Let’s see, now, we add these 13 books to the 11 previously cast in doubt — that’s 24 books in the New Testament that cannot be trusted.
5. The writer of Hebrews (probably Paul) also wrote of the signs, wonders, and miracles of the Lord. So now we add Hebrews to the list of unreliable books, making a total of 25 of the 27 New Testament books now in dispute.
6. James was a servant of the Christ (1:1); he called him the Lord of glory (2:1); James believed in the devil (2:19, 4:7); and believed in the second coming of Christ (5:8). If James wrote of these false things, neither can the book of James be trusted. That’s 26 of the 27 books of the New Testament which teach error according to the Seminar.
7. That leaves only the little book of Jude to consider. Let’s see now, Jude was also a servant of Jesus Christ (v. 1); he warned about ungodly men who deny the Lord (v. 4) — My, I hope he wasn’t talking about the Jesus Seminar! Jude further wrote about ungodly men and their ungodly speeches, their great swelling words, their mockery (vv. 15-18). (Could that also be true of newspaper reports that ungodly men issue?) And Jude believed the words which the apostles spoke about Jesus (v. 17). The author of this book also believed in the very things the Jesus Seminar said are not true, so we must question this book also. That’s 27 of the 27 New Testament books that cannot be trusted!
Is this possibly what the Jesus Seminar is trying to get folks to do? Are they discrediting the New Testament? Are the Scriptures wrong simply because the Jesus Seminar does not believe them? Do they perhaps desire to be the voice of religion — setting forth obligations and declaring liberties — in the place of the Gospel? Can we trust them more than the writers of the New Testament?
What’s going on here? This is just another effort to pervert God’s word (Gal. 1:6-9), and it will end with the same result: these heretics and infidels have consigned themselves to the curse of Hell which is appointed for perverters. They simply cannot please God and go to Heaven for they are unbelievers (Mark 16:16; John 8:24; Heb. 11:6). Friends, don’t fall for this unfounded, false testimony of mere men who are on their way to Hell!