By Steve Wolfgang
A recent AP release reported an unusual five-year project by a committee of 14 “participating scholars” which will meet three times annually during the next five years “to examine each Gospel saying” in order to “determine exactly what Jesus said.” These men propose to settle such questions by majority vote of the committee.
When this project was first announced two years ago, a story carried by the Los Angeles Times/ Washington Post news service reported that several of Jesus’ statements were mentioned by those initiating the project as being relatively sure to be voted down. Some of those likely to be voted out included texts usually identified as “the Great Commission” or the “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John. In the words of one Harvard Divinity School professor, “I’m convinced that we will come up with a Jesus that the church is unaccustomed to.”
It should be obvious that at least one of the reasons underlying the composition of the “hit-list” of Jesus’ statements composed by these “authorities” is a simple disbelief of the proposition that the Bible is a supernatural revelation from God to man. Statements such as the “great commission,” which rests squarely on Jesus’ authority, stated explicitly in the verse preceding the command to “Go ye into all the world,” and the “I am” statements which imply or even claim outright Jesus’ equality with God, and other such statements, get the axe from these “objective scholarly authorities” who do not believe that Jesus was Divine nor that His words are authoritative.
Leaving aside the question of authority or of inspiration, however, it ought to seem obvious to even a casual observer (whether or not he believes that Jesus was something more than simply human) that the issue comes down to the simple question of who is in a better position to pass judgement on what Jesus actually said. Who would be more likely to know what passed from the Lord’s mouth: those who claim eyewitness testimony (2 Pet. 1:16-21) or men removed twenty centuries from the source of the Lord’s statements? With what other historical documents do contemporary “historians” (the word must be used loosely to be applied to these men) take such liberties as a complete re-writing of sections of the text which do not suit their biases? The simple fact is that when these modernists are finished mutilating the Scriptures which record the statements of Christ, we will know a great deal more about theta and their presuppositions than about Christ, for they simply will have finished doing what men have been attempting for centuries: remaking Christ in their own image.
Guardian of Truth XXV: 10, p. 146
March 5, 1981