My college campus claims a “Christian Identity” though, it must be said, the college’s definition of Christian and the Bible’s are entirely different. Recently, a renowned scholar in the field of religion spoke at our weekly convocation. I hesitate to share his name as I don’t particularly care to promote his work but I do want to encourage our readers to be wary of false teachers, even if they sound intelligent and wear tweed.
This speaker’s talk was about how to tell the story of Jesus in modern America. I didn’t know the story of Jesus had changed much over 2,000 years, but I decided to go and hear his thoughts anyway. He spoke very fluidly and persuasively it must be said. Providing his audience with a two-page handout, no word was spoken out of sequence. He outlined five ways that Jesus has been recognized throughout time, and provided his own view of Christ. The speaker’s main premise was that Jesus should be seen separately as pre-Easter and post-Easter; that ultimately Jesus’ purpose was to promote God’s kingdom of egalitarian community on the Earth through justice and peace.
Unfortunately he was wrong.
Let me first say, this professor was not wrong in saying Jesus came to establish God’s kingdom. The technicality lies in the “already, not yet” aspect of the kingdom of God. The Bible frequently speaks of God “who is and who was and who is to come.” (Revelation 1:4) God has promised a New Heaven and a New Earth. No amount of peace rallies, recycling cans, or non-profits can make this fallen world a paradise. Only the work of Christ on the cross can make us faultless before a holy God, and only the return of Christ can make this fallen world new again. Only upon Jesus’ return (shameless plug for Ben’s Revelation series) will “He [God] dwell with them, and they will be his people and god himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21: 3-4)
My main doctrinal concern was that our speaker claimed a difference between pre-Easter Jesus and post-Easter Jesus. Wrongly so, his talk removed the divinity of pre-Easter Jesus by arguing that if we “cast” post-Easter Jesus qualities (such as divine power) upon pre-Easter Jesus, we”ve misunderstood the purpose of Christ. This professor of religion held that on Earth Jesus was a man, mystic, healer, wisdom teacher, and prophet. According to this speaker if Jesus were God incarnate as a child, for example, Jesus would have been no more than a problematic “divine Dennis the Menace.” Meaning, Jesus would have done pointless things like kill his playmates only to bring them back to life. Not only is this a silly notion (the purpose of Jesus’ divinity was to bring God glory by total obedience, not to conjure cheap tricks), but if Jesus were not divine the cross would lose its redemption. Isaiah prophesies that Jesus would bear “the sin of many, and make[s] intercession for the transgressors.î (53:12) If Jesus were not the divine Christ, as this speaker indicated, he could not have been the spotless sacrifice for our sins.
I write this post not necessarily to bash my college, the convocation speaker, or those who invited them. I write as a warning. False teachers come in many different ways and with many different agendas. Be challenged to listen critically when people claim Christ. Match their words with Scripture. Follow all the arguments to their end. Don”t let your heart be darkened. Don”t be a fool. Jesus was prophet, priest, and king. He was, is, and is to come. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:19-20)[/sws_author_bio_ui]