Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Jesus We'll Never Know

Speaking of historical methodology, Scott McKnight, an evangelical and long-time Jesus scholar, has a lengthy article in Christianity Today in which he concludes that historical studies can do little to advance our understanding of Jesus. Here's how he concludes his article:

This is what I said to myself: As a historian I think I can prove that Jesus died and that he thought his death was atoning. I think I can establish that the tomb was empty and that resurrection is the best explanation for the empty tomb. But one thing the historical method cannot prove is that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification. At some point, historical methods run out of steam and energy. Historical Jesus studies cannot get us to the point where the Holy Spirit and the church can take us. I know that once I was blind and that I can now see. I know that historical methods did not give me sight. They can't. Faith cannot be completely based on what the historian can prove. The quest for the real Jesus, through long and painful paths, has proven that much.

McKnight is then challenged in the same edition by three other evangelical scholars:
N.T. Wright, Craig Keener, and Darrell Bock.

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