Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ–Bock & Wallace

In 2007, Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Wallace wrote a ground shaking response to the popular effort to dismiss Jesus as who He said he was in the Gospels. In  Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ,  from the Jesus Seminar to Bart Ehrman’s best selling Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, and the truth of the Gnostic gospels which have gained favor as secular alternatives to the Gospel; Bock & Wallace deconstruct the one-sidedness of  these popular arguments that have become so prevalent in secular conversations about Jesus. These two scholars show the critical thinking in the orthodox view of Christianity can be delivered with brilliant and accessible writing. Never mean-spirited, Bock and Wallace give Ehrman, Borg, and Crossan their due when they are right about inconsistencies in conservative Theology, whilst showing that two thousand years of relevant Christian doctrine is still the most viable notion about the risen Christ. Here, well into their critic of the Jesus Seminar, Bock and Wallace (Ph.Ds. and writers, Bock (Jesus According to Scripture) and Wallace, author of one of the most widely used textbooks on New Testament Greek grammar) show the importance of answering secular scholars, in a cogent manner and how ‘either, or ‘ politics dissuades the relevance Christianity has– away from Jesus Himself.

dt JesusThe Gospels devote much more space to Jesus’ teaching on the human heart or on religious hypocrisy because the danger in religious hypocrisy is that God’s name is misrepresented and brought to shame. The problem for Jesus is not “them” but “us.” The reform he calls for is that of our lives, every part of our lives. Change begins in the human heart. Then we are called to live out Christian values as an example to the world in any locale or context in which God places us. When Borg and Crossan say that Jesus is against egoism and injustice and for personal and political transformation (2006, 210), they are closer to being on track. However, most of what they say in their review of Jesus’ last week misses the fact that Jesus is the key to this transformation, not just his teaching. Jesus doesn’t urge us to choose virtue. He presents himself as the giver of a gift from God that solves the internal human problem. His death reveals even more about who we are and what we need, so that we, transformed from within, can serve God humbly and allow his power to enable us to con-tribute to the transformation to which God directs us. The domination Jesus seeks to free us from involves something more profound than just politics.

If there is a parable in the resurrection story, it is in the lives that Jesus’ followers are to live as they practice righteousness as a community. They are called to model the lifestyle and values Jesus taught as reflecting God’s will, values that represent real life. These values do include justice, compassion, and nonexploitation, but they also include respect for life, and a concern that liberty does not step on those who cannot defend themselves, whether they be the poor in the streets, the victims of terrorism, or the silent in the womb. Injustice surrounds us everywhere. This is why Paul declared that all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:21–25a). It is why the earliest followers of Jesus proclaimed that all need the new life Jesus brings through his Spirit. Forgiveness before God is not an issue for either political conservatives or liberals. It is a both-and, for sin is so pervasive that all of us have participated in it and need to seek forgiveness and also grant it to others. One of the causes of our cultural divide nowadays is that each side of the political divide has been selective in its application of the values Jesus taught.

Bock, Darrell L.  and  Wallace, Daniel B. (2007-11-06). Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ (Kindle Locations 2434-2451). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

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