Friday, August 13, 2010

Fundamental Friday's-Did Jesus Believe the Old Testament?

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

The attitude of Christ to the Old Testament Scriptures must determine ours. He is God. He is truth. His is the final voice. He is the Supreme Judge. There is no appeal from that court. Christ Jesus the Lord believed and affirmed the historic veracity of the whole of the Old Testament writings implicitly (Luke 24:44). And the Canon, or collection of Books of the Old Testament, was precisely the same in Christ's time as it is today. And further. Christ Jesus our Lord believed and emphatically affirmed the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch ( Matthew 5:17-18; Mark12:26-36; Luke 16:31; John 5:46-47). That is true, the critics say. But, then, neither Christ nor His Apostles were critical scholars! Perhaps not in the twentieth century sense of the term. But, as a German scholar said, if they were not critici doctores, they were doctores veritatis who did not come into the world to fortify popular errors by their authority. But then they say, Christ's knowledge as man was limited. He grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52). Surely that implies His ignorance. And if His ignorance, why not His ignorance with regard to the science of historical criticism? (Gore, Lux Mundi, page 360; Briggs, H. C. of Hexateuch, page 28). Or even if He did know more than His age, He probably spoke as He did in accommodation with the ideas of His contemporaries! (Briggs, page 29).

In fact, what they mean is practically that Jesus did know perfectly well that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, but allowed His disciples to believe that Moses did, and taught His disciples that Moses did, simply because He did not want to upset their simple faith in the whole of the Old Testament as the actual and authoritative and Divinely revealed Word of God. (See Driver, page 12). Or else, that Jesus imagined, like any other Jew of His day, that Moses wrote the books that bear his name, and believed, with the childlike Jewish belief of His day, the literal inspiration, Divine authority and historic veracity of the Old Testament, and yet was completely mistaken, ignorant of the simplest facts, and wholly in error. In other words, He could not tell a forgery from an original, or a pious fiction from a genuine document. (The analogy of Jesus speaking of the sun rising as an instance of the theory of accommodation is a very different thing).

This, then, is their position: Christ knew the views He taught were false, and yet taught them as truth. Or else, Christ didn't know they were false and believed them to be true when they were not true. In either case the Blessed One is dethroned as True God and True Man. If He did not know the books to be spurious when they were spurious and the fables and myths to be mythical and fabulous; if He accepted legendary tales as trustworthy facts, then He was not and is not omniscient. He was not only intellectually fallible, He was morally fallible; for He was not true enough "to miss the ring of truth" in Deuteronomy and Daniel.

And further. If Jesus did know certain of the books to be lacking in genuineness, if not spurious and pseudonymous; if He did know the stories of the Fall and Lot and Abraham and Jonah and Daniel to be allegorical and imaginary, if not unverifiable and mythical, then He was neither trustworthy nor good. "If it were not so, I would have told you." We feel, those of us who love and trust Him, that if these stories were not true, if these books were a mass of historical unveracities, if Abraham was an eponymous hero, if Joseph was an astral myth, that He would have told us so. It is a matter that concerned His honor as a Teacher as well as His knowledge as our God. As Canon Liddon has conclusively pointed out, if our Lord was unreliable in these historic and documentary matters of inferior value, how can He be followed as the teacher of doctrinal truth and the revealer of God? (John 3:12).


Anonymous said...

I think that some of this controversy comes from our position in time, 2000 years after Christ's sojourn on earth, as well, perhaps, as from an unfamiliarity with the structure of Judaism.
My understanding is that Jesus, as a devout, practicing Jew, would have known the Torah intimately, hence his ability to sum up its teachings as imperatives to love God and to love one's neighbor. This prompted, you may recall, his listeners to gasp at his understanding.
Judaism was (and still is, I believe) defined by rabbinical commentary. Jesus, as an itinerant rabbi, taught an interpretation which went far beyond what the rabbis of his day would have taught. Needless to say, this prompted all sorts of opposition to His teachings from those whose position in the community would have been questioned. But--Jesus left no written rabbinical commentary as far as I know, so we must get that commentary from the New Testament. And, as the incarnation of God on earth, I think we can absolutely trust his testimony and His commentary on Old Testament teaching and events.

Joe Blackmon said...

Without a doubt, we can His testimony and commentary on the OT as being 100% error free. Thank you for your comment.