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Jesus of History is Christ of Faith

Reading commentaries on the gospels has been wonderfully mind-numbing and particularly frustrating these days. I feel like I'm reading about someone / something different than I expect / intend to. Even evangelical commentaries seem so often to detheologize what is there. Bock's commentary on Luke even has been discouraging in this regard; perhaps because I had high hopes for it. At the end of the day, it seems like not much is left, especially with regard to the deity of Jesus and the doctrine of salvation.

This week, he defined the faith of the centurion in Luke 7:9 as something like "opening up to what God is doing in Jesus".  Really? Is that it? I'm sorry, but that is lame! I remember feeling this way earlier in his comments on Luke 5:27-32. I wrote down in my journal that week, "Sinners need more than a hug." So much of the language found there about conversion and salvation just sounds so bland: "walking God's way", "Levi can have a walk with God", to "rest in God and have him enter one's life" is the "essence of repentance". He tops it off with: "In the context of personal acceptance, they may begin to listen, open up to God, and find the way to spiritual health." (p. 500)  Just give sinners a hug, and they will begin to "open up to God", and be on their way to "spiritual health". Yeah, that's probably what Jesus was doing there... 

It is frustrating how detheologized commentaries--and evangelical literature in general--are on the gospel. I find sermons / pastoral commentaries much more faithful in regard to teaching the gospels than the more technical commentaries.

Thinking about this reminded me of the scholarly (liberal) distinction between the so-called "Jesus of history" and the "Christ of faith", their idea being that the Jesus we find in the gospels is different from the "Christ of faith" that the church "made" him to be. Do evangelical gospel commentators not slight in this direction when they are so hesitant to ascribe any kind of deity to Jesus during his lifetime? If we do not find the deity of Jesus in the Gospels, then do we not tacitly concede to this scholarly creed? 

I want to say clearly this is a false dichotomy. The Jesus of history is the Christ of faith--they are one and the same.  Yet, it is surprising how much of this kind of thinking is found in evangelical literature, and I wonder how much of it is found in the church. Are we influenced by the scholarly talk of the "Jesus of history, and the Christ of faith"?

Do you find it easier to say "Christ" than "Jesus"? Which is more normal: "We worship Jesus", or "We worship Christ"? "You must trust in Jesus", or "You must trust in Christ"? "I love Jesus", or "I love Christ"? I must confess, the first is much more natural, and the second is just plain awkward for me to say aloud. I feel less theological. I am trying to break out of this since they are one and the same. 

The Jesus we see on the pages of the four Gospels is the eternal Word clothed in human flesh, he is God the Son who entered into humanity. The mystery of the incarnation is that he is both God and man. The Jesus on the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is the very Christ written about by Paul and the rest, and it is the very same Jesus who will return in flaming fire for judgment on the last day, and to rescue his people unto eternal glory. 


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Matt Hauck (郝柏昇)

A once enemy now son, forgiven and freed by Jesus' blood, adopted and called by grace for glory.   (more...)

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