Thursday, January 19, 2006

Christ the Lord?

Anne Rice, whose previous books include Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned, recently converted to Christianity. I believe she is Roman Catholic now. Her recent novel is entitled Christ the Lord. In an afterward, she tells the fascinating story of her research into the truth about Jesus. She compared the scholarship of those who did, and those who did not, accept the historical reliability of the biblical gospels.

After all, “Jesus scholars” come in many varieties. Those who appear on television speaking about the “historical Jesus” often hold views hostile the historic Christian faith of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. (It is a radical branch of this type of “scholarship” that undergirds the radically popular Da Vinci Code novel.)

Here is how Ann Rice describes the surprise she felt when she found that many who were known as "Jesus scholars" were actually hostile to him:

"Many of these scholars, scholars who apparently devoted their life to New Testament scholarship, disliked Jesus Christ. Some pitied him as a hopeless failure. Others sneered at him, and some felt an outright contempt. This came between the lines of the books. …

"I’d never come across this kind of emotion in any other field of research, at least not to this extent. It was puzzling.

"The people who go into Elizabethan studies don’t set out to prove that Queen Elizabeth I was a fool. They don’t personally dislike her. They don’t make snickering remarks about her, or spend their careers trying to pick apart her historical reputation. … Occasionally a scholar studies a villain, yes. But even then, the author generally ends up arguing for the good points of a villain or for his or her place in history, or for some mitigating circumstance, that redeems the study itself. … [I]n general, scholars don’t spend their lives in the company of historical figures they openly despise." (Christ the Lord, p.314)

It is important for believers and unbelievers alike to recognize that scholarship – at least “Jesus scholarship” – is not free from bias. Is it even possible to be unbiased concerning a historical figure who demanded an answer to the question, “Who do you say that I am?”


Jeri G. said...

Have you read her book yet Kenny and if so, what did you think? Yes, she has returned to her Roman Catholic roots.

Anonymous said...

We should not be suprised at the polarizing nature of the Gospel. The unadulterated truth is unacceptable to the unbeliever. Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 2:

"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life."

The preaching of the Gospel is the fragrance of death to those who are not in Christ.


Ken Shomo said...

To Jeri: Haven't read it yet. It's on the list of books to go through over the coming weeks. But after reading her story in Christianity Today, I picked up the book and read through the afterward concerning her conversion (or at least intellectual reversal). Have you read the book?

As I briefly stated in the post, her beliefs are not roundly orthodox (from a Catholic or Protestant perspective). Yet it's exciting to see someone acknowledge the strength of conservative biblical scholarship. As with all celebrities, we have to be careful not to make them poster children -- like us, they are too flawed for that.

To Wade: Yes. And it's worth pointing out because so often unbelief goes under the guise of "unpolarized, balanced, just looking at the facts" -- when really there are a host of unstated biases. (Biases may also be called presuppositions.)

Joseph Adrian said...

Not only should we not be surprised when the world is biased against Christ and His gospel,we should expect it. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to them. The wisdom of God is foolishness in the eyes of those who are apart from Christ and will perish eternally if they remain so.

Jeri G. said...

I have not read it yet, but after seeing her interview on TV I have been interested in checking it out. That is why I asked if you had because I was going to ask your opinion. I think we should remember that she is a baby in Jesus right now and that is the big mistake that the church does when they put celebrities up as "poster kids" as you stated. They need time to grow and be transformed....look how long it is taking for us?? But I was so thrilled to hear her speaking out about her new faith and her regret of her previous books. Let's commit to pray for her and see what God will do. It must be really tough to be in front of the lights and the judgement of the whole world...believers and non believers.
Let's keep in touch about reading the book...we'll see who gets to it first and what they think.

Ken Shomo said...

Okay, you have laid down the challenge... I always accomplish the most when there's a competition afoot!