Monday, May 31, 2010

Knowing Jesus is Knowing Doctrine About Jesus

Just a head's up to all those readers of The Profound Mystery who live on the cutting edge of evangelical life via the internet and There is a huge push in publishing these days, both on blogs and in print, to leave behind all the divisive and constrictive doctrines about Jesus - things like church structure and authority, substitutionary atonement and Divine wrath. The reason for this push, stated in various forms, is that the doctrines that have grounded evangelical churches for so long have not resulted in a true knowledge of Jesus, but rather a replacement of Jesus with the doctrines themselves. In other words, evangelical Christians are accused of worshiping an idol of Jesus instead of the "real person" Jesus. This is the supposed reason for the terrible state of the church in the west and the apathetic and carnal nature of Christians in the west. These "prophets" of Jesus want everyone to believe that in order to fix western Christianity, we must put Jesus back at the center of the church.

I am in full agreement with ensuring that Jesus is at the center of everything. However, I am convinced that the Jesus these folks are arguing for isn't the Jesus of the Bible - at least not in his fullness. Let me be as clear as possible. Jesus cannot be known without knowing him through propositions derived from Scripture. Period. All this notion about knowing and following the "living Jesus" rather than the Jesus of doctrine is a load of crap. Jesus lives in the living and active Word of God. That is where he chooses to reveal himself.

It is not my intention to bash certain people, but it is my intention to warn potential readers of all the emerging and missional literature flooding the market today to be careful. A Christ divorced from Scripture is a Christ of fantasy. I'll go one step farther. A Christ proclaimed from the Gospels alone, without the apostolic insight of the rest of the New Testament is also likely to be a Christ of fantasy.

This quest to get Christians back to the real Jesus is not new, though these writers continue to act as though they're saying something new. This is the down-grade that Charles Spurgeon fought and the liberals that J. Gresham Machen and Geerhardus Vos fought. It's just repackaged in missional clothing.

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