Monday, August 25, 2014

Olson's imaginary Jesus

I'm going to comment on this post:

Roger Olson
I can't think of a better litmus test than Jesus. 
Jesus must be our hermeneutical litmus test whenever we encounter and interpret biblical (or extrabiblical) texts that claim something about God. He was and is God (Yahweh). 

i) That sounds pious, but as a matter of fact, Jesus is not the litmus test for the veracity of the OT. Rather, the OT is the litmus test for Jesus. And the NT makes that point repeatedly. That's why Jesus, the Apostles, and/or NT writers repeatedly appeal to the OT to validate his messianic mission. 

Throughout history there have been many messianic claimants. A messianic claimant is not the litmus test for the OT. 

And this isn't a question of hermeneutics, but historicity. What really happened. 

ii) Traditionally, Jews regard Christianity as a Jewish heresy, just as Christians regard Islam or Mormonism as a Christian heresy. If a pious Jew were reading Olson, and he thought Olson's position was representative, he'd be justified in viewing Christianity as a Jewish heresy. The NT can only falsify the OT on pain of falsifying itself. (Mind you, I think the NT helps to verify the OT, and vice versa.) 

Just as it's proper to evaluate the claims of Muhammad or Joseph Smith by the Bible, it's proper to evaluate the claims of Jesus by the OT. And we have NT precedent for that procedure. (Mind you, there are additional reasons to reject Muhammad and Joseph Smith.)

Roger Olson
First you answer my question. Can you sit back, close your eyes, and imagine Jesus commanding his disciples to slaughter the children instead of saying "bring them to me for of such is the kingdom of God." If you say that you can, then you and I have totally different ideas of who Jesus was and if you think I have trouble explaining some passages I will simply say you can't explain that one. You seem to assume Scripture is flat; I don't. 
But there’s a problem. Can anyone imagine Jesus turning around and saying “Slaughter these little children”? I can’t. 
But if I can’t imagine Jesus doing that, to any group of children, what am I to do with 1Samuel 15? Was Yahweh someone other than Jesus—different in character from him?

i) Notice that Olson's litmus test isn't really Jesus, but his "imagined" Jesus. What he imagines Jesus would or wouldn't say or do. Of course, an imagined Jesus is just an imaginary Jesus. A figment of Olson's imagination. So Olson's litmus test is actually…Olson! 

ii) Yes, Jesus is Yahweh. Therefore, whatever the OT attributes to Yahweh we should attribute to Jesus. 

iii) In addition, the NT teaches us that Jesus is currently ruling the universe. From the time of the Ascension until the Day of Judgment, Jesus is in charge (1 Cor 15:25; Eph 1:20-22). When children die in a natural disaster, Jesus was pushing the buttons. Older Arminians like Charles Wesley didn't hesitate to take that position. 

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