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[whitespace] Jesus Under Scrutiny

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The Jesus Seminar has many critics. Fundamentalists and biblical experts have been calling the Westar scholars nasty names since the very beginning, using every bad word from "arrogant" and "ludicrous" to "heretical" and "devilish." Ouch. A number of Christian publications have even set themselves up as watchdogs of the Jesus Seminar's work, routinely reporting the seminar's heretical doings back to their predictably aghast readers. One such publication is Pulpit Helps, a ministerial resource newsletter put out by AMG International.

AMG stands for Advance the Ministries of the Gospel.

A recent edition of Pulpit Helps carried an article by Robert G. Witty, in which he attacked Westar founder Robert Funk, questioning whether the highly educated scholar is "the proper voice" to be evaluating questions of biblical faith. The reasons that Witty cites as "factual proof" of Funk's incompetence include references to reports that quote Funk stating the following points:

He doubts the Virgin Birth, the resurrection of Jesus, and the existence of a personal God; Darwin effectively explained away the story of Creation; prayer is meaningless except as meditation; and much of what the statements ascribed to Jesus in the Bible were made up and slipped in by other people, years after the fact.

According to Witty, these "facts" identify Funk's convictions as being "in contrast with the essentials of the Christian faith," which somehow makes Funk unqualified to offer scholarly opinions on the Bible.

The author ends his refutation by offering what he calls "the only possible evaluation of this supposedly prestigious group." This evaluation comes in the form of Scripture. Matthew 7:15, to be specific, wherein Jesus growls, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

Double ouch.

On the other hand, according to Funk and the majority of the 200 scholars of the Jesus Seminar, the scriptural accusation can hardly seem too damning.

It turns out Jesus never actually said that.

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From the February 15-21, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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