The Faith of Unbelievers
On September 13th, James White gave some comments about the debate on his webcast, playing some audio clips. One of the main points that White was trying to uncover in the debate was that Crossan holds to certain foundational beliefs ("presuppositions") that do not allow him to even honestly view a great deal of the historical material we have about Jesus. This is a crucial point because Crossan claims that his position is much more historically accurate than the understanding of orthodox Christianity (Crossan is the author of the book, The Historical Jesus).
White: Dr. Crossan, given your presuppositions regarding divine consistency and the like, what kind of evidence could possibly exist in antiquity that would prove to you that the events of the Gospel story, especially miraculous events, such as the Virgin birth, or the resurrection of Christ from the dead, actually took place in the historical context?
Crossan: In the context of a pre-enlightenment world, nothing.
To clarify Crossan's answer, White restated his question:
White: But in a post-enlightenment world, which I am assuming we’re talking about this evening…
White: …could there be any kind of evidence whatsoever in antiquity that would cause you to believe that God did intervene in the first century in a way that He’s not intervening in –now- the 21st century?
So, by Crossan's own admission, no historical evidence that could be found could ever persuade him that miraculous events occurred and that God intervened in a unique way through the ministry of Jesus Christ. Crossan's position is not an extension of careful historical research, but rather an expression of his own faith- a faith in a god that ever and only uses naturalistic means to accomplish divine purposes. This is a god of Crossan's own making. And so Crossan, apart from a supernatural work of grace, which he apparently does not now believe in, could never hear the Gospel message as preached by the Apostle Paul- a message firmly rooted in eyewitness history:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
(I Corinthians 15:1-8 ESV)
It is important for biblical Christians to know how to respond to Crossan's position, because anyone that we know who is in a university setting will more than likely be exposed to the teachings of Crossan or other members of the Jesus Seminar. The teachings of these individuals are presented as being historical and as contradicting biblical faith. It is important for us to know that the teachings of the Jesus Seminar are not sound history, and they are, in fact, representative of a type of faith- albeit the faith of unbelievers.
I encourage everyone reading this blog to pause and pray for John Dominic Crossan, that the Lord would bring him to repentence and true, biblical faith.
I would also encourage everyone to prayerfully consider purchasing the White/Crossan debate from Alpha and Omega Ministries, so that you can be better prepared "to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (I Peter 3:15 ESV).