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Is Jesus being hijacked?

"Is Jesus being hijacked?" Continued...

I will try to abstain from un-scholarly-like apoplexy and will continue to do so.

zealot1016.jpgAs to Zealot’s substance, it contains at least five very serious errors, perhaps more. The first is that the author has little respect for the integrity of Scripture. The Lord has said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, all Scripture is God’s inspired Word—there aren’t “good parts” and altered parts. Yet Zealot repeatedly claims that the disciples were dishonest and altered the Scriptures at later dates. Further, because Aslan sees James as advocating the true way, a return to the Mosaic law, Zealot is willing to dispense with the whole 14 epistles of Paul! What more can be said to this reckless handling of the sacred Word.

The second major problem is claiming that Jesus was not divine. I think that Aslan’s own words defeat him on this point. In an online interview with Illume magazine, he said his conversion experience in his younger years was “real” and caused him to share Christ with his friends and parents. Here’s the point—a conversion could not be real without encountering Jesus as God. That’s what conversion is. So how is it possible to subsequently claim that Jesus isn’t God?

The third error is to present Jesus’ kingdom as earthly and political, not spiritual and inward. This contradicts the clear words of the New Testament: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) Also, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) As to inwardness, what about the thousands upon thousands of Christians who, for 2,000 years, have given testimony to the inward reality of God’s kingdom? As to being political, no one was more resolutely apolitical than Jesus. When the scribes presented him with the Roman coin to tempt him into taking sides, he stopped them completely with “… render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

The fourth problem, in presenting Jesus’ death as strictly political, is that what is lacking in Jesus’ crucifixion is any reference to the sacrificial and redemptive aspect of His death. The truth, of course, is that He died for the sins of the world, and His death was the absolute defeat of all the powers of darkness, enabling mankind to be freed of bondage. And Scripture is clear. Both the religious (Matthew 26:57-68) and the political authorities (John 18:28-38) examined Jesus, resulting in Pilate declaring, “I find no fault in this man.” Thus, it is untrue that He had no trial; He died “under law” and “according to law.” (John 18:31) So, it was anything but a simple death for “treason.” It was a sacrificial death of infinite worth.

As to the fifth error—that the proper life for Christians is to be under the Mosaic law, the book of Galatians is quite clear that the law is fulfilled in Christ and that the new Testament principle is for mankind to be justified by faith rather than by works of the law. It’s not that Christians are not obedient, but that one’s works are a result of faith and not a source of justification before God. I think that this issue was fairly well settled during the Protestant Reformation.

Having completed our brief look at some of Zealot’s errors, I’d like to look at some troubling remarks from Aslan’s previous books and interviews that could call into question the integrity of Zealot’s depiction of Jesus.

Symbol of revolutionary zeal

Let’s first of all return to the passage where Jesus cleanses the Temple, or as Zealot has it, “attacks” the Temple. For after all, this scene is really the heart of the book and is really Zealot’s main argument for Jesus as a revolutionary, because it interprets Jesus’ righteous anger at those defiling the Temple as a fierce revolutionary zeal. And what did this “revolutionary” overthrow? Mainly some tables. Nevertheless, Zealot sees Jesus as a fiery reformer raiding the Temple as a provocation to the repressive, occupying Romans, and it is this “Jesus,” largely Zealot’s own creation, that is being presented to the readers as a “Jesus” they can be a “follower of without being a Christian.” But why does the author go to all the trouble to create this “Jesus” as a symbol of revolutionary zeal? A revolutionary needs a cause, right? Let’s look next at Aslan’s involvement in progressive Muslim politics.

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