The Pen is mightier than the sword, but the Pen must sometimes move the sword against corruption if the corrupt are not moved by the pen.. An idea without an implementer is useless. "The Rulers do not carry the sword in vain"Rom 13:4

Saturday, March 14, 2015

From Quest to Conquest- Schweitzers search for the Historical Jesus.

Peeling back the layers of the complex psyche of Albert Schweitzer, we find a man who clearly struggled between the overwhelming academic credentials of his German theological peers and those who preceded them, and his own quest for an understanding of Jesus which underpinned his personal Christian vision.

He points out how Jesus' image has changed with the times and with the personal proclivities of the various authors. He concludes with his own synopsis and interpretation of what had been learned over the course of the previous century. He takes the position that the life and thinking of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus' own convictions, which he characterizes as those of "late Jewish eschatology", and that Jesus defies any attempt at understanding him by making parallels to the ways of thinking or feeling of modern men. In Schweitzer's view, Jesus genuinely believed that his ministry would bring about the end of history and did not see any prolonged period elapsing between his time on earth and God's final judgment. (source)

 I think the key words in that summary of Schweitzer's view are:  "In Schweitzer's view".  Rather than doing as Jesus taught "becoming like a child" (but not meaning 'childish') with innocence and faith, he sought to traverse through the academic minefield of supposed myth and scholarly mayhem to some kind of synthesized comprehension which gave his own world and mission some sense.

His assessment of Jesus 'believing' that his mission would bring an end to history, suggests that Jesus was a naive but misguided individual who's hopes and end of world convictions were catastrophically disappointed and unfulfilled.  To believe as Schweitzer did about this ignores the clearly laid out dimension of divine history of a 1st coming and then a later second coming to do exactly what Schweitzer believes that Jesus himself believed. The only problem for Schweitzer is that he was using firstly the wrong timetable, and second, he reduced Jesus to a man of sincere, high and noble aspiration, rather than the Son of Man/Son of God/Savior of mankind/Coming Judge of all the earth  Messiah He really is.

When Schweitzer says:

Jesus defies any attempt at understanding him by making parallels to the ways of thinking or feeling of modern men.

He is absolutely right. One of those 'ways' of thinking is the scientific view that "Because we don't see people rising from the dead today, therefore Jesus could not have risen in his own time".  An approach which makes me want to rent a small aircraft with sky writing capacity and zoom up and write "logical fallacy of the "post hoc ergo proctor hoc nature" in the sky!   Never mind the logical problems,  human nature, as John Stuart Mill explained with compelling argument, will be thinking one thing this year, and something else in the next, with those who were still in last years mindset being in stark wonderment about this years, and how anyone could think that way.

I can relate to Schweitzer's dilemma somewhat.  When you travel half way around the world, insert into a foreign culture, language and custom, it has a remarkable impact on the mind. For me, exposure to a traditional culture in the jungles of Borneo opened my eyes as never before to the ring of truth of the Old Testament, because I saw countless  parallels in the culture before my eyes.

My hope and prayer is that all of us will do as Jesus suggested.

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" 
 (Matt 18:3)

Perhaps then we will be less occupied with  or supervised by the many voices that seek to re interpret the Biblical (real) Jesus for the present generation. I remain convinced that the historical Jesus of yesterday is the same Jesus of today and  the triumphant coming King of tomorrow. "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever" (Heb 13:8)

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