This blog is devoted to the written presentation defense of Christian theism. The principal essence of theology is God. Human knowledge is inescapably revelational. Man knows because God is. Reason nor science can function properly without radical transformation by God's regenerative work of grace. No other position on the subject of reason or science achieves epistemic coherence with the principle of Sola Scriptura.
Τοῦτο λέγω, ἵνα μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς παραλογίζηται ἐν πιθανολογίᾳ. (Col. 2:4)
“Jesus Is: Find a New Way to be Human”
Judah Smith finds an Old Way to be Wrong!
The Christian Post (CP) recently conducted an interview with
Judah Smith, lead pastor of The City Church in Seattle, WA. The focus of the
interview is Smith’s new book. Apparently, Smith heard from God on Oct. 27th,
2007. According to Smith, it was so clear that it was almost audible. From this
experience comes Smith’s new book, “Jesus is: Find A New Way to be Human.” I
have not read the book, and in fact, I have no intentions of reading it. I am
simply too busy reading good books to waste my time reading, what amounts to be,
a really, really bad one from what I can tell.
The grand revelation of this book seems to be that Jesus is
Grace. Grace is a person. Grace is not some abstract principle. Grace is not
just divine favor, no. Grace is a person. Jesus is Grace. Smith’s revelation
can be summed up in simple terms: John 1:17 says that the law came through
Moses, but grace and truth come by Jesus Christ. According to Smith, because
grace precedes truth in John’s sentence, grace is more important than truth.
Jesus is grace before He is truth. Smith says that grace is always first in the
biblical order. The argument would flow as follows:
mentioned first in the biblical order is of higher significance.
always before truth. Therefore,
grace is the most significant aspect of Christ or Scripture (I suppose)
One does not
even have to leave John 1 before questions arise as a result of Smith’s
assertion. All one has to do is move from John 1:17 to John 1:1 to realize that
truth has actually been mentioned prior to grace. The word is Jesus, and in
John 17:17, the word is also defined as the truth, as is Jesus in John 14:6.
Therefore, John mentions truth several verses before he mentions grace. Before
we can even get started, Smith’s thesis has serious problems. In addition,
there is no exegetical support for Smith’s claim. Word order can point to an
author’s intention to emphasize that word, but to invoke a rule that this is
always the case is simply a hasty generalization that has no basis in Scripture
nor in sound exegetical principles.
principle is true, then it must hold true for every other aspect of divine
truth as well. For instance, it should hold when we compare love with other
aspects of Christian faith. However, 1 Cor. 13:13 would indicate this principle
simply is not true. Paul says there remains faith, hope, and love and the
greatest of these is love. Even though love is mentioned last, it is said to be
the greatest of the three.
14:6, Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Here, Jesus doesn’t
even bother to mention grace. What does this mean? It means nothing at all in
terms of the relationship of grace in our salvation or in any other way.
Scripture is not some toy that God gave us so that we could come up with new
and clever ways to say really cool things and look hip in front of our
thesis is absurd. To be as direct as I can, there is absolutely no reason to
argue that John is elevating grace over truth because he mentioned grace first
in the order of things. This is sheer arbitrary nonsense. Secondly, John never
called Jesus grace. Grace is an act, not a person. Grace is a disposition of
the divine Patron toward unworthy benefactors. God extends grace to us. There
is no exegetical warrant for Smith to personify grace. It is an illegitimate
practice that should garner serious rebuke. Not one writer ever said that Jesus
Christ is grace, nor did any NT author ever say that grace is Jesus Christ.
Finally, it is impossible to miss yet one more attack on
truth. It is a false dichotomy to set grace up over against truth. Even the
attempt to say that grace is more significant than truth is a truth claim that
even Smith would argue is significant. Even if one were to claim that Smith is
referring to the properties of propositions, it still holds that his statement
itself is also a proposition. It is always an illegitimate practice to
downgrade one part of Scripture, one part of revelation, or one aspect of God
in order to elevate another.
Exegesis is an investigation of Scripture that is guided by
a specific set of rules that reflect norms in communication. God has spoken to
us by His Son Jesus Christ and He has expressly given to us the record of this
phenomenon in the pages of a divinely inspired set of documents we call the
Bible. Ethical standards demand that we approach the sacred text of Scripture
with extreme care giving to it the respect and admiration it deserves. Judah
Smith, along with many young and restless pastors in contemporary times, seems
to take up the text with the same degree of appreciation they show to a work of
fiction. To claim that Jesus is grace and to arbitrarily assert that grace is
more significant than truth because John placed it first is simply false.