Saturday, August 03, 2013

Bending the truth about Jesus

Reza Aslan, brought up a Muslim, converted to evangelical Christianity in his teens, and later reverted to the Muslim faith. He has written a book, Zealot: The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.

Lauren Green used the occasion to interview him on Fox News.

"Is this the most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done?" wrote someone. The interview was "absolutely demented," wrote the New Yorker's TV critic. "This may be the single most cringe-worthy, embarrassing interview in Fox News history," wrote someone else.

The book rose to No 1 on the list of best-sellers on Amazon, allegedly on the strength of the interview.

Matthew J. Franck, writing at First Things, said Aslan misrepresented his credentials.

"I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament," said Aslan. "I am an expert with a PhD in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament - that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasise one more time, I am a historian, I am a PhD in the history of religions. . . I’m actually quite a prominent Muslim thinker in the United States.”

Aslan does have four degrees: a BA in religion from Santa Clara University; a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard; a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the University of Iowa; and a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has 'a PhD in the history of religions' and that he is 'a historian' are false," writes Franck. "Nor is 'professor of religions' what he does 'for a living.' He is an associate professor in the creative writing program at the University of California, Riverside."

Some people just say that Aslan is dishonest.

He says Jesus made no messianic claim throughout the entire Gospel of Mark (Mark 14:61, 62 give the lie to that). "Every word ever written about the historical Jesus, every gospel story, every claim about Him made in the New Testament was written by people who didn't know Jesus while He was alive. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John..."

The important point is not that a man named Jesus lived and was crucified. The important point is that He was - and is - the Son of God, He died for your sin and mine, and after He died, He rose again from the dead.

A dead Saviour couldn't transform lives. A dead Saviour couldn't answer prayer. He said "Come to me. . . and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28).

Try it and see.

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