Thursday, March 5, 2015

an individuality that is irreducible

Forty-four years ago yesterday, as a college student, I called upon the Lord Jesus for salvation. I had bounced around various viewpoints... Marxism, eastern mysticism, and various combinations of popular views, only to discover the emptiness of my own making. I even had opinions about who Jesus was, or might have been.  Until... I began reading the Gospels of the New Testament. My speculative, two-dimensional portrait of Jesus (in my own image) was shattered by the Living three-dimensional Person presented in the Gospels.  No religious founder that I had read was at all like the One I read about on the pages of the Bible!
J. Gresham Machen, in his little book, The Gospel And The Modern World: And Other Short Writings, writes about this...

"Read the Gospels for yourselves, my friends. Do not study them this time. Just read them; just let the stupendous figure of Jesus stand before your eyes. Has not that figure the marks of truth? Could that figure ever have been produced in impersonal fashion to satisfy the needs of the primitive church? No, the figure of Jesus in the Gospels possesses an individuality that is irreducible, a shining, startling vividness against which criticism ultimately will fail. Yet criticism has had its beneficent results; it has shown with increasing plainness that the picture of Jesus in the New Testament is essentially one. Gone is the day when a few miracles could he removed in order to leave a supposed historical account of a founder of a new religious life or a preacher of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Recent criticism has carried us far beyond all such easy solutions of the problem as that. The Jesus of the New Testament is an organic whole; the New Testament writers are dominated one and all by the conviction that Jesus was the supernatural Redeemer come into this world for the salvation of men. Increasingly, the great alternative is becoming clear: give Jesus up, confess that his portrait is forever hidden in the mists of pragmatic legend; or else accept him essentially as he is presented to us by the Evangelists and by Paul."

The painting above represents Christ as "Pantocrator" (Almighty) in the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul, Turkey. 

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