LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The complexity of the Gospel lends credibility to its truth, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the March 28 issue of Newsweek magazine.
In a story written by Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Mohler said the Gospel is not a story that Christ’s disciples would have fabricated merely to spout a uniform “party line” for a new religion.
“This is not something that the PR committee of the disciples would have put out,” Mohler said. “The very fact of the salvation message’s complexity and uniqueness, I think, speaks to the credibility of the Gospels and of the entire New Testament.”
In the article, Meacham sets out to answer the question: “How did a Jewish prophet come to be seen as the Christian savior?” He draws on the Gospel accounts of the resurrection and the writings of the Apostle Paul to show that Christ understood Himself to be the Messiah and that Christianity is based on historical evidence and not a blind leap of faith.
Meacham also taps the accounts of the resurrection found in the Gospels — and particularly the disciples’ pre-resurrection confusion over the identity of Jesus — to show that Christianity began “with confusion, not with clarity; with mystery, not with certainty.” But the New Testament writers clarified Christ’s standing as the Redeemer, Meacham points out.
The article cites a Newsweek poll as demonstrating that 78 percent of Americans believe that Jesus rose from the dead, 75 percent say He was sent to earth to absolve mankind of its sins.
Meacham and Mohler also discussed the same topic on Newsweek Radio. Noting that Christianity stands or falls on the validity of the resurrection, Mohler said the resurrection points to the resurrection of human bodies and the future reality of final redemption brought about by Christ’s return.
“The very ground of it is the historical reality of the resurrection, which is the promise of the resurrection that is to come, and we still await that,” Mohler said. “In fact, Paul says the entire creation is groaning, waiting for the redemption that is to come. And so, this is a forward-focused faith in terms of the consummation of all things.”
Mohler said a person cannot consider himself or herself a genuine follower of Christ while denying His literal, bodily resurrection as taught by the Scriptures.
“I believe of course it is possible to identify with the Christian movement and with Christian organizational structures,” Mohler said. “But I have to take my authority from the Apostle Paul who said if Christ is not raised from the dead then we are people most to be pitied because we are still bearing our own sins.”
While Mohler agreed with Meacham’s assertion that the disciples were not expecting Christ to rise from the dead, he pointed out that Christ Himself was conscious of who He was: the incarnate Messiah.
“One of the most crucial understandings of the death and crucifixion of Jesus is that He did understand what He was doing — the agony of Gethsemane, the high priestly prayer He prayed in John 17 and all the imbedded clues He gave within His teaching of the disciples,” Mohler said.
“… The Gospels are so honest in presenting the fact that the disciples should have seen it but didn’t; they only got it after the fact. It would hardly have been flattering to the disciples because Jesus said, ‘You should have seen this, you should have been expecting this.'”
To read the full Newsweek article, go to www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7244999/site/newsweek; to hear the radio interview, go to www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7244999/site/newsweek/page/6/.