What If Jesus is Wrong?
Some professing Christians reject the historicity of the biblical records of Noah and the Great Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah and the Fish. They argue that these accounts are fanciful tales that communicate perhaps a “spiritual” truth but they probably didn’t really happen.
What effect does such a rejection have on Christology (our understanding of the person of Jesus)?
In Luke 17:26-27 Jesus says:
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”
He goes on in the same chapter (vv.28-29) to make a similar reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and he also makes similar references elsewhere to Jonah and his large fish (see Matthew 12:40).
Either the events took place or they did not.
If they did not then there are two possibilities:
1. Jesus knew they did not happen and promoted a historical fiction.
2. Jesus did not know they did not happen but the Holy Spirit through whom he taught permitted him to teach something as historically true that was in fact false.
Some propose a third option, namely that Jesus, knowing these stories to be parabolic, referred to them in order to teach a spiritual lesson in the same way that we might refer to Jack and the Beanstalk for a similar purpose. His words, therefore, have no bearing on the historicity of the events themselves since we often reference fables to illustrate moral/spiritual truths. The problem with that solution is that no one in Jesus’ 1st century audience believed these stories to be merely parabolic. So to teach as he did about those events, knowing the events did not happen, would be not only a lie - a noble lie perhaps but a lie all the same - it would also be to promote historical fiction. This suggestion then is not really a third option but falls quite easily beneath option #1.
Keep in mind that Jesus, in his humanity, is not omniscient. He knows only what the Father reveals to him through the Spirit. But when Jesus does not know, he does not presume to speak. In Luke 8:45 a woman touches his cloak and is healed. Jesus feels the power leave him but does not know who touched him. He’s genuinely ignorant. So he asks: “Who touched me?” In Matthew 24:36 referring to the Day of the Lord, Jesus tells his disciples,
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
A faithful and true prophet, his words superintended by the Holy Spirit, Jesus never speaks on matters about which he is ignorant (Dt 18:20-22).
If option #1 is true then Jesus is knowingly involved in a lie and therefore can neither be considered fully God nor sinless man. He cannot be the unblemished Lamb of God whose sacrifice on the cross takes away the sins of the world. Christianity, in short, is lost.
If option #2 is true then the entire body of Jesus’ teachings and those of his disciples becomes suspect as does the Christian claim that his teachings are truly inspired by God . In fact, #2 is an absurdity, the Holy Spirit does not lie nor does he allow those who prophesy in his name to teach falsehood.
Paul himself makes just this point in 1 Corinthians 15 where, writing about the resurrection, he makes the following point:
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised..” (1 Cor 15:14-15)
Paul, in keeping with option #2 above, believes the Resurrection to be an historical event. But if he is wrong - if Jesus did not rise - then Paul understands he would be morally culpable for teaching false doctrine even though he sincerely believed it to be true.
Paul’s reasoning in 1st Corinthians 15:14-15 parallels precisely the position into which those who take option #2 set Jesus. If the Great Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and/or the account of Jonah and the Fish did not really take place then either Jesus is purposefully lying (option #1) or he’s a sincere but false teacher (option #2).
Either way he could no longer be considered God Incarnate, Man Divine, the Spotless Lamb.
Both options gut orthodox Christology and, as a result, fatally undermine the Christian faith.
It is, therefore, vitally important to affirm that Jesus’ teaching is always true in every way. Those historical events to which he refers truly took place in precisely the way Jesus describes them and for the purposes and reasons he gives.
If there is a God who created the Heavens and the Earth out of nothing, who raises the dead to life, then surely the other miraculous events recorded in scripture lie easily within the scope of his power.
Share this story:
Recent Related Posts
Are you reading this?
Advertising on Stand Firm works!
Click here for details.