- Fewer than 20 percent of the words of Jesus as contained in the Bible are deemed authentic.
- Of the Lord’s Prayer, only the words “Our Father” are close to what Jesus said.
- The Gospel of John does not contain a single saying that could be traced back to the historical Jesus.
- The Jesus that emerges from the Seminar was not the Son of God. He was neither the Messiah nor considered Himself such. He was not born of a virgin, never performed miracles, and did not rise from the dead.
Now, a new missionary outreach program is under way, taking the Jesus Seminar “on the road,” visiting cities throughout the country and abroad. Those who attend these conferences often leave with their faith deeply shaken.
As if this was not a sufficient cause for concern, the Jesus Seminar is only the first installment in an ongoing revision of Christian thought and history. Promised sequels include:
The Paul Seminar. The authenticity and integrity of the Pauline letters will be examined according to the Jesus Seminar methodology. Will the Paul Seminar leave us with even 20 percent of the words of the apostle whose writings substantially contribute to the foundation of Christian thought?
The Canon Seminar. Its aim is to reconsider the New Testament. The scholars intend a clean sweep, overturning the work of the early Church councils. They will themselves decide which works should constitute a “New New Testament.” Considering they have already taken up the Gospel of Thomas as “the fifth Gospel,” their theological assumptions can only be deemed untrustworthy.
The Acts Seminar. The historical authenticity of the Acts of the Apostles will be evaluated, again using the same methodology. Since the Gospels have been declared historically unreliable, should we be surprised by what the findings of this seminar will be?
With this issue, Crisis begins to present some of the foremost minds in biblical scholarship to expose the Jesus Seminar and the fallacies it presents as scholarly truth. These articles result from Crisis Magazine’s “Response to The Jesus Seminar,” a well-received lecture series held in New York City at the end of 1999. The series was sponsored by Msgr. Michael Wrenn (pictured right), a prominent pastor in the Archdiocese of New York, a noted New Testament scholar, and a valiant defender of the integrity of the Gospels.
The Seminar’s attack on the faith the Church has handed down across the centuries presents Catholics with the opportunity, at the dawn of the third Christian millennium, to arrive at a deeper authentic understanding of the Person, words, and deeds of Jesus Christ by reacquainting ourselves with the writings of His first followers in the company of scholars whose thoughts are tuned to the mind of the Church and are in keeping with the immemorial faith of the apostles, the fathers of the Church, and the saints through the centuries.
[Acknowledgements: Rev. Rodger Hunter Hall's "Introduction" was first published in Crisis magazine (March 2000), 15, and is reproduced by kind permission of Crisis magazine, Morley Publishing Group, Inc., 1814 1/2 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036.]