What is the Jesus Seminar?

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By BibleAsk Team


The Jesus Seminar

The Jesus Seminar was begun by the New Testament “scholar” Robert Funk in the 1970s. It is a gathering of the skeptical-minded individuals who deny the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of the Bible. Instead of demonstrating historical objectivity, their project constitutes false propositions as follows:

  1. They presume the Gospels to be error-ridden and much inferior to all other sources contemporary to them. For example, they effectively give the Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas greater weight than the canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
  2. They reject the miracle stories of Jesus and see them as fiction.
  3. They presume that the early believers weren’t interested in history, and willingly put words into Jesus’ mouth to fulfill their own needs.

Their conclusions are published in “The Five Gospels.” The Jesus Seminar work goes through the four biblical gospels and the gospel of Thomas to determine what Jesus truly said and taught. It divides Jesus’ words from the gospels into sections based on how likely it is that Jesus truly said them.

The scholars of the Jesus Seminar used colored beads to vote on the authenticity of each saying attributed to Jesus in these texts, with red beads indicating a high likelihood of authenticity, pink beads indicating a probable authenticity, gray beads indicating uncertainty, and black beads indicating a low likelihood of authenticity.

The Biblical Perspective on the Jesus Seminar Work

Bible believing Christians assert that the Jesus Seminar methodology and conclusions reflect a great bias against supernatural elements and a tendency to prioritize secular and skeptical interpretations of the biblical texts. And they question the validity of the criteria of authenticity used by the Jesus Seminar, arguing that they overlook or dismiss important theological and historical considerations in favor of a purely rationalistic approach to the study of Jesus.

Bible believing Christians affirm the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible as the Word of God, containing the revelation of God’s truth and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. And they contend that any scholarly endeavor to understand Jesus and his teachings must be grounded in a faithful interpretation of the biblical texts within the context of Christian faith and tradition.

The New Testament presents Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah foretold by the prophets, and the Savior of humanity who came to fulfill God’s plan of redemption. The Gospels provide accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection, offering a comprehensive portrait of his identity, teachings, and mission. For Christians, the Gospels are not merely historical documents but authoritative testimonies of the life and significance of Jesus Christ.

In John 20:30-31, the apostle John writes, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” This passage emphasizes the purpose of the Gospel of John—to present the signs and teachings of Jesus as evidence of his divine identity and to invite people to believe in him for salvation.

Similarly, in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This passage highlights the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture as the source of truth and guidance for Christian faith and practice.

Conclusion

The “scholars” of the Jesus Seminar do not believe in the deity of Christ, His resurrection, His miracles, His substitutionary atonement death on behalf of the humans race, and the inspiration of the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Sadly, they promote their own “version of Jesus” instead of the Lord Jesus of the New Testament.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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