Among their many fascinating articles is this gem. It is a list of 100 Truths About Jesus. Each truth is a pithy saying I'm sure the author wants you to take as "fact" supported by hyperlinked Biblical quotes.
Nothing shocking. But what strikes me as I read it is that these "truths" are anything but self-evident. Rather, they are so impenetrable they are nearly useless.
For example, what does it mean that, "Jesus abides forever - Heb. 7:24"? Where does he "abide?" Can I visit? To abide means to continue or to stay... what is he continuing? If he is staying forever does that mean he is never going? Or maybe they mean abide as in "tolerate". In which case what does Jesus tolerate? This is the kind of lovely koan-esque language that religions love to employ and it is wonderful for meditation and theology, but it is more poetry than apologetics where precise definitions are necessary.
One problem with this list of propositions (and it is true of the entire site) is that it assumes an incredible degree of pre-assimilated context. There is a near cultish use of insider vocabulary used without explanation as if the meaning is plain to any observer. What do these things mean:
- The fruit of righteousness comes through Jesus Christ - Phil. 1:11
- Jesus is the Rock - 1 Cor. 10:4
- Jesus is our only mediator between God and ourselves - 1 Tim. 2:5
For these propositions to have any value the reader would have to be in a conversation where the assertion that Jesus is the Rock had any meaning. The writers on this site are clearly involved in such a conversation. They see themselves countering all sorts of cultural tendencies they deplore, but they don't give any hint of that here. Answers without questions are useless. (Interestingly the reverse is not always true).
Furthermore, the apparent simplicity (even if it is opaque simplicity) of these propositions belies an enormous amount of interpretation that has already gone into them. Consider number 100 on their list:
- Jesus came to proclaim freedom for believers - Luke 4:18
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,"First of all, Jesus is not making a personal announcement here, he is reading scripture aloud in the context of something like a worship service. He does, later in the passage, tell the crowd that "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." So it is not unreasonable to assume that he intends these words from Isaiah as a kind of proclamation, but where does Isaiah mention freedom for "believers"? Freedom could reasonably be applied to two groups in the passage: captives and the oppressed. It mentions nothing at all about whether these groups contain any believers.
So how does the author get to his proposition from the supporting text? Interpretation, duh. The author is assuming that Jesus means something specific by "freedom" and that this "freedom" corresponds with what the author already knows and believes, partly on the basis of other scripture passages, belongs specifically to a group called "believers". I happen to disagree with the author in this case, but I don't think there is anything nefarious about such an interpretive move. I have a feeling, however, that the people at CARM wouldn't want to admit that such debatable interpretation underlies all of their arguments.