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Many years ago as a youngster in Wilson, I became intensely interested in studying Jesus and began attending First Christian Church. I began delving deeply into the gospels and when I found disturbing discrepancies among them, mentors in the church and, later, Barton College, encouraged me to use good scholarship in seeking answers.
As I grew older, I felt compelled to admit that the historical study of Jesus, if honestly pursued, leads to conclusions about him which, although they are disturbing, cannot be denied: Jesus was expecting certain events to happen in his own time that simply did not take place, including the full arrival of the Kingdom of God in all its power throughout the earth. This would happen, Jesus said, in his own generation, within the lifetime of some of his apostles (Mark 1:15; 9:1; 13:30) and opponents (14:62).
All the early Christians, including Paul, were expecting this to happen soon. It did not, and that raises questions about the inerrancy of the scriptures, and even of Jesus.
In nearly six decades of preaching, I have struggled with trying to be honest about this historical reality while being true to the good news of Jesus. That is not an easy task, and I have often failed.
Thirteen years ago, I began writing “The Dead Sea Gospel,” a novel in which I attempt to accomplish in fiction what is so difficult to accomplish in preaching. It is now available on Amazon.
Historical realities about Jesus are not easy to face, for they raise questions about him that challenge and disturb both conservatives and liberals. Yet truth is truth, and honesty may bring its own rewards. For all that we lose by facing the historical realities concerning Jesus, we also stand to gain, even spiritually. And this, I hope, is made clear in my novel, which is based on some of the very best historical Jesus research now available.
Dare we look at Jesus honestly? That is the question I would raise with everyone, and I invite all, whether or not they read my novel, to go to my website at www.TheDeadSeaGospel.com and join in the discussions there.