Why would a Christian denomination pay a lecturer to speak at their events who does not believe Jesus physically rose from the dead? Why would the same denomination recommend and use that lecturer's teaching resources when he doesn't even believe God exist? Those are good questions every lay person should be asking the leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The lecturer I am referring to is John Dominic Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar (read about it here) and popular New Testament scholar. Let me first show you the multitude of ways the ELCA has sought Crossan and provided access to his teachings, then we will document some specifics of what this man teaches and believes.
What does John Dominic Crossan teach and believe?
“Crossan says Jesus was an exploited 'peasant with an attitude' who didn't perform many miracles, physically rise from the dead or die as punishment for humanity's sins.
Jesus was extraordinary because of how he lived, not died, says Crossan” (read here).
The following are quotes by John Dominic Crossan from his book Who Is Jesus? (found here) "Do I personally believe in an afterlife? No, but to be honest, I do not find it a particularly important question one way or the other."
"Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."
"Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets.' Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."
"In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life." “The second coming will not be literal. The second coming is what will happen when we Christians accept that there was only one coming and get with the program.” (see here)
During this debate, we find out Crossan doesn't even believe in the actual existence of God -
“(Dr. William Lane) Craig: But surely that’s not a meaningless question. It’s a factual question. Was there a being who was the Creator and Sustainer of the universe during the period of time when no human beings existed? It seems to me that in your view you’d have to say no.
Crossan: Well, I would probably prefer to say no because what you’re doing is trying to put yourself in the position of God and ask, 'How is God apart from revelation? How is God apart from faith?'” (see here)
More Crossan quotes -
“In conclusion, what is the historicity of the burial account [of Jesus]? From Roman expectations, the body of Jesus and of any others crucified with him would have been left on the cross as carrion [dead and putrefying flesh] for the crows and the dogs. From Jewish expectations, would not Deuteronomy 21:22-23 have been followed? Maybe, but only the barest maybe…
But, even if it was, the soldiers who crucified Jesus probably would have done it, speedily and indifferently, in a necessary shallow and mounded grave rather than a rock-hewn tomb. That would mean lime, at best, and the dogs again, at worst.” (Who Killed Jesus?, 187, 188) by John Dominic Crossan
“The tales of entombment and resurrection were latter-day wishful thinking. Instead, Jesus’ corpse went the way of all abandoned criminals bodies: it was probably barely covered with dirt, vulnerable to the wild dogs that roamed the wasteland of the execution grounds.” John Dominic Crossan as quoted in Richard N. Ostling, “Jesus Christ, Plain and Simple,” Time, 10 January 1994.
What others say about John Dominic Crossan
- Hank Hanegraaff, Christian radio host says this about Crossan -
"Jesus Seminar cofounder John Dominic Crossan claims that there were dozens of virgin birth stories circulating in Greek and Roman mythology during the first century. Says Crossan, 'They’re all over Greek and Roman mythology, so what do I do? Do I believe all of those stories, or do I say all of those stories are lies except for our Christian story?'"
“The truth of the matter is that historical evidence for the veracity of extrabiblical virgin birth stories is nil.” (read here).
- Dennis Ingolfsland writes this of Crossan -
“Jesus was a 'peasant Jewish Cynic,' who never thought of Himself as the Jewish Messiah, much less the Son of God or the Savior of the world. This is the view held by John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, reputed to be one of the world’s leading experts on the historical study of Jesus. According to Crossan and others who share his view, Jesus was simply an itinerant preacher who taught that the kingdom of God had to do with how the world would be run if God sat on Caesar’s throne. Jesus’ ministry had nothing to do with helping people find God, salvation, or heaven.” (see here)
- Father Robert Barron, writing about Crossan says -
“How does Crossan explain the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? They are, he says, essentially 'parables,' figurative representations of the disciples’ conviction that Jesus’ way was more powerful than the Roman way. They were never meant to be taken literally but rather as poetic inspirations for the succeeding generations of Jesus’ followers.
How does he explain the church’s dogma of Jesus’ divinity? It is, essentially, a misleading overlay that effectively obscures the dangerous truth of who Jesus really was: a threat to the cultural, religious and political status quo.” (see here)
- Video of Dr. William Lane Craig answering a question about John Dominic Crossan's view on the resurrection of Jesus. (only 5 min. long)
- Here is a review of Crossan's book JESUS - A Revolutionary Biography by KIRKUS REVIEW
“Here, we get a politically correct Christ stripped of all mythology, a revolutionary social leader who taught 'radical egalitarianism' but performed no miracles, except that of awakening social consciousness (Crossan reads Jesus' casting out of demons as a blow against colonialism). This is, then, the Jesus of liberation theology, not of the Christian scholarly mainstream (up to now, Crossan has been best known for another unconventional and little-accepted theory, positing the existence of a 'cross gospel' that predates the passion narratives of the canonical texts). As usual, Crossan's scholarship is good, with a command of cultural anthropology, Greco-Roman history, and textual analysis. Eyebrows will rise often, though, as he goes beyond facts into conjecture: Jesus `did not and could not cure...disease' despite his laying-on-of-hands; Jesus never met Pilate or Caiaphas; the Barabbas tale is fiction (a dismissal based largely on Crossan's subjective reading of Pilate's personality), as are the Last Supper, the Raising of Lazarus, the Virgin Birth, etc. Moreover, at his most extreme, Crossan suggests that Jesus' body, far from being resurrected, was probably buried in a shallow grave and eaten by dogs.” (see here)
- Mark Allan Powell writes -
“Most Christians are aware that Jesus does many things in the New Testament that fulfill prophecies of the Old Testament. Skeptical scholars suggest that, in some instances, the Gospel writers are creating facts about Jesus in order to have him fulfill the prophecies. Thus, they invented the story of the virgin birth because Isaiah 7:14 speaks of a virgin bearing a son, and they decided to say that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Micah 5:2 indicates the Messiah will be born there. While a number of scholars may allow that such influences come into play here or there, John Dominic Crossan thinks that much (most?) of the Gospel accounts of Jesus came about this way--including everything in his last week of life.
According to Crossan, all the Gospel writers knew about that last week was that Jesus got grabbed by the Romans and crucified (possibly, according to Crossan, he was just caught up in a mob of Jewish rabble that got crucified for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Gospel writers, Crossan thinks, made up the rest--the stories about Jesus’ trial before Pilate, about the release of Barabbas, about Simon of Cyrene, the thief on the cross, the centurion’s confession, the burial in a garden, and of course the resurrection--the Gospel writers made it all up out of nothing to show that Jesus had fulfilled a bunch of Old Testament prophecies.” (see here)
There we have it. ELCA leaders seek out this kind of teacher (and others who think similarly, like Marcus Borg – see here). Is it any wonder the ELCA leadership has abandoned Biblical truth for their own “truth” or is this just a result of it? Heretics have control of the ELCA leadership and they teach in their seminaries. Pray for them and also for the people sitting in ELCA pews who they are trying to influence and bring toward their heretical beliefs.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Former ELCA seminary student and former ELCA member who is fed up with the ELCA's consistent mockery of God's Word.
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Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. - Ephesians 5:11