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Sometimes we need to explain the bigger biblical picture in order to answer a person's specific question.
Alan Shlemon is hosting the podcast live this week, Tuesday 4-6 p.m. PT. Ask your question. Share a piece of your mind. Call with your question or comment at (855) 243-9975, outside the U.S. (562) 424-8229. The broadcast is live Tuesday 4-6 p.m. P.T. – commentary and your calls. He'll also talk to Abdu Murray about witnessing to Muslims. Listen live online.
Where did Jesus claim to be God? Jesus made this claim a number of times, and it was very clear to those He was talking to. Jesus didn’t utter the three words, I am God. But He said it very explicitly in the context of His religion and culture. You can see it in the reaction of His enemies.
I realized something about Bart Ehrman’s books reading his latest, How Jesus Became God. Most of his books are the same premise applied to different topics. Ehrman’s fundamental premise is that the New Testament documents, and most critically the Gospels, were written late, long after the eyewitnesses were gone. He thinks that they record oral tradition that changed over time before being committed to writing. So we have no authoritative or reliable record of Jesus.
In the fall of 2012, Harvard historian Karen King announced she'd been given a fragment of a manuscript that mentioned Jesus' wife. It's in the news again because studies have indicated it's not a modern forgery. But whether or not it was a forgery isn't the main issue. The date of the manuscript is what's relevant, and even in 2012 when the announcement was made, it was considered to be a few centuries after Jesus – and long after the New Testament documents were written. So it presented no authoritative rival to those documents about Jesus.
A caller to the radio program asked about answering a historical challenge to Luke 2 that Bart Ehrman has raised. I have to confess, I wasn't aware of this apparent problem, and researching it has actually been quite fascinating. Ehrman mentions it in this week's Newsweek magazine. Part of the key to the answer is what the Greek text of Luke 2 actually says, as opposed to what we've come to think it says.
I think one of the biggest obstacles to people grasping the meaning of the Gospel is that they misunderstand the message. For various reasons, people think what we're offering them is a way to be good enough to go to Heaven. It's the message of every other religion – a system to follow to be moral enough or appease God. It's what has been preached in a lot of purportedly Christian churches.
John Shelby Spong, a retired bishop of the Episcopal church and participant in the Jesus Seminar, has a new book he summarized in a recent article. He gives six reasons his book expands on for why the Gospel of John is not a reliable, historical source. J.
Christians and non-Christians sometimes quote Jesus' words in the Bible as though they have more authority than the rest of the Bible. People might dismiss something taught by Paul or Moses by saying, "Well, Jesus never said anything about..." and fill in their specific topic.
Michael Reeves, author of Delighting in the Trinity, has some insights about why understanding the Trinity is important in witnessing.  It helps show that God is loving, and not a solitary dictator.