I was early for a dentist appointment. I didn’t like the idea of sitting idly in the waiting room, listening to bad elevator music, so I darted into a used bookstore across the way. I found a curious little volume entitled The Christ.
The author, Charles Guignebert, passed away in August of 1939, just five days before the thunderclouds of war burst open upon the continent. He’d been Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Paris since 1919. He was also a theological liberal, and likely a complete unbeliever. I cannot be certain, of course, but the odds don’t look good. Not at all.
I picked up the book and looked at the jacket synopsis. The publisher proclaimed Guignebert’s tome was the “classic presentation of the historical origins of Christianity.” I skimmed down past the usual rapturous fluff and spotted the following endorsement:
Many critical scholars remain in [Guignebert’s] debt – Christian Century
Ah, the Christian Century. That publication was about as subtle with its theological sympathies as Breitbart News is with its politics. But, I always enjoy a good bit of heresy, especially when it’s on sale for $1.00.
I opened the book, careful to avoid the cloud of stale dust which burst forth from its pages, and skimmed the first bit of the introduction. Here is what I found:
Since Jesus did not want to found a new religion, he did not found Christianity. However, without knowing it, he did father the faith of which he is the center and the Church which was soon to be accounted him. This paternity, in fundamental contradiction with all that he beelieved, desired, and expected, would have driven him to dispair if he had but foreseen it (p.2).
I can’t wait to read this book. It’s right behind Harry E. Fosdick’s Christianity and Progress on my list. Both works are rank heresy. Christians up for a challenge can learn from heresy.
I spotted one more thing, though – something truly awful. On the inside flap of the book, I saw a little message jotted in neat, block letters:
Happy Easter ’90. Kareen, I hope this will help you in your search for Jesus. Love, Jim.
Let me spare you the suspense, Jim. This book did not help Kareen. It depicts a Jesus the New Testament knows nothing about. It reflects the hostility of satanic unbelief, and the hyper-critical skepticism of liberal elitism. Heresy can be useful. It challenges presuppositions, and forces you to strengthen your own convictions. But, it isn’t what a new or prospective believer needs.
I wish Jim had found something better for Kareen.