NewBranch was privileged enough last month to have Dr. Steve Bateman of First Bible church in Decatur, AL speak at our 2nd missions conference. If you haven’t heard those 3 sermons I encourage you to have a listen here.
Dr. Bateman wrote a book entitled Which “Real” Jesus? Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, and the Early American Roots of the Current Debate. Following the missions conference, I gave it a read and loved it! Let me give you a few reasons why I love it. Hopefully this will serve as an encouragement for you to pick up a copy from our resource table on Sunday mornings.
1. It’s relevant for the Christian: As Dr. Bateman points out, Jesus is under attack by a number of scholars who wish to separate the Jesus of history from the Jesus of the Bible. Also, many well known spokesmen for Atheism like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins want to remove Jesus all together.
In this book, Dr. Bateman shows where these debates began to take root in American history, advocates of each side, and how Christians today should humbly respond to such criticisms of the real Jesus of the Bible.
2. It’s relevant for the Skeptic: There were a number of times while reading this when I thought, “I wish I had this when I was talking to _______”. I already know of 2 people I am sending this to. The book acts not only as a brief American history of the debate of the real Jesus but also as an apologetic for the Jesus of the Bible.
3. Jonathan Edwards: The book gives a great introduction to one of the most important Christians in America:
“…if any reader grows in appreciation for the remarkable contribution of Jonathan Edwards, not only to our understanding of the real Jesus but to the history of America, I will be a happier man. Jonathan Edward’s was widely viewed as America’s greatest theologian and philosopher. But he was a local pastor. not a college or seminary professor, and he took seriously his duty to prepare his congregation- people who spent their weekdays running businesses, selling products, building houses, teaching school, growing crops, administering government, and raising children to ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.’” (p.3)
4. Humble Confidence: Dr. Bateman is aware of man’s pride in defending anything, even the Jesus of the Bible. The book ends with a call to humble confidence in defending the supremacy of Christ noting, “There is a direct link between humility before God and humility before people.” (p.153) We are to be humble but not ignorant, humble but not unsure, humble but not silent (p.157).
In short, I would describe this book as a great help in applying 1 Peter 3:15 to our lives: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”