Is Jesus the Only Savior? (Eerdmans, 2005), a new book by Whitworth Professor of Theology Jim Edwards, '67, faces head-on the question of whether Jesus Christ is the sole redeemer of the world. In the following Q&A, Edwards' theology colleague Jerry Sittser interviews the author about his book. Click here to read the complete text and to hear Edwards read excerpts from his book.
A (Edwards): In the past couple of decades there has been a conspicuous de-emphasis on Christology in academic theology. This de-emphasis has also infiltrated the liturgy and language of the church. I wrote the book to recall that Jesus Christ is the center and substance of the Christian faith.
A: I had two groups in mind: people who have been in the church for years and who are made aware, through TV specials or media reports, for example, that the historic Jesus of the church is being severely challenged; and those who doubt that there is anything especially credible to be said for the validity of the New Testament witness to Jesus.
A: There is much more information and evidence in support of the trustworthiness of the Gospel accounts of Jesus in the New Testament than most people – even people who have spent their lives in the church – are usually aware of.
The very notion runs contrary to modern sensibilities. How do you deal with the values of pluralism and tolerance?
A: Amen to the fact that I'm swimming against the current. We often think that the pressure of pluralism today is something Christians in former ages didn't face; or if they did face it, then not to the same degree that we do. I try to show that in the first and second centuries the Christian faith faced tremendous pressure from pluralism. We can learn from these early Christians how to navigate the waters in which we find ourselves today.
A: I do, as well as a case for absolute moral truth. I think that we all hold some values and beliefs to be inviolable. Most of us believe that there really is such a thing as truth and that it is better than untruth; that there really is such a thing as justice, and that it is better than evil; that there really is a God, and that the existence of God, especially the kind of God who claims to reveal himself in Jesus Christ, changes entirely the meaning of human life.
A: When you consider the hard evidence, if you're a betting person, you'd bet on the truthfulness of the New Testament story of Jesus over any of the alternatives out there today.
A: The most significant modern book I have read in the past year is Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence: A History of Western Culture from 1500 to the Present.It is a magisterial book, encyclopedic in its scope and insights.
A: It's a massive project: an attempt to establish a more historical footing for the formation of the Gospel tradition.I am writing a scholarly and academic book trying to argue that the earliest Gospel was, as a dozen of the church fathers attest, written in Hebrew by the Apostle Matthew. This original Hebrew Gospel has long since vanished and no longer exists. I further argue that traces of this Gospel can be detected in the Gospel of Luke.Finally, I argue that the similarities between Matthew and Luke, which are traditionally ascribed to an anonymous "Q" document, are, in fact, better explained by canonical Matthew's reliance on Luke. I say "Adieu to Q"; I don't think "Q" ever existed.