Sometimes apologetics books can be dry and hard to read. Agreed? It takes one to have a keen interest in the subject at hand to stimulate the mind to keep flicking those pages, absorbing the content of said pages as you do so. Sometimes the author is very intellectual and the information given us very helpful, but sometimes when this is the case the author’s prose can be, well, boring really.
Not so with H. Wayne House’s most recent book “The Jesus Who Never Lived: Exposing False Christs and Finding the Real Jesus”. In this fantastic book House exposes the myths, legends and reshapings that the gospel has been subjected to from the moment the resurrected Christ ascended into heaven. Throughout the Bible we see a continual theme; conflict between the truth of God and the lies of Satan/Man. From the very beginning, when the Serpent made Eve question God’s authority and word, to the prophets of Baal through to the Apostle Paul warning the Ephesians night and day with tears that after his departure from them savage wolves would come amongst the church seeking to destroy the Ephesian fellowship of believers with their lies.
This trend continues today and ever will do until the day Christ returns. Thus, until that day the Christian is engaged in a daily battle with what is true and pleasing to God and that which is an abomination in his sight. We are in a war, albeit a spiritual one. Some Christians don’t like the terms “Spiritual Warfare” and “Daily Battle”. They are pacifists and they argue that God is love so words or phrases like these connotate violence and hatred. I see their point, yet I don’t agree with it fully. Why? Because the Bible clearly shows that God does hate. He hates evil, he hates sin, he hates wickedness and he hates falsehood. Jesus called the Pharisees “white washed tombs” because they appeared clean on the outside with their religion but inside they were corrupt and ignorant of the truth.
My point is that the TRUTH IS IMPORTANT TO GOD and we should seek to know and walk in it. Just like counterfeit money destroys an economy so too does false teaching wreak havoc in the church. Unfortunately, today we find ourselves living in an age of ingnorance. Discernment is scarce amongst God’s people because we simply are no longer a reading people. Entertainment options such as the T.V, X Box and t’internet have by in large distracted people from the books and more worryingly Christians from the Bible. If we are to be able to truly distinguish between truth and falsehood then we must be grounded in the Bible. That’s the first step, to be anchored in God’s word ad finem (to the end).
Nevertheless, it is also good for a Christian to have a ‘working knowledge’ of other beliefs in order to effectively enter into dialogue with people of other faiths and explain to non-Christian friends why we trust what we believe to be the truth, the true God. It is also good to have an introductory knowledge because, in my own life, I have found that it has strengthened my faith, because I see how religions like Islam and Mormonism have twisted Christianity into something that it wasn’t originally and are really just ficticious creations of man.
This is what Wayne House provides in this book. It is intended for the average lay reader and provides a sweeping overview of how Christ has been viewed the past 2,000 years. Part one details why it is important to know just who the real Jesus is. In doing so House takes us back to Jerusalem and informs us of how Jesus’ family and disciples viewed him, how the Jewish leaders viewed him, how Roman and Jewish sources viewed him and finally how the early church viewed him.
He then goes on to discuss the distortions of Jesus that have taken place throughout history, beginning with the rise of false Christs in Jerusalem, then on to the rise of false religions, the claims of who Jesus was by other world religions such as Hindu and Islam, the quest for the historical Jesus since the Enlightenment, the Jesus of false Christianities such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Jesus of what he labels ‘Media Scholarship (that being a paradoxial and ironic name as Media and Scholarship go together like chalk and cheese- they don’t!) and finally the Jesus of Popular religion. He pierces holes in these ideas of Jesus with historical fact, yet he also remains in the Scriptures. Nice.
Thirdly, and finally, House concludes by helping us find the real Jesus. Arguably this is the most important part of the book and he does it well.
I have to say that this, alongside Michael Horton’s ‘Putting Amazing Back Into Grace’, is one of the best books I read in 2008. I finished it in a matter of hours as I found it fast-paced, informative and easy to read. I learnt something new with nearly every page I read and I cannot recommend this book enough. Buy it. It will equip you to share your faith with others in relation to the classic objection “What about other religions”. It will also serve as a source of encouragement due to the fact that House shows us that we can trust the Scriptures, that we can trust in Christ and we have no reason to doubt.