The first book that I ever wrote was co-written with Stanley Porter. It was called Unmasking the Pagan Christ and it was written in response the the Jesus Myth, the theory that Jesus never existed and that the Jesus of the Gospels was based on pagan myths.
I’m thankful for Stan, not just for the help he gave in writing the book and getting it published, but for just willing to be involved in the first place.
You see, Christian scholarship almost failed the church.
Back then there was some confusion in academic circles as to why we would address the Jesus Myth. If biblical scholarship has a consensus on anything, it is that Jesus existed. The Jesus Myth is so fringe that it is not even worth responding to. No scholars take it seriously.
That is all fine and well but the world is bigger than scholarship.
The truth is that there were many laypeople who were being taken in. Those who were promoting the Jesus Myth (Tom Harpur among others) sure looked like they had done their homework. They quoted myths, they referred to “scholars.” How was the average person to know who was telling the truth?
The way that scholars almost failed the church was that they forgot that they had a responsibility beyond scholarly journals and academic publications. They had a responsibility to the church.
What may have been obvious to a person with a PhD in New Testament or history or Egyptology was not so obvious to the average person.
Thankfully I have seen a shift in attitudes. Part of this is because the Jesus Myth has only grown and they are getting more sophisticated in their arguments. I do believe that some scholars are seeing that people are being fooled by the Jesus Myth and good strong scholarly response is needed.
My prayer is that God will raise up a generation of Christian scholars who are dedicated not just to the academy but to the church as well.