By Viola Larson, Naming His Grace blog.
I am beginning a review of The Presbyterian Women’s 2016-2017, Bible study, “Who is Jesus? : What a Difference a Lens Makes.” Although this is a study written and published by a women’s organization connected to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and I now belong to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, there are good reasons to do the review. A large group of ecumenical women use the study, in fact, there is a copy published, in particular, for women in other mainline churches. More importantly several years ago PW officially allowed those women whose churches had left the PCUSA to still maintain their PW status within their new denominations. If they do exist they may be studying this material.
This first review will entail looking at the introduction with its basic premises about Christology and what different ways of looking at Jesus involves and produces. I also will look at some of the suggestions for leaders worksheet found in the back of the study.
In attempting to look at—not answer—the question “who is Jesus,” Judy Yates Siker, the author divides the first four chapters into the four New Testament gospels. She then, in the following chapters, looks at some of the writings of Paul, extra biblical literature not included in the canonization of the New Testament, and views about Jesus within the Jewish community and within the Moslem Qur’an. Finally she looks at contemporary cultural interpretations. The final chapter is meant to apply to the cultural views within the church.
While there is good material in the study there are two errors that cause the study to be extremely problematic. The first is Siker’s understanding of Christology in its relationship to Scripture. The second error is a failure to accept that there is a revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture that is, taken as a whole, complete and unchangeable.
Finally although it does not contaminate the whole study there is a theological error in one of the study worksheets which may not have been intentional but nonetheless kills any correct view of who Jesus is. I will return to that at the end of this review.