Chapter 2 - The Honour of His Name - The "Jesus" of the Critics

Chapter 2 - The Honour of His Name

A RAILWAY-CARRIAGE conversation, in a trip to Scotland many years ago, turned my attention in a very special way to the subject of these pages. I shared a compartment with a gentleman and his wife, both of whom were strangers to me; and, after our English ways, not a word passed between us for several hours. But when nearing the end of my journey, a chance incident not only drew us into conversation, but led my companion to give me his name; and I was interested to find that he was a well-known publisher. When we had disposed of the matter which led him to address me, our conversation took a special turn, and in the course of it he said some unpleasant things about Christians. He was particularly bitter against them for their habit of using sacred names to make their book-titles attractive. He cited a number of instances of this; and when I pleaded that a title was meant to indicate the character and contents of a book, he replied that from a bookseller's point of view it was a trade label, for use across the counter. And he illustrated his words by telling me how, when visiting the store-room of a certain London publishing firm, he heard one of the lads calling out to another of the staff, who was sorting books on an upper shelf, "Chuck me down a Blood of Jesus."
The words cut me as with a knife. The author of the book in question was well known to me as a devout and reverent Christian minister, and I had never realised the gross profanity of such a title. But since that day all titles of the kind have been abhorrent to me. "My people doth not consider," was the divine lament in days of apostasy in Israel. And if Christians would only "consider" they would avoid a practice which would have shocked the disciples of early times. Most true it is that some with whom the use of the sacred name of "Jesus" is habitual, are wholly free from any suspicion of an irreverent intention,
"But evil is wrought by want of Thought, As well as want of Heart!" The Rev. Dr. A. T. Pierson was one of the most intensely reverent of men. When at the close of a lecture in old Exeter Hall he turned to greet me, I thanked him heartily for the help his words had been to me, but I added, "There was one fly in the pot of ointment: why do you name the Lord after the fashion of the 'vagabond Jews' of Acts xix.?" "It is all the fault of my evil theological training," he replied, "but keep on reminding me! "
Indeed theological training is much to blame for this deplorable habit. For not only is the entire theology of Christendom influenced by the writings of the Fathers, but very many of our modern theological works are leavened by German scepticism. In fact our recent Bible "Dictionaries" and "Encyclopedias" are essentially rationalistic, and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is rarely found in their pages. It is always "Jesus" or "Jesus Christ." And this even with writers who are punctiliously careful to prefix the name of an Apostle with the title of "Saint."
If the Apostles could revisit the earth, they would not appreciate an "honour" conferred upon them by the Church of the butcher Popes who blessed the tortures of the Inquisition and massacres such as that of St. Bartholomew; an "honour," moreover, which they share with these miscreants, but which is denied to the holy martyrs of the Reformation. As the profanely familiar use of the Lord's name is so common, it seems scarcely fair to single out any particular offender; but to illustrate the evil, I venture to quote the following extract from a recent "Publisher's Circular." The book to which it refers is not the work of an infidel, but of an English clergyman, who is Examining Chaplain to an English Bishop, and a Fellow of his College. The circular says
"It endeavours to answer the question, What kind of person did St. Mark, or his informant, St. Peter, think Jesus to be? Under the heads of 'Jesus' family and friends,' 'Jesus' way of life,' 'Jesus' mind,' 'Jesus' social outlook,' 'Jesus' morality,' and 'Jesus' religion,' it approaches the final subject of 'Jesus Himself.'
"Saint Mark" and "Saint Peter," but always "Jesus"! Is it not evident that this "Jesus" is the dead Buddha of the Rationalist? No one could write thus about our great God and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, before whose judgment-seat we all must stand. Surely the prevalence of rationalistic literature, falsely claiming to be Christian, is a definite reason why a Christian writer should declare his faith by the way he names the Lord. A glance through the pages of a book would then enable the least instructed reader to judge whether its author be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, or a follower of the "Jesus" of the Critics.
For the "Jesus" of the Critics is not the Christ of God. The Lord so "emptied Himself" that He gave up His liberty even as man, and never spoke except in God-given words. "Whatsoever I speak," He declared, "even as the Father hath said unto Me, so I speak." Therefore was it that He disclaimed knowledge of that whereof the Father had not spoken to Him. Therefore was it that the words He did speak were eternal. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away" such was His solemn declaration. And all who refuse His words shall be judged by them, whether they be sinners of the market-place or the street, or sinners of the pulpit or the Critic's chair.
Such was the Christ of God. But what of the Christ of the Critics? Here are their own words:
"Both Christ and the Apostles and writers of the New Testament held the current Jewish notions respecting the divine authority and revelation of the Old Testament." In a word, the "Jesus" of this cult was an ignorant enthusiast, the dupe of Jewish errors which he mistook for divine truth, and which he forced upon the acceptance of his deluded followers in language of awful solemnity. What is true of criminals is no less true of heretics; they are apt, through some oversight or other, to give themselves away. And the kenosis theory of the Critics reminds us of the artifices by which law-breakers try to deceive the police! For these rationalistic Professors and pundits ignore what even a Sunday-school child ought to know, that after the Resurrection, when the Lord stood free from all the limitations of His humiliation, He adopted and repeated His previous teaching about the Old Testament. And the record adds, "Then opened He their mind that they should understand the Scriptures." And in the New Testament that teaching is unfolded under the guidance of the Divine Spirit. But the Critics have detected and exposed its falseness! No wonder then that the Buddha of their cult is only "Jesus" the Rabbi, who, though admittedly far above them both morally and spiritually, was neither as intelligent nor as well informed!
Note - This is not the only point on which the Critics display their ignorance. Even a child might be expected to notice that in Mark xiii. 32 (the text to which they appeal in support of their kenosis theory) it is not as man that the Lord disclaims knowledge of the time of His great public Advent, but as Son of God. The contrast is not between man and God, but between the Son and the Father.