I received a copy of The Restitution of Jesus Christ by “Servetus the Evangelical” recently. Not too unexpectedly, it is a spiral bound book, like almost every other “I’ve gone apostate and now I deny the Trinity and I’m going to explain why now in this awesome book with insights no one has ever produced but me” type book I’ve seen over the years (beginning with Nelson Herle’s tome back in the late 1970s). The claims for his book from his website are interesting:
The book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ, is my magnum opus. Over twenty-five years in the making, it is a sophisticated theological tome of about 600 pages. In it, I seek to restore the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Solely on the basis of the Bible, this book challenges the traditional church dogma that Jesus is God; yet it affirms all other major church teachings about Jesus, including his virgin birth, miracles, sinless life, atoning death for others, resurrection from the dead, ascension to heaven, exaltation there, and future return to earth to establish his glorious, worldwide kingdom of peace.
Ah, the old “sophisticated theological tome” claim! That’s great. I’ve looked through enough of it to know that is it, in fact, a rehash of all the Arian arguments of the past century. I simply did not see anything new: the same old reliance upon sub-biblical scholarship, naturalistic scholarship, etc., that has been around for a very long time. Maybe the answer as to why this allegedly former Trinitarian evangelical professor or author of some sort has abandoned his self-professed faith can be found in this paragraph:
This author of The Restitution of Jesus Christ has been an Evangelical Christian involved in public ministry almost all of his adult life. As a former Trinitarian, I believed that Jesus was God because, like most Christians, that is what I was taught. Years later, I undertook a very deep study of this subject and changed my belief about it. I have largely kept this study and theological change a secret all of these years mostly to avoid persecution and disfellowshipping by my Christian brethren. I plan to reveal my identity on September 29, 2011, which will be the 500th anniversary of the birth of Michael Servetus.
First, I believe in the Trinity because the Bible teaches 1) absolute monotheism, 2) the existence of three divine Persons, and 3) the equality of those divine Persons. The fact that he had a said faith, a “I was taught this, so I believed it” faith, says volumes. Further, I have to admit I find the “I’ve kept this secret to avoid persecution by all those mean (and benighted) Christians” claim nauseatingly self-serving. If, as others have speculated, S-the-E is, in fact, teaching somewhere, and his academic contract expires at that time, or if there is some other such self-serving reason for his continued anonymity, such claims become self-refuting and hypocritical. Are we to assume that his “Christian brethren” will become tolerant of Arianism on September 29, 2011? That there will be no “persecution” then? Hardly.
In any case, apostasy is big business today (ask Bart Ehrman), so I’m sure he’ll get his 15 minutes of fame on “Fresh Air” on PBS, get his book contracts and some speaking gigs. But dragging old, lame, uninspiring, liberal Christologies back out of the dustbin of history isn’t going to accomplish much more than cause those interested to re-examine their foundations once again, as happens in every generation. That’s not to say there is no need to respond, again, to the compilation of often-refuted, sub-biblical attacks upon the deity of Christ: but for those who know this area, S-the-E has only shown himself a competent compiler of previous heresies, nothing more.