Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Jesus, the greatest thinker...?

I follow Justin Taylor's blog. While I don't feel I understand everything on his blog, I thank him for I have benefited much from his posts. (Mr. Taylor, if you ever come to visit here on my blog, I just wanted to say, THANK YOU!)

Just today, I saw a post on his blog about a book review done by Doug Groothuis of Denver Seminary. I never heard of the Denver Seminary, nor the professor who reviewed it. I also have no idea about the book nor its author. I am not going to talk about them. What captured my interest was the phrase quoted on Justin Taylor's post. Professor Groothuis said:
Despite the strong points of The Philosophy of Jesus, we still await the definitive treatment of the philosophy of Jesus, the greatest thinker who ever lived.
Now, I am going to have to be careful here. I have no intention to dishonour my Lord by misrepresenting Him, nor do I wish to cause anyone to stumble. But I had to raise this one question. Was Jesus the greatest thinker who ever lived?

I would never hesitate to call Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived, for He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of the all creation. He is greater than the first Adam, He is greater than Angels, He is greater than prophets, He is greater than kings, He is the One and Only Son of God. So it kinda goes against my grain when I raise that question, "was Jesus the greatest thinker who ever lived?"

Imagine for a moment that somebody claimed Jesus was the fastest sprinter who ever lived. I don't think we need to go around arguing whether that statement is true or not. I think we simply don't have substantial evidence to say that Jesus was the fastest sprinter who ever lived. The Bible does not say anything about Jesus' running ability. Sure, he walked on water, so I think we can assume that, if He wanted to, He could have run faster than any human beings as well. (Perhaps He could've broken the world record while running on water!) But breaking world records was not His mission, and such specific event isn't recorded in the Bible. So I think it's quite pointless to claim such a thing as "Jesus was the fastest sprinter who ever lived", but even more so, it would be a misleading claim by distraction from what Jesus was about.

Now, back on to the original statement: Jesus, the greatest thinker who ever lived. Can we say that Jesus was the greatest thinker? On what basis would we be able to say that? What do we exactly mean when we say Jesus is the greatest thinker? On what evidence can we say Jesus was the greater thinker than other secular thinkers, such as Socrates or Plato? If we did have evidence, How would we measure that? It might be the case that I am just not quite knowledgeable in the field of philosophy that I am unable to answer all these questions and wondering about with that statement. Yes, if you asked me, I am afraid that I am not entirely sure how to answer my own question. All I could say at the moment (going by my gut-feeling as a Christian) is that, Jesus IS the greatest thinker who ever lived on the basis that Jesus knew and understood the ultimate reality, that is God, better than anyone who ever lived and who will ever live. But if you are applying the critical thinking, metal capacity to draw out logical conclusions, and so on, as the measuring stick, I don't know if I can say Jesus was the greatest thinker (philosopher) who ever lived.

I am open to biblical instructions here, so please lead me to light.


Craig Blomberg said...

Don't you think you might want to get the book and see what Doug's arguments are, rather than admitting you know nothing about it and him and yet feel qualified to question its thesis? Maybe it contains the answers to your questions! (In fact it does; I've read it!)

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

First of all, I want to apologise if you found my post offensive in any way, I didn't intend to argue against the book or the review (or the writer, or the reviewer). I hoped I made it clear by saying "I am not going to talk about them." in the post.

Now, I guess if I were to really discuss and get into serious arguments about the statement, I feel very much unqualified and I would need some training before I even start to understand philosophical and theological questions like this one. But I wasn't trying to do that, I was just sharing some of my (unprofessional) thoughts on the statement.

Yes, perhaps it would be better if I read the book before saying anything even remotely critical of its thesis, but then... what book are you talking about? You seem to be supporting Douglas Groothuis's view on the matter, but Douglas Groothuis did not write the book, but Peter Kreeft did. Are you talking about the book, Philosophy of Jesus by Peter Kreeft, or some other book by Douglas Groothuis? Sorry, I'm confused...