I've been watching lectures from Centre Place with interest. While they hold services and claim to be Christians, they seem to hold a minimalist view of the historicity of Scripture. They admit that the authors of the Gospels, for example, are anonymous and were not eyewitnesses, and that most of what they write is Theology rather than History. In a recent lecture, John Hamer says:

10:26 Today we are talking about history, and we want to separate history from religion. So the Jesus christs of scripture are part of the religious experience of Christians that point Christians to the Risen Christ. The historical Jesus though that we're looking for today can be accessed only through the academic disciplines of History, literary criticism and other supporting disciplines like Archeology to some extent. (...)

11:47 if you're coming to it religiously as a Christian, it shouldn't necessarily change any part of the religious authority of any part of the scripture because the scripture is not history anyway. I've said a bunch of times that if Christians are even worried about this, they should just take as a default assumption that it's not history (...)

Here's a slide from the lecture to illustrate:

Separating history from religion

Christianity has always made fundamental truth claims about History, in my understanding. That a man lived 2000 years ago, that he was God, that he died for our sins, saving us from death; that he was resurrected, that he still lives with us. What do those Christians who adopt a minimalist historical understanding of Scripture believe in? Would they maintain these truth claims as such?

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    You have to read books from scholars to get the full view coz they can't explain details of how literary and historical criticism works in quick lectures. See higher criticism. Scholars don't deny Jesus existence but they only separate theological and literary, mythological aspects from gospels
    – Michael16
    Commented Mar 15 at 6:59
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    To say that scripture is not history.. if he means the scriptures are not historically accurate, then that is heresy. If Christ be not (historically and literally) risen from the dead you are still in your sins..of all men we are most to be pitied, because our sufferings are in vain. Christians should take it is a default assumption that it is history. If they are worried then they should seek out books or youtubes which give evidence, eg videos of Peter williams of Trinity House, Cambridge. Commented Mar 15 at 9:10
  • I'll turn it into a posted answer Commented Mar 15 at 9:17
  • Ugh. This is what happens when you deny the historicity of Scripture; it leads to denying even the work of Christ, at which point you've fallen completely off the boat. Tke heed: that historicity starts "In the beginning" (in multiple senses), and it continues "God Created the heavens and the earth" and sets a date thereon of roughly 4000 BC. This is what Scripture teaches, and it is what science affirms, contrary to the claims of those who would deny God.
    – Matthew
    Commented Mar 15 at 16:08
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    Nice graphic, and I like how the Centre Place lectures bring in scholarship in history, religious studies, and neuroscience to interact with Biblical studies and scholarship. But those disciplinary integration does not have to be done that way, and there is an equally persuasive way to bring in those disciplines that is consistent with orthodox's use of Scripture while not forcing modern historiography when we read those ancient texts, enabling us to trust the truth claims of orthodox Christianity. Commented Mar 15 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


Literary Context

Scholars are able to discern and distinguish between literary devices and theological aspects within ancient writings that present itself as history, with what would've been actually happened. Thus, they have no problem in practising higher criticism, a scientific approach to the scriptures. Higher criticism for biblical scholars involves a method of literary analysis that investigates the origins, authorship, and historical context of biblical texts. It is a branch of literary analysis that aims to determine who wrote a text, when it was written, and where it originated. Higher criticism contrasts with lower criticism, which focuses on determining the original form of a text from among its variants. I encourage you to read scholarly books like How to Read the Bible History, Prophecy, Literature--Why Modern Readers Need to Know the Difference and What It Means for Faith Today By Steven L McKenzie. He explains in chapter one: Not Exactly As it Happened Historiography in the Bible:

... There are students who “just ‘shut down’ and refuse to engage biblical scholarship in a creative way at all.” They react this way because they believe critical study of the Bible to be a threat to their faith. Yet a faith that cannot stand up to challenges or cope with empirical evidence hardly seems worth having. This is another common reaction of students and other people who encounter biblical scholarship for the first time—they reject faith altogether and adopt a negative view of the Bible.

The fact that so much of the Bible’s early history appears, in the light of scientific analysis and historical investigation, not to have happened in the way that the Bible claims raises a question about the Bible’s nature. But as with Jonah, the problem may lie not with the Bible but with the way readers have approached it.

The traditional assumption has been that the Bible relates or purports to relate what happened in the past. Recent biblical scholarship, however, has shown that this assumption is misleading, that the typical understanding of the genre of the Bible’s historical literature is incorrect. This means that, as in the case of the book of Jonah, a new way of reading this literature is warranted. Moreover, this new way of reading may be especially beneficial for people of faith, and a clearer understanding of the genre of historiography in ancient Israel may help to resolve the tension between the Bible’s account and the historical investigations of biblical scholars and archaeologists. It may permit a faith that is not forced to blind itself by ignoring modern scholarly analyses.

He writes about how scholars distinguished historiographies with history by careful study about literary context.

John Van Seters, published a groundbreaking study of historiography in the ancient world and the Bible titled In Search of History. Van Seters sought to describe the nature and origin of history writing as a literary genre, especially as it appears in the Bible. [...] Following Huizinga’s definition, Van Seters distinguished between the terms historiography and history writing. Historiography is a general term for all historical texts. History writing, on the other hand, refers to the specific literary genre in which a civilization or nation tries to render an account of its collective past. Historiographical materials have been preserved from Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Hittites, but Van Seters concluded that true history writing developed first in Israel and then in Greece, where the closest analogs to biblical history writing are found.

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    If you can twist a text to mean anything, you can twist it to mean anything... at which point you aren't following the God revealed in Scripture or allowing Him to speak to you, but you are making yourself to be (a) god by putting human ideas ahead of what He has revealed. True faith can and will stand up to challenges like these, just as it stands up against so-called "evidence" that Scriptural history is false. Your "common reaction" reminds me of the parable of the sower, and particularly, those seeds sown on rocky ground.
    – Matthew
    Commented Mar 15 at 16:24

That spirituality can only be experienced through faith and not through science or an experiment. We have met Jesus Christ through day to day life experiences and nothing anyone says to disprove Christianity is ever taken seriously. Every day the gospel is attacked by someone from the scientific or academic community but the best we can do is to ignore and let them believe what they want to believe.

You have no idea how Jesus saves, he saves everyday, angels save people from disasters every day. Events have happened in my life that confirm Jesus Christ is alive and his kingdom is coming. The authors of the gospel did not write the events out of their own heads like academics but a Higher power inspired them to do it.

Everyone is in the valley of decisions, make yours before that terrible day of the lord when his wrath is poured out against the inhabitants of the earth.

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