SEAN MCDOWELL BLOG
Who Is the True Jesus? Interview with David LimbaughPosted April 20, 2017 by Sean McDowell
Who is the True Jesus? Interview with David Limbaugh.
David Limbaugh is well known for his political commentary. Yet recently he has utilized his legal training to defend historic Christianity with his New York Times best-selling books The Emmaus Code and Jesus on Trial.
His most recent book is The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels. David gave me the opportunity to endorse the book and I was pleasantly surprised at how readable it is, but also his depth of research. You can see David discuss the book on Hannity.
David was kind enough to briefly answer a few of my questions about his newest book. Enjoy!
SEAN MCDOWELL: After being so involved in politics, why did you decide to venture into Christian apologetics and write books like The Emmaus Code?
LIMBAUGH: I am still passionate about politics, but I wanted to write Christian books even before I launched my syndicated political column some nineteen years ago. After having established a platform with my column and five political books, I wrote my first Christian book and this is now the third.
I love apologetics because I believe that facing and overcoming my “intellectual” doubts about Christianity’s truth claims was essential to ready my heart for Jesus Christ. Books by Norman Geisler, Paul Little, and your father, Josh, were literally essential in that regard. I devoured Evidence that Demands a Verdict and I will be forever grateful to your dad for his painstaking studies.
But I should add that I also believe after having studied the Bible for many years now that the Bible is a powerful apologetic itself. I am passionate about the Bible and what I’ve learned and have a burning desire to share my enthusiasm with others, which is why I enjoy teaching Sunday school from time to time, sharing with other people, and writing books on the subject. Having been a skeptic myself I think I am well positioned to relate to skeptics and possibly reach them in ways that others can’t or don’t. We all have different roles in evangelism and researching and writing Christian books is one way I try to spread the good news.
MCDOWELL: Personally, how did you first become a believer? What role did the evidence for Jesus play in your conversion, if any?
LIMBAUGH: I mostly answered this question in my previous answer but I want to add that many people planted seeds on my path along the way. I had no idea at the time that these seeds would ultimately yield fruit and I am sure those who planted them were wholly unaware, based on my reaction at the time, that they had any impact on me at all. This should be a lesson to all of us who evangelize.
Don’t be discouraged when you see no immediately apparent results. God is working through us to reach other people and every little bit could be instrumental.
If I had to pinpoint one thing that finally tipped the scales from my unbelief to belief, it would have to be the amazing messianic prophecies, which I think I first encountered in Evidence That Demands A Verdict. As we all know, however, embracing Christianity’s truth claims intellectually isn’t all there is to it, but in my case it was a necessary step before I could trust Christ for the remission of my sins and for eternal life. So “belief” in Christ requires more than intellectual assent – but apologetics played a pivotal role in my eventual intellectual assent.
MCDOWELL: What is unique about your newest book The True Jesus?
LIMBAUGH: My first book, Jesus on Trial, traced my personal spiritual journey from skeptic to believer, and was also a book on Christian apologetics. The Emmaus Code emphasized Christ in the Old Testament.
The True Jesus is an introduction to the Gospels in two parts, with the first being a more conventional introduction – authorship, date written, structure, intended audience, historical background, etc. – and the second part (the main part) being a compilation of all four gospels into one unified, roughly chronological account. I think that efforts to perfectly harmonize the gospels are a fools errand but that is not what I’ve attempted here. Rather, I’ve consolidated the accounts to introduce the readers to all the events in the Gospels and all the words of Jesus, only paraphrasing when necessary for space limitations and always trying to stay true to the text. We need all four Gospels and they – and not my book – are the Word of God.
My book is simply a book about the Gospels designed to familiarize beginners to the Gospel and accelerate the learning curve of more knowledgeable readers. The ultimate goal is not to perfectly reconcile the four accounts, but to inspire people to read the Gospels for themselves, where they will encounter for themselves the living Son of God.
MCDOWELL: The title of your new book as the word "True" in it. Yet Time magazine recently asked if truth is dead? Do you think people still care about truth, and especially religious truth?
LIMBAUGH: I believe that people operate as if they believe in truth. There is no other way to order our lives. But many are confused about it due to academia, the culture, Hollywood, peers, and sometimes even the churches.
Believing in the existence of truth itself, of course, is so important to believing in Jesus Christ, because he is the Truth. His statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me,” has much less impact if we don’t even believe truth exists.
But we all know, instinctively, that if Jesus says He is the only way, He means there is no other way. No other method, no other technique, no other religion, no other faith, will save you. Eastern cultures sometimes accept a “both-and” notion instead of an “either-or” and as a result believe that mutually contradictory ideas can co-exist.
Post-modernism and its progeny clouds our ability to think straight. Who could be responsible for such assaults on reality and truth than the father of lies? The notion that truth is dead is as absurd as the fiction that God is dead. Truth could never die, even if everyone in the universe rejected it. It exists on its own and doesn’t depend on us to bolster it. But our perception of truth, as a society, is important and we must do everything we can to counter these pernicious, nonsensical ideas.
MCDOWELL: In The True Jesus, you aim to defend the true historical Jesus. What are some of the most common misconceptions people have about Jesus?
LIMBAUGH: Our culture often portrays Jesus as a pacifist who is indifferent to sin. Some people want to conform Jesus to fit the culture rather than conforming themselves to fit Him. Jesus was not a milquetoast who preached tolerance for all ideas. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus didn’t promise us health and prosperity if we just have enough faith in him. To the contrary, he promised His followers would encounter difficulties.
We must take up our own cross and follow Him. He said, “Do you think I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Additionally, Jesus laid down the most exacting moral standard known to man in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere. He is compassionate, loving, and forgiving, but He will not bring peace – until His Second Coming. Until then, we can expect continued turmoil in a fallen, broken world. Admittedly, Americans don’t ordinarily face the type of difficulties Christians do in certain other countries, but our ideas are nevertheless in disfavor in the culture and becoming more so.
Contrary to certain heretical ideas, Jesus is fully God and fully human and the Gospels manifestly reveal His dual nature. Heresies have existed since the beginning of the church and they persist, so we must do what we can to correct these misperceptions.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.