Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Vision (2/14/13): Criterion of Embarrassment
How do we know that what the four
Biblical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) record about Jesus is true?
One standard that faithful
interpreters through the years have appealed to when interpreting and defending
the Bible is called “the criterion of embarrassment.”What does this mean?It means that the Gospels tend to include
descriptions of things in their accounts of the life of Jesus that might, on
the surface, be considered to be embarrassing either to Jesus or to the
Here are some examples:
28:17 says that when the eleven disciples saw the risen Jesus they worshipped
him.It then adds:“But some doubted.”
3:21 records that at one point early in his ministry “the friends” (KJV; NKJV:“His own people”) of Jesus “went out to lay
hold of Jesus for they said, He is beside himself.”
8:33 says that Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Get thee behind me Satan!”
24:11 records that when the women reported the empty tomb to the apostles they
were not initially impressed:“And their
words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.”
7:5 reports:“For neither did his
brethren believe him.”
The point is that such statements
would not have been things that the early church would have been likely to
fabricate (make up out of thin air) concerning Jesus or his disciples.They have a ring of authenticity to
them.The Gospel writers would not have
recorded them unless they were true.The
fact that the Gospel writers include such “embarrassing” statements tells us
that they had a concern truthfully to report the facts of Jesus’ life.They were not literarily “air-brushing” or
“photoshop-ing” the life of Jesus.They
tell the unvarnished truth, warts and all.Of course, the Gospels go on to tell how those wavering disciples and
unbelieving family members were eventually fully convinced that Jesus is the
Christ, and they were willing to abandon all to follow him. Even the reports of
their embarrassing weaknesses, in the end, affirm the power of Christ.
The “criterion of embarrassment” is
one proof that we can trust the veracity of the Gospels.