by Joel D. Heck
Why does Lewis so vehemently reject the view that treats Jesus as a historical rather than a divine figure? Why does he find the notion of some who regard Jesus merely as a great moral teacher to be absurd? Why does he assert that “If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance”? (p. 157).
In 1906, Albert Schweitzer’s book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, was published, appearing in English in 1910. His approach was based on Form Criticism, which understands the New Testament Gospels as a second-century A.D. product of the church rather than first-century eyewitness accounts of apostles. Schweitzer assumed that scholars needed to sift through the books of the New Testament, discarding what was unhistorical and retaining what was historical. Lewis opposed that approach, something best seen in his essay, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism.” Such an approach does not take the Gospels for the kind of literature they purport to be, nor does it take the person of Jesus in the way in which he is portrayed in the Gospels.