Some of my readers might know the name Kermit Zarley in connection with his career as a professional golfer, with notable finishes in dozens of PGA and Champions tournaments. However, Zarley is the author of a half dozen books on biblical topics. His magnum opus is this 540pp book, The Restitution: Biblical Proof Jesus is NOT God (Kermit Zarley: 2008) (Kindle), now out in a new edition. Although Zarley affirms the fundamentals of the Christian faith, he is convinced that the idea of the Trinity–which affirms Jesus of Nazareth is God, is nowhere affirmed or taught anywhere in the New Testament. For an evangelical Christian this is a most daring proposition, since by most orthodox creedal measures such a doctrinal affirmation is essential, not only for being a Christian but for salvation itself: Unless Jesus is eternally existent, fully God, it would be impossible for his death to save us. Following a brief Introduction and Zarley offers a most helpful overview of the History of Church Christology (Part One), and “Messianism in the Old Testament (Part Two). These are two areas that are essential as background for approaching the broader questions. For those not familiar with the raging controversies leading up to the 4th century Council of Nicea and its aftermath, this section will prove to be particularly useful.
Zarley then devotes the next 350 pages (Part Three) to an incredibly detailed examination of every text in the New Testament (Synoptics, John, Paul, Hebrews, Peter, and the Apocalypse) that deals in any way with Christology–an understanding of who Jesus is affirmed to be vis-a-vis the One Creator God of the Hebrew Bible. To say his treatment is exhaustive is an understatement. Whether one agrees with his conclusions or not–he does not shy away from dealing with even the texts which are considered the bedrock of the Trinitarian faith. The book contains an extensive bibliography, not only of works cites, but of every major academic book dealing with the subject generally of whether the New Testament anywhere affirms that Jesus is God.
Although my own approach to these materials is quite different from that of Zarley, and more along the lines of James G. D. Dunn, Christology in the Making or James F. McGrath, James F. McGrath, The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context, I recommend Zarley’s work to those readers who want to deeply dive into this question from a more evangelical perspective.
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