The following is excerpted from a statement by Dr. Darrell Bock, Research Professor for New Testament Studies, about Peter Jennings’ "The Search for Jesus" special, which ABC aired on June 26.
Peter Jennings' special, “The Search for Jesus,” was atypical of ABC News. One can be shocked that such a venerable journalist could have made such fundamental errors of judgment.
First, this program purposefully limited its focus to Jesus the man. However, Jesus' humanity is only half the story. It is not Jesus' humanness that has made Him history's central figure. How can a report that claims to be balanced dismiss without real rebuttal the most central claim made by one of history’s most significant figures?
Second, no effort was made to balance the report with any American evangelical representation. One well-known British evangelical scholar was interviewed. But most of the experts took an approach that the story’s teaching mattered, while much of the Gospels’ portrait of history needed recasting. This kind of schizophrenic reading is neither scientific nor balanced. Why was there no equal representation of the view that the story of Jesus recorded in the Gospels is authentic?
Third, the subtle mix of experts blurred the claimed distinction between Jesus as Man and Jesus as God. This approach undercut any credibility that only Jesus the Man was in view. It was blind at its best and deceptive at its worst. If the topic had been some other cultural hot button (abortion, gays, women, African-American issues), would it would have been handled in such a cavalier manner?
While we can be grateful that Jesus is again a topic that our popular culture can discuss in the public arena, it is important that we examine Him in terms of His claims. It is not the ABC shell of His person that has so impacted humanity. This larger, central element was ruled out as uncharted territory in this sadly one-dimensional search.
Portions of Dr. Bock’s response appeared in the Dallas Morning News and in Christianity Today. Dr. Bock was quoted earlier in the year by U.S. News and World Report, and was cited by the Southern Baptist Press as one of the top evangelical scholars on this subject.