A scene from the Leben der heiligen Altväter (1482)

Review of Bowman and Komoszewski’s Putting Jesus in His PlaceThe Case for the Deity of Christ

Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity (April 2009), 37-38

The case as perceived by scholars for the deity of Christ is stronger now than it has been for a long time, and those who went through seminary more than a decade ago should take a moment to update their notes. Though the New Testament is clear about the deity of Christ, generations of modern critical scholars have picked away at the standard proofs. Here a verse, there a verse, the arguments that Christians have always relied on to demonstrate that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God have been rendered dubious. Putting Jesus in His Place does not simply reclaim those lost passages, revisit the standard debates, and bolster the old arguments (though in many cases it does that, and persuasively); it publicizes new arguments for demonstrating the deity of Christ, which have previously been available only to scholars.

The authors are ideal popularizers, each with one foot in the library and one in the local church. Robert Bowman is manager of apologetics and interfaith evangelism for the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, while Ed Komoszewski is the founder of the educational ministry Christus Nexus and a director of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries.

To help readers remember the arguments, they organize the book around the acronym “HANDS,” arguing that Jesus shares God’s Honor, Attributes, Names, Deeds, and Seat. The text breezes along in straightforward, popular prose—it paraphrases the Nicene homoousios as “Jesus: The Right Stuff,” for example, and explains pre-existence as being “Older Than Dirt—Literally!”— with more technical matters referred to the endnotes.

Older apologetics relied heavily on Jesus’ claim to deity (think of the Liar-Lunatic-Lord trilemma made famous by C. S. Lewis), but that approach tended to restrict attention to a handful of verses. Likewise, the appeal to the few passages in which Jesus is directly referred to as God could result in a rather narrow basis for such an important doctrine…