Jesus and Accommodation

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Written by Bill Gordon, Th.D.

Did Jesus accommodate Himself to the false beliefs of His day?

Biblical critics often claim that Jesus accommodated Himself to the primitive beliefs and myths of the ancient world. Liberal scholars have a long tradition of advocating this accommodation theory.1 The scriptural evidence, however, indicates that Jesus did not accommodate Himself to the false views of His culture.2

This issue is an important question for Christians. For how can Jesus be God if He made false statements? The Bible teaches in Hebrews 6:18 that God cannot tell an untruth. Also, Christian theology insists that error is contrary to the nature of God.3

Liberals who advocate the theory of accommodation are mistaken. The Jesus presented in the New Testament is a very unaccommodating man. There is not a single instance of Jesus endorsing or expressing an untrue belief. Instead, Jesus goes out of his way to point out the mistaken beliefs of His society. Jesus even criticized the Jewish tradition when He believed it was incorrect. In Matthew 15:3, Jesus accuses the Pharisees and the scribes of breaking the commandments of God for the sake of their tradition.

Jesus was not accommodating with regard to the feelings of those with whom He disagreed. He called the Pharisees and the scribes blind guides and hypocrites. He strengthened His condemnation by accusing them of being vipers and whitewashed tombs. He rhetorically asked, "How are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”4

The words of Jesus recorded in the Bible are true and trustworthy. You can trust in them not only in this life, but in the life to come.

1 J. C. O’Neill, "Biblical Criticism," The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 1:727.

2 Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker reference library (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), 1-2.

3 Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1994), 83.

4 Matthew 23:16-33, ESV.