How is Christianity Harmed by the Documentary Hypothesis?

A religion consists of two things — a theology and a set of values. Christians therefore have a religious faith, which includes their belief that Jesus will bring about their individual salvation, and they have a Jewish-influenced value system. Without that value system, which comes from the Torah, Christians will know what to die for but not what to live for. Belief in Jesus as their savior addresses their afterlife aspirations, but what do they do between birth and death?

Many of the leading proponents of the documentary hypothesis, including Wellhausen, dismissed Judaism as a soul-killing legalistic religion lacking the supposedly higher spirituality of Christianity. They thought that belittling the Bible would only serve to deepen the chasm between Judaism and “true religion.” But a tree cannot stand after it has been severed from its roots, and so too Christianity has been rooted out of its historic base. The beautiful cathedrals of Europe, as is well known, are generally empty except for American tourists while new mosques keep going up.

It’s not surprising that in America, where Christianity was transplanted prior to the advent of the documentary hypothesis, and where the Old Testament was always emphasized, Christianity remains vibrant. But even in America there has been a lessening of the moral authority of the Bible in the broader culture, particularly among the highly educated where the academic view of the Bible has had more impact through universities, for example.

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