WHO WAS JESUS CHRIST?
Jesus Christ: the Son of God?
Or, was He a lunatic?
Or, a liar?
One of the most effective ways used by opponents throughout the centuries has been to damn Jesus with faint praise. Damning with faint praise “effectively condemns by seeming to offer praise which is too moderate or marginal to be considered praise at all.”
Here is what some other religions teach about Jesus. [All in quotes from Religious Perspective about Jesus.]
ISLAM: “Jesus is known as Isa and is one of God’s highest-ranked and most-beloved prophets.” For a Muslim, it is blasphemy to say that Jesus is the Son of God. The Koran teaches that Allah had no son. This fact alone puts the lie to all those–including the pope–who say that Allah is the same God of the Bible.
JUDAISM: Jesus was merely a man and not the Messiah.
SCIENTOLOGY: “Jesus is classified as below the level of Operating Thetan, but as a “shade above” the Scientology state of “Clear”.
JEHOVAH’S WITNESS: One of the JH’s free handouts of the past was a book entitled, “The Greatest Man who ever lived”–blasphemy to a real, professing Christian.
Bahá’í: “Jesus was a manifestation of God.”
Over the years, this writer has heard such things said as “Jesus was a great teacher,” or “Jesus was a great moral example, but I don’t think he was the Son of God.”
None of the statements above can be true if we judge Jesus by His own words. Judged by His own words, Jesus was either a lunatic, liar or Lord. He cannot be a ‘great moral example’ and not be Lord. He was either Lord or a liar.
This argument was posited by earlier Christian writers, but popularized by C.S. Lewis.
Lewis’s Trilemma is an argument intended to prove the divinity of Jesus. It was popularised by C. S. Lewis in a BBC radio talk and in his writings. It is sometimes summarized either as “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord”, or as “Mad, Bad, or God”.
The following is what Lewis said. It nicely sums up the position of “Jesus: Lunatic, Liar or Lord.”
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
–Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity, London: Collins, 1952, p54-56. (In all editions, this is Bk. II, Ch. 3, “The Shocking Alternative.”) Forty years earlier, G. K. Chesterton used a similar argument about someone else in his The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), where Adam Wayne is described this way: “He may be God. He may be the Devil. But we think it more likely as a matter of human probability that he is mad.” See Cecil Chestrton, G. K. Chesterton: A Criticism (Seattle: Inklng, 2007), 26. –via Lewis’ trilemma.
As strong as Lewis’ position is, there are, of course, those who disagree. Typical of their position is the argument that “Perhaps there are other alternatives. We won’t really state clearly what those alternatives might be, but we will cast doubt on your argument by hypothesizing that some logical ones might exist.”
Typical of that approach is the following:
In this case, there are other possibilities which Lewis does not effectively eliminate. For example, perhaps Jesus was simply mistaken or that we don’t have an accurate record of what he truly said — if, indeed, he even existed. Lewis’ argument is in fact unacceptable in the context of first century Palestine, where Jews were actively awaiting a messiah to rescue them. It’s implausible that they would have greeted incorrect claims of messianic status with labels like “liar” or “lunatic.” Instead, they would have moved on to await another claimant.
–Lord, Liar, or Lunatic: C.S. Lewis and the Jesus Trilemma: Was Jesus Whom He Claimed?
Actually, they would have NOT “moved on to await another claimant.” The multitudes would have stoned Jesus–which did not happen.
The above-quoted piece argues “It isn’t even necessary to go into much detail about alternative possibilities in order to dismiss Lewis’ argument because the options of “liar” and “lunatic” are themselves not refuted by Lewis. It’s clear that Lewis doesn’t regard them as credible, but he doesn’t give good reasons for anyone else to agree — he’s trying to persuade psychologically, not intellectually.”
First, it is opponents who traditionally offer arguments to one’s position, not the person proposing it.
Second, “he’s trying to persuade psychologically, not intellectually.”
All except one of Jesus disciples suffered torture and death rather than recant what they had written or proclaimed. These are not the actions of men who did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Millions of men, women and children have followed in their martyrs’ footsteps–in every age and in every country where the Gospel has been preached.
The argument that “Maybe they aren’t recorded right. Maybe He really didn’t say those things.” is a modern invention of men seated comfortably in their recliners or babbling about over a refreshing drink in their clubs.
Some have made the argument–not very well–that perhaps Jesus was a legend. The clear historical record is beyond argument: Jesus existed and taught. There is too much in the secular and pagan accounts to overlook.
With all that in mind, here are some statements made by Jesus. Read the quotes and then decide if there is any middle ground available to the question, “Lunatic, liar or Lord?”
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
” …and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” –Matthew 28:20
“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.”
“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”
“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”
“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
“But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.”
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Again, the question is asked “Are these the words of a ‘great teacher?’
Or, is Jesus a lunatic, liar or Lord?
- “Who Do You Say I Am?” | Peter Kreeft on the Divinity of Christ (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- C.S. Lewis
- The God of Peace Making Obedience Available to Us (incontestable.org)
- “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would be not be a great moral…” (thechristiandad.com)
- Heaven or Hell: If you Die Today, Where Would You Wake Up?
- The Lord’s Prayer Part 2 (sundayschoolbiblestudy.wordpress.com)
- Is Jesus the only way to God? (nobullnoble.wordpress.com)
- An Excerpt III (demorrieaux.wordpress.com)
- The Devil is a Liar (michellehudlin.wordpress.com)
- Broadcast Talks, by C. S. Lewis (laurelandelmo.wordpress.com)
- Liar, liar… (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- Do You Know if You Are Going to Heaven? Be Sure!
by Jeremiah J. Jameson
© Jeremiah J. Jameson and End Times Prophecy Report, 2012-13. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeremiah J. Jameson and End Times Prophecy Report with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.