Sunday, April 16, 2006

Reason to believe in Jesus (#1): Today is Easter, so I have been thinking a lot about Jesus. I thought I'd pass along a insightful point made by C.S. Lewis. The story of Jesus is very different than other religious figures. The other founders of world religions--Mohammed, Siddhartha Guatama, Abraham--all claimed that they knew the way to God. If you can't accept their claims, you at least can respect them as being sane and serious men. Jesus is the only one to ever claim, not that he knew the way to God, but that he was God. History shows that people who go around saying they are God are nuts. Some will say they are Napoleon, while others are a bit more ambitious and choose The Almighty for their hallucination. Why not--if you're living completely outside reality, go for it, kid.

But the Gospels do not present a picture of a man who is one taco short of a combo plate. I find his words and behavior to be saintly and sublime. If he had just not said he was God, he could viewed as an inspiring moralist and philosopher--a Jewish Socrates. His life gives him general credibility, so why in the world would he say he was God? Perhaps because He was.


  1. A problem with this kind of argument is that skeptics, like myself, don't trust the Gospels very much.

    Assuming the resurrection didn't actually happen, how many of the words attributed to Jesus can be reliably concluded to have been invented? A fair number, including many of the divinity claims. Iterating this reasoning, I have to conclude that either (i) the rest of the divinity claims were also invented, or (ii) they were not nearly as unusual, in the context of the culture of the time, as C.S. Lewis implies.

  2. Let me at this point only offer another little argument offered by Lewis. He was an expert on myths, but wrote that the Gospels don't read like an invention at all. They are written as if by a reporter. He cited the example of the little detail of Jesus bending down and scratching something on the ground. Lewis said you that myths are not written like that.

  3. Having read the gospels myself very carefully, I think it is certainly arguable that Jesus was more than one taco short of a combo plate. For instance, he evidently thought he would be returning to earth in a grand fashion within the lifetime of some of his disciples, he was obviously grandiose (i.e. claimed you could perform magic if you used his name, claimed you could drink deadly poison if you believed in him), he had delusions of reference (i.e. thought that many vague passages in the OT referred to him specifically).

  4. What is so sublime about urging complete submission to others, the worshipping of death and denigration of earthly achievement? I'm not sure Christ was nuts, but I know he was evil.

  5. Of course, if one reads the Gospels under the assumption that they are false, then Jesus comes across as a lunatic. If one reads them under the assumption that they are true, then His grandiosity turns into humility: God sees us as high enough and himself as low enough to take the form of a Man.

    And robert, perhaps you can be more specific with your points because I don't know where Jesus advocated those things.


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