Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?

If you were to google the name Jesus today, you'd instantly get about 181 million hits. Search for Jesus on Amazon.com and you'll find 261,474 books about him. Given the smorgasbord of competing views, can we still have confidence in the historical Jesus? Many people want to regard Jesus not as God but as a good, moral man or as an exceptionally wise prophet who spoke many profound truths. Scholars often pass of that conclusion as the only acceptable one that people can reach by the intellectual process. Many people simply nod their heads in agreement and never trouble themselves to see the fallacy of such reasoning.

Jesus claimed to be God, and to him it was of fundamental importance that men and women believe him to be who he was. Either we believe him, or we don't. He didn't leave us any wiggle room for in-between, watered-down alternatives. One who claimed what Jesus claimed about himself couldn't be a good moral man or a prophet. That opinion isn't left open to us, and Jesus never intended it to be.

C. S. Lewis, former professor at Cambridge University and once an agnostic, understood this issue clearly. He writes: "I am trying here to prevent anyone say 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 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 level with a 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." Then Lewis adds: "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 up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Cambridge University professor F. J. A. Hort, who spent twenty-eight years in critical study of the New Testament text writes: "[Christ's] words were so completely parts and utterances of Himself, that they had no meaning as abstract statements of truth uttered by Him as a Divine oracle or prophet. Take away Himself as the primary (though not the ultimate) subject of every statement and they all fall to pieces."

In the words of Kenneth Scott Latourette, historian of Christianity at Yale University: "It is not his teachings which make Jesus so remarkable, although these would be enough to give him distinction. It is a combination of the teachings with the man himself. The two cannot be separated." Latourette concludes, "It must be obvious to any thoughtful reader of the Gospel records that Jesus regarded himself and his message as inseparable. He was a great teacher, but he was more. His teachings about the kingdom of God about human conduct and about God were important, but they could not be divorced from him without, from his standpoint, being vitiated."

Jesus claimed to be God. His claim must be either true or false, and everyone should give it the same kind of consideration he expected of his disciples when he put the question to them: "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15). There are several alternatives.

From: More than a Carpenter
by: Josh and Sean Mcdowell


Next up...Sean McDowell analyzes the possibility of Jesus being a lunatic...it's a good read I assure you!
Bethany A. said…
Wow, that certainly is something to chew on!
bug said…
Wow! Good stuff! I've actually thought about reading that book before...maybe someday I will get around to it! ;) Thanks for this excerpt...I'm looking forward to reading more!
Rachel M. said…
It's both sad and scary to see where our country is going, and who they believe God to be. Because GOD, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is the very One who loves the people who are blinded from His Truth. I just DO NOT like the enemy when he blinds people from seeing who Jesus really is and what He did for them on the cross.

God bless!
In Christ Alone where my Faith stands,
Rachel M.
Rosebud said…
My pastor preached along these lines back...several months ago, I think; I hadn't thought about it before, how with the claims Jesus made, He was either God or a liar, and He left no room for middle ground. Thanks for posting!