Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jesus: Fact or Fiction, Part 2

There is overwhelming evidence for Jesus being an actual historical figure of some kind. He is not a myth altogether, but what reasons have I for believing that he was the Son of God? 

First of all we have to look at what he could have been. What are our options? 

1. He was a lunatic.
2. He was an egomaniacal deceiver.
3. He was the Son of God.
4. He was something great, but not what the Bible makes him out to be.
5. He was a good teacher and nothing more. 

C.S. Lewis is famous for pointing out that the fifth option is not an option at all. He puts his "Trilemma" argument like this:

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher. He'd either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he's a poached egg-or else he'd 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 don't let us come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He hasn't left that open to us. He didn't intend to." 
— C.S. Lewis 

So what exactly did Jesus say about himself according to the Bible? 

From Wikipedia:
There are differing views within Christian groups as to whether or not Jesus ever claimed to be God. The majority of Christians hold that the Bible shows Jesus both as divine, and claiming divinity. Many modern scholars, however, argue that Jesus did not, in fact, make any such claims, either directly or indirectly; John Hick contends that there is general agreement among scholars today that Jesus did not claim to be God: "such evidence as there is has led the historians of the period to conclude, with an impressive degree of unanimity, that Jesus did not claim to be God incarnate,"source
Look at John 10:25-33. 

 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."  
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"  
"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

The Jews knew exactly what Jesus meant, and were ready to stone him for it! "I and the Father are one." How plain does it get? How about John 5:17-18. Once again, making himself equal with God. John 8:58. To a Jew this would be a blatant presumption to preexistence and therefore Godlike status. What about Jesus' actions? What did they say about him? Well, we know that he didn't refuse worship (Matthew 8:2, John 9:35-39), unlike his disciples, who tore their clothes when the people of Lystra tried to worship them (Acts 4:8-18).  

So Jesus obviously believed that he was something special. Was he insane? No logical person can read his words, his teachings, study his many friends, his actions, the reactions of his enemies, and conclude that he was crazy. As far as I know, this was never a charge leveled at him by his contemporaries. All of the evidence points to the fact that he didn't act like a crazy person.

Was he a deceiver? Read the sermon on the mount and tell me that that was spoken by an attention-hungry egomaniac. His teachings and actions are full of love, peace, patience, kindness, and holiness. Jesus did not defend himself when on trial for his life. If he was just bluffing to get power and influence, wouldn't he call it quits when standing before Pilate and hearing the words, "Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Only a lunatic would have carried on at that stage. 

Perhaps the Muslims are right, and while Jesus was a real man and sent by God, the Bible does not accurately represent his words and actions. Some say that the New Testament has been corrupted. Well, we do not have the actual manuscripts handwritten by Matthew and Mark, so that means that the original meaning may have been changed in copies, right? Wrong. This is from
Our first manuscript copy of the New Testament (John Ryland’s Papyri, dates from 117-138 A.D.) comes about 30-40 years after the original book was written (i.e. the Gospel of John in about 90-95 A.D.).  Also, we actually have over 5,700 Greek New Testament manuscripts!  In addition to all of the Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and other languages, we have about 25,000 total New Testament manuscripts! 
Perhaps the original manuscripts were destroyed and substituted with false documents! Right. Even if someone were somehow able to collect all of the originals and destroy them, they would also have to do away with the writings of the early church fathers, who quoted so extensively from the texts that we could reconstruct all but about 11 verses of the New Testament simply from their writings. Jesus' words were recorded by eyewitnesses. They were not altered by the early church or scribal error to portray a completely different Jesus.

We could go on and on with proofs of Jesus' divinity.

For example: it was prophesied that the Messiah would perform miracles. Jesus performed miracles not only with his supporters, but also before his toughest critics. Far from denying them, his enemies simply tried to explain them away as the evil doings of the devil! In ancient times scholars tried to explain the darkness at the crucifixion by saying it was an eclipse (even though this is scientifically impossible), but they didn't deny it happened. 

Next up:
                      Jesus: Fact or Fiction, Part 3 - The Resurrection

Tata for now,
Abby Rogers


  1. I think this is best way to see how consistent one is on how one views the moral life of Jesus vs. his claims to be God (or, at the very worst a lot more favorable in the Father's eyes than anyone else that has ever lived). The C.S. Lewis quote still works with such passages like Mark 2:5-11. From that passage, at beginning of his ministry, he is already making claims that no human can make. Well Done, Abby.

  2. In reference to the part where a verse of reference was given, please give me your rendition of what is meant by "they WORSHIPPED him" Please elaborate with specifics. JOHN 9:38



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