Posts tagged ‘Jesus’
If Roopster doesn’t mind me clogging up his blog, let me share with you something I wrote for a friend on Lewis’ Trilemma (which as I understand Lewis actually got from Chesterton). This is presented thusly on p55 of Mere Christianity:
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 said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a 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 patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
If you type this into Google, you’ll find thousands of Christian websites that apparently feel this is a high point of Christian apologetics. It’s actually illogical and uninformed, and it does not reflect well on people who accept it as serious thinking…
Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all kind of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven… You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:10-14a)
It could be argued that this is the beginning of the Christian persecution complex – or at least the reason for it. Of course, the early church had plenty of “valid” reasons to be persecuted – their core beliefs were directly opposed to the established Jewish community from which they arose and, furthermore, the early Christians, especially of the Pauline variety, were downright treasonous in the eyes of the Caesar-worship of the time. These beliefs had little to do with morality, and everything to do with loyalty. Martyrdom – not the kamikaze murderous kind of present extremism – became an increasingly noble cause. In the time of Ignatius – writing in the late 1st century, possibly predating some canonical gospels and pseudo-Pauline epistles – martyrdom was perhaps the single greatest act of faith that a Christian could show (see Ignatius’ letter to the Romans). It was, after all, the ultimate act of following Christ…
Well I have a bit of a confession to make to this website…I have been struggling as of late as to what to contribute (especially since traffic has exploded the past couple weeks). During my time on the sidelines, I have enjoyed reading the various posts and people’s reactions to them. I admit that I have not jumped in as frequently as I once did due to an upcoming move I am preparing for.
It was during my time on the outskirts of this forum that I began to ponder the (for lack of a more sensitive term) “point” of agnostic/atheist websites such as de-conversion. Now this is not meant to be an insult, but maybe more of a sociological question and hypothesis. To do a comprehensive study on the posts of this blog would take a substantial amount of time. However, in my informal examination, I came to a few conclusions…
In my last semester of my undergraduate studies, I took a seminar course on the early Christian church in Thessalonika. Much of the source material was, of course, Paul’s “first” letter to the Thessalonians – that is, the first letter that shows up in the Christian canon and that we have available to us. During my research for my term paper I came across some interesting statements regarding Paul, made by some very famous people in the last several centuries (there are several lists like this on the internet). It appears that Benjamin Franklin serendipitously anticipated this onslaught against Paul when he declared at Samuel Hemphill’s synod trial, “A virtuous heretic shall be saved before a wicked Christian.” Has modernity and postmodernity declared war on Paul? Are the attacks warranted? How do contemporary theologians defend such assaults?
St. Paul then, it seems, preach’d another and quite different Gospel from what was preach’d by Peter and the other Apostles. (Thomas Morgan, The Moral Philosopher, 1737)
C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books and himself an atheist before turning to Christianity, was critical of the idea that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not divine, with the following trilemma:
- Jesus was lying and knew it, so he was a liar.
- Jesus was lying but believed what he was saying, so he was a lunatic.
- Jesus was telling the truth, so he was divine.
Thus, according to Lewis, Jesus could only be a great moral teacher if he was telling the truth and was the son of God. Later, this argument was used as a logical proof that Jesus was in fact the son of God.
- Point 1 couldn’t be true, or so the argument goes, because then Jesus wouldn’t be willing to die for it.
- Point 2 couldn’t be true, because Jesus for some reason couldn’t be a lunatic.
- Therefore, the logical conclusion is that Jesus was divine.
The point was raised in the comments to one of my blog entries on my Import Mind.Reason blog that there may be a fourth option – Jesus never claimed to be the son of God but that the early Christians misunderstood this or decided it for themselves…
I’m sure the three individuals who protested the prayer delivered by Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada, to open the Senate on July 12th thought they were “defending their faith” but in reality, they were simply letting their bigotry and intolerance show.
According to a press release from Operation Save America:
Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all arrested in the chambers of the United States Senate as that chamber was violated by a false Hindu god. The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.
Your lips, O my spouse, Drip as the honeycomb; Honey and milk are under your tongue; And the fragrance of your garments Is like the fragrance of Lebanon. – Song of Songs 4:11
Popular Christianity places an emphasis on believers having a Personal Relationship with Jesus. As a Christian, I proudly proclaimed that I did not follow a religion, but that I had a relationship – a personal one-on-one with the Messiah. Looking back, I have no idea how to Biblically justify the idea of a personal relationship. I am pretty certain it is nothing more than modern Christian pop culture. And on a more practical level, I don’t think Jesus wants a relationship with any of us anyway. As a Christian, I talked to Jesus for years, but never heard a word back from him. That is in no way a relationship, despite all the effort I put into it.
As unsupported as I think this idea of a personal relationship is, there are times when Christians seem to think that a mere relationship is not enough. If it were not so grotesque, I think many Christians would want to change the cliché from personal relationship to intimate relationship. The relationship between the Christian and the Christ becomes so close that Jesus becomes a surrogate lover to the faithful Christian. To be a disciple and even a slave to Jesus means, to some of the most devoted, that the relationship with the Savior Jesus must be the closest relationship that the Christian is to hold. As a proud heterosexual male, this gooey GodTalk gave me the hives.