Liar, Lunatic, or Lord
Aug 25, 2019 // By:Dave // No Comment
“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 patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Lewis presents the reader with a trilemma (three choices)
bases these choices upon the claims of Christ balanced against possible motivations or causes of these claims
(first and foremost … claiming to be God)
If you cannot establish
the textual basis for Christ claiming to be God,
there is no point to using this trilemma from Lewis
critics will sometimes say that Lewis has left out a fourth possibility with two applications:
misinformation (mistaken conclusions)
- Jesus mistook himself for God (meaning he was not intending to mislead others to worship falsely)
- the disciples misunderstood His claims and unintentionally misrepresented Him to others, and in the bible
- being mistaken about oneself being God still places someone in the category of lunacy
- the disciples and all those who came after them “mistook” His deity which means:
- He was not God
- He did not have the power to forgive sins
- He did not have the power to heal others
- He did not have the power or ability to die for our sins
- He did not have the power or authority to resurrect anyone
- The entire New Testament is laid waste (worse, it is evil)
the problem with claiming the disciples were simply misinformed is destroyed by evidence found in their own writings
(the accounts of the miracles, substantiated by witnesses, excludes the possibility of simple misinformation
either the writers of the NT deliberately lied, or told the truth.
Josh McDowell points out, in Case for Christ, “who would die for a lie?”
focusing on the resurrection for a moment which proves His deity:
Romans 1:4 says Jesus Christ “was declared the Son of God with power.” How? “By the resurrection from the dead according to the spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The resurrection was the stamp on Jesus Christ that He really was who He claimed to be. The resurrection proves the deity of Christ.
Romans 4:24-25: “But for our sake also, to whom it will be credited as those who believe in him who raise Jesus our Lord from the dead; he who was delivered over because of our transgressions and was raised because of our justification.”
Here is what Paul says: The single proof that Jesus Christ’s death was a sufficient payment for your sins was the fact that He was raised from the dead. Had Jesus remained in that grave, it would’ve meant that Jesus died for His own sins and not for our sins. But the fact that God raised Him from the dead was the sign that Jesus’ payment on the cross was accepted, that we had been justified—declared not guilty—before God. Jesus was delivered over for our transgressions but He was raised up for our justification. The way we can be assured that we are not guilty before God is by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Proof of Deity of Christ
Matt 9:4-6 “which is easier sins are forgiven, or rise and walk but to show you that the son of man has the power to forgive sin …
Here, we have two claims to deity wrapped in one verse.
What are they?
Mark 14:62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
“Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish. Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed”
John 8:58 “Jesus said to them “before Abraham was,I am” NASB
what is the claim to deity in this verse ?
John 8:58 ¶ “Believe me,” said Jesus, “I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.” Message
Exodus 3:14 And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.
if someone were to ask me who i am, I will respond with:
I am a man, i am a christian, i am a father, I am a musician, I am a teacher of the Word, etc
(I always follow the verb with a subjective compliment, something which attempts to add meaning or definition to the “I” that the verb “am” is referring to)
God replies to Moses with “I AM” YHWH (often translated in this verse as “I am that I am”
(same word runs throughout the book of Exodus, but is translated as “I AM THE LORD” or “the LORD” because is makes better grammatical sense (see Ex 8:29) but it’s theologically better read as “I AM”
John 11 the resurrection of Lazarus
His own resurrection
1 Cor 15:3-8
1Cor. 15:3 ¶ For aI delivered to you 1as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died bfor our sins caccording to the Scriptures,
1Cor. 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was araised on the third day baccording to the Scriptures,
1Cor. 15:5 and that aHe appeared to bCephas, then cto the twelve.
1Cor. 15:6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some ahave fallen asleep;
1Cor. 15:7 then He appeared to 1aJames, then to ball the apostles;
1Cor. 15:8 and last of all, as 1to one untimely born, aHe appeared to me also.
when debating the resurrection of Christ
(1) Blaise Pascal gives a simple, psychologically sound proof for why this is unthinkable:
The “cruncher” in this argument is the historical fact that no one, weak or strong, saint or sinner, Christian or heretic, ever confessed, freely or under pressure, bribe or even torture, that the whole story of the resurrection was a fake, a lie, a deliberate deception. Even when people broke under torture, denied Christ, and worshiped Caesar, they never let that cat out of the bag, never revealed that the resurrection was their conspiracy. For that cat was never in the bag. No Christians believed the resurrection was a conspiracy; if they had, they wouldn’t have become Christians.
(2) The disciples’ character argues strongly against such a conspiracy on the part of all of them, with no dissenters. They were simple, honest, common peasants, not cunning, conniving liars. (They weren’t even lawyers!) Their sincerity is proved by their words and deeds. They preached a resurrected Christ and they lived a resurrected Christ. They willingly died for their “conspiracy.” Nothing proves sincerity like martyrdom. The change in their lives from fear to faith, despair to confidence, confusion to certitude, runaway cowardice to steadfast boldness under threat and persecution, not only proves their sincerity but testifies to some powerful cause of it. Can a lie cause such a transformation? Are truth and goodness such enemies that the greatest good in history—sanctity—has come from the greatest lie?
Use your imagination and sense of perspective here. Imagine twelve poor, fearful, stupid (read the Gospels!) peasants changing the hard-nosed Roman world with a lie. And not an easily digested, attractive lie either. St. Thomas Aquinas says:
(4) There could be no possible motive for such a lie. Lies are always told for some selfish advantage. What advantage did the “conspirators” derive from their “lie” ? They were hated, scorned, persecuted, excommunicated, imprisoned, tortured, exiled, crucified, boiled alive, roasted, beheaded, disemboweled and fed to lions—hardly a catalog of perks!
(5) If the resurrection was a lie, the Jews would have produced the corpse and nipped this feared superstition in the bud. All they had to do was go to the tomb and get it. The Roman soldiers and their leaders were on their side, not the Christians’. And if the Jews couldn’t get the body because the disciples stole it, how did they do that? The arguments against the swoon theory hold here too: unarmed peasants could not have overpowered Roman soldiers or rolled away a great stone while they slept on duty.
(6) The disciples could not have gotten away with proclaiming the resurrection in Jerusalem-same time, same place, full of eyewitnesses—if it had been a lie. William Lane Craig says,
“The Gospels were written in such a temporal and geographical proximity to the events they record that it would have been almost impossible to fabricate events….The fact that the disciples were able to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem in the face of their enemies a few weeks after the crucifixion shows that what they proclaimed was true, for they could never have proclaimed the resurrection (and been believed) under such circumstances had it not occurred.”