(continued from previous post)
Certainly, about now, the non-Christians are laughing derisively. After all, proposition number two above hardly seems like proof. Why couldn’t Jesus have been either a liar, a lunatic, a guru, or a myth? If he could have been any of those things, why should anyone believe the outrageous claim that Jesus is God? Good questions that deserve good answers. They are also questions that lead naturally to another question: If Jesus couldn’t have been a liar, a lunatic, a guru, or a myth, am I willing to admit the truth of the only remaining option? If the answer to this last question isn’t “Yes”, then I am not being honest or rational.
Why Jesus Couldn’t Have Been a Liar.
Aut deus aut homo malus. “Either God or a bad man.” This is one of the oldest arguments for Jesus’s divinity. It looks something like this:
Jesus was either God (if he did not lie about who he was) or a bad man (if he did lie).
But Jesus was not a bad man.
Therefore, Jesus is God.
Anyone would be very hard pressed indeed to refute the second premise. Who can honestly examine Jesus’s teachings and conclude that he was a bad man? So, what non-Christians are left with is trying to refute the first proposition. In effect, one must maintain that Jesus lied about being God and yet he was still a good man. But this leads a problem. How could a mere man who lied, claiming to be God, leading throughout the years millions of people astray from the truth, be considered good? If the Incarnation is not the truth, it is the most monstrous lie ever.
What’s more, it is a lie that Jesus was willing to die for. It is also a rather foolish lie, because the Jews of first century Palestine were absolutely the last people in the world likely to believe that a man could be God. Liars lie for what they can get out of not telling the truth. What did Jesus get for his lie? Hatred and death. That is an extremely unbelievable motivation.
Why Jesus Couldn’t Have Been a Lunatic.
Well, fine, people say. Jesus wasn’t a bad man, so he couldn’t have been a liar. So let’s come up with some way of explaining Jesus’s claim to be God that doesn’t involve Jesus lying. The first possibility is that Jesus wasn’t lying when he claimed to be God, but he still wasn’t God. In other words, Jesus only believed he was God, but he was mistaken. In other words, Jesus was a lunatic, a crazy person, a psychopath.
Unforunately for the skeptic, this is impossible. Assume for a minute Jesus was insane. Well, then, he certainly cannot be characterized as a good, wise teacher. He may not have been morally bad (meaning he deliberately deceived others) but he was mentally bad (meaning he was deceived himself). A lunatic may not be a liar, but he certainly isn’t much more trustworthy. Both the liar and the lunatic hypotheses contradict the available data about Jesus. The available data shows clearly that Jesus was both good and wise. A liar isn’t good; a lunatic isn’t wise.
Consult a psychiatric reference book about the psychopathology of the “divinity complex.” It is a real insanity. There are crazy people who think they are God. The problem is that Jesus doesn’t fit the profile. The psychopathology of the “divinity complex” includes the inability to love and understand others, inability to be creative, predictability, dullness, inflexibility, narcissism, and egotism. These traits do not fit the character of Jesus as shown in the available data. Jesus not able to love? Jesus not creative? Jesus predictable, dull, or inflexible? Jesus narcissistic or egotistical?
(to be continued)
– Mark L. Chance.