I recently went toe-to-toe with a Jesus Denier group on the Internet. I was surprised (if not shocked) that such a group existed in the form of an “online debate” (not one advanced by serious NT or historical Jesus scholars) since the mid 1990s. It’s one thing to be an atheist and deny the divine but to deny the Historical Jesus was (I thought) out there with Holocaust denial. Turns out they are a lot more robust than I thought.
One of the arguments I used was the Chalcedonian Doctrine. The Chalcedonian Doctrine came at the end of a long period of debate and discussion in the early church concerning the nature and salvific significance of Jesus Christ. To simplify somewhat, two camps battled for supremacy over the course of two centuries: one placing greater emphasis on the humanity of the Lord and the other on his divinity.
Arius, the fourth-century heresiarch, proposed a sort of compromise according to which Jesus is somewhat divine and somewhat human. Arius’s position, to give it its due, had a certain coherency in the context of the ancient world, since it was borrowed from a mythological framework, much of what the Internet Jesus Deniers have resurrected online.
In the legends of the Greeks, many gods and goddesses “mixed themselves” with humans, producing all sorts of divine/human hybrids, quasi-gods and demigods. Arius proposed to his Hellenistic Christian world a similar theory of the mingling of nature and supernature. This was resoundingly defeated at the council at Chalcedon as the Church based its view of Jesus (wholly God and wholly man without ceasing to ceasing to be God and without compromising the integrity of the creature he had become). The thought is completely new and the idea that Jesus is some new “Hercules” that Internet Kookdom promotes is an argument completely without basis.
I took my arguments from Fr. Barron’s “And Now I See” and Robert Sokolowski’s “The God of Faith and Reason.” If you would like to read more, I put it all in a post today here:
I was wondering if others had encountered this group or not and how you would deal with those who say Jesus is just a fable, a remix of Hercules, etc.