Friday, April 9, 2010
Jesus: God, Lunatic, or Evil Man...
By C.S. Lewis
When we come to the Incarnation itself, I usually find that some form of aut Deus aut malus hom (either God or a bad man) can be used. The majority of them start with the idea of the "great human teacher" who was deified by his superstitious followers. It must be pointed out how very improbable this is among the Jews and how different to anything that happened with Plato, Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed. The Lord's own words and claims (of which many are quite ignorant) must be forced home..
On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men. There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him "Are you the son of Brahman?" he would have said, "My son, you are sill in the vale of illusion." If you had gone to Socrates and asked, "Are you Zeus?" he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohamed and asked, "Are you Allah?? he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, "Are you Heaven?" I think he would have probably replied, "Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste." The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of this is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. If you think you are a poached egg, when you are looking for a piece of toast to suit you, you may be sane, but if you think you are God, there is no chance for you. We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. he produced mainly three effects - Hatred - Terror - Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.
Jesus told people that their sins were forgiven... This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. 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. H 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 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 left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Excerpts from God in the Dock, "what are we to make of Jesus Christ?" 1950 and Mere Christianity