Tuesday, December 06, 2005

C.S. Lewis' Trilemma

Assumptions:
  1. The New Testament, especially the eyewitness accounts (the Gospels) of Jesus, are accurate. This is beyond reasonable doubt. See a previous post.
  2. You believe that there is a supreme being, some God from which all good eminates and some other (created) being from which all bad/evil eminates.
C.S. Lewis Trilemma:
  1. Jesus was a lunatic on par with any man claiming to be a poached egg, OR
  2. Jesus was a slave of the source of all evil, OR
  3. Jesus is the Son of God.
PROOF (an outline, read the book "Mere Christianity"):

In the words of C.S. Lewis in his book "Mere Christianity":
And what did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong; and all through history there have been people trying (some of them very hard) to obey it. None of them ever quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was - that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews...

Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time...God, in their [the Jews'] language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you...But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes...? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did...and never waited to consult all the other people who [where sinned against]. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin...

Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is 'humble and meek' and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

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...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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
For those interested in the works of C.S. Lewis, buy this book first and then watch the Chronicles of Narnia. ;)

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Manny Is Here: C.S. Lewis' Trilemma

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

C.S. Lewis' Trilemma

Assumptions:
  1. The New Testament, especially the eyewitness accounts (the Gospels) of Jesus, are accurate. This is beyond reasonable doubt. See a previous post.
  2. You believe that there is a supreme being, some God from which all good eminates and some other (created) being from which all bad/evil eminates.
C.S. Lewis Trilemma:
  1. Jesus was a lunatic on par with any man claiming to be a poached egg, OR
  2. Jesus was a slave of the source of all evil, OR
  3. Jesus is the Son of God.
PROOF (an outline, read the book "Mere Christianity"):

In the words of C.S. Lewis in his book "Mere Christianity":
And what did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong; and all through history there have been people trying (some of them very hard) to obey it. None of them ever quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was - that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews...

Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time...God, in their [the Jews'] language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you...But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes...? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did...and never waited to consult all the other people who [where sinned against]. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin...

Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is 'humble and meek' and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

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...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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
For those interested in the works of C.S. Lewis, buy this book first and then watch the Chronicles of Narnia. ;)

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