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Jesus, Part II — Christ’s Divinity: The Logical Answer That Still Shocks The World

Jesus Christ is Lord.
                           –Philippians 2:11

Since Jesus was the only man in history who never bored anyone,
it follows that if your Jesus is boring, your Jesus is not the real Jesus.
If it’s a tame lion, it’s not Aslan.

“Is Jesus God?” If a secular neighbor asked you that question, how might you respond? 

As we celebrate the Resurrection during this Easter season, a corresponding and absolutely shocking truth is to celebrate the full divinity of Jesus. Yet one critique of the Christian worldview from all other worldviews goes right to its heart: it rejects the belief that Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity. This belief is the most central and most important claim of Christianity. As an old saying goes: “Christianity without Christ is just ‘—anity’ ” (pronounced yanity). 

The early Christians proclaimed the stunning truth “Jesus is God” since the beginning, and then enshrined it in the Nicene Creed in AD 325 and 381. The Nicene Creed was a defense against those (e.g., the Arians) who would try to downgrade the full divinity of Jesus’ identity. 

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.

Christianity proclaims that Jesus is consubstantial (with substance, of the same substance) with the Father. (Note: The term God in scripture can mean “the Trinity” or each individual person of the Trinity, i.e., Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

The essay “The Divinity of Christ” says:

Unbelievers almost always say He [Jesus] was a good man, not a bad man; that He was a great moral teacher, a sage, a philosopher, a moralist, and a prophet, not a criminal, not a man who deserved to be crucified. But a good man is the one thing He could not possibly have been according to simple common sense and logic. For He claimed to be God. He said, “Before Abraham was, I Am,” [John 8:58] thus speaking the word no Jew dares to speak because it is God’s own private name, spoken by God himself to Moses at the burning bush. Jesus wanted everyone to believe that He was God. He wanted people to worship Him. He claimed to forgive everyone’s sins against everyone. (Who can do that but God, the One offended in every sin?)

As outlined in the Handbook of Christian Apologetics, there are six common views about the identity of Jesus of Nazareth:

Myth                   Jesus never existed.

Guru                   Jesus was a god, and we can all be gods who reach enlightenment.

Teacher              Jesus taught good ethics; he was only a rabbi.

Lunatic               Jesus was mentally insane.

Liar                     Jesus lied about who he was.

Lord                    Jesus was God, i.e., the Second Person of the Trinity.

Is our faith reasonable? Are faith and reason allies? Can Christians logically defend the view that Jesus is God? Christianity says Yes.

(1) Myth. Christians reject the myth view often because other historians mention Jesus in addition to the four Gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk, Jn). For example, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37-100) wrote about Jesus in Antiquities of the Jews (c. AD 93-94), and the Roman historian Tacitus (AD 60-120) mentions Jesus in his book Annals (c. AD 109).

(2) Guru. Christians reject the guru view because gurus tend to say the “I” is an illusion, but Jesus does not. He acts and thinks within the Jewish tradition, which affirms a personal “I” and affirms God as a Person, rather than an impersonal energy source (e.g., enlightenment). Christianity rejects this view from New Spirituality. 

(3) Teacher. Christians reject the “only a good teacher” view because Jesus did not leave that option open to us. C. S. Lewis explains in his classic Mere Christianity:

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. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form.

The irony is that those who loved Jesus the most knew exactly who He claimed to be – e.g., the Apostles. And those who hated Jesus the most knew exactly who He claimed to be – e.g., the Jewish religious leaders of the day who plotted His brutal crucifixion. Moderns tend to be more lukewarm – e.g., “only a good teacher.”

(4) Lunatic. Christians reject the lunatic view because lunatics are eventually boring, but Jesus never bored anyone. He left people stunned and shocked. He was always creative and loving and wise. The most common description of Jesus in the Greek is thauma, “wonder.” (For more details for His impact on people, try the book Jesus-Shock.)

(5) Liar. Christians reject the liar view because liars usually want something, such as power or money. But Jesus was compassionate and unselfish toward people. He was willing to suffer and die on a cross. 

In sum: “Jesus was either God, or a bad man.” As the classic Latin version says, Aut deus aut homo malus (Either God, or a bad man). If He was not a bad man, then He was who He claimed to be. P or Q. ~Q. Thus P.

Again, for those who are interested in more depth on this topic, try “The Divinity of Christ,” “Resurrection Evidence,” or the Handbook of Christian Apologetics. If you prefer movies, a good one is: The Case for Christ. It shares the true contemporary story of how an atheist investigative reporter used logic, reason, and evidence to become a Christian. He followed the logic and the facts, and he found the Truth.

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