Des Plaines, IL. November, 2012.
It's an old argument, and still a good one. C.S. Lewis used it, but it goes back to the Early Church Fathers. The basic argument is that Jesus Christ was either who he said he was (Lord), or he knowingly misstated who he was (Liar), or he was delusional about who he was (Lunatic).
Ok, so when did he say he was God? Didn't he kind of leave that open to interpretation? Well, no. To say "Amen I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM"... (John 5:58) well, them's stonin' words to the Jews and Samaritans of that time, and in fact, that's exactly what they tried to do in the next verse.
Well, maybe he was just trying to get everybody's attention... If that was the case, he would be doing it under false pretense: Liar. We know that he called Satan the Father of lies, and inferred that Satan was their father earlier in the "I AM" story (John 5:39-41). "Oh come on", one might say, "a little white lie doesn't make you a liar…" On the one hand, there is nothing "little" or "white" about claiming to be God. On the other hand, if God is Truth, then even the slightest of falsities would deny that Truth.
When he told the paraplegic that his sins were forgiven, the scribes considered it blasphemous because only God can forgive sins. (Mark 2: 1-12) He then cured the paraplegic to demonstrate that He had the power to forgive sins. His many miracles may attest to his divinity, but many of the prophets also worked miracles. Elijah and Elisha even raised people from the dead, as Jesus did.
Even Peter got into the act (Acts 9:40). The thing about these cases is that all here were bidding others to rise. This is why the Resurrection is so important, and is further proof to the Church of Christ's divinity; Jesus rose un-bidden, so to speak. No prophet or apostle was at the tomb calling Him forth.
So, is there any way Jesus could have misspoken without being a liar or lunatic? No, as the title says, Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. Of course, if he is Lord, there are implications - his words can be trusted. He can keep his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail. And, of course, there is a responsibility on our part to respond to his words.
For the next issue, I want to start digesting some of the information / insights I've picked up in several Bible studies I've been through recently.
Until next time, God bless.