04.09.14 by brent hand
WHY I BELIEVE IN GOD: PART NINE
READ PART ONE RIGHT HERE
So I went through this season of doubting my faith, searching for answers elsewhere, and dealing with tough questions I had about religion. In the end it came down to the question I posed in my last post: What if God did show himself to us? What would that be like?
That led me to another question: what if it looked like Jesus?
I had a conversation with a close friend of mine just the other day about some of these same thoughts. When I asked him about Jesus he said “I think he was a prophet. A good teacher with good morals.” But. Not. God.
I reached a similar place in my life when I began to think the idea of a PERSON being GOD just too crazy. A good fairytale but that’s all. I liked the parts where he told us to treat each other better and to handle your own problems before pointing out others. But Jesus was just “a good teacher with good morals.” … Right?
Then of course I came across this little nugget. As usual, C.S. Lewis said it best…
“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 patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
So, which was it?
Me? I wasn’t sure.
What if Jesus WERE just a good teacher and people ADDED the Son of God stuff to him later on?
ONE: People believed he was the Son of God (or at least that’s what he taught). you can tell just from the way they wrote about it back then. Contrary to some myths about the Bible, most of the new testament was written within just a few decades after Jesus’ death. Take the epistle of James for example (written less than 20 years after Jesus’ death… and resurrection). The letter opens with a reference to “the Lord Jesus Christ” (not one but TWO allusions to his deity.) He isn’t debating or defending this belief. He assumes people understand this to be true. Because that’s what Jesus had told them.
TWO: People died for this belief. PEOPLE DIED because they believed Jesus was God. LOTS OF FOLKS. Was I seriously supposed to believe these people died tortuous and grueling deaths in order to protect their own delusions? And most importantly of all, why did Jesus die if not for blasphemy? He died because HE SAID HE WAS the son of God. He said it and died for it.
So the options are narrow. What was I to do?
As Bono put it recently “I find it hard to accept that all the millions and millions of lives, half the earth, for two thousand years, … have felt their lives touched and inspired by some nutter.”
And that’s where I found myself. It makes the most sense, honestly.
Let’s wrap this up next time.