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C.S. Lewis: The one thing Jesus is not -
The Spectator - UK ^ | December 17, 2005 | C.S. Lewis

Posted on 12/16/2005 11:31:42 AM PST by UnklGene

God 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. He also 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, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.

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. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have 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 toe and I forgive you, you steal my money 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 and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. 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. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

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 — on a 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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

This is an extract from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It is reprinted with permission from C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd (CSL). All rights reserved. CSL has not otherwise approved the content of this publication or the views expressed herein and assumes no responsibility or liability for such content or views.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: bookexcerpt; cslewis; jesus; merechristianity
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To: Ozone34
Someone should send this passage to Bill O'Reilly. He's always talking about how he regards Jesus as "a great philosopher", and how Christmas, the federal holiday, is meant to commemorate Jesus, "the great philosopher". Sorry Bill....

Better tell George Bush too. Didn't he answer in a debate that Christ was his most admired philosopher.

41 posted on 12/16/2005 12:57:40 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts (Some say what's good for others, the others make the goods; it's the meddlers against the peddlers)
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To: Ozone34
Someone should send this passage to Bill O'Reilly. He's always talking about how he regards Jesus as "a great philosopher", and how Christmas, the federal holiday, is meant to commemorate Jesus, "the great philosopher". Sorry Bill....

Better tell George Bush too. Didn't he answer in a debate that Christ was his most admired philosopher.

42 posted on 12/16/2005 12:59:03 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts (Some say what's good for others, the others make the goods; it's the meddlers against the peddlers)
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To: fish hawk

We are born again at every Mass!


43 posted on 12/16/2005 1:04:07 PM PST by Sertorius (A hayseed with no Greek and dam^ proud of it)
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To: Sertorius
Every single Catholic in the world? You just go to Mass and no matter what you believe, you are saved?
44 posted on 12/16/2005 1:07:10 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: LoneRangerMassachusetts

Except for one being a "great philosopher" is just the beginning while for the other it is the end.


45 posted on 12/16/2005 1:13:41 PM PST by conejo99
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To: LoneRangerMassachusetts

I think GWB should have said, without flinching:

"Wittgenstein. Definitely Wittgenstein."

And then wait to see what the journalist would offer as a follow up.


46 posted on 12/16/2005 1:14:45 PM PST by ConservativeDude
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To: UnklGene

My personal favorite
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

This tale of two princesses - one beautiful and one unattractive - and of the struggle between sacred and profane love is Lewis’s reworking of the myth of Cupid and Psyche and one of his most enduring works.


47 posted on 12/16/2005 1:15:07 PM PST by HangnJudge
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To: Eurotwit

I don't think the ability to compartmentalize is what Lewis meant there. He is not arguing that Christ, if only a man, could not have been inconsistent.

He is arguing against the rather common and condescending notion that Christ was a great, humble, moral teacher. He argues that Christ purposefully took this off the table as an option. His teachings were not humble (as in John 8:58, my favorite verse in all of scripture where Christ states that "before Abraham was, I AM!"), and if you listen to his words and believe that he was not the Son of God, you must decide whether He was a liar, or a nutjob. You cannot call yourself the Son of God, "I AM", and claim to exert the authority that Christ did, and be a good teacher, if you are not God.

Your counter-argument is logical, but Christ's positions and His rationale for the Authority to hold them are not easily seperated in the record. To do so, to strip away his divinity and look only at his more universally accepted moral teachings, He then MIGHT be a moral teacher, but I would argue, not a "great" one.

I think Josh McDowell expanded on this in "More Than a Carpenter", another must read for introductory Apologetics. My favorite author in Apologetics is a tie between Lewis and Norman Geisler. Geisler is more theologically learned, but Lewis far more poetic.


48 posted on 12/16/2005 1:16:31 PM PST by madconservative
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To: fish hawk

If this thread develops according to pattern, down a wore out road. The "born again" thing has been argued to death many times.


49 posted on 12/16/2005 1:18:58 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor! '98'er)
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To: UnklGene

Lewis was a true voice calling out to 20th century Christianity. He is my hero.


50 posted on 12/16/2005 1:19:36 PM PST by ShandaLear (Announcing you plans is a good way to hear God laugh. Al Swearengen, 1877óDeadwood)
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To: Mercat

I recommend 'Till We Have Faces". Lewis considered it his best work.


51 posted on 12/16/2005 1:20:21 PM PST by ShandaLear (Announcing you plans is a good way to hear God laugh. Al Swearengen, 1877óDeadwood)
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To: Moose4

I'm reading it now. I've never quite believed because it all seemed illogical. Lewis's logical approach is v ery helpful.


52 posted on 12/16/2005 1:23:18 PM PST by Veto! (Opinions freely dispensed as advice)
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To: UnklGene

bookmark


53 posted on 12/16/2005 1:24:01 PM PST by irish guard
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To: don-o
Two answers:

1. then why do you reply

2. So has evolution threads but I still see new ones on every day.

54 posted on 12/16/2005 1:25:02 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: fish hawk
1. then why do you reply

Because I can.

2. So has evolution threads but I still see new ones on every day.

Gee. You got me there.

55 posted on 12/16/2005 1:41:51 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor! '98'er)
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To: fish hawk
don't know what the percentages are of Catholics being "born again" but I doubt it is very high

what does that mean anyway..? Does it mean that fallen Catholics will go back to being Catholics, or does it mean that Catholics will be Presbyterians?... or that they don't believe in God but come around...

I'm not being obtuse, but what do you mean by being "born again"?

56 posted on 12/16/2005 2:12:28 PM PST by Dick Vomer (liberals suck......... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.)
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To: UnklGene

"Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse."

He was and is the Son of God.


57 posted on 12/16/2005 2:22:19 PM PST by TalBlack
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To: Dick Vomer

see post 27


58 posted on 12/16/2005 2:26:51 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: Eurotwit

I don't think the "lunatic/Lord" argument is intended to prove His divinity.

The purpose of that argument is the purpose of this particular radio address quoted above, namely, to remove JC from the bin of philosopher/moralists that tepid souls dip into when they need an emotional tingle.

The argument and the point is that JC must not be regarded as just a man. It is all or nothing, Lord or lunatic. And those who hear his word are either lighted eternally by it or cast themselves into darkness from it.


59 posted on 12/16/2005 2:42:41 PM PST by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Liberals are blind. They are the dupes of Leftists who know exactly what they're doing.)
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To: Ghost of Philip Marlowe

I think I understand your point....

But, I disagree with it...

I think if a person seriously love the teachings of Christ... Even without being a believer. That is a beautiful thing....

That person might not know the true light, but at least he has seen a reflection of it and is attracted to it. It should not be scoffed at.

I guess I am biased in this instance, because in my young years I was a staunch pro-Jesus atheist....

Cheers.


60 posted on 12/16/2005 2:58:23 PM PST by Eurotwit (WI)
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