Sunday, August 01, 2010

Simple but Hard Logic

“Logic,” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth.”
(The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

The claims of Jesus are very clear. He claimed to be God incarnate, just as God his father, and this was something the Jews of his day very much wanted to put him to death for (John 8). He said I and the Father are One. He claims to be the Savior of the world, able to forgive sins themselves, and to reconcile the alienation man and God have (John 3). He claims to have brought those who believe “another Comforter”, one whom the Father sent in the name of his son, even the spirit of truth (John 14). And in the same chapter Jesus clearly promises that he goes now to prepare a place for us, and that he intends to come back for us, that where he is, we may be also.

In the application of pure logic here, there are three clear possibilities. One, Jesus was just a good man. Two, Jesus was mad. And three, Jesus was telling the truth. I shall briefly describe the outcomes of all three choices.

First, if Jesus did lie to us, deliberately and provocatively, then he must be, not good, but the most evil human ever conceived. His grand deception has fooled millions of hapless people who are deceived and bereft of the great promises of God. Christians, as Paul says, are of all people, most miserable, if his claims are not true. Christians have broken their lives apart and chosen to live for one who is the greatest deceiver ever known.

Is this likely? In examining the narrative of the life of Jesus in the gospels, there is nothing that would indicate anything other than this Jesus is a remarkable man, devoutly holding to truth, and peeling apart the deceptions of the world. His life shows no deception.

Second, Jesus was mad. The only place in the gospels where madness might show through is when Jesus cleanses the temple, driving the merchants out and overturning their tables of wares. The Life of Christ in Stereo (a very fine book to study) makes it clear that Jesus cleansed the temple twice; once at the beginning of his ministry, and once just before the end of his ministry. Certainly his message was divisive; it has divided mankind into two distinct groups, one very large and the other relatively small. The larger portion of humans have refused his message while the smaller portion claims drastically changed lives.

Is madness a likely outcome? Jesus shows great intelligence in his presentation of parables that spoke above the heads of his enemies. He shows normal emotions when facing the death on the cross, asking his closest friends: “What? Could you not stay awake and watch one hour?” and in petitioning his Father: “Father let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will, but thine be done.” And even in the cleansing of the temple, Jesus, rather than being mad, is better seen as being angry at those who were trying to buy and sell his Father’s love. Madness is not likely.

Third, Jesus was telling the truth. He clearly said I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me. Logic clearly dictates this as the only viable alternative. Jesus was who he claimed to be. He clearly predicted that most people would end in hell because of rejecting him, and he clearly told us that only a few would find “the narrow path” of salvation.

If this is, as I present, the most likely outcome of logic, then there can be no more important thing for any man or woman to do other than study the claims of Jesus. After all he who came first as the sacrificing Lamb of God is coming the second time as the judging Lion of Judah.

A final word. I have many friends who take what they think is a viable fourth option. They commit the error of modern solipsism and try to have it both ways. My friends try to tell me that Jesus was a good man, but the gospels have hideously presented him, and that they will believe only the parts of Jesus being a good teacher, such as when he tells us to love one another, and not the parts where he is being exclusive such as when he says that NO ONE comes to the Father apart from him.

I think there are two errors of logic entangled with this view. First, as I have tried to show, Jesus could not have been a good man if we read his claims at all literally. But also it seems to me that those following the error of solipsism are remaking God into their image, a very dangerous thing to do indeed. If the claims of Christ are real, then one day every person shall have to stand before God. Do you really think that my friends will find credibility in saying to the Judge, “I found some of your claims to be offensive to my lifestyle, and so I chose not to believe them.”? Aren’t they saying I did not agree with the God presented in the Bible, and so I remade god to be more acceptable? Such a course is perilous and fraught with more problems than just logic. What will be the outcome of those who have been freely offered the truth and have sought to remake it?

“Bless me,” [said the Professor] what do they teach them at these schools?”
(The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)


Anonymous said...

Are people really tangled up in this argument or something, or is this just the unbeliever's attempt to disprove Jesus? I never thought Jesus was a liar because He said He was the truth, and He couldn't possibly be mad because He was very logical about things. Anyway...some people look but don't see and listen but don't hear.

Mr. D said...

Actually most of America is probably caught somewhere between believing Jesus but a good man and suspecting the reliability of the gospels. They just do not think it through logically.

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Ashley said...

Great blog! I really like this logic, and I think it's a great thing to point out to people. I don't think enough people really think about what is logical...instead of seeking truth they choose a path that appeals to them and the way they want to live. Anyways, great post :)