OPIN­ION

Je­sus the man

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

The mes­sage of gen­uine Chris­tian­ity does not cen­ter around Je­sus’ mes­sages but around Je­sus the man. If Je­sus is not who he claimed to be (God in the Flesh) and if he did not ac­com­plish what he came to ac­com­plish (bring us for­give­ness of sins through his sub­sti­tu­tion­ary death and res­ur­rec­tion), than there is no Chris­tian mes­sage. This is one of the truths that sets Chris­tian­ity apart from ev­ery other re­li­gion in the world.

Think about it. Is­lam can ex­ist with­out the prophet Mo­ham­mad. What I mean by that is that Is­lam teaches a way to God, and while that way was recorded by Mo­ham­mad, the fact of the mat­ter re­mains that be­cause Is­lamic teach­ing is cen­tered on the mes­sage, any­one could have recorded it.

The same can be said for Moses and the Jewish Law, for Joseph Smith and Mor­monism, for Sid­dhartha Gau­tama and Bud­dhism, or for any other of the world’s reli­gions. The only one that is the ex­cep­tion is Chris­tian­ity, for the pri­mary mes­sage of Chris­tian­ity cen­ters upon the per­son of Christ not his teach­ings.

Don’t mis­un­der­stand that. Cer­tainly we value the teach­ings and say­ings of Je­sus, and there is much to com­mend them. But the ground of Chris­tian faith does not rest on those teach­ings but upon the teacher him­self. Je­sus claimed things that no other man dare claim — at least no sane man. To be sure, there have been men who have claimed to be God, but did their lives back up those claims? No. Je­sus alone car­ries the cre­den­tials that give cre­dence to his claims.

C.S. Lewis catches the essence of what I am say­ing when he writes, “On the one side clear, def­i­nite moral teach­ing. On the other claims, which, if not true, are those of a mega­lo­ma­niac, com­pared with whom Hitler was the most sane and hum­ble of men. There is no half­way house and there is no par­al­lel in other reli­gions . . .The idea of a great moral teacher say­ing what Christ said is out of the ques­tion. 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. We may note in pass­ing that he was never re­garded as a mere moral teacher. He did not pro­duce that ef­fect on any of the peo­ple who ac­tu­ally met him. He pro­duced mainly three ef­fects — ha­tred, ter­ror or ado­ra­tion. There was no trace of peo­ple ex­press­ing mild ap­proval. 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.” “

Look again at two very im­por­tant state­ments Lewis made. “We may note in pass­ing that (Je­sus) was never re­garded as a mere moral teacher,” and “There was no trace of peo­ple ex­press­ing mild ap­proval.” Lewis’ point is well taken. How is it that those who met him never stopped and con­sid­ered him a mere moral teacher, yet thou­sands who claim to fol­low him to­day do so solely on the ba­sis of some of his moral teach­ings.

No­tice I wrote “some of his moral teach­ings” in that last sen­tence. I find of­ten that even those who claim to be Chris­tians based on their be­lief in Je­sus’ teach­ings still do not fol­low fully those teach­ings. They pick and choose, ac­cept­ing the things they agree with and dis­count­ing or ig­nor­ing the teach­ings they dis­like. One such per­son use to write that he only fol­lowed the “things writ­ten in red” in the New Tes­ta­ment. But you did not have to read his writ­ings long be­fore you dis­cov­ered that he also dis­counted vast por­tions of those writ­ten in red pas­sages in or­der to re­duce Je­sus to a mere moral teacher whose morals were re­ally good ex­cept for those he deemed as bad.

To­day mil­lions are con­tent to fol­low Je­sus as a great moral teacher, but they re­ject his clear claims con­cern­ing his na­ture. Let me be clear: no one is a gen­uine Chris­tian who has not rec­og­nized that Je­sus is Lord and God and that he is the only sav­ior for the world. The over-rid­ing mes­sage of the New Tes­ta­ment was not Je­sus is a good moral teacher, but rather, “Je­sus is Lord.”

John Pear­rell

Colum­nist

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