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Jesus - Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

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Published on Aug 19, 2014

Jesus - Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

Hemant Mehta (http://www.friendlyatheist.com, http://www.patreon.com/Hemant)


There are a lot of atheists who say that Jesus may have been a great moral teacher, but they don't accept his divinity.

The writer and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once argued that nobody was allowed to say that. If Jesus really said the things he said -- that he could forgive sins and would return after his death -- there were only three ways to interpret that: Either he was a lunatic, he was a liar, or he was the Lord. He was either mad, bad, or God.

This "trilemma" has been called by some Christian apologists the most important argument they have.

The only problem is: It's a horrible argument. Those aren't the only three options that are out there and those words are never well-defined anyway.

Lunatic, Liar, Lord... what about Legend? What if, after he died, people began attributing things to him that he never did just to build up his legacy? It's a possibility.

What if Jesus was just honestly mistaken? What if he believed all these things Christians now attribute to him, but they just weren't true? It's kind of like some faith-healing pastors. They really, genuinely believe they have the power to heal you just by touching you. They don't actually have that power, but they think they do. Are they liars? No. They're just mistaken. They're taken in by confirmation bias -- they think they have power and other people think they're healed, fueling the cycle. If Jesus were in that position, he might have been lying, but he wasn't doing it on purpose.

What if some of the claims Jesus made weren't lies, but they bent the truth a bit? We don't know everything he said, only what was written down, but haven't you ever said things that weren't exactly true but for a good reason? What about parents who tell their kids to be good because Santa will give them presents. Are they liars? Kinda, but who could blame them? It's for a good cause. What if Jesus said some things that weren't entirely true because he knew he was serving a higher purpose? What if he said he was the Son of God because people might take his teachings a little more seriously? He would be a liar, but not in some bad way.

Could he have been a lunatic? You know, there are people we consider lunatics who end up with a mass following. We call them cult leaders. And I'm not saying Jesus was one of those, but keep in mind that even when he was alive, not everyone believed what he was saying. They thought he was deluded. Christianity didn't become popular until well after his death. He doesn't have to be clinically insane to be called a lunatic. Even progressive Christians today say Jesus was a radical, and radicals are often called crazy before their wisdom is understood.

Obviously, not all these situations are plausible, but my point is this: Saying that Lunatic, Liar, and Lord are our only three options is a dumb argument for Christianity.

By the way, you could make the same argument for any prophet you want. Was Muhammad a lunatic, liar, or prophet of the Lord? I suspect most Christians would hesitate before calling him a lunatic or liar.




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