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Logic 101 - Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Choose One?   

Q. I've heard Christians say things that are in direct violation of the basic rules of logic and critical thinking. For example, C.S. Lewis makes the claim that Jesus was a liar, a lunatic or truly the Lord. We have to choose one. But, there are other possibilities.

Answer:

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

You are absolutely correct from the way you phrase your question. However, C.S. Lewis was one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth-century. Sadly, many of his statements are often taken out-of-context in a manner that skews the meaning.

For example, when confronted with Jesus Christ as just a "great moral teacher," Lewis argues that we must discard the notion that Jesus was just a "good teacher." Lewis states,

"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" (Lewis 1987, 77).

Out of Context

So you can see that your quote is out-of-context from Lewis' book, Mere Christianity. If you only read that section it does seem that C.S. Lewis assumes that you agree Jesus Christ was a "real" person - when some people don't accept Jesus as an historical figure at all. This particular reference also assumes that the written accounts about Jesus from the New Testament are accurate documents - which not all scholars accept, either.

A person questioning Christianity does not need to accept that Jesus Christ was either a lunatic, a liar or Lord with no other alternatives available. There are other possibilities. But, remember that Lewis does address these issues in other writings.

Post Modern Age

We need to be careful when we make assertions such as these or when we quote famous authors or critical thinkers - particularly in a post-modern age when all authority is questioned or challenged and people have been taught to consider many alternatives.

How to Know

We can back up our assertions with good data, however. For example, we rest assured knowing there are good reasons to believe that Jesus is a real historical figure. In fact, there are at least 39 high-quality ancient written references to Jesus outside of the Bible attesting to at least 100 things he did or said.

Furthermore, there are good reasons to believe the collections of books we call the "Bible" are accurate, too. We know this from its record of fulfilled prophecies - still coming true today. We know this from its internal consistency - having been written over a period of 1500 years by at least 40 authors, yet unified and coherent. We also know it from hundreds of archaeological and scientific discoveries that attest to its accuracy.

Websites&Books

In your search for the truth, visit these websites for an exhaustive list of excellent resources:

1. www.johnankerberg.org

2. www.AlwaysBeReady.com

3. www.reasons.org

We also suggest you acquire the following books for your library (and be sure to read them):

1. Lewis, C.S. 1987. Mere christianity. New York: Walker&Co.

2. Muncaster, Ralph O. 2004. Examine the evidence. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.


Check-out the above references. The evidence may surprise you!
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always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you… (1 Peter 3:15).
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