LORD, LIAR OR LUNATIC
This title is a popular reference to an apologetic argument once made by Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis. It comes from an excerpt in his book Mere Christianity and is often referred to as Lewis’s Trilemma. It posits that man cannot approach Jesus as simply a good moral teacher. In Lewis’s words, "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 the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. 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 patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."
Lewis’s argument has been subjected to a wide range of criticism, good and bad. Many who do not like his argument feel that if Jesus never claimed to be divine, then the argument presents a choice that does not really need to be made.
Is there merit to this criticism? Did Jesus really view himself as God? As a Christian who trusts the accuracy of Biblical record and believes that the words of Jesus have been rightly documented, this writer thinks that Scripture is clear about Christ’s intentions. Judge for yourself.
Phil. 2:5-11, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (…) and every tongue must confess to the Glory of God the Father that Jesus Chirst is Lord."
Heb. 1:8, “But of the Son (God) says,”Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of your kingdom."
These and many other NT passages show that the early Bible writers very much saw Jesus as divine. But did they misinterpret His words? Did Jesus speak of his own divinity?
Mark 14:61b, "Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man *seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Jesus’ reference to Daniel 7:13-14* in this passage is quite clear to the Jewish leaders. He claims to be the sovereign Lord who has always existed and will come again to claim an everlasting kingdom. In fact, it is this very statement which causes the leaders to condemn Jesus to death for blasphemy.
Let us not be deceived by the false doctrine that Jesus was not, and never claimed to be, divine. We can only come to the King on his terms, and his terms are very clear: He is the Son of Man, one with the Father from all of eternity (Jn. 10.30-33).