• Dermot Griffin
    105
    "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. 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 the 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 patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God." - Mere Christianity, pg. 54-55

    I would like to know what people think of C.S. Lewis's argument for the divinity of Christ. I personally enjoy it but there are much better arguments in my opinion; Justin Martyr provided an argument steeped in the Logos. If any philosopher preached something like this (or equivalent to it) then they were, in his eyes, "Unknowing Christians" that foretold the coming of Christ because the Logos is Christ and likewise the Logos originates with God. One could apply this rationale to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Heraclitus just as we could apply it to a myriad of other philosophers of antiquity. What does everyone think? Lewis is without a doubt one of the greatest apologists and a good writer but his trilemma seems to be based upon his own subjective experience in coming to terms with Christianity.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Lewis' Trilemma, though it draws a pro-Christian conclusion, is also a depressing account of the times we live in. Would you take it as a compliment if someone said "it's either Dermot Griffin or Hitler or Stalin"? Chrissakes, someone mistook you for Hitler, for Stalin!
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    The problem is, we do not know what Jesus said. We only know of the varied and conflicting things said by those who regard themselves as Christians. If we compare Paul and John we hear very different things, that is, providing our ears are open.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Jesus was either Liar, Lunatic or Lord!
    — Agent Smith

    False trichotomy. Jesus was also either misquoted or a fictional character
    180 Proof
  • ThinkOfOne
    124
    "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. 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 the 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 patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God." - Mere Christianity, pg. 54-55

    I would like to know what people think of C.S. Lewis's argument for the divinity of Christ.
    Dermot Griffin

    The following makes Lewis' argument a non-starter.

    As documented in the Four Gospels, while He walked the Earth Jesus never claimed to be God. Wherein Jesus claims to be literally God.

    Yes, He claimed to be a "son of God". But He called for everyone to become "sons of God" as He was a son of God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9).
    It's a theme that runs throughout the gospel preached by Jesus. For example, someone "born from above" IS someone "born of the spirit [of God]" IS someone who has God as their Father IS a "son" of God.

    Yes, He claimed to be "one" with God. But He called for everyone to become "one" with God as He was "one" with God.
    I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.
    (John 17:20-23)

    Jesus repeatedly makes a clear distinction between Himself and God. As but a couple of examples:
    "He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. “He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me." (John 12:44-45)
    “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works." (John 14:10)

    I've yet to have seen a cogent argument that Jesus claimed to be God while He walked the Earth. Can you make one?
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    If we, arguendo, accept only the 3 options in Lewis' trilemma, which would you say Jesus was - liar, lunatic, or lord?
  • jgill
    2.4k
    I would like to know what people think of C.S. Lewis's argument for the divinity of Christ.Dermot Griffin

    Weak sauce. His argument begins with a questionable assumption that a mere mortal could not be a great moral teacher.

    Whether Christ existed or not his image and the words attributed to him have shaped the ages.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k

    Lewis's trilemma: Liar, Lunatic or Lord.
    — Agent Smith
    Liar.
    180 Proof
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Didn't someone do this exact question a few months ago? While the Jesus character in the books may have been slightly based on someone who lived (although this is far for certain) the New Testament describes a mythic or fictional character - so Lewis' question is moot and should be a quadrilemma

    Liar, Lunatic, Lord or Legend?

    Legend.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    A liar, eh? Do you mean to imply that to do good requires deception of some kind?
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Weak sauce. His argument begins with a questionable assumption that a mere mortal could not be a great moral teacher.jgill

    Good assumption! It's the same kind of logic in Cotard's delusion - I couldn't possibly have survived thaaat! (a major accident); ergo I don't exist.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    I don't "mean to imply" anything. Of the choices given, I choose the one which seems most likely the case. However, as I've pointed out already, I think it's even more likely that Jesus was either misquoted or a fictional character.
  • Baden
    13.5k


    So obviously circular that CS Lewis couldn't have written it because he was a smart guy. But it seems obvious to me that CS Lewis did write it, so however strange or unlikely it is that it's not circular nonsense, I have to accept that it's actually a great argument. QED, Jesus was and is God.
  • Nils Loc
    1.1k
    A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. — C.S. Lewis

    By whose standards? I might be able to pick a random bear in the woods as a moral teacher if the cult I was born into taught it so.
  • ThinkOfOne
    124
    So obviously circular that CS Lewis couldn't have written it because he was a smart guy. But it seems obvious to me that CS Lewis did write it, so however strange or unlikely it is that it's not circular nonsense, I have to accept that it's actually a great argument. QED, Jesus was and is God.Baden

    It's as if the crux of your argument is that you believe Lewis to be "smart guy" therefore it's a "great argument" therefore "Jesus was and is God". This despite your assessment that it be "strange or unlikely it is that it's not circular nonsense". In the words of John McEnroe: "You cannot be serious".
  • Baden
    13.5k


    Demonstration by parody.
  • ThinkOfOne
    124
    Demonstration by parody.Baden

    Glad to hear it. Seemed most likely what you were going for, but not knowing whether or not you're Christian...
  • schopenhauer1
    7.5k

    Why was C.S. Lewis so anti-historical in his analysis of the Gospels? The problem with ancient writers is they wrote fan fiction and people were and still are allowed to take it seriously as if it is documented history of what the person written about said and did.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    Yep. , you ought be able to recognise a rhetorical ploy when Lewis presents one. An argument designed to drive a wedge into its audience. Worthy of Trump.
  • ThinkOfOne
    124
    ↪Dermot Griffin ↪Baden ↪ThinkOfOne
    Why was C.S. Lewis so anti-historical in his analysis of the Gospels? The problem with ancient writers is they wrote fan fiction and people were and still are allowed to take it seriously as if it is documented history of what the person written about said and did.
    schopenhauer1

    By "seriously" I take you to mean "literally" for all intents and purposes. The Bible is steeped in allegory, metaphor and other uses of figurative language. Unfortunately, many Christians seem to believe that taking the Bible "seriously" entails taking it largely "literally". That said, there is much wisdom contained in the Bible which should be taken seriously - particularly the gospel preached by Jesus much of which is remarkably deep and profound all things considered. This should not be confused with the Pauline "gospel" that serves as the basis for Christianity.
  • schopenhauer1
    7.5k

    I guess what I mean by this is that it seems like C.S. Lewis did not at all mention the modern understanding of the Bible at least since Spinoza, which deconstructs it into its historical context. That is to say, you can't understand Confucious really unless you understand what China was going through in the 500s BCE. The same with Jesus in Judea ruled under the Romans.

    Then we must understand the literary style of the Gospels and compare it to the Greco-Roman literature of the time and see where things were borrowed.. So you have two layers...

    The substratum which is the historical Jesus, ever interpreted and re-interpreted, and then the Gospel writers who were Greek-speaking elites (maybe Hellenistic Jews, but definitely Hellenistic, and probably only Judaic-adjacent, and not Jewish proper). How does a resurrecting son of god compare with other Greek literature? How does a god-man who has a "last supper" before death sharing blood and body compare to literature (like the Satyricon)? How does this differ from the probability of what an actual Galilean Jew may have said and did 40-70 years earlier than the when the Gospel writers wrote their fanfiction of Jesus (the man), turning him into more of Christ (reinterpreted to having a meaning of a literal "son of God")? Anyways, this type of academic analysis should have been familiar to Lewis being a scholar of his time. But he clearly chose to frame things as an oversimplistic dichotomy of those who think Jesus just a "moral teacher" and those who take the Gospels as if they are, um, gospel.
  • Cuthbert
    999
    let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.Dermot Griffin

    I say it's a false trichotomy. Jesus could have been a great human teacher, and also not a liar, and also deluded that he was God's son. That would mean he said and thought wild things but that not everything he said and thought was wild. That would put in him the same bracket as many great people. "Either Newton was a great scientist or he thought there might be a way of making gold out of base metal." Well, both. "Either Conan Doyle was an inspiration for forensic science or he believed in fairies." Again, both. "Either Pythagoras was a brilliant mathematician or he thought that beans have souls." Both again. Lewis's trick is rhetorically persuasive but does not have a logical basis.
  • ThinkOfOne
    124
    That is to say, you can't understand Confucious really unless you understand what China was going through in the 500s BCE. The same with Jesus in Judea ruled under the Romans.schopenhauer1

    Actually Jesus can largely be understood without understanding the historical context. To be clear, I am speaking of the words attributed to Jesus while He walked the Earth as documented in the Four Gospels as opposed to the mythology the NT writers wrapped around them. I agree that the historical context should be considered when attempting to understand that mythology.

    Also I suspect that you didn't read my first post on this thread which can be found at the following:
    The following makes Lewis' argument a non-starter.

    As documented in the Four Gospels, while He walked the Earth Jesus never claimed to be God. Wherein Jesus claims to be literally God.
    ThinkOfOne
  • introbert
    80
    He is a fourth more reasonable option: leader. A religious prophet doesn't necessarily have to be a liar, or lunatic or a lord (whatever that is). He seemed to be the leader of a group of men that all believed the same sort of thing. He continues to be the leader of a billion or so people. The quote tries to deny something like this possibility, but this is closest to the truth. Claiming to be god is not like claiming to be a poached egg: it is a honor for the taking of men, and numerous men have taken the honor in their mortal forms throughout history. Unlike a poached egg it is not a real thing, it is an ideal that is worshipped above all worldly things. Claiming to be an ideal and actualizing it to a great degree is not lying either. I wont address this third notion of lord which is something that rules over something like a landlord or lords and vassals. That seems like a stupid thing to call god.
  • ThinkOfOne
    124


    In what way do you believe Jesus "continues to be the leader of a billion or so people"? Christianity follows the Pauline gospel rather than the gospel preached by Jesus while He walked the Earth.

    Plus there's the fact that while He walked the Earth, Jesus never claimed to be God.
  • introbert
    80


    Jesus, by degrees of separation, is the moral leader of about a billion adherents worldwide. Degrees of separation are to be expected from someone who died thousands of years ago.

    What Jesus claimed and didn't claim I have no idea about, I'm just responding to the quote.
  • ThinkOfOne
    124


    It's not a matter of "degrees of separation". Christianity does not have the words attributed to Jesus while He walked the Earth as its foundation. If it did, then your assertion about "degrees of separation" would be reasonable. But it doesn't. I can understand your confusion given the number of Christians who call Jesus "Lord" and themselves "followers of Jesus". Paul of Tarsus is the "leader" of Christianity by "degrees of separation". Perhaps this is another thing that you "have no idea about"?
  • introbert
    80


    Jesus is known through his apostles. This is well known. When I say people follow Jesus as leader I refer to this well known and accepted fact. Degrees of separation are Jesus-Paul-scribe-translator-king james version- local church pastor - worshipper. It's accepted by all they are getting someone else's version of Jesus.
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