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The Divinity of Christ

Pocket handbook of Christian Apologetics Chapter 8 Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli

There is a problem when looking at the identity of Jesus Christ - we look at the Gospels (all 4 of them) - and a shockingly strong claim is made. Jesus called himself the Son of God - he claimed to have the same nature as God and called God his Father. Jn 10:30, 14:9 I and the Father are one. Jesus answered: Dont you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

Jesus claimed to be sinless: Jn 8:46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why dont you believe me? Lk 5:21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone? Only the one who is offended by sin can claim the right to forgive - and ultimately that has to be God.

Jesus claimed to save us from sin and death: Jn 11:25 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; Matt 25:31-46 Jesus claimed he would return at the end of the age to judge all of us. Jn 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.

Jesus changed Simons name to Peter - something that for a Jew only God could do - a name revealed your true identity which was given by God alone. Jn 1:42 Jesus looked at him and said, You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which, when translated, is Peter). In the OT God alone changed names - and with them destinies - Abram, Sarai, Jacob - illegal name changing resulted in excommunication for orthodox Jews.

Jesus kept pointing at himself and telling people to come to him - Matt 11:28. Buddha said, Look not to me: look to my dharma (doctrine), he also said Be lamps unto yourselves Jesus said, I am the light of the world - Jn 8:12 Lao Tzu taught the way (tao); Jesus said, I am the way Jn 14:6

Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad fullled no prophecies, did no miracles, and did not rise from the dead. Jesus did all of these. Jesus invited death (by stoning or crucixion) by saying Jn 8:58 NLT Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM! Or before Abraham was even born, I have always been alive;Greek reads before Abraham was, I am.

The importance of the issue


1. The issue of the divinity of Christ is a distinctively Christian one - a Christian has to be dened as someone who believes this. 2. This is the key to unlocking many other doctrines within the Christian faith - many are believed on the basis of the divine authority of Christ who taught them, so that they are written in the Bible and taught in the church.

If Christ was only human he could have made mistakes - therefore if you want to disagree with Christ this is a good point to argue against! Note that there are teachings which probably all of us nd hard and might want to disagree with. Kreeft states, Christians ought to realise how difcult, how scandalous, how objectionable, how apparently unbelievable and absurd this doctrine is bound to appear to others. Note here: we as believers are very familiar with it so we nd it far easier to believe.

Clues to the possibility of this doctrine

Kreeft offers six clues which are designed to talk of the possibility of God becoming man - in the following section we shall see how this happened in Jesus.

1. CS Lewis calls the incarnation myth become fact - in fact in many mythologies there are similar ideas of a god who came down from heaven, died and rose to life for the life of man - e.g. Odin, Osiris [The garden of Eden and the ood also make similar appearances] It is argued that because of these parallels that there cannot be validity in the Christian story, it is false - Kreeft suggests the more foreshadowings of an event the more likely it is to have occurred / will occur.

2. An analogy from art: an author writes himself into his own movie etc. as a character - the character would have a double nature (that of the author and also of the character they are playing in the movie) - they have come down from the heaven of the authors mind to the earth of the movie. Alfred Hitchkock was famous for doing it - if he can, why cant God?

3. How does a person who disagrees with the idea of the incarnation, saying it is impossible, tell God what he can or cannot do? It seems the skeptic is more sure of them-self than they are of God. 4. If a being worthy of the name God exists then he would be omnipotent and able to do anything that is meaningful and not self contradictory. Therefore the incarnation is not a contradiction (even though it is a miracle) - it is possible.

5. This is possible not only from the side of the creator but also the creature - a human being can be transformed, taken up into God. Kreeft suggests this is like subhuman food being taken up into the human body, or physical vibrations becoming spiritual music, or form and colour becoming art etc. Transformation is a principle running throughout the world and evolution would be an example of it. That said evolution happens by nature, incarnation by Gods grace. Kreeft suggests this simply proves both are possible.

6. The ability of a person to have two differing natures is best seen in yourself (a human being). You can and cannot be measured in terms of space - our physical being and intellectual or spiritual being all come out of a single body (soul and body together). In Christ we see his human and divine nature in the same body.

Arguments for Christs divinity


The following are stronger arguments for the actual event of the incarnation. 1. Christs Trustworthiness Jesus is seen by (almost) all as a great teacher, good and wise man. He is considered to be a very trustworthy man. Therefore we have to ask if we can trust him regarding his own identity? If not, then he is not good or wise.

2. The impossibility of the alternative What is the alternative to saying that Jesus is God? Jesus claimed to be God, and he is thought to be believable, so where do we go from here? Considering the fact that Jesus claimed to be God we have to deal with a number of possibilities: a. Do the Gospels lie - and if they do, why? If they are written by lars then the result of writing and following was martyrdom - not a great motive - liars usually lie for their own benet.

b. Thousands of others also suffered and died for their belief - often singing as they were put to death - has a lie ever transformed the world like this? c. What if it wasnt deliberate lying but simply an hallucination which took them all in? Jews were not likely to believe this lie - they had waited for God and now we are to believe that after they had been forbidden from worshipping false image they fall for this, their god becoming a man and being crucied as a criminal - not likely.

b. Thousands of others also suffered and died for their belief - often singing as they were put to death - has a lie ever transformed the world like this? c. What if it wasnt deliberate lying but simply an hallucination which took them all in? Jews were not likely to believe this lie - they had waited for God and now we are to believe that after they had been forbidden from worshipping false image they fall for this, their god becoming a man and being crucied as a criminal - not likely.

d. What is if was not a Jewish but a Gentile myth how on earth did it get into the NT then - after all 25 of the 27 books in the NT are written by Jews. e. If anyone had devised the myth it could not have propagated in the lifetime of those who knew and were with Jesus, for surely they would have disproved it.

Aquinas suggests that if the incarnation did not happen then a bigger, more unbelievable miracle took place: the conversion of the world by the biggest lie in history and the moral transformation of lives into unselshness, detachment from worldy pleasures and radically new heights of holiness all by a mere myth.

Aquinas suggests that if the incarnation did not happen then a bigger, more unbelievable miracle took place: the conversion of the world by the biggest lie in history and the moral transformation of lives into unselshness, detachment from worldy pleasures and radically new heights of holiness all by a mere myth.

3. Lord, liar or lunatic? The earliest apologists have said of Jesus, Either God or a bad man - what is more simple? a. Jesus was either God (if he did not lie about who he was), or a bad man (if he did lie about it. b. But Jesus was not a bad man c. Therefore Jesus was (is) God. The bad man idea is not usually argued with - so we have to deal with the rst idea.

3. Lord, liar or lunatic? The earliest apologists have said of Jesus, Either God or a bad man - what is more simple? a. Jesus was either God (if he did not lie about who he was), or a bad man (if he did lie about it. b. But Jesus was not a bad man c. Therefore Jesus was (is) God. The bad man idea is not usually argued with - so we have to deal with the rst idea.

How do we approach this? If someone claims to be God and is not he is a bad man - common sense tells us that! Jesus could not be merely a good man - in claiming to be God he eliminates such possibilities - so he is a liar who tells lies about who he is. For non-Christians it is easier to say he was a good man - claim he is bad and you offend Christians, claim he was God and you offend other non-Christians.

If he wasnt God, but Jesus believed his own claim to be God, then he has to be a lunatic. The divinity complex is a well known form of psychopathology its symptoms include, egotism, narcissism, inexibility, dullness, predictability, inability to understand and love others basically such people are the opposite of Jesus. In fact Jesus showed wisdom,love and creativity - all opposites of this complex.

If Jesus was a liar then he had to be one of the greatest ever to have walked on planet Earth - on a basic level to convince people to give up their eternal destiny through his lies is a terrible act. He would have to be the biggest, baddest liar ever! But what if the disciples invented the lie? 1. The disciples do not show symptoms of being pathological liars 2. What was their motive - they got suffering and death, just like Jesus.

3. They could not have known this would be successful as all Jews would be horried at the nature of the lie and its blasphemy. What if the disciples were lunatics? 1. The Gospels write of one of the most compelling people in history not the work of madmen. It would be hard for a madman to write one chapter let alone all of them

2. How could such lunacy change for the better the lives of so many people? 3. What accounts for the origin of the lunacy? How do we account for the original deception in all of it?

Motives for unbelief


In the light of all this, why do so many not believe? 1. No rational reason - even when the arguments have been refuted their is no rational explanation for why some refuse to believe. 2. Often christ is not rejected but Christians - people do not like what christians look like. 3. Fear - of the church, its authority and its teachings scares people away. The church makes demands just like Jesus did - it is not comfortable.

4. Moral reluctance - if you accept Jesus then all areas of your life are challenged (and should be changed) by his teaching - sex, drugs, morality, selshness, wrong morals etc. All sin comes under this challenge - a surgeon will remove all cancer, Jesus challenges it all and demands it removed - Christ comes to kill sin in our life. 5. People are sometimes afraid of the mysterious and uncontrollable God who is incarnate is not neat or comfortable.

6. Pride - we refuse to relinquish control of our lives 7. Belief in Jesus is intellectually unfashionable 8. Equality - to believe Jesus is the only way then says all religions are not equal - not a popular way of thinking - and one that demands a response of choice. These are not logical arguments which prove unbelief - they simply explain subjective, psychological unbelief.

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