I found Chris’ video, My Reconversion (HERE), intriguing. In my previous blogpost I began addressing some of Chris’ concerns, which he made while critiquing C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. After satirically deciding from Lewis’ book that a moral code exists outside of mankind and therefore must originate from God, he rightly assumes that everyone breaks this code at least sometimes. Then, presumably thinking he is following through with the Christian worldview, he claims God is “pissed off” at us and has no choice but to send us to hell.
The scenario Chris paints isn’t actually a claim from the Bible, but let’s look at what Chris does say and draw our conclusion from there. First, Chris claims God is so angry with us over breaking his moral code, forgiving us is not an option. Secondly, teaching us how to live morally isn’t an option either. Finally, God is unwilling to even let us learn from the mistakes we’ve made in life so we might improve our moral behavior.
Enter Jesus – God in the flesh, able to forgive our sins and give us an example we could follow; and if we can believe what is written of him, then we must conclude one of three things concerning those claims:
|Lewis’ Argument:||Chris’ Argument:|
|1.||Jesus was a liar||Jesus was simply mistaken|
|2.||Jesus was a lunatic||Jesus was misrepresented|
|3.||Jesus is Lord||Jesus never existed|
If one were to consider the New Testament an accurate historical record in the vein of ancient records of its time, one would have to decide whether Jesus was a liar, a lunatic or Lord. It is only when one does not receive the New Testament at least in the same manner one would receive other historical accounts of key figures in the ancient world that Chris’ arguments would be valid. Nevertheless, even if Chris is correct, his argument is not without its own problems. Jesus could be misrepresented only if all the New Testament records are rejected as ancient historical records. The same would be true for questioning Jesus’ existence. So, even if Jesus is mistaken or misrepresented, he still ends up in an unhistorical document as an altruistic figure such as the world has never seen, who is followed altruistically by many in the 1st century. Moreover, whether he existed or not, he ends up as a central figure in history, whose followers changed the course of western civilization. Chris’ problem is: from where did we get the idea of Jesus-type altruism? If Jesus didn’t exist, or if he was misrepresented, or if he was mistaken, from where did the New Testament writers get the idea of Jesus’ morality? Can one imagine a new color? If not, how could one ever imagine Jesus unless he was a real historical figure whose public life and teaching are accurately recorded in the New Testament.
Forgiveness became a way of life for the 1st century Christians in a culture where that kind of thing was a rare event, never mind a way of life. Helping folks, who couldn’t help themselves, was what Christian did and were criticized as foolish for so doing by the elite around them. Nevertheless, today we have international organizations (secular and religious) devoted to helping the helpless around the world. Even leaders of nations send aid during times of disasters to other nations when the need is too great for them to handle effectively. The Gospel, even if rejected, cannot be unlearned. Examples of altruism in a survival of the fittest kind of world were written in the hearts of the world and couldn’t be forgotten.
Before moving on, I’d like to address how Chris paints God above and the dilemma in which he perceives God to be. First, if God was angry with mankind, why would he send Jesus, his Son, to save us (John 3:16)? Remember, if we believe the Bible enough to wrongly conclude God is angry with us, we should treat the Bible fairly and also allow it to show us that God loves us. Secondly, Chris claims God cannot forgive us in our rebellious state. This, quite honestly, is true. If Abraham Lincoln simply forgave the southern states for seceding from the Union, we would be two nations today and not necessarily friendly toward one another. In the same vein, if God desires to have a good relationship with mankind, he cannot simply forgive our rebellion. He must and did take other measure to address it—enter Jesus. A successful teaching curriculum begins with a very good teacher and a willing student. Rebels and know it all’s are not ordinarily willing to be taught. The Gospel turns hearts toward God, and his Holy Spirit is given to those willing to have a relationship with him. They are taught and guided by God (our Teacher) from within. As far as letting us learn from our mistakes is concerned, that’s what God has always been doing since the rebellion in Eden. Has it worked before Jesus? Show me good moral behavior among the nations before Jesus?