Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lord, Liar, or Lunatic

There's an argument levied against those who would entertain the idea that Jesus was a great wisdom (moral) teacher. Lewis' Trilemma.

C.S. Lewis called it Lord, Liar, or Lunatic, suggesting that you only have 3 options as to what you believe Jesus could be.

In chapter 2 of The Alpha Course Manual, the author attempts to establish Jesus’ status as God by appealing to human reason and using logic. He does this by quoting C.S. Lewis,
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher” he’d either be insane or else he’d be the “devil from hell”. “You must make your choice,” he writes. Either Jesus was and is the Son of God, or else He was insane but, C.S. Lewis goes on, “Let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” The Alpha Course Manual, pg. 10
The Alpha Course begins this process of educating by offering up logical possibilities as to Jesus’ status.

What this point really is saying is the same thing that Sherlock Holmes said in The Sign of Four:
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
My problem lies in its methodology (and even possibly in its potential of manipulation).

They are appealing to our logic to accept the only possibility left – no matter how incredible it may seem to the modern mind, while deliberately sidestepping an equally possible answer. That the gospel stories themselves could be opinions or partially fabricated stories by unknown authors, or written as response to other wittings, or even influenced or tainted by previously established doctrines.

Like Sherlock Holmes said, once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable (or undesirable), must be the truth.

Although the Alpha Course is attempting to educate or teach, what it is beginning is the process of indoctrination; teaching what to think rather than how to think. I don't believe it is intentional, but I do believe it is a byproduct of Bible-worship; the bible being believed to be unquestionable.

The books of the Old Testament are listed chronologically. However, the books of the New Testament are not. The four gospels come first, followed by the Pauline Epistles and other shorter letters. I've wondered why. The fact of the matter is that all of Paul's letters chronologically occur first and therefore outdate the gospels. One conclusion I've come to is that Christianity as we have it today is based upon a Pauline construct. I believe Paul made Jesus Christian. However, Jesus (Yeshua) preached and taught“the Kingdom of God”, but what he got was the Church. The gospels (not only written significantly after Paul's letters and the beginning of the established orthodox doctrine, but even after his death) may very well have been tainted by this Pauline Christianity. There is significant evidence of editing and additions and tampering, possibly for doctrinal purposes. (1 John 5:8, the endings of Mark, etc.). But, again in the spirit of fairness and open mindedness, it is also possible that they were not.

I am left only with the idea that the truth of the Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth is so enmeshed and coddled as to be inaccessible, hidden and even unknowable. I am fully aware that many Christians will argue that the Bible is inerrant and without contradiction and that any perceived contradiction is the fault of the reader who doesn't fully understand...
... there's not much to say to this. This is a statement of belief, not fact. It is also an admission to the abandonment or lack of objectivity and willingness to learn.

(Excerpt from Oct. 4, 2009's Above and Beyond Christianity: a summation)

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