The prevailing philosophy of our times seems to be that no one can really know truth. Truth is relative. Therefore, if one claims to know truth, one is often regarded as arrogant or narrow minded. Yet, there are some truths that are knowable, and everyone agrees with them. For example, it is not arrogant or narrow minded to know that the opposite of “false” is “true.”
I cannot personally claim to know everything that is true. I don’t know all truth. Some things must remain a mystery, at least for now. I do, however, know a man who claimed to know all truth. He actually claimed to be truth. His name is Jesus Christ. He is an historical figure who really lived and said lots of wild things. For example, he claimed to be God.
Jesus Christ also gathered lots of followers who believed what he taught, saw what he did, and sacrificed their lives to teach others about him. I can’t think of anyone more famous than Jesus Christ.
Some people regard Jesus as just a good teacher. They don’t believe he was really God or that he performed miracles. They just think he had some good things to say about love and morality. To them, he is simply one person on a long list of influential, religious teachers. Few people believe that Jesus was a “bad” person, although some believe he deceived people with phony “miracles.”
We come to a crossroads here. Jesus claimed to be God, the Creator of the universe. Why would a man make such a claim? Was he insane or delusional? Was he a liar and a charlatan? Was he telling the truth? If he really isn’t God, then he lied. Or, if he truly believed he was God but wasn’t, he was delusional. Those are the three choices. As many before me have noted, he was a liar, he was insane or he was God.
If he was a liar or a delusional person then there is no reason to call him a good, moral teacher. When someone addressed Jesus with the title, “Good Master,” Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” (Matt 19:16-17) In other words, “Don’t patronize me. Either you believe I’m God or you don’t.” If you don’t believe he is God, why bother calling him a “good teacher?” He wasn’t. He was a liar or a lunatic. Yet, millions of people want to tip their hats to the teachings of Jesus while simultaneously dismissing his divinity. Jesus is either true or false. It doesn’t work to have it both ways.
Consider also that Jesus started a Church. 2000 years later, that Church is still here, although empires have risen and fallen around it. Why? Why is Jesus’ Church still here? How has it managed to avoid destruction? The Church has suffered many attacks from within. Any other organization would have imploded long ago. The Church has suffered attacks from outside. People have tried to snuff out the Church from the beginning until today. Why have they failed? Why do governments and empires crumble while the Church lives on? Is this all due to just another “good,” lying, deceiving, delusional, religious teacher? Or is it due to God’s power?
If I believe that even some of the teachings of Jesus are “good” for me to follow, then I must dismiss that he was a liar or a lunatic, for liars and lunatics can’t be trusted. The remaining option is that his teachings are good because he told the truth. If he told the truth, then he is God and his Church is preserved by God. That means that the divine Jesus and the Church he preserves know better than I do about faith and morals.
When I encounter official teachings of the Church that are difficult to accept, it is not because Jesus and his Church are false. It is because there is something within me, for whatever reason, that resists the truth. Maybe it’s emotional, maybe it’s intellectual, but if I can’t accept the truth, the defect is somewhere in me. There is something in my heart, in my mind, or both that is obscuring my view of the truth that Jesus proclaims. It may be through no fault of my own, yet it is there, blocking my view.
Jesus did not say, “I know a way and I know the truth.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” These are the words of a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord God Almighty.