Handling an Objection: “I love the moral teachings of Jesus but I don’t think He is divine.”
by Eric Chabot
This past week I was doing some outreach on a major college campus. When it came time to talk about the identity of Jesus, I heard two similar responses. Granted, I have heard this objection many, many, times. It goes like this:
“I really like the moral teachings of Jesus, but I don’t think he is divine.”
I could respond to this by using the C.S. Lewis argument that Jesus is either Lord, Lunatic, or Liar. I tend to not use that one a lot. While it still has some value it generally begs the question of the reliability of the New Testament. After all, some skeptics assume the deity of Jesus is a later invention of the Church. As I have noted elsewhere, this is incorrect. The Christology is Jesus was at the very start of the formation of the early Jesus movement.
Anyway, how do I respond to this? First, since the person already admires the teachings of Jesus, I point to the blind spot in their thinking. First, it is not the moral teachings of Jesus that is the message. Rather, Jesus is the message!
Probably the most pertinent examples of how Jesus in the message is in the Gospel of John where we see the “I AM” (Gk. ego eimi,) statements. I am well aware that all these passages need to be studied in context. But we see clearly that Jesus is emphasizing He is the message. For example:
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Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
From a tactical perspective, when people say they only like the teachings of Jesus, it can allow you the opportunity to share these passages from John and ask them if they might rethink their position…
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