Was Jesus just a Great Moral Teacher?
by Paul Gould
The question of Jesus’ identity has perplexed and fascinated us since he arrived on the scene 2,000 years ago. In our own day we seem to have a Jesus for everyone: Super-hero Jesus, Common Guy Jesus, Homosexual Jesus, Traditional Marriage Jesus, Democrat Jesus, Republican Jesus, Mormon Jesus, Oriental Jesus, and so on. Pick a cause or an agenda, and there is a Jesus waiting in the wings, ready to offer his support. Why does everyone want a piece of Jesus, yet so often, not the whole? That is, why are we so ready to ascribe to Jesus the status of a great moral teacher, a teacher who we can use for our own personal or political agenda, yet we hesitate to call him Lord?
The claim that Jesus is just a great moral teacher is not a real option. He is a great moral teacher, but that is not all he is. If that is all he is, then he isn’t even that. As C. S. Lewis famously pointed out, an honest look at the life of Jesus reveals that either Jesus was God or he was a bad man.
“On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men. There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions . . . . The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. . . . It is either lunacy or lies . . . [or] one turns to the Christian theory.”
To think that Jesus was just a great moral teacher, and not God incarnate is wrong for at least the following two reasons…
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