Apologetics, Kreeft chapter 8: The Divinity of Christ

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Based on Pocket handbook of Christian apologetics (2003) by Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli. This is a course taught at LTCi, Siliguri.

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Apologetics, Kreeft chapter 8: The Divinity of Christ

  1. 1. The Divinity of Christ Pocket handbook of Christian Apologetics Chapter 8Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli
  2. 2. There is a problem when looking at theidentity of Jesus Christ - we look at theGospels (all 4 of them) - and ashockingly strong claim is made.Jesus called himself the “Son of God”- he claimed to have the same natureas God and called God his Father.Jn 10:30, 14:9I and the Father are one.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me,Philip, even after I have been amongyou such a long time? Anyone whohas seen me has seen the Father.
  3. 3. Jesus claimed to be sinless:Jn 8:46 Can any of you prove meguilty of sin? If I am telling the truth,why don’t you believe me?Lk 5:21 The Pharisees and theteachers of the law began thinkingto themselves, “Who is this fellowwho speaks blasphemy? Who canforgive sins but God alone?”Only the one who is offended by sincan claim the right to forgive - andultimately that has to be God.
  4. 4. Jesus claimed to save us from sinand death:Jn 11:25Jesus said to her, “I am theresurrection and the life. The onewho believes in me will live, eventhough they die;Matt 25:31-46Jesus claimed he would return atthe end of the age to judge all of us.Jn 6:51I am the living bread that camedown from heaven. Whoever eatsthis bread will live forever.
  5. 5. Jesus changed Simon’s name toPeter - something that for a Jew onlyGod could do - a name revealedyour true identity which was given byGod alone.Jn 1:42Jesus looked at him and said, “Youare Simon son of John. You will becalled Cephas” (which, whentranslated, is Peter).In the OT God alone changed names- and with them destinies - Abram,Sarai, Jacob - illegal name changingresulted in excommunication fororthodox Jews.
  6. 6. Jesus kept pointing athimself and telling people tocome to him - Matt 11:28.Buddha said, “Look not tome: look to my dharma(doctrine),” he also said “Belamps unto yourselves” -Jesus said, “I am the light ofthe world” - Jn 8:12Lao Tzu taught the way (tao);Jesus said, “I am the way”Jn 14:6
  7. 7. Buddha, Confucius andMuhammad fulfilled no prophecies,did no miracles, and did not risefrom the dead.Jesus did all of these.Jesus invited death (by stoning orcrucifixion) by saying Jn 8:58 NLTJesus answered, “I tell you the truth,before Abraham was even born, IAM!”Or before Abraham was even born,I have always been alive;Greekreads before Abraham was, I am.
  8. 8. The importance of the issue1. The issue of the divinity of Christis a distinctively Christian one - aChristian has to be defined assomeone who believes this.2. This is the key to unlocking manyother doctrines within the Christianfaith - many are believed on thebasis of the divine authority ofChrist who taught them, so thatthey are written in the Bible andtaught in the church.
  9. 9. If Christ was only human he could havemade mistakes - therefore if you want todisagree with Christ this is a good pointto argue against! Note that there areteachings which probably all of us findhard and might want to disagree with.Kreeft states, “Christians ought torealise how difficult, how scandalous,how objectionable, how apparentlyunbelievable and absurd this doctrineis bound to appear to others.”Note here: we as believers are veryfamiliar with it so we find it far easier tobelieve.
  10. 10. Clues to the possibility of this doctrineKreeft offers six clueswhich are designed to talkof the possibility of Godbecoming man - in thefollowing section we shallsee how this happened inJesus.
  11. 11. 1. CS Lewis calls the incarnation“myth become fact” - in fact in manymythologies there are similar ideas ofa god who came down from heaven,died and rose to life for the life of man- e.g. Odin, Osiris[The garden of Eden and the floodalso make similar appearances]It is argued that because of theseparallels that there cannot be validityin the Christian story, it is false - Kreeftsuggests the more foreshadowings ofan event the more likely it is to haveoccurred / will occur.
  12. 12. 2. An analogy from art: anauthor writes himself into hisown movie etc. as a character- the character would have adouble nature (that of theauthor and also of thecharacter they are playing inthe movie) - they have comedown from the heaven of theauthors mind to the earth of themovie. Alfred Hitchkock wasfamous for doing it - if he can,why can’t God?
  13. 13. 3. How does a person whodisagrees with the idea of theincarnation, saying it is impossible,tell God what he can or cannot do?It seems the skeptic is more sure ofthem-self than they are of God.4. If a being worthy of the nameGod exists then he would beomnipotent and able to do anythingthat is meaningful and not selfcontradictory. Therefore theincarnation is not a contradiction(even though it is a miracle) - it ispossible.
  14. 14. 5. This is possible not only from theside of the creator but also thecreature - a human being can betransformed, taken up into God.Kreeft suggests this is like subhumanfood being taken up into the humanbody, or physical vibrations becomingspiritual music, or form and colourbecoming art etc. Transformation is aprinciple running throughout the worldand evolution would be an example ofit. That said evolution happens bynature, incarnation by God’s grace.Kreeft suggests this simply provesboth are possible.
  15. 15. 6. The ability of a person tohave two differing natures isbest seen in yourself (ahuman being). You can andcannot be measured interms of space - ourphysical being andintellectual or spiritual beingall come out of a single body(soul and body together). InChrist we see his humanand divine nature in thesame body.
  16. 16. Argument’s for Christ’s divinityThe following are strongerarguments for the actual event ofthe incarnation.1. Christ’s TrustworthinessJesus is seen by (almost) all as agreat teacher, good and wise man.He is considered to be a verytrustworthy man.Therefore we have to ask if we cantrust him regarding his own identity?If not, then he is not good or wise.
  17. 17. 2. The impossibility of thealternativeWhat is the alternative to saying thatJesus is God? Jesus claimed to beGod, and he is thought to bebelievable, so where do we go fromhere?Considering the fact that Jesusclaimed to be God we have to dealwith a number of possibilities:a. Do the Gospels lie - and if theydo, why? If they are written by larsthen the result of writing andfollowing was martyrdom - not agreat motive - liars usually lie fortheir own benefit.
  18. 18. b. Thousands of others also suffered and died fortheir belief - often singing as they were put todeath - has a lie ever transformed the world likethis?c. What if it wasn’t deliberate lying but simply anhallucination which took them all in? Jews werenot likely to believe this lie - they had waited forGod and now we are to believe that after they hadbeen forbidden from worshipping false image theyfall for this, their god becoming a man and beingcrucified as a criminal - not likely.
  19. 19. b. Thousands of others also suffered and died fortheir belief - often singing as they were put todeath - has a lie ever transformed the world likethis?c. What if it wasn’t deliberate lying but simply anhallucination which took them all in? Jews werenot likely to believe this lie - they had waited forGod and now we are to believe that after they hadbeen forbidden from worshipping false image theyfall for this, their god becoming a man and beingcrucified as a criminal - not likely.
  20. 20. d. What is if was not aJewish but a Gentile myth -how on earth did it get intothe NT then - after all 25 ofthe 27 books in the NT arewritten by Jews.e. If anyone had devisedthe myth it could not havepropagated in the lifetimeof those who knew andwere with Jesus, for surelythey would have disprovedit.
  21. 21. Aquinas suggests that if theincarnation did not happenthen a bigger, moreunbelievable miracle tookplace: the conversion of theworld by the biggest lie inhistory and the moraltransformation of lives intounselfishness, detachmentfrom worldy pleasures andradically new heights ofholiness all by a mere myth.
  22. 22. Aquinas suggests that if theincarnation did not happenthen a bigger, moreunbelievable miracle tookplace: the conversion of theworld by the biggest lie inhistory and the moraltransformation of lives intounselfishness, detachmentfrom worldy pleasures andradically new heights ofholiness all by a mere myth.
  23. 23. 3. Lord, liar or lunatic?The earliest apologists have saidof Jesus, “Either God or a badman” - what is more simple?a. Jesus was either God (if hedid not lie about who he was), ora bad man (if he did lie about it.b. But Jesus was not a bad manc. Therefore Jesus was (is) God.The bad man idea is not usuallyargued with - so we have to dealwith the first idea.
  24. 24. 3. Lord, liar or lunatic?The earliest apologists have saidof Jesus, “Either God or a badman” - what is more simple?a. Jesus was either God (if hedid not lie about who he was), ora bad man (if he did lie about it.b. But Jesus was not a bad manc. Therefore Jesus was (is) God.The bad man idea is not usuallyargued with - so we have to dealwith the first idea.
  25. 25. How do we approach this?If someone claims to be God and isnot he is a bad man - commonsense tells us that!Jesus could not be merely a goodman - in claiming to be God heeliminates such possibilities - so heis a liar who tells lies about who heis.For non-Christians it is easier to sayhe was a good man - claim he isbad and you offend Christians,claim he was God and you offendother non-Christians.
  26. 26. If he wasn’t God, but Jesusbelieved his own claim to be God,then he has to be a lunatic.The “divinity complex” is a wellknown form of psychopathology -its symptoms include, egotism,narcissism, inflexibility, dullness,predictability, inability tounderstand and love others -basically such people are theopposite of Jesus. In fact Jesusshowed wisdom,love andcreativity - all opposites of thiscomplex.
  27. 27. If Jesus was a liar then he had to beone of the greatest ever to havewalked on planet Earth - on a basiclevel to convince people to give uptheir eternal destiny through his liesis a terrible act. He would have to bethe biggest, baddest liar ever!But what if the disciplesinvented the lie?1. The disciples do not showsymptoms of being pathological liars2. What was their motive - they gotsuffering and death, just like Jesus.
  28. 28. 3. They could not have known thiswould be successful as all Jewswould be horrified at the nature ofthe lie and its blasphemy.What if the disciples werelunatics?1. The Gospels write of one of themost compelling people in history -not the work of madmen. It wouldbe hard for a madman to write onechapter let alone all of them
  29. 29. 2. How could such lunacy change for thebetter the lives of so many people?3. What accounts for the origin of thelunacy? How do we account for the originaldeception in all of it?
  30. 30. Motives for unbeliefIn the light of all this, why do so many notbelieve?1. No rational reason - even when thearguments have been refuted their is norational explanation for why some refuseto believe.2. Often christ is not rejected butChristians - people do not like whatchristians look like.3. Fear - of the church, its authority andits teachings scares people away. Thechurch makes demands just like Jesusdid - it is not comfortable.
  31. 31. 4. Moral reluctance - if you acceptJesus then all areas of your life arechallenged (and should be changed)by his teaching - sex, drugs,morality, selfishness, wrong moralsetc. All “sin” comes under thischallenge - a surgeon will remove allcancer, Jesus challenges it all anddemands it removed - Christ comesto kill sin in our life.5. People are sometimes afraid ofthe mysterious and uncontrollable -God who is incarnate is not neat orcomfortable.
  32. 32. 6. Pride - we refuse to relinquishcontrol of our lives7. Belief in Jesus is intellectuallyunfashionable8. Equality - to believe Jesus is theonly way then says all religions arenot equal - not a popular way ofthinking - and one that demands aresponse of choice.These are not logical argumentswhich prove unbelief - they simplyexplain subjective, psychologicalunbelief.

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