• Kreeft starts by listing „claims’ of Jesus that people might find hard to accept - there are at least six - name four of them• Why is the divinity of Christ important in apologetics? (2 13 reasons)• Kreeft gives 3 arguments for Marks believing this argument of Christ‟s divinity...• Kreeft states 8 reasons for not believing this - name four
• Kreeft starts by listing „claims’ of Jesus that people might find hard to accept - there are at least six - name four of them• Jesus called himself the “Son of God” - he claimed to have the same nature as God and called God his Father.• Jesus claimed to be sinless:• Jesus claimed to save us from sin and death:• Jesus claimed he would return at the end of the age to judge all of us.
• Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter - something that for a Jew only God could do• Jesus kept pointing at himself and telling people to come to him• Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad fulfilled no prophecies, did no miracles, and did not rise from the dead. Jesus did all of these.
• Why is the divinity of Christ important in apologetics? (2 reasons)• 1. The issue of the divinity of Christ is a distinctively Christian one - a Christian has to be defined as someone who believes this.• 2. This is the key to unlocking many other doctrines within the Christian faith
• Kreeft gives 3 arguments for believing this argument of Christ‟s divinity...• 1. Christ’s Trustworthiness• 2. The impossibility of the alternative• 3. Lord, Liar or lunatic
• Kreeft states 8 reasons for not believing this - name four• 1. No rational reason• 2. Christ is not rejected but Christians• 3. Fear• 4. Moral reluctance• 5. People are sometimes afraid of the mysterious and uncontrollable• 6. Pride• 7. Belief in Jesus is intellectually unfashionable• 8. Equality
The Divinity of Christ Pocket handbook of Christian Apologetics Chapter 8Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli
“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I mustconfess as a historian that this penniless preacherfrom Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history.Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in allhistory.” H.G. Wells
“As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and inthe Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by theluminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read theGospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus.His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filledwith such life.” Albert Einstein
There is a problem when looking atthe identity of Jesus Christ - we lookat the Gospels (all 4 of them) - and ashockingly strong claim is made.Jesus called himself the “Son ofGod” - he claimed to have the samenature as God and called God hisFather.Jn 10:30, 14:9“I and the Father are one.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you knowme, Philip, even after I have beenamong you such a long time? Anyonewho has seen me has seen theFather.
Jesus claimed to be sinless:Jn 8:46 Can any of you prove meguilty of sin? If I am telling thetruth, 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 bysin can claim the right to forgive -and ultimately that has to be God.
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 ofus.Jn 6:51I am the living bread that camedown from heaven. Whoever eatsthis bread will live forever.
Jesus changed Simon‟s name toPeter - something that for a Jewonly God could do - a namerevealed your true identity whichwas given by God alone.Jn 1:42 Jesus looked at him andsaid, “You are Simon son of John.You will be called Cephas” (which,when translated, is Peter).In the OT God alone changednames - and with them destinies -Abram, Sarai, Jacob - illegal namechanging resulted inexcommunication for orthodoxJews.
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 theway” Jn 14:6
Buddha, Confucius andMuhammad fulfilled noprophecies, did no miracles, anddid not rise from the dead.Jesus did all of these.Jesus invited death (by stoning orcrucifixion) by saying Jn 8:58 NLTJesus answered, “I tell you thetruth, before Abraham was evenborn, I AM!”Or before Abraham was evenborn, I have always beenalive;Greek reads before Abrahamwas, I am.
The importance of the issue1. The issue of the divinity ofChrist is a distinctively Christianone - a Christian has to be definedas someone who believes this.2. This is the key to unlockingmany other doctrines within theChristian faith - many are believedon the basis of the divine authorityof Christ who taught them, so thatthey are written in the Bible andtaught in the church.
If Christ was only human hecould have made mistakes -therefore if you want to disagreewith Christ this is a good point toargue against! Note that thereare teachings which probably allof us find hard and might want todisagree with.Note here: we as believers arevery familiar with it so we find itfar easier to believe.
Kreeft states, “Christians ought to realise how difficult,how scandalous, how objectionable, how apparently unbelievable andabsurd this doctrine is bound to appear to others.”
Clues to the possibility of this doctrineKreeft offers six clueswhich are designed totalk of the possibility ofGod becoming man - inthe following section weshall see how thishappened in Jesus.
1. CS Lewis calls the incarnation“myth become fact” - in fact in manymythologies there are similar ideasof a god who came down fromheaven, died Egyptianto life for the Osiris is an and rose god, usuallylife of man - e.g. Odin,god of the identified as the Osiris[The garden of Eden and the flood afterlife, the underworld and thealso make similar appearances] dead. He that because of theseIt is argued is classically depicted as a green-skinned man with aparallels that there cannot be validityin the Christian story,beard. pharaohs it is false -Kreeft suggests the moreforeshadowings of an event themore likely it is to have occurred /will occur.
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 ofthe movie. Alfred Hitchkockwas famous for doing it - if hecan, why can‟t God?
3. How does a person who disagrees with the ideaof the incarnation, saying it is impossible, tell Godwhat he can or cannot do? It seems the skeptic ismore sure of them-self than they are of God.
4. If a being worthy of the nameGod exists then he would beomnipotent and able to doanything that is meaningful andnot self contradictory. Thereforethe incarnation is not acontradiction (even though it is amiracle) - it is possible.
5. This is possible not onlyfrom the side of the creator butalso the creature - a humanbeing can be transformed,taken up into God. Kreeftsuggests this is like subhumanfood being taken up into thehuman body, or physicalvibrations becoming spiritualmusic, or form and colourbecoming art etc.
Transformation is aprinciple runningthroughout the world andevolution would be anexample of it. That saidevolution happens bynature, incarnation byGod‟s grace. Kreeftsuggests this simply provesboth are possible.
6. The ability of a person tohave two differing naturesis best seen in yourself (ahuman being). You can andcannot be measured interms of space - ourphysical being andintellectual or spiritual beingall come out of a singlebody (soul and bodytogether). In Christ we seehis human and divinenature in the same body.
“I know men and I tell you thatJesus Christ is no mere man.Between Him and every otherperson in the world there is nopossible term of comparison.Alexander, Caesar,Charlemagne, and I havefounded empires. But on whatdid we rest the creation of ourgenius? Upon force. JesusChrist founded His empireupon love; and at this hourmillions of men would die forHim.” Napoleon
“Even those who haverenounced Christianity andattack it, in their inmost beingstill follow the Christian ideal, forhitherto neither their subtlety northe ardour of their hearts hasbeen able to create a higherideal of man and of virtue thanthe ideal given by Christ of old.”Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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 ownidentity? If not, then he is not goodor wise.
2. The impossibility of thealternativeWhat is the alternative to sayingthat Jesus is God? Jesusclaimed to be God, and he isthought to be believable, sowhere do we go from here?Considering the fact that Jesusclaimed to be God we have todeal with a number ofpossibilities:
a. Do the Gospels lie - and ifthey do, why? If they arewritten by liars then theresult of writing and followingwas martyrdom - not a greatmotive - liars usually lie fortheir own benefit.
b. Thousands of others also suffered and died fortheir belief - often singing as they were put to death -has a lie ever transformed the world like this?
c. What if it wasn‟t deliberate lying but simplyan hallucination which took them all in? Jewswere not likely to believe this lie - they hadwaited for God and now we are to believethat after they had been forbidden fromworshipping false image they fall for this, theirgod becoming a man and being crucified as acriminal - not likely.
d. What is if was not a Jewishbut a Gentile myth - how onearth did it get into the NT then -after all 25 of the 27 books inthe NT are written by Jews.e. If anyone had devised themyth it could not havepropagated in the lifetime ofthose who knew and were withJesus, for surely they wouldhave disproved it.
Aquinas suggests that ifthe incarnation did nothappen then a bigger,more unbelievable miracletook place: the conversionof the world by the biggestlie in history and the moraltransformation of lives intounselfishness, detachmentfrom worldy pleasures andradically new heights ofholiness all by a meremyth.
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.
How do we approach this?If someone claims to be GodFor non-Christians it is easierand is not he is a bad man -to say he was a good man -common sense tells us that!claim he is bad and you offendJesus could not be merely aChristians, claim he was Godgood man, by claiming to beand you offend other non-God he eliminates suchChristians. - so he is a liar whopossibilitiestells lies about who he is.
“Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms,conquered more millions than Alexander the Great,Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without scienceand learning, he shed more light on things humanand divine than all philosophers and scholarscombined; without the eloquence of school, he spokesuch words of life as were never spoken before orsince, and produced effects which lie beyond thereach of orator or poet; without writing a single line,he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes formore sermons, orations, discussions, learnedvolumes, works of art, and songs of praise than thewhole army of great men of ancient and moderntimes.” Philip Schaff
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 -symptoms include, egotism,narcissism, inflexibility, dullness,predictability, inability tounderstand and love others -basically such people are theopposite of Jesus. In fact Jesusshowed wisdom,love and creativity- all opposites of this complex.
If Jesus was a liar then he hadto be one of the greatest ever tohave walked on planet Earth -on a basic level to convincepeople to give up their eternaldestiny through his lies is aterrible act. He would have tobe the biggest, baddest liarever!
But what if the disciplesinvented the lie?1. The disciples do not showsymptoms of being pathologicalliars2. What was their motive - theygot suffering and death, just likeJesus.3. They could not have knownthis would be successful as allJews would be horrified at thenature of the lie and itsblasphemy.
What if the disciples werelunatics?1. The Gospels write of oneof the most compellingpeople in history - not thework of madmen. It wouldbe hard for a madman towrite one chapter let aloneall of them
2. How could such lunacy change for the better thelives of so many people?3. What accounts for the origin of the lunacy? How dowe account for the original deception in all of it?
Motives for unbeliefIn mathematics, this, why In the light of all anirrational number is any do so many not believe?real number that cannot 1. No rational reason -be expressed as a ratio even when the argumentsa/b, where refutedbtheir is have been a and are no rational explanation forintegers, with b non-zero, why some refuse toand is therefore not a believe.rational number.
2. Often Christ is not rejectedbut Christians - people do notlike what Christians look like.3. Fear - of the church, itsauthority and its teachingsscares people away. Thechurch makes demands just likeJesus did - it is not comfortable.
4. Moral reluctance - if you acceptJesus then all areas of your life arechallenged (and should bechanged) by his teaching - sex,drugs, morality, selfishness, wrongmorals etc. All “sin” comes underthis challenge - a surgeon willremove all cancer, Jesuschallenges it all and demands itremoved - Christ comes to kill sinin our life.
5. People are sometimesafraid of the mysterious anduncontrollable - God who isincarnate is not neat orcomfortable.6. Pride - we refuse torelinquish control of our lives7. Belief in Jesus isintellectuallyunfashionable
8. Equality - to believe Jesus is the only way thensays all religions are not equal - not a popular way ofthinking - and one that demands a response of choice.These are not logical arguments which prove unbelief- they simply explain subjective, psychologicalunbelief.