Post Author: Bill Pratt
There are people who take the Gospels to be more or less reporting history, but who claim, nevertheless, that Jesus was merely a good man, and nothing more. I am not here talking about skeptics who question virtually everything in the Gospels, who believe that almost all of the material is legendary.
The people I am referring to generally have a cursory knowledge of the New Testament and are turned off by traditional religion. They are fans of Jesus in a shallow way. If you stopped them on the street and asked them what they thought about Jesus, they would say he was a great teacher of peace and love, an exemplary moral figure. Jesus is still popular, even nowadays.
What is frustrating about these shallow-Jesus-fans is that they have completely missed what Jesus stood for. The only group that would be more frustrating would be the Jesus-is-a-great-carpenter club. C. S. Lewis gives voice to this frustration in Mere Christianity by pointing out the absurdity of the shallow-Jesus-fans:
Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.
Norm Geisler and Frank Turek, in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, ask us to imagine our neighbor making these kinds of claims:
“I am the first and the last—the self-existing One. Do you need your sins forgiven? I can do it. Do you want to know how to live? I am the light of the world—whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Do you want to know whom you can trust? All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Do you have any worries or requests? Pray in my name. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. Do you need access to God the Father? No one comes to the Father except through me. The Father and I are one.”
What would you think about your neighbor if he seriously said those things? You certainly wouldn’t say, “Gee, I think he’s a great moral teacher!” No, you’d say this guy is nuts, because he’s definitely claiming to be God.
Shallow-Jesus-fans, don’t be ridiculous. Jesus did not come to teach moral platitudes in a long line of religious moralizers. No, he came to demand your allegiance to him, for he is King.