Apologetics Lecture 8 Person and Work of Christ. Divinity of Christ

Divinity of Christ

The gospel records of Jesus of Nazareth have not provoked the question, “Who is he?” but “What is he?”

.

Matthew 8:27 27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

People’s confrontation of Jesus then and today still yield this question. The miracles that Jesus did and his self-identification (John 8:58; 10:30; John 14:9) all points us to ask this same question.

.

Jesus also asks, “which of you can convict me of sin?” Jesus also claimed to be able to forgive sin to which the Jews protested, “who can forgive sins but God alone?”

.

Importance

The divinity of Jesus Christ is crucial for several reasons.

.

1.It is distinctively Christian. No other religion teaches that their founder was God in flesh.
2.Many argue against his divine nature that he was either a good prophet, Rabbi, philosopher, reformer, but not God in the flesh.
3.There are many consequences to denying the divinity of Jesus Christ. If he was merely human, he could make mistakes. And that opens up a lot of other possibilities about his self-identification, his work on the cross, and resurrection.
4.But if the doctrine is true, it changes everything about history. Everything he did and said was perfect and should be made personal for each of us.

.

Many people will say things like this upon hearing the statement that Jesus is God. They will say things like, “this is impossible!” How can God become man? It makes no sense to me, it is illogical. Therefore, it is not true.

.

It seems absurd that a man who was conceived in a woman and grew to be a baby, also got hungry and tired, suffered and died, that this man should claim to be God!

.

The nature of humans and the nature of God seem self-contradictory. Humans are not infinite, infallible, or the immortal. However, God by definition is eternal, immortal, infinite, and infallible. The two do not seem to mix.

.

Granted, there is a degree of shock when confronted with the doctrine. “Just because it seems absurd to ‘you’, doesn’t mean it’s not true. We need to relinquish our bias and let the facts speak. This is not only true today, but it was true when Jesus was on earth. See John 7:40-52, where the people wrestle over the person of Jesus. So, we do not have to be surprised when people object to the divinity of Christ, we just need to know how to give an answer to those who contradict the Scripture.

.

First, we should attempt to show that the incarnation is possible and secondly we can establish the fact that it actually occurred in the person of Jesus.

.

Possibility: The incarnation was possible

“But it sounds like a myth from all the other resurrection myths that have been passed down through the centuries.”

.

Simply because there may be other ancient stories of a god who died and rose for the life of man, for example Odin, Osiris, and Mesopotamia corn gods, it does not follow that the true incarnation described in the Bible is false. If there are more witnesses talking about a similar story, it could likely be true.

.

First,

https://youtu.be/dyu71k8QbaE?t=195

.

Then,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0-EgjUhRqA&ab_channel=LutheranSatire

.

Back to the deity of Christ…

.

Someone could say…“God would never do such a thing so as to enter into his own universe. Why would he come down to this sin ridden world anyway?”

If Alfred Hitchcock can insert himself into his own stories and movies, why cannot God do the same thing?

.

Also, if a skeptic is skeptical of the incarnation, you could say, “How do you know so much that you can determine whether or not God can or cannot do something?” If they respond by saying that the incarnation claims too much (i.e., saying “God became a man” claims too much; extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, which “Christians don’t have.”) you can respond by saying, “well, to deny the incarnation claims to know much more, that is, you claim to know what God can or cannot do.”

.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/stephen-law-on-the-non-existence-of-jesus-of-nazareth

.

Along those same lines, if someone can be called “God” then we have a definition for that, that he is omnipotent and omniscient. He is able to do anything that does not violate his own character and laws in his own universe. Therefore, the incarnation, though miraculous, is not impossible for a being that we can call “God.”

.

These discussion points are only to show that the incarnation is actually possible. These are not arguments in favor of the divine nature of Christ.

.

The following are positive arguments in favor of Christ’s divinity.

Arguments for Christ’s Divinity

1.Christ is Trustworthy
 Most nonreligious people and people of other religions would affirm that Jesus is trustworthy.
 If he is trustworthy, then we should trust him about what he teaches.
 He teaches that he is God.
 Therefore, we should believe that Jesus is God.

.

If the person you’re talking with rejects Jesus as God, then they are saying that Jesus is not trustworthy.

.

2.Impossibility of the Alternative

Therefore, we have this syllogism, as stated above.

.

 Jesus claimed to be God
 Jesus is believable
 Therefore Jesus is God

.

Perhaps the New Testament is a forgery, a lie, or a myth or fantasy. [we already know textual criticism tells us its not but let’s play with this…]

 But if the Gospels are a lie, who invented the lie and for what reason? If it was the apostles, they did not get much out of the lie. I wouldn’t call martyrdom for the sake of an invented lie an honorable way to go. Who lies in order to die for something?
 Or from the early church history. It’s claimed that the disciples of the early apostles, invented the myth as it’s found in the Gospels from what really happened. We don’t know what really happened; we just have the myth. But who makes a myth and Christians a generation later are willing to die for it? The myth would have been well known. The early church fathers also were martyred.
 Maybe it was not an outright lie, but perhaps a hallucination or an “honest myth”, a mistake about what really happened. Ok, then who were the fools who first believed it?
 Jews would be of all people the least likely to believe in something like this, since they have the foundation of the Old Testament. They were strictly forbidden from worshiping something other than the true God and to worship a “creature” is unthinkable!
 And if it’s a myth, you must be able to claim the source of that myth, not just claim that it is a myth. We need historical corroboration here.
 But we’ve already established that the original documents of the New Testament can be clearly dated within, in some cases, a few years after the actual events. Therefore, it cannot be a myth. Myths need more time to develop in order for error to sneak in and no one care.
 If the incarnation did not really happen, then something most really unbelievable happened: thousands upon thousands of ancient people were deceived by the biggest lie in history and were convinced to live lives of unselfishness and be willing to die for a lie.

.

So this leads us to confront the unbeliever with his inability to explain the data. Again, this is reasoning to the best explanation. What best explains the facts of history? No one has ever been able to satisfactorily answer this question, “if Jesus is not God, then who is he?”

.

Christianity depends upon the identity of a particular individual, not his teachings. This is just like the issue we discussed earlier that Christianity depends on events, not teachings, which is unlike the world’s religions. We are about to discuss more fully the identity of this person, Jesus of Nazareth, and He too is unlike any of the founders of the world’s religions. All other major world religions have as their founder a mere human being.

.

The above exercise demonstrates that Christianity is in a unique position: It can be logically verifiable, since it’s not dependent on whether nebulous teachings are the truth or not. It’s dependent on the identity or nature of a person. This makes Christianity testable in the realm of logic.

.

Warning…BIG TIME EXCURSUS

For example, it is not easy to set up logical syllogisms concerning whether a teachers teachings are true or not. The Buddha taught that everything is an illusion. How can you verify that? But if you are observing a particular object, you have to reason to the best explanation concerning its identity. This is kind of like the Shroud of Turin, Jesus supposed burial clothes.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Facts (quotes from Habermas)[1]

What is it?

In, connection with the history of the shroud it might be mentioned that the scientific investigation revealed no paint, dye, powder or any other foreign substance in the image area of the shroud that could account for the image itself. After repeated tests the shroud has shown itself to be an authentic archaeological artifact.

.

In particular, experiments show that there is no foreign substance that could account for the image.

.

When is it?

Actually there are a number of references prior to this date. Very briefly, such data includes a few historical citations of the shroud, one as early as the second century (Braulio of Seville), a sermon concerning it given by a church official, and paintings of Jesus’ face that, after an apparent rediscovery of the shroud, were plainly based on it even down to the exact position of numerous bruises. Additionally a detailed and very intriguing early Christian tradition exists that asserts that a mysterious cloth containing the imprint of Jesus’ face had been carried by Thaddeus, Jesus’ disciple, to Edessa, a small kingdom in what is today Turkey. After a stay of several hundred years it was moved to the city of Constantinople. From here its modern history is well known as it was taken to several cities in France and then to Turin, Italy.

.

What’s on it?

At least six species of pollen were found on this linen cloth, which were limited almost exclusively to Israel.

.

Now, if you claim that the shroud is not Jesus burial clothes, then you have to analyze the data that all the rest of the scientists have as well and come to the best explanation of the evidence and argue for your position. Your position must be able to stand cross examination. (Yes, I think you could develop an apologetic argument based on the Shroud of Turin.)[2] Update[3]

.

In other words, identifying concrete objects is much easier to test. We are in a much more tightly structured, historical and logical boundary, than we are if we are attempting to verify whether or not the teachings of a particular religious teacher are true.

.

Therefore, we have seen that Christianity is not only philosophically verifiable (that it does not contradict itself), but it is historically verifiable because

 it relies on facts of history, events
 it relies on the identity of its founder, not teachings. [the teachings are important, but Christianity doesn’t rise or fall based on teachings.]

.

Because of these facts, Christianity is unique and its uniqueness on this account allows it to be tested in ways that other major world religions are not. This allows greater possibility of cross examination and a greater chance of it having been defeated over time, if indeed it was false.

.

So, let’s consider our options regarding who Christ is.

Trilemma

There are many formulations of the trilemma, whether Jesus was Lord, liar, or a lunatic. There is the dilemma (Lord or liar), quadrilemma (Lord, liar, lunatic or myth), or even the quintilemma (Lord, liar, lunatic, myth or guru). By guru we mean that we should not understand Jesus literally, but mystically. Perhaps Jesus was God in the sense that he realized his own inner divinity and all of us can do the same as well.

.

Briefly, before delving into the trilemma, that Jesus is just a guru defeated:

 He was a Jew. Jews are not to gurus. The Old Testament taught a public religion for collective observance while mystics and gurus teach a private inner experience. See John 18:20-21. If Jesus were a guru, he would not have said this.
 For Jesus to have an inner sense of his own divinity from a human standpoint, would have flown in the face of all of his background and teaching. However, on numerous occasions he affirmed the teachings of the Old Testament.
 (Also, Jesus clearly claimed to be the “I am” of the OT, which flies in the face of this teaching, see John 8, before Abraham was, I am”)

.

Ok, now the trilemma.

This syllogism works as follows

 Jesus was either a liar, lunatic, or is the Lord.
 Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic.
 Therefore, Jesus is the Lord.

.

For the conclusion (“Jesus is Lord”) to follow, the second premise (“Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic.”) must be shown to be true. Therefore, we must take each of these in turn.

.

Was Jesus a liar?

In effect, someone claiming that Jesus was a liar is arguing…

 Jesus claimed to be the Lord.
 Jesus knew what he was not the Lord.
 Therefore, Jesus is a liar.

.

First, the one making this claim would have to give his evidence that Jesus knew that he was not the Lord. However, the evidence would be hard to come by.

.

Furthermore, many people would also argue that Jesus was at least a “good man.”

.

For us, we can argue that if Jesus is a liar, he can no longer be a good man. A liar is clearly not a good man and the one who lies about his identity is walking about every day as a liar. He is embodying the very essence of falsehood. If Jesus knew that he was not God and yet claimed to be God, he would be a liar, a bad man, not a good man.

.

The question to the nonbeliever would be, “do you believe that Jesus was really a bad man?” To say that he was a bad man offends Christianity but to say that he was God offends nonbelievers. However, to say that Jesus was neither a bad man nor God offends logic. You have to make a choice. Therefore, Jesus was either a bad man or God. Jesus is not a bad man, therefore Jesus is God.

.

The unbeliever, to maintain his position that Jesus is not God, must prove therefore, that Jesus is indeed a bad man. “What proof do you have that Jesus was a bad man?”

.

Jesus being a bad man leads to the conclusion that Jesus also could not be a great moral teacher, nor can he be trusted concerning anything he taught. And how could his teachings go down in history as some of the most powerful moral truth presentations and how could his teachings have changed the world to the degree that it has?

.

Also, Jesus could not be a liar because…

 He does not fit the profile of a liar. He was unselfish, loving, compassionate, and extremely caring. He helped others. However, a liar is clearly selfish and lies for personal gain, either money, fame, power, or pleasure. Jesus was clearly devoid of worldly goods and by his abilities he could have made the opposite the case for himself.
 We have no motive for his lying. It brought about rejection of him, persecution, and death. Why would someone die for his own lie?
 Jesus would have no reason to think that his lie would be successful, because he was teaching Jews. Jews would be the most likely of any people on earth to reject someone claiming to be God. To cause his lie to spread, it would make much more sense to preach to the Gentiles, who would be much more likely to incorporate him as a deity among all their other deities.

.

You can also attach these qualifications to the disciples. They also do not fit the profile of a liar, there is no motive for their lying, and they also would have no reason to think that they would be successful, because of their largely Jewish audience (Jews have presuppositions that keep them from receiving Jesus as Messiah).

.

Jesus was no liar. Ok, ok, ok…well, maybe he was a lunatic then…

.

Was Jesus a lunatic?

Okay, perhaps he did not intentionally deceive people, but maybe he himself was deceived. Ok, well, he would still not be trustworthy.

.

Whereas concerning him being a liar, we focused on the fact that people tend to affirm his goodness, in this argument, we will focus on the fact that people generally affirm his wisdom.

.

A lunatic is not wise.

.

In psychopathology, a lunatic who thinks that they are God are often egotistic, narcissistic, inflexible, dull, predictable, and unable to understand and love other people.

.

Does this sound like Jesus? The record of the New Testament is clear that Jesus was unimaginably wise as well as unthinkably loving and creative. Jesus perceived people’s thoughts and the motivations behind their words. He solved unsolvable problems and gave his entire life for other people. He was not dull by any stretch of the imagination… people “wondered” at his words and abilities. If that’s lunacy, I want it!

.

Jesus could not be a lunatic because….

 The psychological profile of a lunatic and the psychological profile of Jesus are entirely opposite. Lunatics lack what Jesus possesses: wisdom, love, creativity.
 Our perceptions of lunatics make us assume we are superior to them. Enemies perceived Jesus as superior to them. A lunatic would not challenge you in your personal existence, but only embarrass and bore you. However, Jesus himself challenged everyone and was never boring.

.

Jesus is not a liar, nor a lunatic. Therefore, He is Lord!

.

Mind map for a summary and more elaboration.

.

Now, onto him being “Lord”…which is the only other option!

TRANSITION: Jesus Self Concept as Divine Son of God

.

Jesus clearly teaches of himself that he is God, in the flesh. The following data is limited to Jesus’ teaching of himself in the Gospels or teaching directly from the Father.

.

Some Scriptural Data For Christ’s Claim to Divinity (JW’s would have problems with this)

1.The title “Son of God” (“Son of” implies “of the same nature as”; proof: Acts 4:36, “Son of Encouragement”): Mt 11:27; Mk 12:6; 13:32; 14:61–62; Lk 10:22; 22:70; Jn 10:30; 14:9.
2.Omnipresent: Mt 18:20; 28:20.
3.Omnipotent: Mt 28:18
4.Sinless, perfect: Jn 8:46
5.Has authority to forgive sins: Mk 2:5–12; Lk 24:45–47
6.Claims to be the “IAM” of the OT: Jn 8:58.
7.One with the Father: Jn 10:30; 12:45; 14:8–10.
8.Performs miracles: Jn 10:37–38; and throughout all four Gospels.
9.Sends the Holy Spirit: Jn 14:25–26; 16:7–15.
10.The Father testifies to him: Mt 3:17; 17:5; Jn 8:18.
11.Gives eternal life: Jn 3:16; 5:39–40; 20:30–31.
12.Knows the future:
a.His future death and resurrection, and effects: Mk 8:31; Lk 9:21–22; 12:49–53; 22:35–37; Jn 3:11–14; 14:27–29.
13.Claims Lord over the Sabbath: Lk 6:1–5.

.

Unless Jesus is God, then His work has no power. Unless Jesus is God, His death, burial and resurrection do not matter. So, the above is proof of His divinity.

.

.

.

Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from Apologetics Lecture 8 Person and Work of Christ. Divinity of Christ

Go to Theology Main Page

Go to Apologetics Lectures Main Page

.

.

.

  1. http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/J_Evangelical_Theological_Soc/Habermas_JETS_Shroud-of-Turin-and-significance.htm

  2. Also here: http://www.galaxie.com/article/jets24-1-05

  3. http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/02/11/shroud-turin-could-ancient-earthquake-explain-face-jesus/

118 views
118 views
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap