Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Was Jesus a "Good" Person?

This came up recently, so I just wanted to comment on whether Jesus was only a good person. Considering the classic trilemma offered by C.S. Lewis, Jesus was either Lord, Liar or Lunatic, but cannot logically be considered only a “good person.” Jesus in the Bible claims to be God. If you don't agree, comment back and I'll give some Biblical examples. First, if Jesus was not God and knew it, then he is only a liar attempting to persuade converts. That would not make him a good person. Second, if Jesus only thought he was God and he didn’t know he was not, that would make him insane, or more specifically, a raving delusional egomaniac. Once again, not a good person. Last, if Jesus both believed and was in fact God, that doesn’t make Him a good person, but the very perfect God Who created us. Sorry, but “good person” is just not an option He left for us to play with.


Adam Pastor said...

The problem with the "classic trilemma":
"Jesus was either Lord & God, Liar or Lunatic" is that it is based upon what logicians call "false dilemma"!

That is, only three alternatives are proposed; and none of these alternatives are the ones that Christ proposed.

Also Lewis' and presumably your definition of 'Lord' means that when Jesus was called 'Lord' it means he is the LORD GOD. If so, this is a false assuption.

Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and the lord spoken of in Psalm 110.1
i.e. the Lord Messiah [Luke 2.11, Col 3.24] not the LORD GOD

There is a big difference!

He is the Lord Messiah,
the LORD's [YAHWEH's] Messiah [Luke 2.26],
the Messiah of GOD [Luke 9.2]

That is who he claimed to be.
And this should be the fourth alternative of Lewis' statement
i.e. 'Lord' in the sense of being the Lord Messiah not the LORD GOD!
Or the fourth alternative should just be
the Messiah, the Son of GOD!

Jesus claimed to be the Son of GOD not the LORD GOD;
that is, the LORD GOD's human Son!

There is a big difference!

There is no verse in Scripture where Jesus claimed to be Almighty GOD!

Firstly, Jesus of Nazareth claimed that his Father was the only true GOD. [John 17.3]
Secondly, Jesus subscribed to the one GOD-given creed of Israel, Deut 6.4, the Shema.

(Mark 12:28-34) And one of the scribes came ... asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: ... 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. ...

Here the scribe agreed with Jesus' definition of the ONE Living GOD.
Obviously neither the scribe nor Jesus were trinitarians.
Deut 6.4 forbids that. The Jews to this very day recognized solely ONE Being, ONE Person as GOD Almighty,
viz. YAHWEH/Adonai GOD Almighty

The scribe obviously after hearing Jesus, never believed that the man before him was the ONE GOD.
Then after Jesus quoted Deut 6.4,
"YAHWEH Our God, YAHWEH is One";
Jesus then quotes Psalm 110.1

(Mark 12:35-37) And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost,
The LORD [YAHWEH] said to
"my lord [adoni]",
Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord [adoni]; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

Psalm 110.1 is the most quoted OT verse in the NT. It defines Jesus' Lordship.
Jesus and his apostles used this verse to proclaim what is meant by Jesus being called "Lord"!!
The Hebrew word for the second 'lord' [adoni] in all its 195 occurrences is never ever used in ref. to the LORD GOD i.e. YAHWEH.
This Hebrew word is used solely to denote one who is NOT GOD, NOT Deity!

Therefore, this 'lord' is someone who is NOT GOD, yet will be David's Lord (as well as 'our Lord'); and whereby one day YAHWEH the LORD GOD would invite this man to sit at His right hand.
Hence Peter's words:
(Acts 2:34-36) For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord [YAHWEH] said unto "my lord" [adoni], Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfilment of the oracle from YAHWEH GOD.

He is the man Messiah Jesus who is currently set at the ONE GOD's right hand.

YAHWEH GOD i.e. the LORD GOD has made this man who was crucified, whom YAHWEH raised from the dead, both Lord and Christ.
Thus, Jesus is the Lord Messiah [Col 3.24] and YAHWEH, the ONE GOD, the Father;
is the GOD and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [2 Cor 11.31, Eph 1.3, 1 Pet 1.3]

So please note 'Lord' as in Lord Jesus;
does not mean LORD GOD! Rather it means the one man whom the LORD GOD has made
'Lord of all' [Acts 10.36] to the ONE GOD's glory! [Phil 2.11]
ALL of course does not include GOD Himself. [1 Cor 15.27]

See also

Josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh said...

It sounds like you have done a lot of study collecting verses to disprove the deity of Christ. Although I applaud your efforts (even if they are eisegetical in nature), it sounds as if you have missed out on some major verses. First, John 8:58: Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." The Greek for "I am" here is ego eimi (transliterated). Ego can mean either I, me, or my. Eimi can mean either to be, to exist, to happen, or to be present. Now, let's take a look back at the OT which in Exodus 3:14 says the following: God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM "; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' The Hebrew in this text for "I am" is hayah (transliterated). Hayah can mean to be, come to pass, exist, happen, or fall out. If you'll notice, the Greek and Hebrew are saying the same thing, which is why an English translation lists them both as "I am." A second point to note in John 8:58 is the context of the verse and what the response was. Here it is in John 8:51-59:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets {also;} and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.' "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out {to be?}" Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw {it} and was glad." So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.'

Three things I would like to point out in these verses. First, Jesus calls Himself the same name that the Father calls Himself from the burning bush to Moses. Second, the Jews pick up stones to throw at Him, having called Himself (Jesus) God, and knowing that stoning is the punishment for blasphemy. Third, in verses 54 and 55, Jesus tells the Jews that in spite of saying "He is our God," that they do not know Him, but rather are liars. This is important to see because your defense seems to overtly focus on what the Jews believed and practiced. Looking at history, we also see the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (which has not been rebuilt to this day) within a generation of the crucifixion/denial of Messiah, very likely a punishment from God (historically, God has always given Israel into the hands of her enemies as punishment for some foul sin).

I will give you 2 more examples, but not go into detail as I personally believe the Scriptures speak for themselves and absolutely disagree with your opinion that Christ in not God.

The first is another example of Jesus claiming to be God and the Jews calling Him a blasphemer. Matthew 26:57-68 says:

57 Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58 But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60 They did not find {any,} even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61 and said, "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.' " 62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?" 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." 64 Jesus *said to him, "You have said it {yourself;} nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN." 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66 what do you think?" They answered, "He deserves death!" 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, 68 and said, "Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?"

Jesus claimed to be God, which led to his false arrest and charges here. Remember that the Pharisees were heavily trained in the law, and they too called Him a blasphemer.

One last example is Mark 2:1-12 which says the following:

1 When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. 3 And they *came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 5 And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" 8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, *said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? 9 "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk'? 10 "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--He *said to the paralytic, 11 "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home." 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

So, here the scribes too are calling Him a blasphemer. You'll notice that He refers to Himself as the "Son of Man," which is the same term He uses in the previous verses (particularly Matthew 26:64). He indicates that the Son of Man is able to forgive sins, which the scribes understand can only be done by God. This means that Son of Man is a term given to God, the One Who can forgive sins, and it is also the same term used in Daniel 7:13, "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him."

Although you say that Jesus did not claim to be God, the Jews in general, the Pharisees, and the Scribes all indicate by their accusations of blasphemy that He was in fact making this claim. So, where does that leave us? Once again, back to Lord (God), Lunatic, or Liar.

Josh said...

As an afterthought, I noticed that you mentioned, "The Jews to this very day recognized solely ONE Being, ONE Person as GOD Almighty,
viz. YAHWEH/Adonai GOD Almighty." Although I already pointed out in my initial response that Christ called the Jews liars when they said that "He is our God," but another point to make is that the Jews to this very day also do not recognize Jesus as Messiah. So, you do not have Christians on your side because you say Jesus is not God, and you do not have Jews on your side because you say Jesus was Messiah. There is no one left to support your claim.

Adam Pastor said...

What I do have however is the myriads of Christians who from the time of Christ to this very day; who like their Lord & Master, Jesus the Messiah recognized solely ONE GOD the Father; in other words they worship and acknowledge the same GOD that Jesus worships and acknowledges!!

Jesus was no trinitarian.
And neither were the early church
and neither are the myriads of the true, biblical Christians that I speak of, unlike the so-called 'orthodox' Christians.

The Scriptures & the true, biblical Christians support my claim. Amen!

We alongside Christ and the early church believe and acknowledge the ONE GOD ... the GOD of Abraham, the GOD of Isaac, the GOD of Jacob, and now, the GOD and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;
We confess ONE GOD, the Father;
and we confess ONE Lord,
the man Messiah Jesus;
the one man whom the ONE GOD made Lord and Messiah.

[Acts 2.36, 10.36, Phil 2.11]

(John 17:3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

(1 Cor 8:4) ... that there is none other God but one.
(1 Cor 8:6) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

(1 Tim 2:5) For there is one God, and one mediator between [the ONE] God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Josh said...

The rhetoric sounds very familiar...are you, by the way, a Jehovah's Witness?

Josh said...

The reason I ask, is that most Christian denominations tend to have no problems with others as long as there is agreement upon the essentials (such as the divinity of Christ). When there is difference upon the non-essentials, they just choose to worship with other congregations. While all Christians agree that there is only one means of salvation (being through Jesus Christ), it is the cults (such as JW's, Mormons, etc.) that claim there is only one means of salvation (being through their "Church"). Food for thought. Funny too, that as they part ways with Scriptural Christianity they want to say that everyone else has taken part in apostasy.

Adam Pastor said...

Josh, this will be my closing comment:
I am NO JW.

I am a Christian that by GOD's grace can now take the Bible very literally; realizing that the Bible is indeed a unitarian book.

That is, from beginning to end, the Scriptures speak of ONE Person, ONE Being, who is Almighty GOD, namely,
YAHWEH, AKA GOD the Father

By His Power the ONE GOD caused His Son, Jesus of Nazareth to be begotten in the womb of Mary his mother.
Jesus was sent/commissioned/authorized by the ONE GOD his Father,
to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of GOD

Jesus was crucified for claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living GOD, the King of Israel (cp. John 1.49; Jesus never ever claimed to be Almighty GOD).

3 days later Almighty GOD raised this man from the dead; immortalized and glorified him; and exalted him even above the angels; making this man, both Lord and Christ.

Heaven must therefore retain the Messiah UNTIL the time of the restitution/restoration of all things; whereby GOD Almighty will send Jesus back to earth to set up the Kingdom of GOD here upon the earth; the Lord Jesus will be enthroned on the throne of David and will rule over the Kingdom of GOD with the saints from its Capital City, namely, a restored Jerusalem.

This is the Gospel of the Kingdom.

So the Bible has two main characters in this drama:
The ONE GOD, YAHWEH, the Father;
and the ONE man, the Lord Jesus the Messiah, the ONE GOD's human son.

Find out more about these two characters by watching the video at

Josh ... Adieu

(Acts 3:20-21) And he [GOD] shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

(Luke 1:32-33) He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God [YAHWEH GOD] shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

(1 Th 1:9-10) ... how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

Josh said...

It has been interesting talking to you. However, my last thoughts will be on the book of Revelation which speaks on account of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:8 says this: "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

I imagine that you would call this "Alpha and Omega" the Father. So let's compare Revelation 22:12-13 which says:

12 "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward {is} with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

So, who is coming quickly? The Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Seven verses later in Revelation 22:20 we see:

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Who is coming quickly? The Lord Jesus. Compare this with Revelation 1:17-18 which say:

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

Who was dead and now alive forevermore? We know this is Jesus from the rest of the New Testament. So Jesus here calls himself the first and the last (Alpha and Omega). John also fell at His feet as a dead man. Compare this with Revelation 19:10 which says:

Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

So there we see John falling down to worship, but is rebuked and told to worship God. However, Christ allows this worship of Himself in Rev. 1:17-18.

So, reviewing these verses, we see the Lord God referred to as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. The same is true of Jesus. We see John prohibited from worshipping one other than God, and allowed to worship Christ.

One last point because you assert that God the Father has exalted Jesus above the angels, which I agree with, but declare that He is exalted because of His nature as God. Satan's sin was pride. He believed that he deserved worship which belongs to God alone. If Christ was not God, He would not deserve that worship. While we as human beings are made in the image of God, we are not possessors of the glory of God. God does not give away His glory to man, because He alone is worthy of our worship. All of Scripture testifies to the deity of Christ and the glory of God. I'm sorry if this offends you, but I will only worship God in truth. And that is the truth of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Josh said...

If you've read this far, then you understand the importance of having a right view of Christ. Matthew 24:24 states, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." This human Jesus, this good person/teacher/prophet that necessitated my original post in the first place is not the Biblical Christ. Don't get me wrong, Jesus was human, but both fully human AND fully God, the God man. Not some sort of demi-God, half man and half God, but 100% God and 100% man. If we believe He is something else, we have a false view of Christ, which means that we do not have the true Christ and are still dead in our sins. This is essential Christian doctrine, and contrary to what Adam thinks, has been and will always be the historically accurate view of both the first-century Church, and the enduring true Church throughout the ages. As Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 13:5, we should, "Test yourselves {to see} if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?"