(Page 2 of 2)
This proposition is the subject of the cover story in this month’s Harper’s titled “Jesus Without the Miracles: Thomas Jefferson’s Bible and the Gospel of Thomas” and written by Erik Reece, a lecturer in English at the University of Kentucky. Jefferson, the reader will recall, clipped his favorite phrases of Jesus from the New Testiment to create The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. And the Gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic collection of sayings attributed to Jesus, but which were probably written a hundred years or so after the canonical Gospels.
But it isn’t logical to conclude that Jesus was a wise teacher who was later turned into God by fawning enthusiasts because His wise teachings and His claims to divinity were recorded by the same people. If we cannot know that He did in fact say, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” then we can’t know that he actually said, “Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.” It defies logic that His disciples were meticulous scribes of his moral pronouncements but zealous fabulists about everything else. They were either telling the whole truth or a whole lie. And considering they spread the Gospels under penalty of merciless torture and death, it seems unlikely they were lying. Would you allow yourself to be crucified upside down for a lie?
No, you wouldn’t. But would you for a mistake? There is another possibility my dinner guests did not suggest. Suppose Jesus was just a slick magician performing parlor tricks for the rubes, sort of like when I disconnect my index finger to impress my niece and nephew, and the dern country mice fell for it and started following him around. But if this was the case, wouldn’t the yokels have given up on Him after He was captured and killed and they became the subject of public ridicule for having believed him? I know the day will come when my niece and nephew will realize I can’t actually remove my finger and instead I just configure my thumb to look like the tip of my finger. On that day their faith in my “magical powers” will die and they’ll just roll their eyes and run off to play Power Rangers. Truth be told, some of Jesus’ disciples’ faith was shaken. But then He rose from the dead and issued to them the Great Commission to spread the Good News. That must have been one hell of a parlor trick because these fishers of men bought it hook, line and sinker. While it is possible that Jesus was just a first century Doug Henning, the idea that he could raise himself from the dead is an incredible stretch.
And so we are left only with Lewis’ formulation. Jesus was either the Son of God or a nut or the Devil himself. Too many in academia, the news media, and the religious and political Left are unwilling to consider the former and few of us can even fathom the consequences of the latter two. And so a great many Americans have chosen the least logical conclusion: they have constructed an image of a polite, well-meaning Jewish boy who had some compelling thoughts on how people should treat one another. As Reece writes in Harper’s, “My main focus is to look at the actual teachings of the reformer we call Jesus, and not be burdened with sin, sacrifice and salvation.”
We have taken the Christ out of Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder then that we have taken Christ out of Christmas, as well?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?