“‘Logic!’ said the Professor half to himself. ‘Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth’” (Lewis 52).
In this quote from a conversation between the Professor, Susan, and Peter in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, older siblings Susan and Peter describe their worry about their little sister Lucy. She has recently been describing her adventures to a magical place called Narnia, and they think she has gone mad or is lying to them about the land. Despite the odds of Narnia being a real place, the Professor points out that Lucy is generally an honest and trustworthy girl, so she is either lying, crazy, or telling the truth. He goes on to state that out of those options, it is most likely that she is telling the truth due to her character.
Similarly, in C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Lewis points out that Jesus Christ is either a liar, lunatic, or Lord.
First, consider Jesus being a liar and knowing his teachings were false. This would make him a hypocrite, deceiver, and a fool because he was tortured and crucified for his claims. Furthermore, he spent the majority of his adulthood teaching love and selflessness, which he himself embodied. Meaning, his character simply does not match the idea of him being a liar. Second, perhaps Jesus was lying, but did not know his claims were false. He could have truly believed and told everyone he was the Son of God and therefore a lunatic. However, this argument is not valid when you look at Jesus’ words, teachings, and the impact he has had on history. Once again, his character and actions do not line up with considering him to be a lunatic.
Now, the only option left is to consider that Jesus is in fact Lord. Just like with Lucy, out of the three options, it is most likely that Jesus is telling the truth. Jesus’ personality and nature do not suggest the character of a lunatic or a liar, so logically it makes sense that Jesus is Lord. Despite this, logic is not the only factor in believing Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God. It also takes a step of faith, which is why it can be so difficult for most people to believe in Jesus. Some might say that putting your faith and trust in Christ defies logic, yet looking closely one can see that it simultaneously completely aligns with it. However, it is important to note that as finite beings we cannot fully understand the infinite character of the Son of God and there will be times where we are unable to logically explain His character or Biblical accounts or ideas. Nevertheless, faith is not blind and does include a lot of thinking and logic.
In summary, Jesus cannot merely be a moral teacher, prophet, or a historical figure who sought to bring peace. He either lied about being the Son of God, was crazy for falsely believing to be the Son of God, or he truly was who he claimed to be. In conclusion, here is an excerpt from Mere Christianity in which Lewis further explains the liar, lunatic, or Lord argument.
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell… Either this man was, and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Lewis 52).
Lewis, C. S, and Pauline Baynes. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Harper, 2009, p. 86. Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples). Mere Christianity. Walker & Co., 1987.
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