Before and After

Over the last month or so, little things have been popping up here and there that have reminded me of my old self—the self-reliant, skeptical agnostic.

I used to believe in a Creator-God, the Initiator of the Universe. I was not sure if He interfered with things on this planet, and if He did, science would find an explanation for it. Science seemed to have most of the answers I was looking for at the time. I had developed a sense of morality and ethics that paralleled Christianity’s, but did not rely upon God. As for Jesus, well, I saw him as a great moral teacher. And then I found my faith

Karl at St. Stephen’s Musings posted a link to an article in the newspaper The Oregonian called “Jesus of Nazareth: lord or lunatic?” that gently slapped me into remembering my old ways of thinking.

In the article, David Reinhard asserts that you cannot accept Jesus as just a great moral teacher. Sure, Jesus talked a lot about morality, but that was only half of his story. He also called himself Son of God. As in the article, here is the full quote from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. 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. You must make your choice. Either he was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you 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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

In other words, you either accept all of Jesus, or none of Him. You cannot have it both ways.

Now here is the rub: when I was an agnostic, Reinhard’s article would not have changed my mind or heart about Jesus. I would have stubbornly stuck to my faulty beliefs. I would have been content in my dark, little room. Again, I am reminded of the quote from my previous entry:

“I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.” Revelation 3:15-17 (The Message)

(Reinhard’s article prompted me to run out and buy a copy of Mere Christianity.)