Why question the messenger if the message remains true?
If Jesus laid claim to being the “specific” Son of God, then it was only right to test his authenticity.
If Jesus wasn’t the “specific” Son of God, but was using his position as a teacher to emphasise the message that he is the son of God, but in the context that we are all made in His image therefore we are ALL the “sons of God” then his message remains true.
What I find difficult to contemplate in the book by Nicky Gumbel is his reasoning behind the possibilities for Jesus’ claims.
Gumbel says there are 3 logical possibilities to Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God:
“If the claims were untrue, either he knew they were untrue – in which case he was an impostor, and an evil one at that. Or he did not know – in which case he was deluded; indeed he was insane. The third possibility is that the claims were true.”
The above paragraph is not one written by a person who would like to portray a balanced argument. Nor can it be taken as a well-rounded opinion as it is clearly biased towards Jesus’ existence and claims to be the Son of God.
It is clear in its bias from the very beginning as it insinuates that should Jesus not be the Son of God and knew this to be the case, then he was an impostor. But it goes further than merely debunking his claim. The writer immediately imparts his own opinion and undue influence over the thoughts of the reader by inferring that IF Jesus knew he was an impostor, surely he must be “evil”.
Firstly, define “evil”.
Secondly, if Jesus didn’t know he wasn’t the Son of God, he is immediately dismissed as being insane. Is that another editorial opinion?
Thirdly, I would like to offer an alternative to the three “logical” possibilities; indeed a potential Fourth possibility.
I have no doubt that Jesus existed and was an educated man. So a logical step from the first claim above could be that he was not the Son of God and he knew this, but was perfectly happy to take his “scam” to the extreme as he had a huge amount of people who believed in him.
To them, it didn’t matter that he was not the Son of God, but it was more important that he was a teacher of men. And the most important thing was the message.
So why would Jesus have to be an “evil” impostor if he was fully compos mentis of his position?
If he did not specifically say, “I am God” but instead used his teachings to elevate his status amongst men to that of Sage, why would this be deemed as “evil”?
Following on from that and taking into account human emotions, it would have been Jesus’ peers who would have exaggerated his status to “Godhead” by virtue of their need/desire to believe.
But there’s nothing to say Jesus’ education wasn’t influenced by older Hebrew texts, which contain all the same messages he preached, indeed the same stories.
If it is possible that Jesus learned his teachings from other sources then it is also possible he used those teachings to give man the necessary message, which has worked to this day.
What is wrong with simply accepting the message for what it is and not trying to analyse the messenger constantly?
To believe Jesus was merely a man but not the Son of God would NOT necessarily lead to doubt the entire basis for Christianity, as the message is still good and true. But would this not then bring into question the possibility that religion is a man-made concept?
By virtue of your belief, Jesus is elevated to the position of Godhead when in reality, he was simply a flesh and blood man.