Sunday, October 9, 2011

Just Sayin', Gospel Edition

My gospel pet peeve for today: that Clive Staples Lewis quote that says
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 the 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 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 patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Besides the false trilemma that I think this is (read the Wikipedia article for details), it also presents the difficult position for Mormons, if accepted, of what to do with the 1978 First Presidency statement that said
The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.
So if Mohammed, a man who claimed to have a vision from an angel and receive new scriptures that were literally the word of God, can validly be considered a "great religious leader" who "received a portion of God's light" and "[m]oral truths," why can't Jesus be considered the same? Why do we not accept the Q'uran as scripture, but we think it's impossible to separate Christ's claims of divinity from his other great teachings? I just don't see it.

A note of clarification: I do believe Jesus was the literal Son of God, divine, savior, redeemer, etc etc, but I also think Lewis' trilemma is a specious argument in favor of that position.


  1. You have no idea how often I think about this and am just as bothered (maybe more so) than you are. Mohammed said some pretty crazy things too, so did all the rest of them, and the crazy things are supposed to discredit the great moral teachings they gave? I don't buy it. And I think it's prideful to tell someone they are being stupid for believing in Christ's moral teachings but not in his divinity. We mormons do that kind of thing all the time (and are encouraged to do so).

  2. I concur in peevement!

    I also submit the "Joseph Smith as Prophet/Book of Mormon Word of God/LDS Church is One and Only-->You only need to buy in on one and the rest falls in place!" as a similar tri-peevement.

  3. Karma Balancer: I had the "Hello" song stuck in my head yesterday.

  4. Ha! I would always, on my mission when explaining that logical chain to people, think in my head "Unless of course it turns out the Community of Christ was right, or the Strangites, or the FLDS, or [insert other sects that trace their roots back to JS here]" :)

    Also, that is a *great* song!