Let me begin this column with an illustration. Please understand that what I am writing is only for illustrative purposes.
Suppose I were to tell you that I fully support and believe in our president, Barak Obama. However, after making that statement I follow it with these comments, "Of course that doesn't include his birth account: too much controversy there. The birth certificate that was produced is an obvious forgery, and then there is the troubling biography in that brochure from his Harvard days saying he was born in Kenya but raised in Hawaii."
Oh, and besides that, I really don't believe anything written supposedly by him in his book, 'Dreams of My Father,' I think much of it is fabricated."
If you heard me say all of this, would you really believe me when I say I fully support and believe in our president? I don't think so, and for obvious reasons.
Yet, there are millions who see no problem applying such flawed logic to Christ. They claim that they are Christians, they claim that they fully believe and support Christ, but then, in the same breath, they start arguing, "Oh, except that part about the virgin birth and that part about a resurrection, and all those miracles, they really have to go -- that wasn't Jesus at all. And that stuff written in the Bible about Him, totally fabricated; can't believe a word of it."
Now, even though I began this article with an illustration, and stated hopefully clearly enough that it is only an illustration, I know that there were some who, as they looked over that illustration, became upset.
Some may even write the newspaper claiming that the birth issue has long been settled and I need to get my facts right, etc. Please understand that I am making a point and what I said in that illustration does not reflect what I believe.
In fact, if it did, it totally undermines my first claim and thinking people realize that.
Yet, even though we see that clearly through the illustration, many of these same thinking people fail to realize that when they make the same claim about Jesus Christ (can't believe the birth record, can't believe what you read about Him) they are, in fact, revealing that what they truly believe does not support what they claim to believe.
Without the person of Jesus of Nazareth there is no Christianity. You cannot take the moral and ethical teachings of Christ, divorce them from the clear claims to Deity made by Christ, and still have Christianity. We have to face this.
There is no way that Jesus could have been a good ethical and moral teacher if the claims attributed to Him are true. It is right at this point that so many then resort to the claim -- well, you can't really believe the Bible.
OK, if that is true, how then can you even believe the moral and ethical claims it makes? Seriously, people, we have to face the real issue: to claim to believe the principles of Christianity while denying the Christ of Christianity is absolute foolishness.
C.S. Lewis wrote, "There was a man born among these Jews who claimed to be, or to be the son of, or to be 'one with,' the Something which is at once the awful haunter of nature and the giver of the moral law. The claim is so shocking -- a paradox, and even a horror, which we may easily be lulled into taking too lightly -- that only two views of this man are possible.
"Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was and is, precisely what He said. There is no middle way. If records make the first hypothesis unacceptable, you must admit the second. And if you do that, all else that is claimed by Christians becomes credible -- that this Man having been killed, was yet alive, and that His death in some manner incomprehensible to human thought, has effected a real change in our relations to the 'awful' and 'righteous' Lord, and a change in our favor."
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit www.gatewaycommunity.org.