Not really. If that is all Jesus was (or is), then he is just another entry in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, to be read or not, according to one's inspirational need.
C.S. Lewis brilliantly dealt with this watered-down view of Jesus and what He did in the book "Mere Christianity." Said Lewis, who thought about such things at a far deeper level than Howard Dean, "I'm trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I can'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 this man was, and is, the Son of God - or else a madman or something worse."
One hopes that the next journalist who gets a chance to ask Dean about this will inquire as to which Jesus he is talking about, if for no other reason than to gauge whether Dean is being sincere or a political opportunist who seeks to bamboozle Southern religious Democrats. That reporter might also survey Christians in New England (there are more than Dean thinks) as to whether they are as offended by his reference to their region as Southerners were to his characterization of their symbols and driving choices.
I can't wait to see how Dean panders to Californians. Fruits and nuts, anyone?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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