As I was re-reading those three verses yesterday, I was reminded of a speech broadcast live (and rebroadcast several times) on television from my school, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. In the speech, the self-proclaimed religious expert strongly urged the audience to abandon the notion of the deity of Christ. To do so, he claimed, would be to fully appreciate what a great man Jesus really was.
Such an assertion raises a number of issues. One issue is the weight of the ego of the speaker who urges us to believe that he is telling the truth about the deity of Christ – while suggesting that Jesus was simply lying. In the conflict between the religious speaker and Jesus Christ there is, of course, a gap in credibility. One has been the subject of more books than any other who has ever walked upon the planet and also has the distinction of having time based upon His birth. On the other hand, I cannot even recall the speaker’s name.
Of course, another issue is the mental dexterity of a speaker who claims that Jesus is only a great man if He (or he) is also a liar. Such assertions were once confined to those with IQs below room temperature – long before our universities declared war upon the notion of truth (or Truth) in the postmodern era of education. Now that we scoff at the notion of truth, the epithet “liar” has lost some of its punch.
Those who often read my columns are probably predicting that I will also raise an issue relating to freedom of speech. Those prophecies are just as correct – although not as impressive or complex - as the ones found in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.
Indeed, the speaker who urged the audience to reject Christ’s claim that He is God did so under the full protection of the First Amendment. And I am glad that he was able to do so. There is no better appreciation of the Truth than that which is gained from its juxtaposition with falsity.
But the problem at my university (and many others) is that the First Amendment is not deemed applicable to those who make the contrary assertion that Christ was, and is, our Lord and Savior precisely because He is the Almighty God. A conversation I had with a student just last week is illustrative.