In an essay titled “The Divinity of Christ,” Dr. Peter Kreeft discusses the fact that believing in the Incarnation is a major stumbling block. Christianity proclaims that Jesus is fully God and at the same time fully man. Many of us were taught this basic doctrine as children and we don’t give it much thought nowadays.
Not much has changed in 20 centuries. When Christians proclaim the doctrine of the Incarnation these days, a sizable portion of our modern culture either laughs or rages. When Christians say they REALLY believe in the Incarnation, many folks roll their eyes and laugh, amazed that there are people in this modern, scientific world who still cling to ancient fairy tales. Others in our society rage at believing Christians. They are not angry for the same reason as the first century Jews, who thought Christian doctrines were gross insults to the all-mighty Deity. Instead, modern-day activists consider traditional Christianity a threat to the anything-goes Sexual Revolution™ that emerged in the 1960s, and therefore Christian morality must be marginalized.
People should embrace Jesus’ teachings on social justice, we are told, but ignore all that contentious “Jesus is God” stuff. (By the way, we SHOULD embrace Jesus’ teachings on social justice – the Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start – while emphasizing the “Jesus is God” stuff, too.)
However, as C.S. Lewis pointed out years ago, the one thing we cannot say is that Jesus was a good and wise teacher but not divine. Everything Jesus said and did rules out that conclusion. He either was a liar (claimed He was God but knew He wasn’t), or a lunatic (claimed incorrectly that He was God and really believed it), or the Lord (claimed He was God and it’s true). Those are the only three options: liar, lunatic, or Lord.
For those who like Jesus’ social teachings but can’t accept that He really is God, Dr. Kreeft offers a bold challenge: “Well, then, why not a lunatic or liar?”
The thing is, people who are liars or lunatics are so predictable – and boring. Jesus was neither.
It would be nice if a person could be a Christian, even if he did not accept that Jesus is God. However, the Incarnation is a core and non-negotiable belief. If it’s not true, then Christianity is a feeble house of cards ready to collapse at the first mild breeze. If the Incarnation is true, if Jesus really is God, then all the claims of Christianity are true. It means Jesus’ death on the Cross really did pay the price for our sins and we can be forgiven. It means the Resurrection really did happen and Jesus conquered death once and for all. And it means we can spend eternity in the joys of Heaven if we put our faith in Christ.
The divinity of Jesus is the key that unlocks countless blessings, both in this world and in the world to come.