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Some say that Jesus was either Lord, liar or lunatic. What if we add 'legend' to the mix?

by Tom Gilson—

There are many challenges to the four gospels' authenticity and historical accuracy. The following article by Tom Gilson addresses these challenges with a unique perspective on the stuff of legend.

(summary abridged)

"'A man claiming to be God', says C.S. Lewis, 'could hardly be good unless he really was God.' If Jesus was not the Lord..." [then what?] This argument is beautiful in its simplicity: It calls for no deep familiarity with New Testament theology or history, only knowledge of the Gospels themselves, and some understanding of human nature. The questions have changed since Lewis wrote that...Today's skepticism runs deeper than that. The skeptics' line now is that...that the whole story of Jesus, or at least significant portions of it, is nothing more than legend.

"Christians have responded with arguments hinging on the correct dates for the composition of the Gospels, the identities of their authors, external corroborating evidence, and the like. All this has been enormously helpful, but one could wish for a more Lewis-like approach to that new l-word, legend—that is, for a way of recognizing the necessary truthfulness of the Gospels from their internal content alone.

"Lewis was always more at home looking at the evidence of the Gospels themselves than at the historical circumstances surrounding them. In one classic essay (variously titled "Fern-Seed and Elephants" or "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism," depending on where you find it) he delineates the Gospels as true "reportage" rather than fable, and concludes, "The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read."

*This excellent article was originally published in Touchstone Magazine. You can read the complete article by pressing the Read More button. You can read many more of Tom's articles, books and blog posts in his own website, The Thinking Christian:


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