For the last few weeks we’ve been looking at common objections to Christianity. This week I want to look at the objection that Jesus was simply a good teacher, but that’s all.
Some people who are not Christians are happy to say positive things about Jesus, such as, ‘Jesus was a good man’ or ‘Jesus was a great teacher’. They simply think that Christians go too far in claiming that Jesus was something more than that.
But this objection is logically wrong. If Jesus was a good teacher then we need to pay careful attention to what he taught. And one thing Jesus clearly taught was that he was God. Jesus said: ‘I and the Father are one.’ (John 10:30). We quickly see that the people who heard him at the time understood what he was claiming: ‘Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:32-33).
Jesus also taught that he was the promised Christ who saves people from their sin. Jesus said: ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life’ (John 5:24).
Now if Jesus was not God and not the Christ, then he is clearly not a good teacher. For if Jesus knew he was not God yet taught that he was, then Jesus was a liar. And good teachers don’t lie to their students. Or if Jesus really believed he was God when he was not, Jesus was a lunatic. And good teachers are not crazy.
So you can’t have your cake and eat it. If you’re going to affirm Jesus was a good teacher, then you must actually consider what he taught. And if you cannot accept his teachings, then be honest and don’t call him a great teacher.
Do you consider Jesus was a great teacher because you have carefully examined his teachings? Including that he was God and the one who takes away sin?