Christian Relaunch

The Character of Christ

It is widely conceded that Christ's insights make him an outstanding observer of the human condition, yet that same consensus rejects the most distinctive point of his teaching, his view of himself, which he expressed not as speculation but as directly experienced fact.

In sharp contrast with his followers, the most famous of whom were notable for their sometimes overwhelming sense of their own unworthiness, he spoke often (and sometimes colourfully) of the sins of others but showed no awareness of sin in himself.

He often called God "your Father" and "my Father" but never jointly "our Father", thus expressing his sense that his own relationship to God was of a different order than that of others.

This self-awareness is so organically part of the record that it cannot have been imposed by over-enthusiastic biographers. In contrast with all the historical figures who are usually mentioned in the same list, none of whom claimed to be anything more than human, he claimed that in him God had uniquely come among us. I see only one plausible explanation.

"The discrepancy between the depth and sanity and (let me add) shrewdness of his moral teaching and the rampant megalomania which must lie behind his theological teaching unless he is indeed God, has never been satisfactorily got over."

C. S. Lewis, Miracles ch 14. As background to this point, he argues elsewhere that on purely literary grounds the Christ of the Gospels must be classed with Plato's Socrates and Boswell's Johnson as figures each of whom is at once both an outstanding literary creation and an unmistakably actual personality.

Back to Christ.