The Trilemma

A passage from Lewis' 'Mere Christianity" came to mind as I was out walkin' around in blogdom ... in case you haven't heard it before I thought that I would share it with you:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said [about Himself] would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
I just got back from a road trip to New Jersey to celebrate my Mom's 90th birthday. As I was traveling along on Interstate 70, every now and then I would catch a religious billboard that would say "Jesus is Lord" - words stated in several places in the New Testament. For me the billboards came across a bit vague.. I would have preferred "Jesus is God".. it would have been clearer for a nonbeliever.. and might help them with the choices of the Trilemma.


  1. First of all, "Happy Birthday" to your mom. WOW, 90!!!

    It's kind of funny. When I was a non-Christian, I would read those "Jesus is Lord", or "Jesus Saves" signs and get turned off. Now that I am a Christian, I read them and think to myself, "Somebody like my old self just drove past that sign and got turned off."

    But it's such a poignant sentence that it just has to be said! I think I like your idea of "Jesus is God" better. That would at least explain what Lord meant. And it doesn't leave the non-believer thinking "Saves what? His pennies?"

    Side note: If your mother is 90, then either she gave birth to you in her 60's or 70's, or you ar using a very old picture of yourself. ;-)

  2. I remember the first time I read that passage in Mere Christianity--the world stopped, and when it started again, things were different.

  3. Well put! And thank you for putting up what is probably my most favorite, most memorable quote of Lewis.


  4. Is there not a fourth choice? Jesus was mistaken...

    Or a fifth? The writers attributed to Jesus what he did not attribute to himself.

    I only throw those out because I have heard them and I think they are fair questions. I have always found Lewis's trilemma a bit coercive... :)

    I like the idea of giving people more space to make judgments than that.


  5. Jesus came to pave the way for redemption. Much of his mission was to expose our selfrighteousness. He had to prove to us that our silly attempts to come to the Father were futile... but, that a day would come which would reveal to all that God's love vastly exceeded our foolishness. Sadly, still today, we think we can "work" our way to God. We look right past the cross and the incredible message it reveals, and attempt to persuade God to favor us as a reward for all of our correctness. We insult the cross with our self-righteousness. But, that's OK... the cross covers us anyway. That's how great God is!

  6. This is so much more than semantics, and a great distinction. Elohim is who we serve... Jesus is Him, not my "co-pilot" or one of the other many things we say.

    Great one.

  7. HB to your mom! Mine turns 82 next week and is in better shape than me :(

    I wished you a happy Father's Day on my blog, but wanted to say it here too. I then realized I was not 100% sure you are a father, but you sure are a wonderful example of what a father should be like even if your not (but I do kind of remember you talking about a daughter..don't i?)


I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply.
You can click here to see my comment policy.