Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary
Jesus was a Good Man—But the Son of God?
"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 with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” -- C.S. Lewis
I. Jesus Christ and the American Mind
A. Most are very favorable toward Jesus
B. Most do not hold the Bible’s view of Jesus, however
C. Argument: If Jesus was a good man, what else do we need to believe about him?
II. Sources of our Knowledge of Jesus
A. The Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
1. Transmitted accurately over time: manuscript evidence
2. Written by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) or those who consulted them (Mark and Luke)
3. Are written as space-time history, not myths or legends (see Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:16)
B. The Apostle Paul (letters in The New Testament)
1. Paul was a converted Jew
2. Was authorized by the author original Apostles
3. Wrote in the 50s
III. Some Claims of Jesus
A. Claimed the authority to forgiven sins (Mark 2:1-14); give his life for sinners
B. Was the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:15-28)
C. Was “one with God, the Father (John 10:30-31)
D. Claimed he would die and rise again (throughout the Gospels)
IV. Some Credentials of Jesus
A. Taught with authority; was a masterful philosopher (On Jesus)
B. Worked miracles of many kinds: over nature, illness, demons
C. Was the crucified and resurrected Lord (1 Corinthians 15)
1. Facts of history
a. Known burial place of Jesus
b. Empty tomb of Jesus
b. Many appearances of Jesus
c. The resurrection changed the lives of the disciples
2. Best explanation: simplest, explains the most: Jesus’ resurrection in space-time history
V. The Conclusion About Jesus: Four Options
A. Was a legend; No: the evidence supports the New Testament record.
B. Was deceived; a madman: No: his character was sane and rational, not insane and irrational
C. Was a deceiver
1. No: there was no benefit in doing deceiving people
2. Being a deceiver does not fit the rest of his character or his actions
D. Conclusion: He was who he said he was: Lord and Savior!
VI. Jesus Christ Best Answers the Human Condition (John 10:10)
For much more on these arguments:
1. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011), chapters 19-22.
2. Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003).
3. Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998)