Great question. Frequently asked question. There are many ways to begin the answer and to start the investigation.
I was asked by my 11-year-old son. So I knew I had to give him something to chomp down on. And I knew I had to do it pretty quickly. We were on a road trip, but still, he was not going to listen to a 2-hour lecture.
So I prayed and then started with a question: “What’s Christianity about… at its root? Maybe I should ask this: WHO is Christianity about?”
“Yeah, that’s right.” I continued, “Jesus Christ is the source of Christianity and the goal. So, when we are asking how do we know our religion is true, we are really asking how do we know Christ is true… or that Christ is who he said he was. For instance, Jesus said, ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Now either that’s true or that’s not. If it’s not true, Jesus is a liar. If He knows it’s not true, but he says it anyway, then he’s a liar. Right?”
“I guess so.”
“Does Jesus seem like a liar to you?
“Not really… he healed people and helped people.”
“Exactly. And everyone says his teaching is worth listening to. Is a liar worth listening to? Is a liar worth following? Not at all. Jesus’ teachings and life don’t seem to be one giant scam. Everything about him screams authenticity. So, if he’s saying these things, he’s either a liar… or maybe he’s a lunatic.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, CS Lewis (who wrote Narnia) noted that there are only three options for figuring out who Jesus is, based on his life and teachings. Liar or Lunatic are the first two. Maybe instead of being a liar and perpetrating a fraud on everyone (saying things he knew were not at all true), maybe he himself believed them to be true, even though they aren’t. For instance, maybe he really did think he was the only way to God. But, if in fact he isn’t, then that makes him crazy! Insane or a lunatic.”
“Well, think of it this way, if I told everyone that I’m the guy who is the center of the world and all of history revolves around me, and you should worship and serve and follow me… what would y’all do with that? Would you believe me?”
“Of course not… but if I truly believed it, and ended up dying because I believed it… what would you think of me then?”
“That you were a fool, and totally out of touch with reality.”
“Exactly. In other words, I’d be a lunatic.”
“I get it. So, when Jesus says, “no one comes to the Father except through me,’ either he is a liar, saying something he knows isn’t true, or he’s a lunatic, actually believing this thing that isn’t true. You said there were three options. What was the third?”
“Well, based on his claims, Jesus is either a liar, or a lunatic or he is Lord. And that’s exactly who he said he was: the Lord of all. He claimed to forgive sins (something only the Lord can do), and to prove it, he healed a lame man’s legs. He claimed to be the one way to the Father, he is revealed as the King of Kings over the whole universe. Liar, Lunatic or Lord, that’s how CS Lewis has helped generations of people wrestle with the question of who Jesus is, and is Jesus true and right. If Christianity is true or not depends on whether Jesus is who he says he is. It seems like Lewis is right: when you consider the exclusive and comprehensive nature of his claims, either he’s a diabolical liar, a certifiable lunatic or he is, in fact, the Lord of Glory. How does that grab you?”
“Hmm. Cool. I’m going to the back seat for a sleep.”