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A Few Easter Thoughts

Easter Sunday was just over a week ago, but I hope we are still pondering the Easter message.

The most important question anyone can ask in this life is, “does God exist?”  Then by extension, “what kind of being is he and what is my relationship with him?”  Every other question is insignificant in comparison.  Yet astonishingly most people avoid thinking about it, perhaps subconsciously aware that the answer is life-changing.  Some of the few that give it more than a passing thought come to some strange conclusions.

Last week I attended an Easter interfaith meeting.  Several Christian speakers declared that God is just love – that he only exists inside us but does not exist as a person.  They claimed that modern scholarship shows that although Jesus was an inspiring teacher, he was not the Son of God, was not born of a virgin, and was not resurrected from death.  Their reason, in part, was a claim that Christianity is based on the creeds of the 4th. and 5th. centuries which produced a compromise formula for the nature of God that had more to do with political expediency than truth.

We can agree with the reason, but not their conclusion.  My friends also suggested a reason we can’t agree with: that the Gospels were written long after Jesus lived, and are not a true historical record — that the Easter story and other miracles were just inventions.  In response to this, C. S. Lewis wrote:

“Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so.”  (C.S. Lewis, “What Are We to Make of Jesus?”)

And one of his most famous quotes:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the 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 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, “Mere Christianity”)

Jesus said “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)  Yet most Christian denominations teach that God is unknowable, beyond human comprehension.  The message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is such a cool, refreshing breeze of sanity in comparison.  The teachings of the gospel sound true and feel true, because they are true.  The Easter story is not fiction, but the message of salvation to all who will embrace it.


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