A few days ago, in response to a question, I reposted on the problem of fundamentalism; looking back on the blog some six years, I see that at about the same time another related question appeared.  This involves fundamentalists who object to calling Jesus a “great moral teacher” since, for them, he is actually God himself.   It will take two posts to reply to that view, first, in this one: was Jesus in fact a great moral teacher?  The answer might seem obvious but, well, not so much.



Do you think Jesus was a great moral teacher?   If you think this is the case would you mind blogging about it?  Fundamentalists are using C.S Lewis (the well-known author of Narnia and The Problem of Pain) approach in this matter. Apparently they are happier if people call Jesus a lunatic vs. a great moral teacher.



I think this question is going to require at least a couple of posts: one on Jesus as a moral teacher and one on the claim by C. S. Lewis and others that if it’s true that he was a great moral teacher then we cannot very well think he would flat-out lie about the most important aspect of his teaching: his personal identity as God. (That latter is what lay behind the end of the question.)

So first, Jesus as moral teacher. As it turns out, this is a complicated question. The short answer, of course, is that Yes, Jesus was a great moral teacher. The complicating factor is that Jesus was not a great moral teacher in the sense that people today think of great moral teachers. That’s because the basis for morality for Jesus – the very heart of why he taught morals – is completely different from what people today think of as the basis of morality.

So let’s start with today. Most people today who teach morality teach it for the sake of all of us and for the good of society. If people were to behave morally, the thinking goes, society will be better for all of us for the long haul. There would be no hateful and harmful activities toward others if we all behaved in the way we should, not murdering, stealing, betraying, harming, screwing the other person to get ahead, and so on. If we all behave morally, we will all get along for the long haul, and life will be better for us both as a society and as individuals within it.

None of that has anything to do with Jesus’ teaching of morality.   Jesus did not teach that we should all be moral so as to get along for the long haul.  For a very simple reason.  Jesus didn’t think …

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