C.S. Lewis described his coming to Jesus as a “philosophical conversion. I’m not the religious type.” Ultimately, his reason led him to admit that God is God, kneel and pray. This in part is what our new play Further Up & Further In explores.
Lewis thought it was a mistake to offer Christianity because it was comforting or good for society. He said “that Christianity should be presented simply and solely because it is true. If it is untrue no honest person will want to believe it. If it is true every honest person will want to believe it. It all hinges on Jesus. If His statements are false, Christianity is of no importance. If true, it is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
So, what are we to make of the evidence? What are we to make of the recorded acts and sayings of this man? Such as his astonishing miracles, the lucidity of his teaching or the appalling statements he makes about himself:
“I am the begotten one of God, before Abraham was, I AM.”
“I am the anointed one, the Son of the uncreated, most high God. And you will see me again at the end of history to judge the universe.”
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can reach absolute reality except through me.”
I often hear learned people say, “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” From the view of today’s skeptic who has taken the trouble to read the gospels closely – Jesus must have been seriously deluded. Or perhaps his followers greatly exaggerated the story, and it has now become legend.
As we explore in Further Up these alternative scenarios are not tenable. I don’t have time to go into all the evidence but to say that these very statements prompted the authorities to arrest this small-town carpenter on the charge of blasphemy and later have him executed by crucifixion. And it is these very recorded acts and sayings of this obscure, first-century Jew that ignited a tiny movement to grow quickly to thousands, and then to millions and ultimately change the spiritual map of the world.
At FPA our foundation is built on faith that Jesus is who He says He is. That faith gets channeled into creative art, theatre and film to help make Him known. We wouldn’t be investing untold hours of energy and effort to make known a teacher named Jesus, who said wise and wonderful things. In one of the most famous and still relevant passages in all of C.S. Lewis’ writings, he puts the alternatives clearly and succinctly.
“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 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 with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
The work of FPA, and especially our new play Further Up & Further In, is dedicated to make this statement clear. Thank you for helping us do that.
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