Which Is It, Then?

Becoming Mrs. Lewis' explores the turbulent life of the woman C. S. Lewis  called 'my whole world' - The San Diego Union-Tribune

If God’s goodness is inconsistent with hurting us, then either God is not good or there is no God: for in the only life we know He hurts us beyond our worst fears and beyond all we can imagine. … But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.
Either way, we’re for it.
What do people mean when they say ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good?’ Have they never even been to a dentist?

CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

Which is it, then?

“No God” must be ruled out. Our contingent, finite, spatiotemporally bound universe exists. Ex nihilo nihil fit: Our universe must therefore have a cause which is necessary, infinite, and unbound by space or time. Things are slightly more complicated than that—but not by much.

Which is it, then? A good God, or a bad one?

What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, ‘good’? Doesn’t all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What have we to set against it?

We set Christ against it. But how if He were mistaken? … The trap, so long and carefully prepared and so subtly baited, was at last sprung, on the cross. The vile practical joke had succeeded. … Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?

I think it is, if nothing else, too anthropomorphic. When you come to think of it, it is far more anthropomorphic than picturing Him as a grave old king with a long beard. That image is a Jungian archetype. … It preserves mystery. Therefore room for hope. Therefore room for a dread or awe that needn’t be mere fear of mischief from a spiteful potentate. But the picture I was building up last night is simply the picture of a man like S.C.—who used to sit next to me at dinner and tell me what he’d been doing to the cats that afternoon. Now a being like S.C., however magnified, couldn’t invent or create or govern anything. He would set traps and try to bait them. But he’d never have thought of baits like love, or laughter, or daffodils, or a frosty sunset. He make a universe? He couldn’t make a joke, or a bow, or an apology, or a friend.

A bad God (or a bad man) could perhaps ape goodness and beauty to some degree. He could not create them out of nothing without examples of each to imitate (and eventually pervert). Have your pick of all the archvillains of history and fiction: Could any of them have composed not just your favorite poems but poetry itself? Could any of them have fashioned not just your favorite flowers but color and light and life themselves? Could Sauron, Hitler, Stalin, the Joker, or the Wicked Witch of the West not just have faked love but invented it?

But then every daffodil and peal of laughter and act of love is a singular proof of the existence of a good God.

Why, then, the tortures?

One answer is that faith only becomes serious when it becomes a latter of life and death—that only torture can awaken us from our madness:

Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game ‘or else people won’t take it seriously’. Apparently it’s like that. Your bid—for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity—will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high; until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpences but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less will shake a man … out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.
And I must surely admit … that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivisector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis. … God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. … He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.

But another answer, in some respects the only answer, is that we simply do not know: do not know why Joy Davidman rather than CS Lewis, why the apostle James rather than his brother John, why this tragedy rather than another—or no tragedies at all.

And all the while the tortures continue apace. What, then?

Two widely different convictions press more and more on my mind. One is that the Eternal Vet is even more inexorable and the possible operations even more painful than our severest imaginings can forbode. But the other, that ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’.

How Did They Get That Right?

Capernaum

What we find is an exact corollary between the top 9 most common male names in both the New Testament documents and other non-scriptural sources of that same time frame.

When researchers looked at the top 9 Jewish names of first century men living in Egypt they got a much different list of names that did not correspond at all to the list of names in Israel.

This means that it’s very unlikely that someone living in Egypt, for example, would have been able to guess at the right proportion and types of names to include in a story about Jewish men living in Jerusalem, even if they lived during the same time period. Much less likely that someone living outside of Jerusalem would have been able to accurately guess the types and proportions of Jewish names a half century later.

“It’s not just that they have the right proportion of names,” says Dr. Williams. “They also have the right features of names [e.g., especially common names like Simon and Mary are often qualified so that they can be disambiguated].” … We see a Gospel record that retains very specific details about seemingly minor characters and accurately communicates their names, decades after the facts and thousands of miles away. … The Gospel authors are also aware of the names of several cities and villages in the area, and they speak of them with amazing expertise. … “The Gospel authors … know that Capernaum is next to the sea. They know whether the land in those areas goes up or down, they know traveling times, etc. How did they get that right?” … [T]he Gospels of Philip and Peter and Thomas only mention Jerusalem and Nazareth whereas the Gospels mention a total of 23 towns and villages.… “… [T]hey’re getting it right on botany, on the shape of houses, on the description of the Temple, they’re getting the coinage right, they’re getting the social stratification right, they’re getting the religious setting right. After a while you think, there are so many opportunities for them to go wrong if they’re making it up. But they don’t seem to get it wrong.”

Lydia McGrew on Skeptics of the Resurrection

Image

The strength of the evidence can often be seen by looking at the lengths to which the skeptic must go to explain away that evidence rather than taking seriously the hypothesis that springs to mind. Hence, rather than take seriously the possibility of the resurrection, the skeptic must hypothesize that the women went to the wrong tomb and the persecutor Paul had some inexplicable fit on the road to Damascus that just happened to make him think Jesus was talking to him and that the Christians were right and the eleven disciples all just happened to have a coordinated mass hallucination of Jesus eating, being tangible, and talking to all of them at once, repeatedly, over a forty day period and James just happened to have a similar hallucination and…You get the picture.

Lydia McGrew, “There are no slippery prior probabilities”

More Fair than Dark Magic

narrow pathway near tress

Now we can see what the modern world is missing, aided by the admirable clarity of the blindsight of BLINDSIGHT. The Anarchist is rightfully devoted to destroying everything in the world, including himself, if in fact there were no truth, goodness, nor beauty in the world, or no way to achieve them. If we are all just programmed meat machines, suicide is the noblest option.

But if there is beauty, even it is ineffable, something never to be captured in words, a mystic feeling elusive as a ghost, then the Occultist is right to eschew all talk of truth and virtue, and right to tolerate any man’s approach to the inapproachable.

But if there is truth, even if it is hard and cold and tinged with bronze, the Cultist is right to impose it on the world, no matter the cost in human suffering, and let all competing truths and claims of other virtues be damned. The only beauty is what serves the Cause.

But if there is virtue, then men must get along with each other, and also go along with each other just enough to maintain the public weal. The talk of truth can be tolerated as long as no violence is done in its name, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But if there is magic, then there is a force in the world which sets the standard of truth and beauty and goodness, and bright magic is both more fair than dark magic, and merits our loyalty. Each man must find that light for himself, because no authority is to be trusted.

But if there are miracles, and I mean miracles from God, then there is an authority, a divine and loving Father who has both the natural authority of a parent and of a creator and of king. If one of those miracles is the Resurrection, then to all these other claims of authority, the divine can also claim the most romantic authority of all: the authority earned by merit. Christ has authority because he earned it by suffering the quest to the bitter end, and rescuing the fair bride from the red dragon. The crown of thorns is his reward.

If there are miracles, there is at once truth and beauty and goodness, for all these flow from the same source.

John C. Wright, “Transhumanism and Subhumanism”

Lewis on the Realism of the Gospel of John

Antonio Ciseri, Ecce Homo

I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like [the Gospel of John]. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage … pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn’t see this has simply not learned to read.

Letter to My Grandfather

Corato, Puglia, Italy | Puglia, Southern italy, Basilicata

Here is a letter I wrote to my grandfather many years ago (with some slight modifications) when he was very ill. He was baptized two days after reading it:

Grandpa,

As you know perhaps better than anyone, most people never get a dinner. Moses, who as he was leaving Mount Sinai said, “The food in that hospital is terrible”—never got a dinner. Amelia Earhart, who said, “Stop looking for me; see if you can find my luggage!”—never got a dinner. Steven Spielberg’s mother, who said to E.T., “I don’t care where you’re from, you’re here and you’re getting bar mitzvahed!”—never got a dinner. Queen Elizabeth, who said, “Not now, I’m on the throne”—never got a dinner.

And yet here you are, the recipient in all likelihood of far too many dinners, a man who is loved by his friends and family. You have been loved by your parents, your friends, your wife, your children, and now, however imperfectly, by me your grandson. This letter is born of that love for you, in full recognition that a grandson (like a son) lives always under a debt to his grandparents which he cannot repay. You have provided for me and my family financially; you have instilled in me a love for cats, languages, Italy, one-liners, and the Mets; and you have loved me both as a grandfather and as a friend. It will forever be impossible for me to make all of that up to you; but I write this letter to you as a grandson and as a friend out of my appreciation for you, respect for you, and sincere desire for the best for you.

This letter is a plea: a plea for you to repent, to fall upon your knees and turn yourself in to God. “Fallen man,” Lewis says, “is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.” This letter is a plea from one recovering rebel to another to lay down his arms. I beg you to open your mind and your heart to these words, to “lend me your ears” so that you may perhaps lend God your soul. I do not write as one superior to you or to anyone else—only as a blind man whose eyes have been opened attempting to lead his fellow to the light.

I believe in God; I cannot help it. I believe in God because I believe in the Tuscan countryside, “Clair de lune,” and a thousand other terribly lovely things whose loveliness I cannot believe is merely accidental. It is perhaps conceivable that the universe just so happens to exist on its own; that it just so happens to be such that life exists within it; that life just so happens to have evolved such that minds emerged from matter; and that minds just so happen to have evolved not only a sense of the good, the beautiful, and the awesome but also the ability to create good, beautiful, and awesome things. But I find each link in that chain to be quite weak and rather silly, and thus I believe instead that “in the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.”

I believe in Jesus; I cannot help it. I believe that the story of Jesus is the greatest and most iconoclastic story ever told—that it is quite literally too good to be false. It is perhaps conceivable that a small band of Jews (sons of the most fiercely monotheistic nation in the history of the world) just so happened to invent a man who claimed to be God, and that this new brand of utterly blasphemous Judaism just so happened to sweep through and overtake the whole Roman Empire. It is perhaps conceivable that the man whom they invented just so happened to become the most present and overpowering figure in literature, art, philosophy, and history for two thousand years, and that his alleged resurrection just so happens to be the only supernatural event seriously discussed by historians today. But I find these propositions incredible. Either there lies at the heart of the Christian faith a lie—some grubby-handed and vile scheme for wealth, power, or fame—or the Truth, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” and the whole Good and nothing but the Good. I have my doubts, and I have my questions, but I can no more believe that the root of the Christian faith is wicked than I can believe that the root of my mother’s love for me is wicked. I conclude, therefore, that the root of the Christian faith is the unending creativity and love of our Father in Heaven.

I believe in God; I believe in Jesus; I believe in the Holy Spirit; and I believe in Joy. There is no religion so joyful as Christianity, no religion so brimming with laughter and hope in the face even of death. “Death be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,” writes Donne—not with the affected indifference of the Epicureans who say, Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo (“I was not, I was, I am not, I do not care”), but with the triumphant joy of a man who cares deeply about his fate and simply has nothing to fear. A husband and wife can perhaps learn to be content with childlessness; but they would be fools to compare their acquiescence with the exulting joy of the couple whose first child has just been born. And that newborn joy is very much like the joy which runs over from the cup God bids us drink. It is a joy which we can only taste in this life, sinners that we remain; but it can indeed be tasted, and I intend one day to swim in it and be engulfed by it. For it is a laughing, dancing, and perpetual joy, like a smooth and clear and ever-flowing stream—not at all the addicting but dissipative delight that comes from being praised, respected, feared, or desired, but the translucent joy that comes from praising, respecting, fearing, and desiring God.

Therein, in the pure love of God, lies the great secret and beauty and joy of Christianity, but also the great stumbling block: for a man can love God only insomuch as he foregoes the love of himself, his self-love. A man who derives some pleasure from chasing skirts and even more pleasure from loving his wife cannot thence conclude that he can combine the two pleasures by combining the two pursuits; the combination will ultimately give him less joy than either pursuit on its own. In the same way, a man may derive some pleasure from loving himself, from setting himself up as his own god; but this pleasure will never be anything more than a ghastly shadow of the pleasure he would derive from God—from Joy Himself. And the two pleasures cannot be combined; they are oil and water to each other.

Therefore Christ teaches that a man must lose his life to save it; that the path to joy is self-sacrifice; and that (as I have said before) the path to victory lies in laying down one’s arms. The point of Christian morality is not to be a decent person, for the very good reason that decency is entirely compatible with self-worship. The point of Christian morality, rather, is to crucify one’s love for self in order that one’s overbrimmingly joyful love for God may be resurrected.

There are a great many decent men in this world who do mostly good things but are motivated chiefly by self-love. They are hard workers, exemplary citizens, and family men; and they care very much that their hard work, citizenship, and family life be acknowledged and praised. They tend to believe that they are self-made men; as a result, they tend to look down on others whose standing does not compare so favorably with theirs. If their lips are not condescending, their hearts certainly are. They think constantly about what they have achieved and what they are owed and not nearly enough about their absolute dependence upon God and infinite debt to Him. They are, in a way, just as tempted by good as other men are by evil; for they worship at the altar of Self-reliance (that most American of idols) or Self-worth or Respectability or Principles or Country or Family Honor rather than of Sex or Drugs or Theft. Society regards the decent men’s idols as benign; they are, after all, the idols which our society has enshrined. But God regards them all as malignant and spiritually deadly—for they all lead men, especially “self-made” or “decent” men, to seek joy in something apart from Him. Your temptations and mine are the temptations of the decent men; but they are no less temptations. My idol will never be Drugs, but it may very well be Intellectual Pursuits, or Academic Accolades, or the Right Politics, or what-have-you. Without God’s help, I shall worship Intellectual Pursuits and pay my taxes and give charitably and yet look down upon other men and ignore God altogether—a decent man outwardly and yet inwardly a son of Hell. Such is my idolatry; and yours is very much the same. If it is respectable idolatry, it does not therefore cease to be idolatry. It remains idolatry; it remains a cancer; and if it is not dealt with, it will kill you.

Cancer must be obliterated before the body can heal. And our spiritual cancer is not Democrats, Republicans, the poor, the rich, blacks, whites, men, women, the Man, or society, but ourselves. Solzhenitsyn, survivor of the Soviet gulags, writes, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” There are not yet any truly good or truly evil people; good and evil exist within each of us, and all any of us can ever do is choose to biopsy the evil within himself. We are the problem. The story goes that The Times of London asked several British luminaries to send in responses to the question “What’s wrong with the world?”; Chesterton’s reply was “I am.” This recognition that the problem lies within is the beginning of repentance, the beginning of Christian discipleship, and consequently the beginning of all new life.

Grandpa, I am the problem. My love for myself—my desire to be praised and admired for my intelligence and wit, or even for my humility and kindness; my desire to be better than others: smarter, more talented, handsomer, more important, even (strange as it may sound) godlier; my desire to live comfortably even as others undergo horrible suffering—all these desires conspire to overthrow me and to turn me away from the living water, Him Whom I was made to desire, God Himself. I am hardly the model of Christian virtue, but I acknowledge before God that my life’s work is and will and ought to be to destroy the darkness of self-love within me so that the pure light of God may shine throughout my whole being. For only two options present themselves to me: to destroy the darkness within or to be destroyed by it.

Grandpa: You are the problem. You, no more and no less than any of us, are the problem. I do not speak flippantly or disrespectfully; I have chosen my words carefully, and I mean what I say. I believe wholeheartedly that my problem is me; and I believe wholeheartedly that your problem is you. A joke here and there lightens the mood; a joke after almost every sermon or prayer makes a mockery of God. Will you consider a sermon not as a religious formality nor even as an act of public speaking to be scrutinized but as a feeble attempt to draw your attention to the evil in your heart? An autobiography is a fine thing and a blessing to your grandchildren; but it is a damning sin to care more about one’s autobiography than about one’s Biographer. Will you abandon your stories and love instead His neverending story, whose beauty far exceeds any creation of yours or mine? (For all of our accomplishments and accolades are dust in the wind and will invariably be forgotten; the comfort we take in them is nothing next to the eternal comfort of Heaven.) You are respected and honored by your fellow men; will you ignore their attention and seek instead the face of God, before Whom you and I are mere unruly children? For there are many poor and ignorant and seemingly insignificant men who are closer to the Kingdom of God than you. Yes, I know your good deeds, and so does God. Will you leave them aside and call to mind instead your stubborn rejection of Him over so many years? For there is only one ethics committee that matters; and God is its chairman. Will you fight to set your heart on things above and not on your Mets, your food, your writing, your career, or even your health? Or even your family? I fight everyday to set my heart on God and not on my respectability, my wealth, my social prospects, my romantic desires, or anything else. Will you join me in this struggle against the whims of the flesh and toward infinite Joy?

God has brought your body to its knees, as He will to us all. Will you bring your soul to its knees before Him? We must learn to crawl to God if we are ever to walk in the garden with Him. Confess your sins; soften your heart; acknowledge your depravity and indebtedness to God; believe; repent; be baptized; seek first His Kingdom. The road is at first unbearably difficult, but it becomes unbearably delightful. Lusts must at some point be set aside if love is to be awakened. Do not merely tame, crucify your self-love and come into the light!

Your time, like all of ours, is short. I do not pretend to know much of anything about the age to come—only that true joy apart from God is in the end impossible. There is no true joy apart from God; God simply is True Joy. Anything else placed ahead of him—education, politics, status, family, one’s own charitable deeds and generosity—is an idol and a tool of the devil. That is no cause for mourning, but for rejoicing; for the idols do not hold a candle to the Real Thing. I plead with you to join me on the path to reality, the path to joy, the path to God. The first step along the path is the most daunting; every step after that becomes more natural, until at last you could not have imagined journeying any other way. Leave behind any thought of your own goodness or rights or superiority; they are only an encumbrance, an obstacle between you and the God of joy. Think only of God and of His Son, and everything else will fall into place.

I cannot know how these words will affect you. If they sting, remember that so does alcohol applied to fresh wounds. I implore you to disregard whatever literary merit you may see in my words and consider only the message they convey: God has created you for infinite bliss, and you have rebelled against him. He has sent His Son to save us from our sins; all He asks is that we give up ourselves—lay down our arms. You have heard the good news. Believe; confess; repent; be baptized. I beg you, lay down your arms. You will get, not just a dinner, but an eternal feast.

Rosemary for Remembrance

Rosemary - Wikipedia

But what then is Christianity? Christianity is a faith, we all know that. It is also a hope and a fear. It is a promise and a threat. It is a light shining in the darkness. It is a knock at the door. It is a guest at supper. It is coals of fire. It is weeping at a betrayal. It is reconciliation. It is hearing the voice of the shepherd. It is new wine to drink. It is madness. It is a house built on a rock. It is the Truth walking. It is the eternal in rags. It is the finishing touch. It is the lily of the valley. It is the Roysterer son, home again, home again. It is the black sheep found. It is the rich young ruler, sorrowful. It is the widow’s mite. It is love rebuffed. It is rosemary for remembrance. It is a lamb slain. It is “a brand plucked out of the fire.”

OK Bouwsma

Lewis on Moral Objectivity

There is, to be sure, one glaringly obvious ground for denying that any moral purpose at all is operative in the universe: namely, the actual course of events in all its wasteful cruelty and apparent indifference, or hostility, to life. But then, as I maintain, that is precisely the ground which we cannot use. Unless we judge this waste and cruelty to be real evils we cannot of course condemn the universe for exhibiting them. Unless we take our own standard of goodness to be valid in principle … we cannot mean anything by calling waste and cruelty evils. And unless we take our own standard to be something more than ours, to be in fact an objective principle to which we are responding, we cannot regard that standard as valid. In a word, unless we allow ultimate reality to be moral, we cannot morally condemn it. The more seriously we take our own charge of futility the more we are committed to the implication that reality in the last resort is not futile at all. The defiance of the good atheist hurled at an apparently ruthless and idiotic cosmos is really an unconscious homage to something in or behind that cosmos which he recognizes as infinitely valuable and authoritative: for if mercy and justice were really only private whims of his own with no objective and impersonal roots, and if he realized this, he could not go on being indignant. The fact that he arraigns heaven itself for disregarding them means that at some level of his mind he knows they are enthroned in a higher heaven still.

CS Lewis, “De Futilitate”

Chesterton on Christ’s Divinity

Gustav Doré, “Le sermon sur la montagne” (“The Sermon on the Mount”)

There is a sort of notion in the air everywhere that all the religions are equal because all the religious founders were rivals, that they are all fighting for the same starry crown. It is quite false. The claim to that crown, or anything like that crown, is really so rare as to be unique. Mahomet did not make it any more than Micah or Malachi. Confucius did not make it any more that Plato or Marcus Aurelius. Buddha never said he was Bramah. … The truth is that, in the common run of cases, it is just as we should expect it to be…. Normally speaking, the greater a man is, the less likely he is to make the very greatest claim. Outside the unique case we are considering, the only kind of man who ever does make that kind of claim is a very small man; a secretive or self-centered monomaniac. Nobody can imagine Aristotle claiming to be the father of gods and men, come down from the sky; though we might imagine some insane Roman Emperor like Caligula claiming it for him, or more probably for himself. Nobody can imagine Shakespeare talking as if he were literally divine; though we might imagine some crazy American crank finding it as a cryptogram in Shakespeare’s works, or preferably in his own works. It is possible to find here and there human beings who make this supremely superhuman claim. It is possible to find them in lunatic asylums; in padded cells; possibly in strait waistcoats. … [A delusion of divinity] can be found, not among prophets and sages and founders of religions, but only among a low set of lunatics. But this is exactly where the argument becomes intensely interesting; because the argument proves too much. For nobody supposes that Jesus of Nazareth was that sort of person. No modern critic in his five wits thinks that the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount was a horrible half-witted imbecile that might be scrawling stars on the walls of a cell. No atheist or blasphemer believes that the author of the Parable of the Prodigal Son was a monster with one mad idea like a cyclops with one eye. Upon any possible historical criticism, he must be put higher in the scale of human beings than that. Yet by all analogy we have really to put him there or else in the highest place of all. … If Christ was simply a human character, he really was a highly complex and contradictory human character. For he combined exactly the two things that lie at the two extremes of human variation. He was exactly what the man with a delusion never is; he was wise; he was a good judge. What he said was always unexpected; but it was always unexpectedly magnanimous and often unexpectedly moderate. Take a thing like the point of the parable of the tares and the wheat. It has the quality that unites sanity and subtlety. It has not the simplicity of a madman. It has not even the simplicity of a fanatic. It might be uttered by a philosopher a hundred years old, at the end of a century of Utopias. Nothing could be less like this quality of seeing beyond and all round obvious things, than the condition of the egomaniac with the one sensitive spot on his brain. I really do not see how these two characters could be convincingly combined, except in the astonishing way in which the creed combines them. For until we reach the full acceptance of the fact as a fact, however marvellous, all mere approximations to it are actually further and further away from it. Divinity is great enough to be divine; it is great enough to call itself divine. But as humanity grows greater, it grows less and less likely to do so. God is God, as the Moslems say; but a great man knows he is not God, and the greater he is the better he knows it. That is the paradox; everything that is merely approaching to that point is merely receding from it. Socrates, the wisest man, knows that he knows nothing. A lunatic may think he is omniscience, and a fool may talk as if he were omniscient. But Christ is in another sense omniscient if he not only knows, but knows that he knows.

GK Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Lydia McGrew on the Personality of Jesus

A sixth-century mosaic from the Basilica of San Vitale at Ravenna

The nature and personality of Jesus are clearly the same in all four Gospels. … His use of sarcasm, his modes of thought, his rapier-sharp wit, his love for his friends, his weeping with compassion, his ability to read thoughts, even his characteristic metaphors and turns of phrase, his use of object lessons. John’s presentation of Jesus is actually very strikingly the same as the synoptics. And the differences between them are exaggerated and incorrectly stated by critical scholarship. By the use of vivid vignettes, John shows us not an allegorical abstraction but a solid and intensely real person, and he is the same person we meet in the synoptic Gospels. And we can tell that by reading them. That’s not just something we believe by faith. That’s actually right there in the text and in the documents.

Lydia McGrew, “Dancing with the distinguished professor–Post II”