When Aslan moves on from dealing with the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life to the writings of Paul, he makes a common, but largely discredited leap.

Just as Aslan has manufactured an imagined connection between Jesus and political revolution, he manufactures a total disconnection between the Christ portrayed in Paul and the Jesus described in the Gospels. For Aslan, Paul’s “Christ” has no relationship to the Gospels’ Jesus.

Two thousand years later, the Christ of Paul’s creation has utterly subsumed the Jesus of history. 215

Aslan’s constant refrain that there is a complete distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith has no grounds in Scripture nor in Christian tradition. This is not a distinction that bears scrutiny. The earliest Gospels bear clear testimony to Jesus as both fully human and deeply divine.

Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ (Matthew 16:16)

When Simon Peter witnessed the miraculous catch of fish he and his fellow disciples caught at Jesus’ command, Luke says,

he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ (Luke 5:8)

In Mark’s Gospel the scribes rightly challenge Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive the sins of a paralyzed man as,king

Who can forgive sins but God alone?’(Mark 2:7)

But Jesus does not back away from his claim to have authority to forgive sins even when the wrong has done been directed against him.

9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”?10But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic—11‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’12And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ (Mark 2:9-12)

Aslan may relegate this story to the realm of fantasy. He may dismiss it as just another example of later followers of Jesus attempting to claim for Jesus a power and authority he never claimed for himself in reference to an issue in which the true revolutionary Jesus would have had no interest. But, it would at least be helpful for Aslan to explain how, three decades after it never took place, an factious event came to be so widely accepted as fact, by people who were alive when it did not happen, that eventually it found its way into the authoritative texts of early Christian faith.

John’s Gospel recounts an event that appears to indicate that, at least 50 or 60 years after Jesus’ ministry, Christians had come to believe that he was recognized as divine during his life time. In John’s Gospel Jesus encounters again a young man he has healed and asks him

‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 

The young man replies,

‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’

Jesus answers,

You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’

At this point, it would make most sense for the young man to reply to Jesus accusing him of being a dangerous egomaniac, or at least to walk away in disgust. But, instead, according to John, the young man said,

‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him.(John 9:35-38)

It stretches credulity to imagine a writer, 50 years after Jesus’ ignoble death simply manufacturing such a story that came to be so widely believed.

How did this failed messiah who had a three-year ministry in which he was wrong about most of the things he believed and died as a despicable criminal leaving no coherent body of recorded teaching and no organized structure to perpetuate his cause, come to be so exalted that it became acceptable for a community to create pictures of him being a legitimate object of worship?

It is hard, when one actually reads the Gospels and reflects on Paul’s profound statements of faith in Christ, to avoid the impression that there may have been a power and mystery at work in Jesus that has forever affected subsequent human history.

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