INFIDEL TRIBUTES TO CHRIST
It has been truly said that Christianity is Christ; but Christianity is not what Christ was, but who He is. Our Lord never asked, - What character do men say that I have? The crucial question He put was, - Who do men say that I am? The whole revelation of God is embodied exclusively and forever in the identity of the Messiah, the Son of God. So here lies a fearful danger for the unbeliever. It is true that the character of our Lord is such that it receives a tribute absolutely unique; but - as we show in the ensuing quotations - this tribute is also offered by leading infidels of the world, and thus can serve as a mask for a total rejection of the Christian Faith.
This tribute was paid to Christ by Lord Bolingbroke, who, in the eighteenth century, violently attacked all revealed religion. The system of religion which Christ published, and His Evangelists recorded, is a complete system for all the purposes of religion, natural and revealed; and such it might have continued to be, to the unspeakable advantage of mankind, if it had been propagated with the same simplicity with which it was originally taught by Christ Himself.
The second infidel
testimony is from Rousseau, the man who sowed the seed of the Revolution which
The next tribute is from one of earths greatest geniuses, Napoleon, who caused the death of eight millions of mankind. I tell you that Jesus Christs spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Between Him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison. He is a Being by himself. His gospel, His appearance, His empire, His march across the ages, everything is for me a prodigy, a mystery insoluble, a mystery which I can neither deny nor explain: here I see nothing human.
The fourth tribute is from
one of the greatest poets of the world, Goethe, to whom
The next testimony to Christ is from Theodore Parker, a clergyman who, in widely circulated literature, denied all authority to the Bible, to Christ and to Christianity. Here was the greatest soul of all the sons of men, a man of genius for religion, one before whom the majestic mind of Grecian sages and of Hebrew seers must veil its face. What man, what sect, what church, has mastered His noblest thought, comprehended His method, or fully applied it to life?
The next testimony is from an apostate monk, Renan, who thus directly addresses our Lord after he has abandoned the Christian Faith. A thousand times more alive, a thousand times more beloved since Thy death, Thou shalt become the corner-stone of humanity so entirely that to tear Thy name from this world would be to rend it to its foundations. All ages will proclaim that among the sons of men there is none born greater than Jesus.
John Stuart Mill
The next tribute is
from the front rank of British infidels, John Stuart Mill, who influenced the
social and political thought of
The next, last tribute but one, is from one of the greatest of modern historians, Lecky, a frank and bold opponent of the Christian Faith. Through all the changes of eighteen centuries, one ideal Character has filled the hearts of men with an impassioned love, and has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the highest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate, and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers, and all the exhortations of moralists.
The last closing
tribute is from
The implications of these tributes to Christ are tremendous. (1) They produce overwhelming evidence that admiration for Christ has no remotest connection with the Christian Faith, but can be produced on the threshold of Hell. Here are men exhausting the powers of language in praise of the Son of God, yet wicked men, and men leading the mightiest infidel movements of the world, men who are hopelessly lost.
(2) The testimonies are more than simply valueless: they are evidence for the final court of judgment. How unutterably awful it will be for Pontius Pilate to hear his own words at the judgment Throne of God, - I find no fault in him - in Him whom he doomed to Calvary; and the most damning fact for Judas will be his own words, - I have betrayed innocent blood. Why then did ye not believe Him?
(3) If these testimonies to Christ are true, and yet their denial of His Godhead be true also, the Lords character is evil beyond conception; for while posing so successfully as a saint, He was a false god, veiling the fearful falsehood in robes of white - which were a whited sepulchre. I and the Father are one: before Abraham was, I am: he that hath seen me hath seen the Father Being a man, said His keenest hearers, thou makest thyself God. The crushing of all the stars into powder (as one has well said) in the grasp of God would not be a greater miracle than the combination of the character of Jesus Christ with a lie.
(4) The evidence is solitary and unique: all down the ages witness to Christ has been wrung by the facts from infidel lips; no man ever came within a million miles of such a homage. But something more convincing remains. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for the witness of God is this, that he hath borne witness concerning his son (1 John 5: 9): This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And, in revealing His identity, He lays the final crown upon the head of Christ. Of the Son he saith, Thy throne, 0 GOD, is for ever and ever (Heb. 1: 8).