“Jesus was a great man, and a great moral teacher. I just don’t believe that he was the son of God or anything like that.” I’ve heard this refrain many times. But I wonder if it makes any sense.
To admire Christ’s moral teachings, you have to be familiar with the New Testament on at least some level. But the second you read that, you come into contact with his claims of divinity. Here’s just a sample of such claims:
When asked directly whether he was the son of God, he said “I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven,’” (Mark 14:62).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Jesus clearly thought that he was the son of God, and found his Godhood to be an important part of his identity.
So how can you respect a man who claims to be God, but you think isn’t? Wouldn’t such a man be a braggart? Or a liar? Or a lunatic? If you found some philosophy professor, who you thought had good moral teachings, who also claimed to be God, wouldn’t you find such a man delusional?
Now you could argue that the claims about divinity came after Jesus died from the authors of the gospels. But if you believe that, why couldn’t they have also made up the good moral teachings? It seems strange to believe the disciples were lying about Christ’s divinity, but then trust them 100% to accurately relay his moral teachings.