By Bethany Ward, Staff Writer–
C.S. Lewis once said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, is of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” With this statement in mind, Dr. Donald T. Williams of Toccoa Falls College gave the annual C.S. Lewis Lecture in Derthick Hall at UTC this Wednesday, March 20th at 7pm.
Williams is a professor of English literature, R.A. Forrest Scholar, and the author of many books that explore the texts of Christian writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
His lecture refuted claims made against C.S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity, written in 1952.
Lewis has a famous quote that says “You must make your choice. Either [Jesus] 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 call him a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about [Jesus] being a great moral teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”
Furthermore, Lewis made the claim that there are three logical possibilities that exist in accordance: Jesus was telling the truth, he was lying, or he was insane.
Williams responded to this perspective, offering that “This [position] doesn’t itself prove that Jesus was God, it eliminates the easy way out…we must either accept Jesus’ claim or reject Him as immoral and insane. The great moral teacher option is eliminated,” Williams said.
Critics believe that Lewis’s argument commits the logical fallacy of false dilemma and does not offer a wide-enough range of option; the main alternative argued is that Jesus could have been “genuinely mistaken about his role in life without being insane” and still be a great moral teacher.
Williams refuted this and discussed what he believed to be the qualifications of a great moral teacher, using Jesus, Joan of Arc, and Muhammad’s relationships to God as examples to support Lewis’s perspective.
All in all, Williams did not see the criticism of Lewis as fair nor justified, saying “Liar, lunatic, or Lord? Lacking, ludicrous, or logical?…but let’s not come up with any patronizing nonsense about how Lewis gave us a fallacious argument. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”