Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Who do You Say that I Am?

Who Do You Say That I Am?

This question is the fundamental question of life.  Who is Jesus Christ?  We have reached a point at which much of our culture gets it wrong.  I wrote in a previous article about the “enlightened view” that Jesus was a “good spiritual teacher,” and why that position is the only one we are not left with the option of holding.

Once we have gotten our relativist friend or family members to acknowledge the reality of God’s existence, they have to confront the question of Jesus Christ.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen walks his students through a step-by-step approach to Jesus, starting from the perspective of a nonbeliever.

First, he says, we line up side by side everyone who has come, claiming to be from God.  The founders of the major world religions will be there.  We will have Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus and others, and we will not hold one above another.  They will all be submitted, without prejudice, to certain tests.

The first, says Archbishop Sheen, is that if someone were to be sent by God, we should expect that person to be pre-announced.  So we ask all the claimants, “Have you been pre-announced?  Was your birth expected before it happened?  Did we know that you were coming, what you would be teaching, how you would die, or why?”

Which has been pre-announced?  Only one can step forward.  No one knew that Buddha was coming.  There were no prophecies about the birth of Mohammed or the teachings of Confucius.  But Jesus is a different story.  In the Old Testament there are over 300 prophecies about the life, teachings and death of Our Lord.

At this point we do not treat the Old Testament as inspired writings.  They are merely historical documents thus far.  But it is undeniable that these documents were written hundreds of years before Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth.  They contain these 300 prophecies about a man to be sent from God.  And these prophecies have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.  We can historically verify this fact for many of them, looking at the information we have as merely a student of history and not yet with the eyes of faith.

Archbishop Sheen presents this argument, from the perspective of the nonbeliever, so that we can follow it, using only our intellect, and analyzing only historical fact, to show that it leads to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was pre-announced, was expected by the People of God, and must have been sent by God.

The other claimants lined up with Christ must step aside, and we now hold Jesus apart.  Archbishop Sheen goes through two other supports for Our Lord’s divine origin, the next being the many miracles He performed as signs that validated His claims.  Finally, as we look at His teachings, we can see that although some of them may be above human reason, none of them are opposed to it.

These are the types of questions and evidences our relativistic society has to confront when it comes to Jesus Christ.  To go on with conveniently conceived, politically correct, academic approaches to the Person of Jesus without answering the vast proofs about Who He really is, is dishonest.  Many of our agnostic friends have never really given the issue much thought, and we can do them a great service by just encouraging them to approach the question, “Who do you say that I am?” with humility and honesty.