A reader responds to my piece on Tormented Rationalization for Lying with this astonishing reply:
Mark, do you want to take a crack at explaining how St.Raphael didn’t lie to Tobit when he appeared in the form of a distant cousin? Or the spies sent to scout out the promised land by Joshua? Or Jesus when he said he’d not go up to Jerusalem but then went up? Or when he said Lazarus is sleeping…before then acknowledging that he died…
Brilliant. Rationalize lying by calling Jesus a liar.
Remember: that was not written by an atheist attempting a “gotcha”. That was written by a *Christian* attempting a “gotcha”.
One of the fun parts of my job is that if I refuse to dignify a question like this with an answer I am inevitably informed that I am wriggling in the crushing grip of logic and “can’t reply”. So: I discuss the matter of Tobit here and here. I discuss the matter of Jesus’ use of mental reservation (and, more important, the bizarre and blasphemous attempt by Christians to appeal to Jesus as a the Great Proto-Liar Who Justifies Christian Lying) here. I don’t discuss the matter of Jesus’ use of metaphorical language about Lazarus anywhere because I’ve never, till now, encountered any argument silly enough to try to call it a “lie”. You might as well say that every non-literalistic statement Jesus ever made is likewise a “lie” (“He’s not really a vine or a door or a road or a shepherd! He’s lying!”)
Seriously, when you are reduced to calling Jesus a liar in order to justify your position, it’s time to give it up and do a serious re-think.