Liar, Lunatic or … Look, Just Put Down the Knife

So you’re walking down the street and you see a man up ahead who looks a little sketchy. He’s dirty, bearded and wearing an overcoat. He looks a little wild about the eyes. You decide to steer clear.

Suddenly he reaches into his coat and pulls out a machete. As you watch, he starts grabbing handfuls of his own hair and hacking them off with the blade. He does the same with his beard. He shoves each handful of hair or whiskers into a pocket as he goes. Before you know it, he’s messily shaved his head and chin, leaving small tufts of hair and drops of blood.

He then takes this mass of hair and beard to a nearby fruit and vegetable stall and starts weighing the tangled mass on their produce scale. By weight he divides the hair into three piles. One pile he just hurls into the air. A second pile he dumps in the intersection and tosses a lit match onto. Finally he leaves, holding the third handful of hair and slashing at it with the machete as he goes.

Few of us would hesitate to call this man insane. But this is Ezekiel:

“And you, O son of man, take a sharp sword; use it as a barber’s razor and pass it over your head and your beard; then take balances for weighing, and divide the hair.

A third part you shall burn in the fire in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are completed; and a third part you shall take and strike with the sword round about the city; and a third part you shall scatter to the wind, and I will unsheathe the sword after them.

And you shall take from these a small number, and bind them in the skirts of your robe.

And of these again you shall take some, and cast them into the fire, and burn them in the fire; from there a fire will come forth into all the house of Israel. [Ezek. 5:1-4]

God touched or crazy? The line is thin, and good ‘ol Zeke goes right up to that line and voids his bowels on it. Then sets fire to the whole mess and cooks his bread over it.

And here’s another problem I have with the Liar, Lunatic or Lord trilemma: how exactly are we supposed to evaluate sanity? God is supposed to be beyond human comprehension. A person acting in an incomprehensible way may be crazy, or may be touched by God.

Ezekiel is a good example, both in the way he behaved and in the way his writings were treated. Some Jewish sages prohibited younger men from reading parts of Ezekiel because they could cause damage to the mind. There are stories of Rabbi catching a glimpse of the God’s throne as Ezekiel describes it and either being killed or going insane.

Jesus did not just catch a glimpse of God, nor was he merely touched. He was both man and God crammed into a fragile package. In the end, the best argument against Jesus’s divinity may be that Jesus just seemed too darn sane.

Where the Fire Comes From
Meet The Wife
Atheists in the Evangelical Mind
Bob Cargill on the Holy Grail

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