After entering the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, walk to the area to the right of the altar and take the stone steps down to the underground grotto. There you will find Jesus' birthplace, emblazoned with a metal starburst. But is this really Jesus birthplace?
In the late 19th century, British engineers digging around the church's pillars to study their sturdiness accidentally discovered the mosaic floor (on display inside the church) of a 1st century church that is about six feet above this starburst. Since 1st century barns weren't in basements, this cannot be Jesus' birthplace.
The precision (or the lack thereof) of Jesus birthplace aside, staring at this starburst did lead me to think about Jesus, whose birth this place is supposed to mark, and reminded me of the "Lord, Lunatic, Liar" argument that forced me to revisit my atheism a few years ago:
The Bible records Jesus making three claims about himself (see John 1:1 and John 8:58):
Before jumping to any conclusion, the theoretical possibilities first had to be considered. Taken as a set, these three claims could only be true or false.
If the claims are true, then Jesus is
who he claimed to be - God or LORD.
C.S. Lewis, the Englishman who reasoned as above indicated that the unprecedented nature of Jesus' claims precludes any other possibility. In particular, Jesus couldn't have been a wise teacher or prophet because wise people and prophets don't claim to be God.
I tried hard to think of a fourth option to put Jesus back in the corner as just a wise teacher or prophet, but failed. I then spent months looking for evidences in favor of Jesus having been a lunatic (it seemed the least-worst option of the three for me) and/or the Bible to be false.
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