A New Twist on the Quadrilemma: Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Legend?

The May/June 2014 issue of Touchstone has come out. In it is a provocative and, I might say, Lewis-esque piece of writing by Tom Gilson, the National Field Director of Ratio Christi. Called “The Gospel Truth of Jesus: What Happens to Apologetics if We Add ‘Legend’ to the Trilemma ‘Liar, Lunatic, or Lord’?” this article wrestles with the literary improbability of some author creating ex nihilo a person who is both absolutely powerful and absolutely good. Gilson wrestles with a number of objections, but marches through them and lays out an eminently reasonable case that no author could have created the likes of Jesus of Nazareth out of whole cloth. He may well be on to something. In turn, this argues for historicity. Take a look:



7 thoughts on “A New Twist on the Quadrilemma: Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Legend?

  1. David McKay

    Dr Wallace Thank you for this post. Every now and again, someone writes something that is not mere duplication of what others have said, as in this article. David McKay

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Holly

    Thank you Dr. Wallace for sharing this well written article. It speaks to a personal dilemma I faced today. Yesterday I studied the gospel accounts of the feeding of the 5,000 and how soon after the disciples were chided for their hardness of heart. This morning I enjoyed a brief presentation by Dr. Gary Bates, of Creation Ministries Int’l, yet did not sense a lot of help to defend my faith, even with the use of scientific evidence of Biblical world history. My own hardness of heart surfaced. Sound evidences didn’t get to my heart.

    Now this article brings it together for me; your valuable work with NT text plus a better informed stance in science — I now have a better understanding of why these evidences/defenses matter? This article reminded me of my longing for the source of faith to be so secure in who He is that the evidences bolster & serve as scaffolding for the substance of the saving gift of Himself to me & a lost world. In my reality all known facts may not explain everything even should I develop supergenius to grasp it all: “..we know in part…” (1 Cor. 13:9), yet getting armed with more evidence left me feeling isolated with a weakened boldness of my personal testimony.

    Mr. Tom Gilson’s focus pointed out a clearer glimpse of the ‘Who’ this is all about. Plus he is very effective in exposing those aspects of battle in the spiritual arena where we find ourselves targeted (e.g., believers share a “cognitive dissonance reduction” disorder). It’s easier to defend when we understand what we’re up against: He is who He says He is vs. hardness of heart.


  3. Rosa

    Dr. Wallace, this is well apologetical article. Legend theory sounds attractive when it is read without further reasoning. However, like Tom says, “it lacks, if I may say so, the ring of plausibility.” In fact, keep lying is super difficult, especially “community of faith” generating the character of Christ. What’s their purpose to lie? Is Peter being crucified for his own lying? Legend theorists should provide more substantial evidence rather than imagine an analogy of “telephone game.”


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  5. Dear Dr. Wallace: Could you please give me links to good articles that deal particularly with the camps of traditional vs contextual inerrantists? I’m just wanting to have a more nuanced understanding of the issues. The article you did featuring your Christo-centric based view of inerrancy was one of my favorite posts. I enjoy your blogsite and thank the Lord for CSNTM. – Thanks. For His glory, Mahlon.


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  7. Pingback: Lord, Liar, Lunatic Trilemma: How the Accounts Prove the "Legend" Answer Fails, Too - Thinking Christian

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