Albert Schweitzer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952 for his humanitarian efforts, had his own views about Jesus. Schweitzer concluded that insanity was behind Jesus’ claim to be God. In other words, Jesus was wrong about his claims but didn’t intentially lie. According to this theory, Jesus was deluded into actually believing he was the Messiah.
As a skeptic, Oxford scholar C. S. Lewis realized that Jesus was either a liar, lunatic, or the real thing. He writes, “He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell.”
But even those most skeptical of Christianity rarely question Jesus’ sanity. Social reformer william Channing (1780-1842), admittedly not a Christian, stated that the idea that Jesus was self-deluded is the most absurd title we could give him. Nothing Jesus said or did point to any mental instability.
Even the great skeptic Rousseau acknowledged Jesus’ superior character and mental balance, writing, “What presence of mind. … Yes, if the life and death of Socrates are those of a philosopher, the life and death of Jesus Christ are those of a God.”
Historian Philip Schaff posed the question we must ask ourselves: “Is such an intellect–thoroughly healthy and vigorous, always ready and always self-possessed–liable to a radical and most serious delusion concerning his own character and mission?”
So, was Jesus a liar or a lunatic, or was he the Son of God? Could Thomas Jefferson have been right by labeling Jesus “only a good moral teacher” while denying him deity? Interestingly, the audience who heard Jesus–both believers and enemies–never regarded him as a mere moral teacher. Jesus produced three primary effects in the people who met him: hatred, terror, or adoration.
It is the claims of Jesus Christ that force us to make a choice about who he is. We can’t just cut and paste Jesus and his words, like Jefferson attempted to do. Lewis writes,
You must make your choice: either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
The apostle Paul originally thought Jesus was an imposter, and as a Jewish leader, severely persecuted Christians. But later he came to a much different conclusion, as he writes to the young church at Philippi:
Though he was God….he appeared in human form.
The entire message of Jesus’ life and words is only valid if his claims about himself are true. If they are true, then his words about life and purpose command our utmost attention. As Lewis says, each of us must make our own choice about the most significant life who ever existed. Who do you say Jesus is?
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1972), 52.
 Quoted in Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (San bernardino, CA: Here’s Life, 1999), 161, 162.
 Quoted in McDowell, New Evidence, 122, 129.
 Quoted in McDowell, New Evidence, 162.
 Lewis, 52.
 Philippians 2:6,7.