Actually, Yes, Don Lemon, Jesus Was Perfect … and That’s Not All You Got Wrong
CNN host Don Lemon said it: “But here’s the thing, Jesus Christ, if that’s who you believe in Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on the Earth. So why are we deifying the Founders?”
I know what you’re thinking: I’m going to tell you he was wrong about Jesus. Well, of course I am! What’s really amazing, though, is that as bad as that was, he managed to fit one more oddity in there, and another total whopper.
Actually, Jesus Was Perfect
Let’s start with the most important thing. Actually, yes, Jesus was perfect. Every early record we have says so. No early record contradicts it.
I know, I know, that record is “a story,” the skeptics will say, and, “It’s easy to tell a story where someone’s perfect.” Ri-i-i-ight. Just try to name another one. Name one whose main character is perfect in His love. Perfect in His teaching. Perfect in His debates. Perfect in His death. We don’t even need to get into His resurrection — not that it isn’t real, but by now you’ve already reached the answer: Stories about perfect characters aren’t easy after all.
And if you’re still not sure about it, well, the book I wrote about this has just become available for pre-order: Too Good to be False: How Jesus Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality. (I can only give you a tiny taste of it now, until it releases in a few weeks.)
How To Be Really Wrong About Jesus
Not only is it hard to make up a perfect story, you should see just how unlikely the skeptics’ version of who “made it up” is. They think a muddled “faith community” kicked it off, and that a Telephone Game took care of most of the rest of it. And they think that’s where the only truly perfect character in all history and literature came from? Really?
Back to Don Lemon. The record says he’s wrong. And even though that record comes to us in the form of a story — four interconnected ones, the four Gospels — there’s every reason to believe the record is accurate. There’s no reason to think the skeptics have explained it away, anyway. Jesus was the one perfect Person ever to walk the earth.
(And if you say I haven’t made the case completely here, of course I haven’t. That’s why I wrote a book on it. Bide your time, bide your time….)
That’s the most important of the three odd things he said there. Now the least important: “Admittedly,” as in, “if that’s who you believe in Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect.”
Now, admittedly, I’ll say throwaway words I don’t really mean sometimes. Maybe that’s what that was for Don Lemon. It’s just odd, that’s all. If I say “admittedly,” I’m admitting something that’s true of me. I don’t know Don Lemon’s religious beliefs, but the way he phrased “if that’s who you believe in,” it sounds to me like he’s admitting someone else’s opinion. Could it be that he thinks that’s a standard Christian belief?
It’s odd, that’s all. It struck me enough to be worth a quick comment. I won’t make anything more of it than that.
“So Why Are We Deifying the Founders?”
But when he asks, “So why are we deifying the Founders?” that question isn’t just odd. It’s a rhetorical trick, whose purpose is to make conservatives look stupid. Like “Whoa, you think they were so perfect.”
Could it be just an innocent figure of speech? Mere hyperbole? Maybe — if he hadn’t framed it alongside Jesus. But he did, and for that reason the figure of speech falls flat, as far as I’m concerned.
Let’s make sure the standard of comparison is clear. First, nobody deified Jesus. He didn’t need deifying; He was God from the beginning before all beginnings. One reason we know that’s true (there are many reasons) is because of His perfection on earth. Perfection is a quality of deity alone. He lived perfection because that was who He was.
But good grief, who’s deifying the Founders? Who ever claimed they were perfect? Who ever said they had to be anywhere near it? Funny thing: People who think highly of the Founders tend to be fairly well concentrated among people who think Jesus was uniquely perfect, and that therefore no one else is. Including the Founders.
Isn’t it possible instead to respect the Founders for devising the best system of government ever? Can’t we recognize them for that, even though not one of them was Jesus Christ? Can’t we credit them for advancing humanity leagues down the road toward a just society, even if they didn’t take it all the way to the end? The end which believers in Jesus know won’t really arrive until He returns?
Yet One More Oddity
There’s one more odd thing going on here. (Don Lemon didn’t say it, so I didn’t count it in my list of three.) The establishment of Jesus’ day crucified Him because He threatened them. He showed they weren’t all they claimed themselves to be. They thought they were great, until someone actually perfect came along.
Jesus was human, but He wasn’t only human; He was God in the flesh. And that ticked off the local leaders, so they crucified Him. Because He was perfect.
America’s founders were only human. They were as wise and just as any governmental leaders the world had seen up to that day, but again, only human. So now the left is crucifying them. Because they weren’t perfect.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the forthcoming Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.