On "Liar, Lunatic, or Leafy Green Vegetable"July 23, 2007, vs Dumplin Dumbash
This solution by Dumplin' to the Trilemma seems to have been composed while on drugs. He asks us to consider Jesus' saying in John, "I am the true vine." Then he says, after another whiff of the hookah:
Applying the logic of C. S. Lewis to the above statement of Jesus, we can see that one of three things must be true: either he's a liar, or he's a lunatic, or he's a leafy green fruit plant. That's it. Those are the only three alternatives that Lewis allows us, so one of them must be true. Right?
Er, no...the alternative is, "saying he is the vine is a figure of speech, indicating that Jesus is a source for nourishment and strength." The use of a vine in metaphor is known previously; in the OT, for example, as Witherington's John commentary notes, Israel is metaphorically called a vine. You can guess what's next. Dumpy reaches for the stupid stick and beats himself with it, thusly:
Lewis also assumes that when Jesus claimed to be God (IF he claimed to be God), he intended his words to be taken literally. For a man who called himself a door, a vine, a loaf of bread and a glass of wine, this is not necessarily a safe assumption.
So this means that if we ever catch Dumplin' using a metaphor of himself -- such as, "I have ants in my pants" -- then we have every reason to doubt him when he claims something of himself such as, "I am hungry." Wow, that was easy.
There are two problems here. The first and most obvious is that Dumpy provides exactly zero in terms of showing that the divine claims of Jesus have a viable metaphorical interpretation. The second is that his merely associational argument -- "use a metaphor once, and who knows what else you're actually saying!" -- proves too much. There are ways in literature and life to decide when someone is using a metaphor. One of these, quite obvious here, is that something is actually impossible: Jesus cannot have been a real vine and also be a loaf and a glass of wine...unless he was Constable Odo, perhaps. Also, vines do not draw disciples, talk, and eat dinner. That may have been too hard for Dumplin' to figure out, of course.
On the other hand, divine claims like being the Son of Man, or Wisdom, have other antecedents that point to literality, as we note in our series here. This too is too hard for Dumplin' to deal with, since it would involve some actual homework.
Dumpy doesn't like homework, you see. He prefers soundbites, such as:
Lewis also assumes that no liar or lunatic could have preached a gospel of morality and self-denial. History, however, has many instances of popes, prophets, and preachers who were strait-laced, outwardly moral, and inwardly corrupt and deceptive, whatever their followers may have claimed.
But the issue is far more than this; it is an issue of someone making a specific type of claim (divinity) and also preaching such a Gospel. As I showed in my own article, the profile of truly "insane" Christs does not fit this. I read up on the literature; but Dumpy does not need to -- he only has to refer to unnmaed "popes, prophets, and preachers" and he's done with his argument for the day, and free to go play on the swingset.
It isn't surprising that when he gets to my own Trilemma article, he barely touches it.