Catholic Truth Society Postal Course #3: Jesus Christ, by Father Herbert C Fincham

painting of Christ Giving His Blessing, by Hans Memling, 1478To establish the claims of the Catholic Church to be the one religion revealed to mankind by God, we must first prove that Jesus Christ was sent by God to teach us. Actually what we claim for Jesus Christ is something much greater than being sent by God to teach, we say that Jesus Christ was God Himself made man for us. This great mystery, that Christ is truly God, is the foundation of our Catholic Faith. If this were not true then all that we believe is vain and foolish fables, worse even than that, it is the most outrageous blasphemy and fraud.

The Incarnation

We call this great mystery the “incarnation,” from the Latin word for “flesh,” as Saint John’s Gospel opens with the words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God . . . and the Word was made flesh . . . “. The Word is another name for Christ and Saint John means that the Person who was known as Jesus Christ was from the beginning, that is from all eternity, God, and He became man at the time of the incarnation. We also speak of the “Divinity” of Jesus Christ, Divinity being another word for His Godhead or Divine Nature.

Christ’s Claim To Be God Is Either Fraud, Mad Or True

We may say that Saint John wrote his Gospel, near the end of the first century, to stress the fact that Christ is God in answer to some doubters and unbelievers. Even as early as that heretics began to question this great truth and, though it has been attacked from every angle by subtle and clever enemies of Christ’s Church throughout the ages ever since, it cannot be disproved but has survived all these attacks and is still believed by hundreds of millions of Christians in the world today. Such perseverance in belief of what appears at first glance to be almost unbelievable is in itself a confirmation of its truth. Our reason for believing this great mystery can be summed up very shortly as follows: Jesus Christ claimed to be God and both His disciples and enemies understood Him to make this claim. What He claimed was either true or false. If it was false, either He knew it was false and in that case He was a blasphemous fraud; or He thought He was God when He was nothing of the sort, in that case He was a raving lunatic! Jesus Christ was not a blasphemous fraud, nor was He a raving lunatic. Therefore He was God, for the only remaining alternative is that what He claimed is true. A careful reading of the Gospels will show that Jesus did make claims which could only be justified if He were God. He calls Himself the Son of God and the only-Begotten Son of God (John 5:17-28 and and 3:16-18). God the Father declared Jesus to be His Beloved Son at the Baptism and the Transfiguration. His disciples call Him Son of God in many places and are commended for their faith (Matthew 14:33, 16:16; John 6:70, 9:35-37, etc.). His enemies knew that this title was the same as calling Himself God and accused Him of Blasphemy (Matthew 26:63-66). It was because He declared Himself to be the Son of God under oath before the Jewish Judgment Court that they condemned Him to death: “He hath blasphemed, what further need have we of witnesses … He is guilty of death.” And Jesus suffered death in testimony of the truth of His claim.

Christ Claimed Divine Powers

Jesus also claimed to have powers belonging to God alone. He worked miracles in His own name and by His own power. We have only to compare the miracles of Christ with those of the apostles to see the difference in their significance. The apostles worked their miracles in the name of Jesus, for He had promised them the power to do so (Mark 6:7,13, 16:17). Thus in the Acts (3:6) Saint Peter says to the lame man: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise, and walk.” He denied it was his own power (Acts 3:12-16). St. Paul was horrified when the people of Lystra took him for a god after he had worked a miracle (Acts 14:13,14). Jesus, on the other hand, uses His own Name even when raising the dead: “Maid, arise,” and “Young man, I say to thee, arise” (Luke 8:54 and 7:14). He does not protest when the people come adoring Him (Matthew 14:33, etc.).

Christ Claimed Divine Rights

He claims a love from all men that God alone has a right to claim: “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). He claims the power to forgive sins as His own right (Matthew 9:2-7), to have existed before Abraham and to be one with the Father (John 8:58, 10:30, 14:9). He, so to speak, brackets Himself in equality with the Father when He says: “If anyone love Me, My Father will love Him and We will come and make Our abode in him” and “Going therefore, teach all nations . . . baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (John 14:23, Matthew 28:19; see also John 14:9). Saint John sums up his Gospel with the words: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (20:31).

Christ Claimed To Raise Himself To Life

Whenever Jesus was asked for a sign by which He could confirm these mighty claims, He pointed to His works and foretold the greatest of all His miracles, His Ressurrection. He promised that after he had been put to death He would rise again to life on the third day. (Cf. Matthew 12:40, 16:21; Mark 8:31, 9:30; Luke 9:22; John 2:18-21). Moreover, He asserts that He will do this by His own power: “I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No man taketh it away from Me: but I lay it down of Myself, and I have power to lay it down; and I have power to take it up again.” (John 10:17,18) All the Gospels record in detail the fulfilment of this prophecy and Saint Paul sums it all up by saying: “If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith also is vain” (1st Corinthians 15:14). Jesus died on the Cross on Good Friday and on the third day, Easter Sunday, He rose again to life. He appeared to His disciples on that day, and on many subsequent occasions, until He ascended into heaven before their eyes forty days later.

The Resurrection Could Not Be A Fraud

Either this is true and all that it implies is true, or it is the biggest deception that the world has ever witnessed. If it were a deception, either the apostles were deceived or they were deliberate liars and frauds. Their lie would have been the most useless and futile imaginable, for it brought them only persecution and death. It is inconceivable that they would all have remained faithful to such a blasphemous conspiracy under the burden of all the misery, torture and misfortune that it brought upon them. It is even more inconceivable that they could have got away with it! How could they have induced thousands within a few days, or even years, to believe their unsupported word against the testimony of all the officials of the Jewish and Roman authorities? The impotence of these enemies of Christ to disprove the claims of Christ’s followers can only be due to the fact that at the actual time of the Resurrection the strength of the evidence was so convincing that no words of their could woaken it. The obvious sincerity of the apostles, their uprightness, the courage of their convictions, and the simplicity and unanimity of their account of what happened, proved that they were not deceivers. If they were not deceivers, could they have been deceived themselves? Only if Christ Himself were a fraud and deceiver, though it is hard to see how He could have carried on His deception after He was dead and buried.

The Resurrection Could Not Be Hallucination

The suggestion that the disciples were suffering from some kind of hallucination and only imagined that they saw the Risen Christ is really too futile to be worth considering. They asserted facts, such as that they found the tomb empty and that they had touched with their hands the Risen Body, as well as seeing Christ and hearing Him speak and watching Him eat. They all testified to these events and there could not be such a universal and identical haUucination, of some hundreds and not merely of the twelve. They must have witnessed some objective resurrection, and not a mere phantasm of their imagination, and this must have been presented to them either by Divine or Satanic pov/er. It is hard to see what benefit Satan had in such deception! If it came from the God of all Truth then it must have been what it purported to be, the true risen Body of Jesus Christ.

Christ Was Not A Fraud Nor A Lunatic

Thus we are forced to face the alternatives, either that Jesus Christ is God, or a blasphemous fraud or lunatic, and there is one very simple fact which proves that He cannot have been either of the last two. A fraud or a lunatic could not have succeeded in convincing millions upon millions during the course of nineteen centuries, from within a few days of His death until the present times, that He was in very truth the infinite God made man! This statement hardly needs elaborating; it only needs pondering on to see its unassailable force. The rapid growth of Christ’s Church in the first century A.D., and her survival until our own days in the face of most violent persecutions and opposition, can only be accounted for by attributing it to the miraculous power of God. But what God increases and preserves must be true, for God is Truth. Here is a miracle, even surpassing in some ways the Resurrection, before our very eyes.

Therefore Christ Is God

Moreover, an examination of Christ’s teaching and character certainly shows that He was no lunatic or fraud. His whole way of presenting His doctrine and asserting His claims have the mark of the most transparent honesty. As Dr. Orchard points out, it cannot be either a hallucination or presumption; it is too indirectly made for the former, and too modestly for the latter {The Way of Simplicity). The study of Our Lord’s life in the Gospels shows the nobility of His character and the sublimity of His teaching.

MLA Citation

  • Father Herbert C Fincham. “Jesus Christ”. The Catholic Postal Course, 1951. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 April 2016. Web. 21 October 2016. <>