Is God then so like man, is there so little difference between the two that, while in possession of my right senses, I may begin with the assumption that Christ was human? And, for that matter, has not Christ himself affirmed that he was God? On the other hand, if God and man resemble each other so closely, and are related to each other to such a degree—that is, essentially belong to the same category of beings, then the conclusion “therefore he was God” is nevertheless just humbug, because if that is all there is to being God, then God does not exist at all. But if God does exist and, therefore, belongs to a category infinitely different from man, why, then neither I nor any one else can start with the assumption that Christ was human and end with the conclusion that therefore he was God. Any one with a bit of logical sense will easily recognize that the whole question about the consequences of Christ’s life on earth is incommensurable with the decision that he is God. In fact, this decision is to be made on an altogether different plane: man must decide for himself whether he will believe Christ to be what he himself affirmed he was, that is, God, or whether he will not believe so.
What has been said—mind you, providing one will take the time to understand it—is sufficient to make a logrical mind stop drawing any inferences from the consequences of Christ’s life: that therefore he was God. But faith in its own right protests against every attempt to approach Jesus Christ by the help of historical information about the consequences of his life. Faith contends that this whole attempt is blasphemous. Faith contends that the only proof left unimpaired by unbelief when it did away with all the other proofs of the truth of Christianity, the proof which—indeed, this is complicated business—I say, which unbelief invented in order to prove the truth of Christianity—the proof about which so excessively much ado has been made in Christendom, the proof of 1800 years: as to this, faith contends that it is—blasphemy.
With regard to a man it is true that the consequences of his life are more important than his life. If one, then, in order to find out who Christ was, and in order to find out by some inference, considers the consequences of his life: why, then one changes him into a man by this very act—a man who, like other men, is to pass his examination in history, and history is in this case as mediocre an examiner as any half-baked teacher in Latin.
But strange! By the help of history, that is, by considering the consequences of his life, one wishes to arrive at the conclusion that therefore, therefore he was God; and faith makes the exactly opposite contention that he who even begins with this syllogism is guilty of blasphemy. Nor does the blasphemy consist in assuming hypothetically that Christ was a man. No, the blasphemy consists in the thought which lies at the bottom of the whole business, the thought without which one would never start it, and of whose validity one is fully and firmly assured that it will hold also with regard to Christ—the thought that the consequences of his life are more important than his life; in other words, that he is a man. The hypothesis is: let us assume that Christ was a man; but at the bottom of this hypothesis, which is not blasphemy as yet, there lies the assumption that, the consequences of a man’s life being more important than his life, this will hold true also of Christ. Unless this is assumed one must admit that one’s whole argument is absurd, must admit it before beginning—so why begin at all? But once it is assumed, and the argument is started, we have the blasphemy. And the more one becomes absorbed in the consequences of Christ’s life, with the aim of being able to make sure whether or no he was God, the more blasphemous is one’s conduct; and it remains blasphemous so long as this consideration is persisted in.