R.C. Sproul on the favourable way in which many unbelievers speak of Jesus

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“One of the strange facts of history is the consistently good reputation Jesus of Nazareth enjoys even with unbelievers. It is rare for an unbeliever to speak unkindly of Jesus. People who are openly hostile to the church and who hold Christians in contempt are often unsparing in their praise for Jesus. Even Friedrich Nietzsche, who announced the death of God and lamented the decadence of the church, spoke of Jesus as a model of the heroic. In the final years of his life, which were spent in a lunatic asylum, Nietzsche expressed his own insanity by signing his letters, ‘The Crucified One.’

The overwhelming testimony of the world is to the incomparable perfection of Jesus. Even George Bernard Shaw, when critical of Jesus, could think of no higher standard than Christ Himself. He said of Jesus, ‘There were times when he did not behave as a Christian.’ We cannot miss the irony of Shaw’s criticism.

In terms of moral excellence, even those who do not ascribe to the deity or saviorhood of Christ applaud Jesus the man. Like Pontius Pilate they declare, ‘Ecce homo.’ ‘Behold the man!’ ‘I find no fault in Him’.”

– R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, ch. 4

Sproul’s point is very interesting and valid. I’ve seen the same thing in my work with Hindus over the last few years: though they do not know the biblical Christ as He is and hold many misconceptions, they never speak of Him in an unfavourable manner.

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R.C. Sproul on Protagoras and Humanism

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“Protagoras, probably the most influential Sophist in Athens, is frequently described by modern historians as the ‘father of humanism.’ His famous maxim, ‘Homo mensura,’ declares that ‘man is the measure of all things,’ of the existence of things that are and of the nonexistence of things that are not. From a biblical perspective, of course, the honor of being the first humanist does not belong to Protagoras. Indeed, it is accorded not to a man, but to a serpent whose maxim was ‘Sicut erat Dei,’ ‘You will be like God’ (Gen. 3:4).”

– R.C. Sproul, The Consequences of Ideas, p. 29

R.C. Sproul on justification according to western culture

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So often when we hear of someone’s death, we are told that “he/she is in a better place” or something similar, regardless of whether that person ever believed the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. In this regard, R.C. Sproul makes a very valid point here:

“The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.”

– R.C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross, p. 10