Most of mankind views Jesus as a fine, articulate fellow – perhaps even a prophet – who offered lofty principles, sound teaching and great leadership; but, with absolute certainty, Jesus was not God when He walked the earth and He is not God today. However, the fact that Jesus claimed to be God makes this belief irrational (Chapter 9, “The Identity of Jesus,” Christian Handbook of Reason and Insight for Scientists and Technologists). Jesus was either Lord, Liar or Lunatic. If He was not God, then He was either a liar or a lunatic. Neither a deceitful liar nor a crazy person can be viewed as a great teacher or great moral leader of men.
Furthermore, even among Christians, who do not marginalize the identity of Jesus, there is a tendency to marginalize the importance of the substitutionary atonement. In the words of Oswald Chambers:
“The pietistic movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them; there is nothing about them that needs the Death of Jesus Christ; all that is required is a pious atmosphere, and prayer and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous, it did not cost the passion of God, it is not dyed in the blood of the Lamb, not stamped with the hallmark of the Holy Ghost; it has not that mark on it which makes men say, as they look with awe and wonder – “That is the work of God Almighty.” That and nothing else is what the New Testament talks about.
The type of Christian experience in the New Testament is that of personal passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other type of Christian experience, so called, is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration, no being born again into the Kingdom in which Christ lives, but only the idea that He is our Pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is Saviour long before He is Pattern. Today He is being dispatched as the Figurehead of a Religion, a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more; He is salvation itself, He is the Gospel of God.”