C.S. Lewis’ Timeless Trilemma: Jesus as Liar, Lunatic, or Lord


C.S. Lewis, a renowned scholar, and writer, is widely known for his thought-provoking arguments concerning the person of Jesus Christ. One of his most compelling and enduring insights is the Trilemma, which presents three possible conclusions about Jesus: that He was either a liar, a lunatic, or indeed the Lord He claimed to be. In this article, we will explore Lewis’ fascinating argument and the profound implications it holds for understanding the identity of Jesus.

The Liar Hypothesis

According to Lewis, if Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, as recorded in the Gospels, but knew this to be false, He would undoubtedly be a liar. A liar, by definition, is someone who deliberately deceives others for personal gain or to promote a false agenda. Under this scenario, Jesus’ teachings, miracles, and divine claims would all be fabrications intended to mislead His followers. However, critics of this viewpoint point out that Jesus’ moral teachings and the impact of His life seem incompatible with the character of a dishonest deceiver.

The Lunatic Hypothesis

The second option presented by Lewis is that Jesus might have genuinely believed He was the Son of God, but His conviction was based on a delusion. In this lunatic scenario, Jesus would be mentally unstable, suffering from a grandiose Messiah complex or other psychological conditions that led Him to believe in His divine nature. However, this view is contentious as it overlooks Jesus’ remarkable wisdom, ethical teachings, and logical coherence displayed in His interactions with others.

The Lord Hypothesis

The third and most profound conclusion of the Trilemma is that Jesus was, indeed, the Lord He claimed to be. Under this hypothesis, Jesus is the divine Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, who came to Earth to redeem humanity through His sacrificial death and resurrection. This perspective aligns with the Christian faith’s central doctrine and is supported by the transformative impact of Jesus’ teachings on countless lives throughout history.


Implications and Legacy

C.S. Lewis’ Trilemma continues to resonate with readers and scholars alike due to its intellectual rigor and logical appeal. Lewis himself, originally a skeptic and atheist, underwent a profound conversion to Christianity, which undoubtedly influenced his views on the identity of Jesus. His journey from unbelief to faith underscores the weight and significance of the Trilemma as a pivotal argument for the Christian worldview.

Furthermore, the Trilemma challenges individuals to confront the character of Jesus and make a personal decision about His identity. It compels us to grapple with the question of whether Jesus was merely a historical figure, an inspirational teacher, or the divine Savior of humanity.



C.S. Lewis’ Trilemma remains a timeless and influential argument regarding the identity of Jesus Christ. It presents us with three distinct possibilities: that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord He claimed to be. As we ponder these options, we are confronted with the profound impact of Jesus’ life and teachings on human history and the enduring relevance of the Christian faith.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, the Trilemma serves as a catalyst for thoughtful contemplation and encourages us to explore the essence of Jesus’ identity. Whether seen as a liar, lunatic, or Lord, Jesus of Nazareth continues to be a central figure in shaping the course of human civilization and inspiring millions with His profound message of love, forgiveness, and redemption.