In this article, I want to discuss another statement he made during his NPR interview.
Aslan states he is not a Christian but he is a follower of Christ. NPR posted:”I wouldn’t call myself a Christian because I do not believe that Jesus is God, nor do I believe that he ever thought that he was God, or that he ever said that he was God. But I am a follower of Jesus, and I think that sometimes, unfortunately – I think even Christians would recognize this and admit it – those two things aren’t always the same, being a Christian and being a follower of Jesus.”
Have you ever been in a relationship where you wanted or were hoping your significant other was different than they actually were? Rather than accepting the fact that they were someone else, a picture was created in the mind of who they were in order to justify the relationship. Did other people offer advice not to continue in the relationship but personal stubbornness would not accept the person for who they were? This happened to me. A young lady smote me once who I had formed in my mind as the most beautiful wonderful person I had ever met. In reality, she had deep emotional issues that needed counseling, portraying a picture of herself that was not the real her. Friends were warning me but my stubborn self wanted this person to be someone she was not. This is the very thing I believe, in my opinion, Aslan is doing. He desires to paint a picture of Jesus and being a follower of Jesus that does not exist.
Aslan claims that Jesus never said he was God but this claim could not be further from the truth. No Gospel makes this clearer than the book of John and one of the many passage pointing to the fact that Jesus Christ was God is found in John 5:17-18: “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” The writer of John is fairly clear that Jesus claimed to be God. In another passage-John 8:58-59-Christ makes reference to Exodus 3:14 and the “I am” statement God made to Moses: John 8:57-58 reads, “‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ The Jews tried to stone Jesus because he was referring to himself as God.” God told Moses in Exodus 3:14 that “I am” is the one who sent you and Jesus here in John 8 references himself as the “I am,” the very same words God referred to himself when commanding Moses to appear before Pharaoh.
Aslan also separates a right picture of Jesus with being a right follower. Matthew 16:13-16 reads,
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,”Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.””But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The term “Son of Man” is used twenty-seven times in Matthew referring back to Daniel 7:13-14:
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
It is a reference to deity because the Bible is clear that only God can be worshipped (Luke 4:8). Jews often reference this passage as Messianic, pointing to the chosen one who will lead their nation like king David did.
Christ followers left their livelihoods to follow him (Matt 4:19-20); they knew they were not following just an ordinary man but the Son of Man who is the Jewish Messiah. Jesus is also the “son of the living God,” making himself equal with God. Indeed, Aslan is trying to create a picture of Jesus that does not exist for Jesus to be this “political zealot” Aslan needs him to be for his book, Reza must twist the picture of who Jesus is but the New Testament portrays him as God and his followers knew it.