Great Moral Teacher

If Jesus offers wisdom for how to live, how necessary is the “Son of God” stuff?

“I do think Jesus is a much more challenging figure than he is often presented to be. And a lot of the challenges he presents I think Christians find it quite hard to really look square in the eye.”

Julian Baggini is a philosopher, an atheist, and the author most recently of The Godless Gospel: Was Jesus A Great Moral Teacher? It’s the latest contribution to a centuries-long effort to discover what’s left of Jesus of Nazareth if you subtract the miracles and “God talk”. 

Jonathan Pennington is a New Testament scholar at Southern Seminary in Kentucky, and his book Jesus the Great Philosopher also places Jesus within a tradition of offering wisdom for life. However, he thinks that ultimately, you can’t separate the moral teaching of Jesus from the Easter story of his crucifixion and resurrection. His argument is that Jesus is more than a philosopher – but not less than one. 

“When you study philosophy, you recognise the best philosophers are really asking very important questions – some big ideas, and some really practical questions about what it means to be human. … My suggestion to you all is that when you go to the Bible and when you go to Jesus with that same set of questions, you are going to find remarkably thoughtful, remarkably practical, remarkably beautiful answers.”


Julian Baggini, The Godless Gospel: Was Jesus A Great Moral Teacher?

Jonathan Pennington, Jesus the Great Philosopher: Rediscovering the Wisdom Needed for the Good Life

Listen to our previous interview with Julian Baggini on Life & Faith, on the topic of free will: Freedom Regained