The life of Jesus is something in the nature of an epic and not a historical actuality. If we are to believe the author, he was a man inspired by localities, a poet, owing nothing else to history than the name of the hero whom his imagination invented in order to be able to present the public with a new God, a new religion, a new morality. The Homer of the nineteenth century is going to rid us of prejudices and superstitions by means of his Jesus – prejudices and superstitions which the real Jesus Christ rendered prevalent in the world for eighteen hundred and sixty-three years thus far, and to teach us the true convictions which the spirit of localities inspired in Him. What idea we ought to entertain concerning God, concerning the soul, concerning our destiny, and how each individual and society in general ought to regulate their life in accordance with the new revelation. Such is the aim which the poet proposed, in creating his new God, ascribing to Him miracle-working powers, believing in good faith that this newly-begotten God would ultimately destroy the old God, just as Zeus (the Jupiter of the Greeks) overthrew his own father Cronus, and that he would succeed in establishing a new order of things. A radical revolution – that, behold, was the symbol inscribed on his banner. What a strange thing! So, it was not the ancients alone that could create gods. Here, again, behold a certain learned academician in the nineteenth century, straying out of his bounds, is going to develop the same skill in a marvelous manner. But let us carefully note that a poetical imagination is not a creative power able to produce something out of nothing, but only a combinatory power which can do nothing more than classify, in whatever way it pleases, the various facts supplied to it by experience. To be exact, the poet combines, but does not create: it is only the forms that he has command of, not the matter; the total effect, not the elements. The Pseudochrist belongs wholly to Mr. Renan. Nobody can deny the latter his own property. But as for the elements needed for the formation of the Pseudochrist, these were taken from various sources. Hegelism, materialism, skepticism, are the three schools to which the poet owes whatever internally constitutes his hero, for whom he borrowed externally from the Gospel the word Jesus and the pure morality so as to be able to adorn his idol with a brilliant color and thus cover up his internal ugliness.
But this method was wrongly chosen as a weapon against Christianity. Christianity destroyed the gods of the poets by means of its morality and its logic, by means of its simplicity and its nobility, and not by means of deceit, machination, poetical art. He who wishes to substitute another god for the one in vogue must proceed against the latter by the same method, with the same weapons, and not through the ignoble deceitfulness of golden idolatry. The learned academician forgot in his enthusiasm, it would seem, the age in which he was living, and at the same time also forgot the scientific circle to which he belongs and which no doubt does not permit such precarious questions to be treated poetically. But whatever has happened has happened. The false Jesus is going to try to overthrow the real Jesus Christ, who must be defended by His soldiers, a thing we are about to undertake to do. We are going to defend Christianity by expounding its principles, which we are going to prove by using logic, by a rigorous and scientific method; we shall overthrow the bulwarks which the enemy has erected and leave him no place of refuge by stripping him of the cloak of Christianity which he assumed and put on for the purpose of deceiving the unwary, and shall present him to the public naked so that they may see his wondrous beauty.
I said in the beginning that the life of the Pseudochrist was not a historical actuality, since no such Jesus ever lived in this world. That is a work of poetry, a sort of novel which was written for the purpose of undermining Christianity and to adroitly promote the gross delusions and errors of modern philosophy, quite destitute of everything like a method and of everything like logic, seeking to prevail against the salutary principles of Christianity by means of the art of the sophists and of the ancient poets, or by means of the art of modern novelists. On this account I at first leave aside Mr. Renan and his Jesus, and am going to point out the unshakable solidity of the chief cornerstone, which is Jesus Christ, against which fools are ceaselessly being dashed to pieces, which I shall do by refuting modern philosophy through proof that it has been built upon sand, wrongly commenced and wrongly ended, not having been able to produce any fruit other than the Pseudochrist invented by Renan and his skeptical school. Thus I shall enlighten the public and enable it to choose between the principles of Christianity and the principles of modern philosophy, which are two implacable enemies. The warfare between them will continue until one succeeds in vanquishing and destroying the other.
The real Jesus Christ is conscious of His eternal existence and absolute power. The Son of man is likewise the Son of God, from whom He never separated, lord of life and death, imposing His own supreme will upon all nature, authoritatively prescribing the moral law and sanctioning it with everlasting penalties and rewards. The real Jesus Christ is conscious of His infinite value; hence He demands that we worship Him and be devoted to him with all our heart. Whoever does not love Him, whoever does not worship Him, is unworthy of Him; whoever does not see in Him the grandeur and majesty of the God who created heaven and earth, the angels and souls, is not worthy of Him, being unable to be one of His disciples. The real Jesus Christ knows His own mission and fulfills it with understanding and righteousness. He knows beforehand that His work is going to be successful; He knows who are His friends and who are His enemies; and he foretells how He will treat each party in the time of His second and glorious coming. The real Jesus Christ is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He is the way, the truth, the life, the bread which nourishes our souls, and the water which waters them. In a word, the real Jesus Christ is a God become man in order to make man a god. Such is the real Jesus Christ whom we have learned about from the four Gospels. Such is the real Jesus Christ whom the Prophets preannounced from the beginning, whom the Apostles preached in the world after His resurrection, and on whom the Church has been built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
We staunchly confess Jesus Christ and His divinity, being justified by reason and consciousness, being unable to betray Him and along with Him the sublime destiny of our nature, namely, our deification. For both reason and consciousness, which commend Jesus Christ to us, are stronger than we are. Every judgment that is justified by reason and consciousness is true; and whosoever refuses to approve it is not reasonable, is not a human being. Every judgment that contradicts reason and consciousness is false; and whosoever approves it has not even the slightest value or worth and deserves to be scorned. We are now going to examine into the nature of judgment and point out which is true and which is false.
In the first place we can distinguish two kinds of judgment: external judgment, or that of courts of justice; and internal judgment, or psychological judgment. The judgment of courts of justice necessarily suppose a judge, a law, some matter in dispute which is to be the subject of testimony and of judgment. The virtue of a judge consists in having a good conception of the law and being able to apply it justly to the case in dispute, relying upon the true testimonies. No one can deny that a judge, on the one hand, possesses the power of understanding the law, and, on the other hand, the ability to distinguish trne testimonies from false. From this analysis we see that the necessary elements for the formation of a judgment by a court of justice are the following four: a judge, a law, a case, and witnesses. These elements are quite distinct and such that we cannot confuse them except foolishly. A judgment is true or just when it is consonant with the written law and is based on true testimonies. A judgment is faulty or unjust when it conflicts with or contradicts the law or is based on false testimonies. The faultiness of a judgment is due to the judge, who on this account is responsible for it. But justice, on the contrary, springs from the law, and not from the judge. The judge is praiseworthy only in that he understood the law and applied it properly. Psychological judgment is composed of the same elements and is subject to the same laws. The judge is the free and independent person, or the ego. The law is reason. The witnesses are consciousness, passions, and prejudices. The case may be any conceivable object. Reason, like law, is immutable in nature because it comes from God, who is likewise immutable. Consciousness is wholly simple and sincere in its testimonies, never saying anything more or less than it knows or is ignorant of as concerning the subject of the judgment. Passions, on the other hand, and prejudices give false testimonies. The ego possesses, on the one hand, the power to understand reason, and, on the other hand, to distinguish the testimony of consciousness from that of passions and of prejudices. Every judgment that is consonant with reason and consciousness is true. Every judgment that contradicts reason or consciousness is mistaken. Reason and consciousness can never be productive of the faultiness of any judgment. The faultiness of any judgment is due to the ego judging under a misconception of the law or relying on false testimony of prejudices and of flattering passions; and on this account it alone is responsible. On the contrary, the truth of judgment always has reason and consciousness, the true law and the true testimony, as the primary cause, or basis. The ego which pronounces the true judgment is praiseworthy only in that. it has understood the law, and has accepted the true testimony, at the same time rejecting the false. Reason and consciousness exercise no force upon the judge. It is only the passions that force him, and prejudices that mislead him. For this reason when the ego pronounces a judgment that is true, opposing all prejudices to the contrary notwithstanding and the power of the passions opposing it, then it is clearly manifesting its freedom, showing by its act that it has an action of its own whereby it becomes master of itself and acts through itself. Here is where we meet all the moral value. So every correct judgment is a manifestation of freedom, which is the only definition of a true judgment. When a judge is subject to the impulse of passions or of prejudices, he cannot follow reason and consciousness, and consequently pronounces mistaken judgments devoid of all moral value. What constitutes morality and the moral order is freedom voluntarily submitting to reason and consciousness, which two entities oblige, but do not force or compel the soul to obey them. We are now going to judge Christianity and modern philosophy in accordance with these laws and are going to see that reason and consciousness justify us in approving the former and in condemning the latter.