I'm sure we're all familiar with the Trilemma argument. Aside from some of the problems with it, like the fact that it assumes Jesus literally did/said everything attributed to him, and leaving out the possibility of legend, I'm wondering if it also suffers from another problem.
Does this argument drift into the ad hominem arena in order to to make it's point?
If person A were to make a statement about universal health care being a good thing, and I say person A is wrong about that because person A is an idiot, I have not addressed the claim. Rather, I've sideswiped the claim by focusing on Person A. But person A's supposed idiotic nature doesn't belong to the claim itself.
Part of the Trilemma argument is that we're told we can't simply call Jesus a great moral teacher because good moral teachers don't say what he said. But even if Jesus were crazy, how does that change the command to not judge? Or the Samaritan parable? Or even the golden rule? How does Jesus' mental status have any bearing on the morality of those statements? Crazy people can utter moral statements. So can liars.
No, we wouldn't use crazy people or liars in order to completely orchestrate a moral code (Well ... it might depend on the level of craziness, and how one defines crazy. Crazy could be walking into a war zone in order to teach people about love, yet we could draft a moral code around that).
But my problem is that if the Trilemma is used in order to address the claim "Jesus was just a great moral teacher," then I see the argument itself attacking Jesus, rather than addressing any of his moral statements. Saying that Jesus could be crazy or a liar doesn't show me why he also didn't teach people about morals.
I also realize the argument is meant to address statements such as Jesus saying he was the bread of life, or the resurrection and the life. But again -- these claims don't negate the moral statements themselves.
I mean, there's evidence pointing to Martin Luther King, Jr. having affairs, or plagerizing. But if those claims are true, does that negate that he spoke for peace and non-violence and the end of segretation? No, because the claims themselves are seperate from his character.
So does the Trilemma argument seperate the moral statements of Jesus from the character of Jesus, or lump the two together? If it lumps the two together, isn't that somewhat forcing the listener to reach a specific conclusion? If this claim is that strong, why should any force be necessary at all?