Every Easter, the History Channel (or the Discovery Channel, PBS, NBC, et. al….) runs a program looking over hot Christian topics: the historicity of the books of the Bible; the myths of Jesus having a family after the crucifixion; stories about where Jesus’ body might be found. The same thing happens around Christmas. Sure it’s all for ratings but what they’re attacking makes sense to me.
Here’s a personal story.
I trusted the Lord when I was eight. The Exorcist was playing on TV and my father (for some odd Old Man reason) decided to have me watch it. I also remember watching Jaws (and still being afraid of the ocean) as well as Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and the awesome (yet horrifying) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Anyway, I watched the Exorcist and didn’t sleep for two weeks. I had always heard about Hell but I didn’t make much of it. It wasn’t like my church was much into fire and brimstone preaching. But it was after watching the Exorcist that Hell became real to me. There was Something Out There that I didn’t understand and by all reasoning, it was yawning underneath me and I could see all of its horrible teeth.
During a prayer meeting, one of the guys there decided that instead of a devotional reading, he would preach the Gospel outright with all of its condemnation goodness. Hell was real. The punishment was real. God was real. He sent His Son to die for sinners. He remakes sinners into the image of His perfect Son. These people aren’t damned because they are brought into God’s family. It made sense; God was the only way that I could survive. He did it by Christ—Christ is my only hope.
When I was in my teens I got slammed with the doubt that the Media and Hollywood currently parade.
My Father is a collector of a fairly technical Bible commentary series which deals with redaction, authorial intent, other collected writings—all that good stuff you don’t hear about on Sunday morning but then get surprised by when you see it on the History Channel. My father would speak aloud, bounce ideas off of me and my siblings while he would read his tomes.
I knew about Y source versus P, about the Unknown Q and even about Enoch’s Book long before I read through Genesis, Matthew, Luke—much less Jude (its only one chapter).
I started to doubt. I mean seriously doubt.
If Genesis is compiled by multiple authors—how is any of this real? If Matthew fudged on details (or John did) and both he and Luke copied from Mark, then which is right? If all of this is compiled information and there’s a whole pool of data not available, what does it mean to what I believed? If Jude can copy out of some non-Canonical book to prove a point what does that say about Jude’s writings?
This is the part that I don’t usually say when I’m out and about: I wanted to die.
Sounds dramatic, yeah, I know but it’s what happened. I had a razor to my wrist a couple of times and stopped short fearing the pain, blood and shame.
If this was all Myth what did any of life matter? A life of self reflection would be worthless. A life of morality would be laughable. Going to school to eventually get a job to pay for my future children’s schooling would be the Ultimate Cosmic Joke. Get dirty, Go wash, Go rinse; Repeat: world without end. Senseless.
And yet, I thought to myself, what changed Paul? What brought the Disciples out of hiding? What made them go to the far parts of the known world to die? They didn’t die merely for a message on morality, did they? What exploded out of Jerusalem, through Samaria, and is still resonating through all parts of the world? What was so convincing that Jews, who never bow to a man, would bow down to the person of Jesus and call Him Lord, not in the sense of Master but in the sense of Lord God?
What did it?
An illusion wouldn’t have done it; that’s easy to swear off. Some unknown twin wouldn’t have done it—he just wouldn’t have had the same convincing message. A swoon wouldn’t do it because that would prove Christ was just a man—not anything worth bowing down for.
The Resurrection was the only thing that made sense of their confession, their message, the account and the earlier message of Jesus. Where Ehrman and Hollywood and Fiction says “it makes more sense to think it was just a big conspiracy” I thought about the ridiculousness of that conclusion when we look at everyday life.
Media, the Movie Studios, authors all understand this: Christianity hinges on the historicity of the resurrection. Without it, none of Christianity matters. You can take the Buddha out of Buddhism and still have Buddhism; you can take a thousand gods from Hinduism and still remain a Hindu; you can even take Mohammed out of Islam, give the revelation to someone else and still have Islam.
We, Christians, preach Jesus the Messiah of the Jews crucified and risen from the grave. Not a message of moral norms, not a message of proper values, not a message of how to treat neighbors: a message grounded in God inserting Himself in time and declaring a New Creation molded after the image of His resurrected Son. A message that, by its very nature, heralds the end of all creation as we know it and incorporates it under the direct oversight of God’s Son.
If you (or they) can get rid of the resurrection, good-bye Christianity and all this talk of the Future crashing into the Present and a Ruler from the Outside.
Therefore, I expect the attacks. Like the early apostles, it just secures me further.