Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another Scoffer and Skeptic. . .

A reader pointed me to an article in the Washington Post called Five Myths About Jesus and it was written by a fellow name Reza Aslan (does anyone else find it weird that his name is Aslan???).  It is the typical stuff we have come to expect from a media which honors and takes seriously every religion and every religious claim EXCEPT that of Christianity.  The author is quite a media darling with his book Zealot and has made the round of the talk shows, to be sure, sucking up more than his fifteen minutes of fame.

In this article the myths are not the usual fare.  Jesus was not born in Bethlehem.  He was not an only child.  He did not have 12 disciples.  Jesus was not tried before Pilate.  Jesus was not  buried in a tomb.  The surprise here is that the traditional teachings of Scripture and articles of faith are not on this list -- the Virgin Birth, He is the Son of God incarnate, His death paid for the sins of the world, He rose again on the third day, and He ascended into heaven to the right hand of the Father....

This comes at the same time Bill O'Reilly's otherwise successful Killing series has found a lackluster success in the story of Jesus' death.  A decidedly different perspective does not make it easier to write 21 centuries later a history that has already been written by eyewitnesses and the recorders of eyewitness testimony concerning Jesus.  I have not read O'Reilly's book but the snippets I have heard from him and others have not encouraged me to rush out and purchase it.  Aslan's book (still have trouble assigning that name to a scoffer) is definitely not on my to do list (though others in my parish have read it).

Of course we could attack the scoffers and skeptics from the vantage point of the church but the truth is that they are simply bad historians.  In every other circumstance, deference would be given to those who lived contemporaneously with the subject of the history -- but not when it comes to Jesus.  Not only is the Bible attacked as unreliable, slanted, and a distortion of fact, but the historical record of the early church is itself subject to the same suspicions and skepticism.  In no other place is history treated with outright contempt and distrust of the first hand accounts and original source material.

What is also surprising is that the media gives such credibility to the same old same old.  There is nothing new here.  Since the quest for the historical Jesus in early modern times, we have heard exactly the same skeptical approach and the same doubting conclusions.  But every time there is one more voice saying the same old thing, the media jumps upon it as if it were something new.  Move along.  Nothing new.  Nothing to see.

As Christians we do better attacking the lack of scholarly approach and the dubious skepticism with which these scoffers approach the source material.  If anything, such regurgitating of old material only goes to prove Jesus correct in His prophecy about the sufferings His people would endure for the faith, the persecution that would come to those who trusted the Word of the Lord, and the struggles of the Church to live in a world so unfriendly to the real truth and not become swallowed up and of that same world.

We are here to give answer to the hope that is within us.  In worship we do this when we confess the creed each Divine Service.  In life we do this when we live out the love and mercy that we have come to know in Christ our Savior.  In our values we do this when faith, hope, love, and its practical application of forgiveness reign among us and our relationships as the children of God.  In death we do this when we sorrow not as those ignorant of the hope that is ours in Christ, who died our death that we might live our life.

The scoffers and skeptics have nothing new to say.  But the Word of Christ and Him crucified is the only true and genuine "new and ever new" word to be said, today in this generation and in the days to come until time is no more.  Do not grow frustrated or weary when you open the paper and find the Gospel under attack.  Jesus said this is how it would be and yet it is still not the end.  But do not lose hope.  Do not give in.  Do not give up.  The Kingdom is ours forever.


Carl Vehse said...

Reza Aslan is an islamist; he has no credibility in talking about Christianity and it shows.

Anonymous said...

Why is it illegal for a person to convert from Islam to Christianity? Why does Islam use the threat of murder in order to retain adherents? Who would remain a Muslim if it were perfectly legal to change religions?

David Gray said...

Why? Because Islam is a work of hell.