At least some of the church is becoming postmodern. Others are trying to figure out how to reach a postmodern culture. These two fall in to the Emerging Church phenomenon that is currently sweeping through the fad driven church. Still others are trying to stem the tide of postmodernism in the church. Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty University spoke at EMNR in February. In his talk Christians Coming Out of the Closet he made the point that culture is no longer postmodern but is transmodern. Many reading this will be wondering “What does that mean?” Understanding how culture thinks is the key to being effective in our evangelistic outreach as well as our discipleship within the church. As Dr. Caner demonstrates, answering the question of who speaks for culture informs our understanding and guides our approach.
The Church was born in to a pagan culture in which common folk viewed all truth claims as equally true. Philosophers viewed all truth claims as equally false. Politicians viewed all truth claims as equally useful. Homosexuality was common and accepted. Pedophilia was part of the passage into adulthood as men had a catamite accompany him for recreational sex. Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were socially acceptable and not uncommon. Over a fairly short amount of time the church transformed the thinking of Western culture and all of these practices were largely abandoned. With that the view of truth changed. There was truth, it was knowable and found in Scripture. Up through the Reformation theologians and pastors spoke for culture.
The age of Modernism set it and it was no longer truth but proof. What could we know from our five senses and testing? The church didn’t seem to be up to the challenge and primarily turned to evangelism through emotionalism. The new spokesman for culture became the scientist. The pursuit of through shifted to the pursuit of proof and Western culture gradually began adopting another worldview.
In 1989, with the fall of the Berlin wall, the postmodern age set in and the transition back to the worldview and values of paganism gained a firm foothold. Again common folk viewed all truth claims as equally true. Philosophers viewed all truth claims as equally false. Politicians viewed all truth claims as equally useful. Human life had been successfully devalued and abortion was common. Homosexuality was well on its way to being morally acceptable on an equal plane with heterosexuality. Psychiatrists were beginning to toy with the idea that pedophilia may not be wrong but only wrong if the child feels bad about it. The only reason a child would feel bad about it is the social stigmas and so perhaps we should be using more affirming terms such as adult-child sex rather than pedophilia. The spokespersons for culture were mystics. Call in psychic hotlines grew. Wicca claimed a place front and center as a religion. Eastern mysticism was the rage and truth was based on feelings. As the theme song of the time said, “There ain’t no good guys. There ain’t no bad guys. There’s only you and me and we just disagree. Oooo, Oooo, Oooo”
On September 11, 2001 this came to a crashing halt as the world watched hijacked airliners crash in to the twin towers in Manhattan. We then entered in to the transmodern age. Now it is not only that everyone has a right to believe what they want to believe but it is demanded that everyone assert the rightness of their right. It is no longer the case that homosexuals have a right to their behavior but all must affirm the rightness of their sexual escapades. The spokes persons for culture are now celebrities. Anna Nicole Smith, even though dead, captures every news show for the last two months. Paris Hilton exemplifies the life that all young ladies should strive for. Oprah Winfrey endorses The Secret and sales run over three million copies.
What we are looking at is bookends in history. We have the pagan worldview on each end with the biblical worldview sandwiched in between. It seems to me that if the church wants to speak to culture rather then trying to look more like culture we need to turn back to the pages of holy writ. What is it that the first century church did which so profoundly influenced culture? The pastors and theologians trained their people. They taught doctrine. They guarded against false teachers on the outside and from within. They named the false teachers so that all would be aware and avoid them. They out thought, outlived, out loved and out produced the pagan culture around them. So powerful was this that the last pagan emperor, Julian the Apostate (that is not what he called himself but was what Christians later called him) tried to reinstitute the pagan religions he had to resort to telling the priests to emulate the Christians if they wanted to be successful in reaching culture:
“Why do we not notice that it is their kindness to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead, and the pretended holiness of their lives that have done most to increase atheism [i.e., Christianity]? I believe that we ought really and truly to practice every one of these virtues. And it is not enough for you alone to practice them, but so must all the priests in Galatia, without exception…In the second place admonish them that no priest may enter a theatre or trade that is base and not respectable…in every city establish hostels in order that strangers may profit by our generosity; I do not mean for our own people only, but for others also who are in need of money…for it is disgraceful that, when no Jew ever has to beg and the impious Galileans [Christians] support both their own poor and ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us.”
As is always the case, our worldview informs and guides our decision making and the way we live our lives. Hearkening back to the first century church and Scriptures would be an interesting and beneficial change in the mission and ministry of the church today. It will be risky for we will have to listen to and proclaim the word of God rather than promote the latest Christian celebrity.
As many are aware, the top General at the Pentagon, Peter Pace, last week stated his personal view that homosexuality is immoral. Of course, that raised a raucous amongst those who are not only demanding that we recognize their right to be homosexual but that we must also affirm the rightness of their right. However, The Top General Won’t Apologize for Gay Remark . Of course there are the demands for his immediate resignation by Gay activists who cannot tolerate having anyone speaking publicly who does not support their view. As a side note, homosexual activism in Britain has been so effective that new laws are being considered this week which would make it:
“a civil offence for a Muslim printer who is asked to print a promotion for homosexual sex to refuse, or for Christian conference centre to turn down bookings from a Lesbian society, or for a Jewish website designer to object, on moral grounds, to creating a website facilitating homosexual dating services”
It seems to be developing in to what Robin Phillips calls “Britain’s Emerging Homo-fascism” .
Meanwhile, back in the USA, freshmen high school students are being pressured into signing a confidentiality agreement to not divulge to anyone, including their parents, what they are taught in homosexual sensitivity training according to Concerned Women for America Of course, this story received virtually no coverage. Why? Homosexual activists have proven themselves to be very adept at P.R. and information control. Creating a “public outcry” against anyone with a contrary view proves to be effective. It affords them the opportunity to appear to be the victim. The average person does not want to be labeled a “homophobe” and so remains silent or perhaps even defends their behavior. At the same time, by using the institution of public education, homosexual activists continue the tradition of John Dewey. Dewey was less concerned about “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic” and viewed public education as the vehicle to change culture. Homosexual activists really do not want parents to impede this effort by actually knowing what their children are being taught. Add into this mix the March 2 blog by Dr. Al Mohler, “Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?” and you have the makings of a real cultural controversy.
A delayed reaction over Mohler’s excellent piece came out in David Crary’s article on AP “Furor Over Baptist’s ‘Gay Baby’ Article” . In it Mohler managed to offend both liberals and conservatives at the same time. Their reactions probably best demonstrate the emotional ties of both sides on the debate. This may possibly have resulted in a lack of reading or thinking about what Mohler has written for public consideration. Some conservatives are less than happy that Mohler acknowledges that a genetic link to homosexuality may be discovered. What they don’t realize is that he is simply using homosexual activists arguments against them. He also suggested that if such a link is discovered that there may also be, based on claims of researchers, medication which could be delivered through a patch the expecting mother would wear during pregnancy in order to prevent the gay gene. Liberal media, such as CNN has subsequently trotted out scientists to say that so far there is no scientifically provable genetic link. They have also had gay activists on who are changing their position and saying that it isn’t biological but rather is “God’s gift.”
Add to this that much of the culture, liberal and conservative, have muddy thinking and the decibel level of the argument increases as though shouting qualifies as a powerful demonstration of the validity of one’s argument. It seems to me that all three of these stories point to some very important issues. If Evangelicals are going to impact the culture of today in a similar way that believers in the early church did, we need to start on a local church level in teaching, training and equipping believers to be able to think clearly and articulate the issues in a sound way. For example, Dr. Mohler didn’t agree that science has demonstrated a prenatal biological link to homosexuality but rather pointed out that some scientists believe that science is leading in that direction. That may be true but that wouldn’t make the behavior any less immoral. There are category differences between what we do (behavior) and whether it is right or wrong (the morality of the behavior). On that issue his point nine is correct:
We must stop confusing the issues of moral responsibility and moral choice. We are all responsible for our sexual orientation, but that does not mean that we freely and consciously choose that orientation. We sin against homosexuals by insisting that sexual temptation and attraction are predominately chosen. We do not always (or even generally) choose our temptations. Nevertheless, we are absolutely responsible for what we do with sinful temptations, whatever our so-called sexual orientation.
This confusion of categories had been the fodder of talk radio, at least in Chicago, all week on this topic. Secular radio hosts on perhaps the biggest Chicago radio station have repeatedly stated that if this behavior originates biologically, in other words a natural born homosexual, that would mean homosexual behavior is not immoral. But one doesn’t necessarily follow the other. All of us sin (are immoral) in different ways. If we allow their argument to stand then it just as logically follows that adult-child sex (commonly known today as child molestation) is biological and that someday science may prove its biological origins. According to their argument, if it is biological then it is natural. If it is natural then it is not immoral. But, like homosexuality, adultery, or any other sexual sin, a natural or perhaps biological bent in a particular direction does not mean it is not immoral.
What About Darwin?
Although homosexual activists are winning this debate largely through emotional argumentation and publicly brow beating the opposition. When we step back and look at the issue in a more in-depth way we see they must resort to personal attacks. For example, they are angered by Mohler’s suggestion that if homosexuality is genetic than possibly medical science will develop a medicine that can prevent it. His reasoning is sound and is based on preliminary suggestions of scientists. If it is possible to eliminate or diminish temptation to a particular sin, wouldn’t that be better? To that homosexual activists respond that God made them that way, therefore it isn’t a sin. The problem is that God has spoken on the subject of sexual sin, which includes homosexual behavior, and would not contradict His Word in this area. Rather, homosexual sin like all other sin (immoral behavior) is a result of the fall.
But what of those who hold to Darwinian Evolution and attempt to make biblical teaching irrelevant? They really do not fair any better. Why? Well, the only things that matter in the Darwinian view are survival and reproduction. The strong survive, the weak don’t. Those that reproduce, reproduce. There are no moral questions involved for there is no basis for morality. Homosexuals could now find themselves the potential targets of an institution and thinking advocated by Social Darwinism called Planned Parenthood. Margaret Sanger founded this group to weed out and breed out what she called the inferior “weed” in the garden of evolution. At the time of its founding blacks were the primary targets. However, homosexuals are by definition same sex relationships. They do not reproduce. Therefore, if homosexuality is genetic and if it can be treated prenatally and if Darwinian Evolution is true it would be beneficial to the advancement of evolution to do so. There is nothing in what I have just said that advocates violence toward homosexuals. There is nothing in what I have said that advocates mothers aborting them prior to birth. Although if homosexuals are “pro-choice” I am not sure on what basis they could be opposed to aborting a baby that is potentially homosexual. That would, after all, be the mother’s choice. But then consistent coherent thinking is not a hall mark feature of homosexual activism. It is primarily about socially legitimizing sin.
One of the most common features of heresies, cults and spiritually abusive groups down through the ages has been their claims to possess some kind of “special knowledge.” False teachers come along with messages that go something like, “Yes, the Bible teaches [such-and-such], but there’s something the Bible leaves out [or something hidden in Scripture that no one else has found in the past 2,000 years] that you need to know …” Or, “Unfortunately, your Bible teachers don’t have the spiritual insight [or maturity, or integrity, or whatever] needed to find the ‘deeper truths’ of Scripture and the Christian life.” Or, “We’re the only ones who take a biblical stand on [such-and-such an] issue.”
Even before you ever see these teachers you may encounter those who speak highly of their “message,” their “insight,” their “spiritual power,” or any one (or more) of a number of things that would put them on a higher plane than the average Christian. The praises these disciples heap on their leaders begin to give them a kind of automatic aura in your mind that the leaders now don’t have to actually do anything to earn. The followers carefully cultivate your curiosity, developing it into an eager anticipation.
When you finally meet the false teacher it’s in a setting that enhances his (or her) mystique. He may be up on a stage before a large audience, among a small, modest band of disciples, or alone with you. Either way, the setting and agenda is carefully controlled to gradually draw you into the leader’s fold, and thus into a position subordinate to him. He (or she) is somehow “up there” while you are merely “down here.” He is the “expert,” and although you may not have realized it up until now, you are the one in need of his expertise, his “special knowledge.”
The pattern I’ve just described is not universal, but it is typical. The claim of special knowledge, however, is an essential part of the elitist character of all these groups, and so universal that it’s sometimes difficult to select those cults that best exemplify it. They’re all so adept at this game.
This “guru effect,” as it’s called, operates in many settings. As Inc. magazine in their article “Beware the Guru Effect” a few years ago,
Even sophisticated businesspeople with strong negotiating skills can get burned by expensive computer consultants who —- because their auras demand awe and respect — are never questioned about their systems or implementation.
Not long ago, the partners of a Los Angeles law firm met a consultant who promised to bring them “up to speed” on computers. [...]
The “guru” put a $200,000 price tag on the project. Some of the senior managers found his ideas so innovative that they decided to make the firm a proving ground for a complete package, which they and the consultant would market to other firms. [...] It looked so promising that the firm invested tens of thousands of dollars in the consultant’s small company.
In the end, for unknown reasons, the consultant never delivered the goods. And, adding insult to injury, the lawyers soon learned that everything in the promised package was available off-the-shelf for half the price. “This happens all the time,” says the former associate.
The guru effect is so notorious in the stock market that a computer game based on stock trading includes it as a strategic option for winning the game. Tom Chown in his review of the game Wall Street Trader 2000 catches this point:
The most powerful weapon is your press agent who can use your “guru effect”, swinging the market the way you want it to go based on your score and reputation.
The parallels between how the guru effect works in the world and in the church are striking. The guru has an “aura” that demands “awe and respect.” Sometimes the guru might supplement that aura with overt intimidation to discourage questions (especially if he or she has an abrasive personality). Thus the guru’s prospective dupes don’t do the kind of “due diligence” research they normally would — and should. They don’t look for a second opinion. They don’t seriously entertain nagging doubts. They move on to the next step on the guru’s agenda.
When that happens, the guru’s victims have been officially conned. Everything from that point on is but a series of footnotes to the moment when they suppressed all qualms of conscience and decided to trust him. As long as they keep trusting him, he will continue to manipulate them.
If the results of being duped this way are lamentable in the business world, they can be downright tragic in the spiritual world. This is because the guru’s purpose is not to teach anyone anything. The guru’s purpose is to make himself indispensable by making you more and more dependent on him.
The biblical book of Proverbs repeatedly warns God’s people to seek advice from multiple sources (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 20:18; 24:6). He has not simply given His church one teacher, but has given us many teachers (Ephesians 4:11-13). Don’t let any one person set himself or herself up in your life with some kind of unique authority. Such authority does not exist; it’s bogus.
The problem is that the Christian life is difficult, and we want someone who can put us on the inside track, show us the ropes, or take us to a higher plane where the difficulties aren’t so severe. We see others around us who seem so much more successful at living the Christian life than we are, and figure they must have some secret. If only we could find out what it was.
But this kind of misguided thinking will only set you up to be fooled. The fact that you’re sometimes desperate to improve your spiritual life makes you a normal Christian. The fact that you might be willing to pin all your hopes for this on one person will make you an easy mark for a false teacher. Sadly, lots of Christians are in that category. To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born-again every minute.” I know because I was one once, and I’ve met many others who either were or still are.
Do you want the unvarnished truth? The truth is: that person who doesn’t seem to have as many problems in his or her Christian life as you do is at best someone who’s good at protecting his or her privacy, or at worst a hypocrite.
The job of the teacher is not to provide you with some “hidden truth” that the average Christian can’t find in Scripture. There is no such “hidden truth.” Nor does Scripture require some special spiritual gift for believers to understand it.
The Bible is God’s complete revelation to us. Any sequel (e.g.: the Book of Mormon) or supplement (e.g.: the writings of Ellen White, the Watchtower magazine, or your favorite teacher) or “final revelation” (e.g.: the Qur’an) inevitably and invariably serves to warp the Bible’s true meaning.
True biblical teaching focuses on Jesus Christ. Instead of trying to impress you with special “insights” or esoteric “truth,” good Bible teachers will consistently point you to the same Jesus Who is available to everyone in Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Luke 24:25-27). Anyone emphasizing anything or anyone else above Him is peddling defective merchandize.
The hype last week over the scheduled television event The Lost Tomb of Jesus which aired on the Discovery channel Sunday evening, March 4, from 8:00 – 10:00 PM Central time kept us a bit busy around here. Rightfully so. The one thing which validates Christianity and on which the entirety of the faith hinges is the physical resurrection of Jesus. No resurrection, no gospel, no salvation… Sadly, the resurrection may be alluded to in most churches around Easter time, but little in-depth teaching is offered about it. Some articles which may be helpful to our readers in understanding the issues involved are A Day in Court , Objections Overruled! and ” The Resurrection: Watchtower-Style”
The resurrection is so central and essential to the Christian faith that when we are asked what would persuade us that Christianity is false, our response would have to be that someone would produce the remains of the body of Jesus. Well, lo and behold, Simcha Jacobovici, Discovery Channel’s very own Naked Archeologist and James Tabor, author of the Jesus Dynasty claim that they have “compelling evidence” that they have done exactly that! They begin their tale by referencing the 1980 discovery of an ossuary or bone box with the inscription, “Jesus son of Joseph.” (The practice of first century Jews was to lay the body of the deceased on a shelf in a tomb for about a year until all of the flesh had decayed. They would then put the bones in a limestone “bone box.”) The breathlessly earnest 2 hour “docudrama” is a DaVinci Code type expose’ of the existence of the “real” burial place of Jesus, which they speculate contains not only the bones of Jesus, but his wife Mary Magdalene, their son and other family members.
There are a number of very good critiques out there about this program, but sometimes it is helpful to inject a bit of humor into the mix. One such humorous piece is published in the Jerusalem Post under the pen name “Mamma Maria.” Purim: Leonardo emerges from Talpiot tomb to redo ‘Last Supper’ Quite funny. But back to the “docudrama.”
Who is the cast of characters?
The producer is the Oscar winning director of “Titanic,” James Cameron. When confronted about problems in the film he responded, “I’m not a theologist. I’m not an archaeologist. I’m a documentary filmmaker”
Is this an admission that he didn’t want a little thing like facts get in the way of a good story?
Simcha Jacobovici, the director and main on camera personality, by his own admission, is also not an archeologist or scholar. He is a journalist, filmmaker and storyteller. Here, with the aid of Professor James Tabor, they crafted a whopper of a tale. Tabor is the Chair of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. We would suggest that he did not inject a tempering academic influence into the project. He may present himself to the public as an unbiased scholar seeking truth, but it seems fairly obvious that Tabor came in with a predetermined conclusion. According to G. Richard Fisher’s article “The Jesus Dynasty – Imaginary & Irrational Interpretations of James Tabor“ in the PFO Journal, Tabor had been baptized into the Worldwide Church of God (at the time definitely not a Christian denomination but a pseudo-Christian cult) and was a 1970 graduate of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Ambassador College. He left the WCG and became an agnostic, and then in recent years has become a spokesman for another cult by the name of B’ nai Noah. Fisher points out that Tabor:
…acknowledges that in the generally understood sense, he is certainly not a Christian.
Tabor’s book is simply another addition to the Hysterical Search for the Historical Jesus genre that John Dominic Crossan and others have made so popular with the mainstream media in modern times. Crossan even made a cameo appearance in the docudrama to say that if this is the tomb of Jesus it wouldn’t affect his faith. Of course it wouldn’t affect Crossan’s faith, anymore than a scandal affects your average politician’s integrity – there isn’t any there to begin with! Crossan has made it abundantly clear over the years that he doesn’t believe that Jesus was God in the flesh or that He performed miracles or took away anyone’s sin, and certainly does not believe that He rose physically from the dead. Rather, according to Crossan, Jesus was a sort of liberal political activist who was buried in a shallow grave and probably eaten by dogs. Having a bone box would be a step up for Crossan’s Jesus. Tabor is on record as believing that Jesus was married, had children and was crucified and buried, but not resurrected.
The production itself was compelling and included dramatic re-enactment sequences of Jesus interacting with his supposed wife and child. There was a cliff-hanger question breathlessly posed just before each commercial. Each question began with a speculative “If this is true” approach, and then built on their speculation as though it had been irrefutably demonstrated as being true. Then they would move on to the next wild speculation, inexorably building their logical “house of cards” upon the shifting sand of conjecture. Unfortunately, none of their conjectures were proved to be true at all, but the slick presentation was designed to bring the casual uninformed viewer to conclusions that were in no-wise warranted by any real evidence. But, we are ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning.
The attention grabber in the beginning is an ossuary or bone box with the inscription “Jesus son of Joseph.” It is dated from “around the first century.” There were 9 other ossuaries discovered in this tomb when it was unearthed in 1980 for a total of 10. Five others had names inscribed on them; Mary, Mariamne, Jose, Matia and Judah son of Jesus. One ossuary is supposedly not accounted for on the inventory list at the department of antiquities where they are being stored. Jacobovici and Tabor attempt to make a “compelling case” that these are all names associated with the family of Jesus and that the supposedly “missing ossuary” is the James ossuary which surfaced a few years ago. (The owner, Oded Golan, is currently on trial for forgery of this ossuary.) Their entire case hangs on the dating and the cluster of names in one tomb.
The first problem is the time frame. In dating the bone box, the closest we can get is a span of time of about 150 years. This individual may have been born, lived, died and buried prior to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. This inconvenient fact was somehow not mentioned. But then there were time constraints, so I suppose not all possibly contrary details could be mentioned. Much excitement centers around the inscription “Jesus son of Joseph.” The viewer of this fairy tale is led to believe, although it is never stated, that this is a unique occurrence. The original archeologist on record for this ossuary in a recent interview responded to this idea head on:
The name “Jesus son of Joseph” has been found on three or four ossuaries. These are common names. There were huge headlines in the 1940s surrounding another Jesus ossuary, cited as the first evidence of Christianity. There was another Jesus tomb. Months later it was dismissed. Give me scientific evidence, and I’ll grapple with it. But this is manufactured.
Another problem with the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth theory is as Kloner points out:
It makes a great story for a TV film. But it’s completely impossible. It’s nonsense. There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle class family from the 1st century CE.
DNA testing of bone material from the “Jesus son of Joseph” and the “Mariamne” ossuary was performed. The DNA proved that these two persons were not biologically related. The assertion was then made that they must be husband and wife. Perhaps, but they could also have been cousins, aunt and nephew, wife if another male in the tomb or a family friend. There is of course no record of Jesus of Nazareth connected to a female named “Mariamne.” So, in an attempt to strengthen their case, Jacobovici and Tabor must somehow show that Mariamne is Mary Magdalene. (Note: Currently popular conspiracy theories maintain that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and she became the head of the church after His death). In an effort to make this Mariamne/Mary Magdalene connection, they reference a fourth century Gnostic writing titled “The Gospel of Philip.” In this document, Mary Magdalene is referred to as Mary the Master. Mary the Master could be Mariamne, thus, by their logic, Mariamne in this tomb could be Mary Magdalene. Drumroll, please! TaDaaaaaa! Mariamne IS Mary Magdalene! Or at least that is certainly the conclusion that the audience is meant to gullibly swallow. Yes, and once upon a time there were three bears… oops, wrong story
But what of “Matia”? We don’t find him mentioned in the names of Jesus’ brothers. Well, the viewer is told that Mary the mother of Jesus has several ancestors named Matthew or some derivation of Matthew. So, there may be a “Matia” relative who was simply unnamed in Scripture. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, maybe and if – these are the words that a good scam is made of. In any case, the presence of these names doesn’t seem to raise any doubts within Jacobovici, Tabor and Cameron. Rather, they seem to come across as though it strengthens their view. Certainly we wouldn’t want a simple thing like facts to get in the way of a good story.
”Judah son of Jesus,” needs to be dealt with, so Jacobovici and Tabor helpfully suggest that this person is the unnamed disciple who laid on Jesus breast in the Gospel of John. And why was he unnamed? Well, because according to them, Jesus was a threat to the Roman Emperor and so would any of his male offspring be. Therefore, his name and his very existence was kept a secret. So, we have a secret marriage to Mary Magdalene and a secret son who was unnamed, but who can now be revealed to the world, thanks to the dogged determination and efforts of Jacobovici, Tabor and Cameron! Wow! What a revelation! But can all this be proven to be true? Uh, no. However, as with all really good conspiracy theories, the fact that something cannot be proven to be true only serves to prove that it is indeed true. The falsehoods, purposeful misleading, storytelling, wild conjecture, and rabbit trails are so numerous in this docudrama that we cannot cover them all here. However, we can cut through most of these by realizing that Jacobovici, Tabor and Cameron are relying on circular reasoning. Veteran apologist Kurt Van Gorden in his critique “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” — Yet Another Attack Upon Jesus And His Resurrection outlines this fallacy:
We know this is Jesus’ tomb, because the right ossuary names are grouped.
What tells you that you have the “right” group?
We did DNA testing and found out that they are unrelated.
How does this prove it’s Jesus of Nazareth?
Because we have the right group of names on the ossuaries.
All Dem Bones adds up to yet another “Easter Surprise,” the liberal establishment’s annual Easter parade of documentary “specials” attempting to debunk the resurrection “myth” and thus destroy or at least cast doubt upon the faith of millions. You know, like they try to debunk Islam during Ramadan, and make Mohammed out to be a fraud and pedophile . Oh, they don’t? How strange! Be that as it may, it definitely points out the need for churches to be diligently teaching their people the essentials of the faith, and just WHY doctrine matters, so that their faith cannot be shipwrecked. We need to train our people to be critical thinkers and to raise up believers who can stand in the public square and give a rational, reasonable defense of the faith. Not for our own or our children’s sakes alone, but for a lost and dying and gullible world.
Over the last 30-40 years, there has been a decided change in the government’s attitude toward Christianity. This first became a public issue when, in 1963, after a 300 year tradition, the Supreme Court decided that corporate reading of the Bible and prayer at the opening of school could no longer be done. As time went on, someone discovered a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Asbury Baptist Church wherein the phrase “separation of Church and State” occurs. Suddenly that phrase, which was not any part of constitutional law, was inserted into law by caveat. Since then, government institutions as well as public schools have been trying to figure out exactly what that means. In a purported effort to “avoid violating the Constitution” (as previously pointed out, neither this phrase nor the idea behind it exists in the Constitution) public school officials have attempted to keep Christianity outside the property line of the school. This issue surfaced again last week when FOX News as well as other news sources, carried the story Lawsuit Claims School Prevented Boy From Wearing Jesus Costume .
The essence of the story is:
The boy and his mother are Christians who object to the pagan elements of Halloween, but the mother did not want the boy isolated for refusing to wear a costume, according to the lawsuit.
The mother and son chose to have him participate in the costume event, dressed as Jesus:
The principal, Patricia Whitmire, told the boy’s mother that the costume violated a policy prohibiting the promotion of religion, according to the lawsuit.
There is a major inconsistency in Principal Patricia Whitmire’s handling of this situation. The problem is that although she wouldn’t allow Christianity to be represented in the choice of costumes, she allowed a number of other religions to be represented. At least some of the students dressed as witches. Wicca is an officially recognized religion and is one of the faster growing religions in the United States. Other students dressed as Satan. This too is a federally recognized religion which enjoys the religious tax exempt status for groups who apply for it such as “Balanone’s Temple of Set” .
Why did Ms. Whitmire allow other religious views to be represented but singled out Christianity to be banned from the festivities? Perhaps she is merely ignorant of the fact that Wicca and Satanism are recognized religions, and so did not realize that a number of other allowed costumes are associated with expressions of religion. Perhaps it could be argued that the students dressed as Witches and Devils were not advocating belief in Wicca and Satanism, but rather mocking or belittling those beliefs – but how would that be any better in a religiously “neutral” environment?
The problem grows even thornier as time goes by. Perhaps, some might argue, we should abandon any event which could potentially expose a child to any religious belief. That, I am afraid, would be impossible. Why? Even if the school system eliminated all celebrations which would perhaps have a connection to a religion, they still teach Darwinian Evolution. Besides having to accept the initial premise of evolution by faith, evolution is a central tenant of Secular Humanism, which has been a recognized religion since 1961. Humanist Manifesto II states:
1. Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
2. Humanism believes that man is part of the universe and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process” (i.e. evolution).
Every time a child goes to a science class that teaches anything on evolution, the State is mandating the religious view of Secular Humanists!
In order to eliminate the possibility of teaching any religious views, the State would have to take the position that schools and other public institutions cannot know anything about god. However, if they resort to that measure, they would be affirming the teachings of Hinduism which, as a basic tenant, asserts that we cannot know anything about god:
Him [Brahman] the eye does not see, nor the tongue express, nor the mind grasp. Him we neither know nor are able to teach. Different is he from the known, and…from the unknown.
He truly knows Brahman who knows him as beyond knowledge; he who thinks he knows, knows not. The ignorant think that Brahman is known, but the wise know him to be beyond knowledge.”
What will the courts do as they try this case? I have no idea. It is a pickle which the courts have gotten themselves into. In their zeal to be “religiously neutral,” and at the same time be “multicultural” and embrace “diversity,” they have discouraged freedom of speech and the exchange of ideas, while at the same time creating a State mandated religious belief (Secular Humanism) which cannot be questioned. In spite if the militant claim of keeping religion outside the school they are allowing other religious beliefs into the classroom with the exception of Christianity. Is that because Christianity would expose the others as false?