Well, it must be Lent, because someone has come out with the annual "shake the foundations of the Church" blockbuster. After testing the waters the past few years to see how directly they can get away with attacking Christianity -- the Da Vinci Code film was the boldest attack yet -- this year a "mainstream" cultural figure took direct aim at the very jugular of the Faith. James Cameron, who produced Titanic, has produced a film supposedly documenting Jesus didn't rise from the dead. The Discovery Channel is going to broadcast the documentary, that tells the story of remains and ossuaries (bone caskets) found in Jerusalem. Blah blah blah.
Well, this will shake everything up, and usefully, if I may say so.
Just now, I watched Shephard Smith on Fox News -- an entertaining fellow who seems, to me, to be reasonably perceptive -- bill this story as "explosive" . . . because it proves Jesus was married!
No, Shep, that's not what's explosive: it's the claim that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. That would, indeed, be explosive.
Not to pick on Smith, but that he -- and whoever wrote the copy -- missed this is amazing. And more concerning than the Cameron-Discovery Channel assault on the Christian Faith. It suggests to me that a fair number of people don't seem to realize just what Christians assert when they say, Jesus rose from the dead.
Now, I have little to say about the merits of this story at this point. Others have already started tearing it apart, including archeologists, notably those actually involved in the original discovery. Time Magazine wrote a skeptical article, noting that the fellow originating this claim was involved in that "James the brother of Jesus" story of a couple years back -- i.e., that he found an ossuary proving Jesus had a "brother" named James -- and he stands by that, despite the ossuary now deemed a forgery by experts and giving rise to criminal charges (against someone else). Suffice it to say, here, that this claim is riddled with holes, factual and logical. It's the sort of thing that will impress those who either don't think very well, or are eager to be impressed with something like this.
Unfortunately, you have folks like the "Jesus Seminar" avatar John Dominic Crossan (is he a priest? An ex-priest? Hard to tell), who claims that if someone found Jesus' body, it wouldn't affect his faith. Oh, well, what do you expect from a pig but a grunt?
Well, charity prevents me from saying what I want to say about that. So, I'll say this: if Jesus did not rise, then Christianity is all crap, and we should all find something else to believe.
Don't kid yourself, the people launching this attack know exactly what they are doing.
It does seem to me to be a suitable sequel to the Da Vinci Code -- that, too, was a frontal assault on Christianity. And it, too, was providential, insofar as it revealed the rottenness in people's thinking that they can buy the DVC claims, and still say they are Christians!
It's providential insofar as it will occasion quite a bit of discussion about what Resurrection means.
Another way it's providential is that it will help clarify who stands for what, and help Christians realize the scalding hatred that is and always will be directed against our Lord.
This escalation in the war on Christianity is disturbing. What does it signify? What lies ahead for those faithful to the Lord? Dire predictions of a rising tide of persecution seem less extreme every day; yet the future belongs to the Lord, not to our theories or fears.
But if this is a sign of worse to come, that that too is providential. The Lord told us to watch for the signs of the times.