Monday, February 26, 2007

The 'Jesus' Bones' Story: Providential

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.


Puff the Magic Dragon said...

What I find hilarious is the claim they have DNA evidence that this is Christ's tomb. In order to have DNA evidence that they are the bones of Christ, they would need to have a reference sample. Where did they get the reference sample?

Anonymous said...

At the urging of a friend I read the Da Vinci code and found it silly. The ossuary thing was on a par, as I imagine this latest stuff will be too. I'm not sure that many people believe sensationalistic and melodramatic assertions for very long. They probably become momentarily fascinated by the new ideas, then forget them the following week.

Besides outbursts of absurd theories and suppositions, there are many forces in the world that seek to promote the death of Christianity. We Christians are not combatting those forces well. One thing I am completely sure we must do is to join forces. Rather than splinter apart and quarrel among ourselves over issues of lesser consequence (comparatively speaking), we need to put aside our minor disagreements and take a firmly united stand on the big issues. . .such as, Jesus is Lord! While we quibble over rubrics or rituals, the world is gnawing apart the very essence of Christian belief.
Please, we MUST become brothers with all who are of sincere Christian faith, be they Catholics, Orthodox,Episcopalians, Baptists, or whatever. The important goal we all share is, we want to safeguard the Christian faith and help it grow. We can learn good ways to do this from each other! We just cannot prevail
against the larger power of the world if we do not face it together.

Annie the Ecumenist

Flambeaux said...

A brilliant summation, Father.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Very well put, Father. On our local channel last night, worshippers leaving a local church after Mass were questioned about this story. One woman said that it wouldn't matter if the bones were actually those of the Lord, His spirit is eternal. I almost gagged on my coffee to hear a Catholic say such a thing! Clearly, many people haven't though through the implications of the Resurrection -- that Jesus did indeed physically emerge from the tomb, and still lives! St. Paul said it best, that if Christ is not risen then our faith is vain and we are still in our sins -- and all the saints, martyrs, other holy men and women, have witnessed to a lie! We have to pray for a visitation of the Holy Spirit to blow the cobwebs off a few brains out there...

Pat Gonzalez

Rich Leonardi said...

The shame of this fiasco is that it will tarnish genuine endeavors in biblical archaeology. I suspect that's why the original archaeologist on this project is so scathing mad; he knows it makes members of his profession look like crackpots.

MC said...

I, too, have begun to see experts surfacing (and, in some cases, resurfacing) to defend our faith by evincing seemingly obvious holes in the theories behind Cameron's documentary. As to the Davinci Code, it started out as an entertaining piece of mystery fiction but, in all honesty, it lost steam and eventually fell short in the end. It just wasn't a great book. That it caused so much controversy proves that the lost and impressionable will grasp anything as truth. All the more reason for us to be the soldiers and shepherds that we're called to be fight for our Savior and gather His sheep. Thanks for addressing this, Father.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox,

A gold star to you for your spot on analysis!


Anonymous said...

Father, I think about two years back I was thinking of inviting Robert Sungenis from Catholic Apologetics International to Ireland to hold a seminar here but I had not the finances. However I may soon if I can. Ireland has become a very secular country. I think it would be a brillient idea for the church militant in these times to promote Catholic Apologetics International. Sungenis is a great intallect for the Church and could sway alot of opinion back to the Truth with his brillient arguments.

Here is the website of Catholic Apologetics International:

Please consider mentioning this to your parishioners in the future.

Father Martin Fox said...


Someone who denies the earth revolves around the sun, and who seems a little too concerned about the Jews, would not be my choice.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: The minute Mr. Crossan was trotted out as their "expert" I busted out laughing.

Heretics just can't stand to let the Faithful get thru Lent without trotting out some trumped up "faith-ending" event.

The Church has survived this kind of baloney for centuries. THIS, too, shall pass.

A. Carlton Sallet said...

I guess we're all Jews then.

No New Covenant = back to the old one!

Anonymous said...

The USCCB communications office has issued what statement regarding this attack?
The archbishops of Chicago, NY, Boston, WDC & Los Angeles issued what individual statements on this slander??
No statements? only silence?
Pitifull. Cowardace
Only a parish priest from Ohio speaks to defend.

Anonymous said...

That Shep Smith dude isn't real, don't you guys know he's a robot kinda like the robots at the Disney Presidents thing.


Tim said...

You know, I really think Cameron has shown himself to be losing it. I mean, this really sounds like he is a crackpot!
Who in his right mind would throw up such an easily debunked charge? This guy is either deranged or just downright pathetic. He's lost my respect....