It happens twice a year, at Christmas and Easter.
The newsweeklies sometimes carry cover stories. The newspapers print items calling the reason for these seasons into question.
This Easter is no exception, but the intensity level seems to have increased.
This year’s first attack came from St. Paul, Minnesota, where local officials decided to ban the Easter Bunny from City Hall. They said it might offend some non-Christians, as if the Easter Bunny has anything to do with Easter’s real significance. Apparently it escaped the notice of the city council that the Easter Bunny might offend Christians, because, like Santa Claus, it is a counterfeit. If they want to be consistent, perhaps the council should change the name of the city from St. Paul to, say, Paul Bunyan.
Newspapers also carried a story about a Florida State University scientist who speculated that Jesus didn’t really walk on water; he walked on ice. The scientist theorized there must have been an unusual cold snap 2,000 years ago that froze the Sea of Galilee. This begs the question how Jesus was able to pull off such a stunt when Peter also walked on water, before his lack of faith sank him.
The New York Times piled on by trumpeting the discovery of a fossil in Arctic Canada as a “missing link,” which it editorialized “puts the lie to creationist beliefs.”
Next was a story on the “Gospel of Judas,” a work written between 130 and 170 C.E., long after the events it purports to describe. In this document, Jesus is revealed as having urged Judas to betray him. That a number of Judas’ contemporaries said otherwise in Scripture matters not to skeptics.
Adding to the gospel of unbelief is the movie version of the best-selling novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” which, if it is faithful to the book, will mix a few historical facts with a great deal of fiction. The book claims Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered children. The film is scheduled for release next month. Like the book, the movie will have as much to do with fact as Oliver Stone’s film on the Kennedy assassination.
What is responsible for this flood of skepticism, heresy and outright denial of the biblical record? Why is there not a similar cultural onslaught against other faiths? Only the suicidal would treat Islam in this way. The skeptics sound like those disclaimers for certain drugs sold on TV: Side effects may include vomiting, hair loss, bleeding, dizziness and disorientation. The side effects of believing in Jesus may include loss of friends, disrespect by the academic and journalistic communities and damage to one’s career, not to mention a complete change in the life to which one has become comfortably accustomed.
The question inherent in all of these challenges to the original story and original cast is this: How could anything like the resurrection be true? The question is not asked with the intention of getting an answer. It is rhetorical, hostile and unbelieving.
So, how does one know it is true? First, not a single witness of that first Easter morning subsequently denied what he (or she) observed. Human nature tells us that when those who publicly stated Jesus rose from the grave were threatened with death unless they recanted, at least one, and probably more, would have said it never happened, if it didn’t occur. They would have wanted to live. Not one recanted. All of the Apostles died martyrs’ deaths, except John, who died in exile.
The second reason is also logical. What kind of loving father would direct his lost children through a bad neighborhood, if he wanted them to get home safely? If no human father would be so cruel, why would God, after giving up His Son to die for humanity, create a flawed road map so they would get lost in their search for Him?
Christians who believe the Bible’s account of Easter believe it because they also believe God’s spirit guarded human hands from making errors in recording these events. Skeptics have no such guide. They should be humbled that God is far wiser than the wisest man. (1 Corinthians 1:25-27)
Before accepting what heretics and unbelievers say, consideration should be given to what is contained in the guidebook.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist and author.