Whither Christianity?

  During Holy Week, we saw all the usual signs of the season: Easter hats, stores full of chocolate bunnies—and public television programs that attacked the truth of the gospels. PBS offered up a program, "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians," and it was a prime-time deconstruction of Christianity. The show rounded up many of the usual suspects from such bastions of Christian orthodoxy as Harvard, Yale, and Union Theological Seminary. PBS's definition of diversity apparently does not include evangelical Christians: Not one appears on the program. Thus, it was no surprise to hear the participants vigorously chanting the politically correct mantra of today’s academy: pluralism. We were told about a plurality of Judaisms, a plurality of Jesuses, and a plurality of Christianities. Plurality, of course, is the idea that there is no one truth. In their devotion to pluralism, the experts ignored or derided many fundamental elements of Christian orthodoxy, like the Scriptures and the creeds. Instead, they waxed enthusiastic over documents such as the Gnostic Gospels, which the Church has condemned as heretical. While this is outrageous, it isn’t new. As historian Robert Wilken of the University of Virginia wrote in the Weekly Standard, the PBS program is just the latest example of how each age attempts to remake Jesus in its own image. For example, during America's founding, Thomas Jefferson—who rejected the supernatural—cut from his Bible all references to Jesus' miracles and divinity. And in the Victorian Era, Jesus was reshaped into a "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" figure. In the same manner, Wilken writes, the postmodern theologians on "From Jesus to Christ," believe that orthodoxy has nothing to do with the truth, but is merely another opinion. Postmodernists, you see, believe that truth claims are merely attempts to exert power over others and oppress them. For example, the early bishops, by condemning heretics, were in truth making certain that the Gospel message remained pure. But according to Princeton's Elaine Pagels, the bishops really "didn’t want people making choices about what to think." These ideas arise out of a worldview that has no room for the supernatural. Most of the PBS theologians dismiss the Resurrection or don't mention it at all. But trying to understand Christianity without the Resurrection is like watching baseball played without a ball. It may hold your interest for a moment, but ultimately it won’t make any sense. As the apostle Paul wrote, if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain. If we believe a lie, then nothing we do matters. The Resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It was the Resurrection that turned a frightened, defeated band of disciples into bold witnesses for Christ—men willing to be martyred for His sake. Without the Resurrection, the experts in "From Jesus to Christ" are left trying to explain a supernatural institution with postmodern sociology. Many of your neighbors have likely seen this PBS program, so you and I must be prepared to rebut its premises. It's shocking, but fewer and fewer people know what Holy Week is about. With well-publicized programs like this PBS special, it's no wonder. Let's remind ourselves that Easter guarantees that Christ will prevail, not only against the gates of Hell, but also against prime-time deconstruction of the faith.


Chuck Colson


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