Well, it seems that of late there have been some interesting speculations about Jesus. Over in England, theologian Dr. Susannah Cornwall suggests that the idea that Jesus was male is “Simply a best guess” while right here in North Carolina Dr. Bart Ehrman, who has been something of a thorn in the side of evangelicals for years, is publishing a book saying that Jesus actually existed. While this concession is happy news, don’t expect to see Ehrman next to you in church this Sunday. It seems that his Jesus bears little resemblance to the Jesus we’ve learned to love.
As is the usually the case when confronted by such things, any number of Christians are firing up their blogs, or drafting articles and sermons to denounce such statements and to reaffirm the Jesus who died to save us. If previous inflammatory articles of this kind are any guide, these attacks will be met with dire warnings that the church is threatened and calls to arms to defend the faith. And then too we have all those nasty things atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher keep saying about us. What should we do about those attacks? My answer is, if I am asked – Who cares what they say?
One key advantage of my advancing years, other than senior discounts, is that I’ve heard about such cataclysmic threats for a long time. When you are on faith-threatening attack #85 they tend not to be so alarming. No matter how terrifying such threats may seem; no matter how many people tell me that all we hold near and dear is about to be annihilated; somehow life and the church seem to just go on.
Remember “The DaVinci Code?” When this book, and eventually movie, came out it set much of the church into an uproar. This novel, which depicted Jesus as far from the Christ of the Bible and the church as engaged in a nefarious truth-denying cover-up, was, we were told, a threat to our faith. If millions of people read it many would believe it and the truth of the Gospels would be doubted. Oh dear, oh dear, what are we going to do?
Many fine Christians leapt to the defense. Books were hastily written to counteract the lies of the novel. At one point I had counted seven of them. Video seminars were produced to give ordinary Christians weapons to defend our faith from this onslaught. Churches by the hundreds held seminars. I even attended one. Discussions on how to counter this threat went on all over. Prayers were urged. And in the end the book came, the book went, and the church goes on.
I am not urging ignorance or hiding our heads in the sand. It is fine to understand these issues, helpful even. I am simply urging that we not run around like our hair is on fire every time somebody says something nasty or insulting about us, our faith and our Lord.
Frankly I’ve been coming to an interesting conclusion about these attacks and what they mean for us. Anytime anyone attacks our faith, or even better our God, it creates opportunities for us to have discussions about Jesus; and no matter how they may start, discussions with unbelievers about Jesus are always good things.
I’ve never understood Christians who fear that, somehow, the majesty of God and His promise to build His church are threatened by such things. God is God and he can take care of Himself. So rave on Bart and Susannah, I am praying somebody asks me what I think about what you said.