Saturday, March 10, 2007

Does the Resurrection matter?

Some years ago the music department at the public high school where I taught performed Jesus Christ Superstar as the annual musical. The cast was a cross-section of the student body, theists and atheists, Jews and Christians and members of other faiths. One of the Jewish students in the cast told me one day, rather wonderingly, that Christian students involved in the production "don't know what they believe."

Sometimes people outside the faith understand better than some of those who think they are in it "what they believe." Rabbi Marc Gellman on The Jesus Family Tomb:
.... If this was indeed the tomb of Jesus, then not only is the Christian Testament false but, worse, Christianity is a cruel deception, à la The Da Vinci Code, foisted on the world by Jesus' panicky followers to help market a faith led by a dead messiah. I don't think that is how Christianity was born....

Some Christian respondents to this film have said that even discovering the bones of Jesus would not seriously undermine their faith. They say that 2,000 years of tradition does not just get canned because somebody found some bone boxes in the basement of the Israel Museum. I know many Christian clergy who have told me that the main truth of Christianity for them is to love as Jesus loved and that no archeological discovery can change that spiritual lesson. I love these folks but, as an outsider, I just don't agree that decisive refutation of Jesus' resurrection would have no effect on Christian faith. Unlike Judaism and Islam and Hinduism and even Buddhism, which are built on God's teachings, Christianity is built both on God's teachings as well as on an historical event proving a transcendental miracle. If the Red Sea never really split, there would still be the Ten Commandments and the Torah for me. What is left of Christianity if Jesus died and then just remained dead? .....

The divide separating Christians from non-Christians is not between those who think loving all people is good and those who think loving all people is bad. The real divide is between those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day as proof that he was indeed the Messiah sent by God, and those who do not believe this article of faith and this audacious historical claim.
Source: Newsweek: Jesus R.I.P.

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