As I was re-reading those three verses yesterday, I was reminded of a speech broadcast live (and rebroadcast several times) on television from my school, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. In the speech, the self-proclaimed religious expert strongly urged the audience to abandon the notion of the deity of Christ. To do so, he claimed, would be to fully appreciate what a great man Jesus really was.
Such an assertion raises a number of issues. One issue is the weight of the ego of the speaker who urges us to believe that he is telling the truth about the deity of Christ – while suggesting that Jesus was simply lying. In the conflict between the religious speaker and Jesus Christ there is, of course, a gap in credibility. One has been the subject of more books than any other who has ever walked upon the planet and also has the distinction of having time based upon His birth. On the other hand, I cannot even recall the speaker’s name.
Of course, another issue is the mental dexterity of a speaker who claims that Jesus is only a great man if He (or he) is also a liar. Such assertions were once confined to those with IQs below room temperature – long before our universities declared war upon the notion of truth (or Truth) in the postmodern era of education. Now that we scoff at the notion of truth, the epithet “liar” has lost some of its punch.
Those who often read my columns are probably predicting that I will also raise an issue relating to freedom of speech. Those prophecies are just as correct – although not as impressive or complex - as the ones found in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.
Indeed, the speaker who urged the audience to reject Christ’s claim that He is God did so under the full protection of the First Amendment. And I am glad that he was able to do so. There is no better appreciation of the Truth than that which is gained from its juxtaposition with falsity.
But the problem at my university (and many others) is that the First Amendment is not deemed applicable to those who make the contrary assertion that Christ was, and is, our Lord and Savior precisely because He is the Almighty God. A conversation I had with a student just last week is illustrative.
The student was fired from his job at UNCW for being too “open” about his faith in Jesus Christ. Fortunately, he got another job on campus shortly after he lost one for disagreeing with the Gospel according to the Office of Campus Diversity and, instead, following the Gospel according to Matthew. (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).
I do not know whether the student was asking me for advice but here it is anyway:
Your goal in your new job at UNCW is to get fired again. The reward for doing so will be much greater than the minimum wage. (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).
If this one example does not suffice to demonstrate that UNCW (The University of No Christian Witnesses) is intolerant towards Christian speech, consider another. Last month, a new Christian student organization was told to be cautious in its efforts to spread the Word of God because of the university’s harassment policy, which, of course, limits “offensive” speech.
And you know the type of speech they are talking about. It’s the kind that creates a “hostile environment.” (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).
When I received an email from one of the Christians in the organization – an email that included the text of the administrator’s preposterous warning – he was looking for advice on how to deal with the situation. I offer it gladly in these following sentences:
Your goal in your new Christian organization is to spread the Word of God with such zeal that you will be thrown off campus for violating the harassment policy – the one that ignorant administrators think trumps the First Amendment right to religious expression. (This is also the policy that malicious administrators pretend to think trumps the First Amendment right to religious expression).
Of course, getting booted off campus will not be a big deal. But the reward will be very great. (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).
As I think about my advice to these students, I am reminded of the “Holiday Greeting” ( http://www.uncw.edu/chancellor/greetings/ ) sent out earlier this week by UNCW Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo. The greeting mentions the word “diversity” but not the words “Christ” or “Christmas.”
There is something very wrong with the idea that the word “Christ” is offensive by itself but protected free speech if followed by the words “was not the Son of God.” I believe that this idea has consequences. See paragraph one of this editorial for details.