With spring in the air, all but the truly soul-dead feel the pull of not only natural but spiritual renewal.
The surge of new life after winter’s dormancy is so magnificent that it can shake us to our core. Capricious breezes, the greening of the landscape and the cherry, redbud and dogwood blossoms peppering the woods like wedding lace bespeak – for the believer – a marvelous Maker. So, too, do more sobering events, such as powerful, deadly storms. All in all, it’s conducive to probing what C.S. Lewis called “the deeper magic” of creation, life, death and resurrection.
For Jews, the Passover strikes a chord so deep that Nature’s wonders are the accompanying instruments in a symphony celebrating God’s mercy toward His chosen people. For Christians, the quality of mercy is boundless, and the pastoral lamb is none other than the Lamb of God.
Given the power of the season, it’s no wonder that Christians find their core beliefs under attack. Christmas affords similar temptations, but Easter holds the claim that thrills or outrages the hearer: God sent His only Son to die for humanity’s sins; He was resurrected from the dead and now offers eternal life to all who repent and believe on Him. Those who reject Him, sadly, consign themselves to Hell.
Jesus’s singular feat split history and He is still either the font of life or a terrifying possibility. Any attempt to create neutral ground is doomed.
But try they will. As reliable as the sprouting of daffodils, TIME, Newsweek, PBS and other news organs mark the holy season every year with sly attacks masquerading as analysis. If they can’t find a phony box of “the bones of Jesus” as in James Cameron’s March 2007 Discovery Channel special “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” they dig up a self-professing Christian who preaches universalism and the nullification of the gospel.
That was TIME’s ploy in its April 14 issue in which the cover headline, “Is Hell Dead?” played off TIME’s memorable “Is God Dead?” headline of April 8, 1966.
Without going into detail, let’s just say the profile of liberal Emerging Church leader Rob Bell was what you might expect a couple of weeks before Easter – a masterpiece of sowing doubt. The old tempter Screwtape himself would be proud of Jon Meacham’s article, which was a drawn-out version of the question Satan posed to Eve in the Garden: “Hath God truly said?” (Gen. 3:1)
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