By now, it seems most everyone has heard about an inane assignment that boggles the mind. Earlier this month a professor at FAU, Florida Atlantic University (the Davie campus, near Ft. Lauderdale), had his students participate in a bizarre exercise.
He told his students to take out a sheet of paper and write on that paper in large letters, the name “Jesus.” Then he said to take the paper, put it on the floor, stand up, and then stomp on the paper.
I’m not exactly sure what the point of the assignment was -- other than to prove how absurd some modern higher academia has become. What if it had said “Mohammed”?
One student, a Mormon, picked up his “Jesus” paper, put it back on his desk, and respectfully told the professor he could not participate. That student was suspended from the class. Initially, the school stood by the teacher. But now they’ve apologized and said that that exercise will not be repeated. The student has been reinstated in the class, thanks to the help of the Texas-based Liberty Institute.
“What’s wrong with those people?” asks my son-in-law, who has a BA from FAU. “They truly are cowards. They hide behind their diplomas and degree. You can’t spew that kind of hate without repercussions -- except on the college campuses, I guess.”
My son-in-law met my daughter there when she was earning her BA there. I’ve had a positive view of the school, but this incident was quite troublesome.
There’s an incredible irony of this professor’s actions. Just as there is irony in all the Christian bashing we seem to find in this culture. Like Jamie Foxx thanking his “Lord and Savior” -- Barack Obama, on a television appearance a few months back.
Here’s the irony: every beat of the heart is by the grace of Jesus Christ. When He says, “Enough,” life is over. And to Him we must all give an account. Contrary to all the St. Peter at the Pearly Gates jokes, Jesus is the one to whom we must answer for our lives.
How can I say that? Because of the original Easter. Two thousand years ago Jesus walked out of His tomb in Jerusalem. This is a fact of history that changed all of history.
The change of the disciples’ hearts and minds after His resurrection was such that they were convinced He was risen. Because of His death for sinners and His resurrection, they were transformed, from men who hid behind locked doors to fearless missionaries.
After the resurrection, the disciples were unstoppable. Beginning in Jerusalem, the place of Christ’s death and resurrection (and empty tomb), they boldly proclaimed the death and resurrection. They spread the good news from there into the four corners of Rome.
The Temple authorities did everything they could to squelch the Christian movement. They failed. Then, the Romans tried in earnest, ten times in particular over the next three centuries to squelch Christianity. But they failed too.
Dr. N. T. Wright of England, once said this when I interviewed him for a television program: “The disciples, at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, were completely devastated. Everybody in their world knew that if you were following a prophet or a Messiah or a leader or whatever and that person got executed by the Roman authorities, then it meant you had backed the wrong horse. Since everybody knew that a crucified Messiah was a failed Messiah, the only thing which explains why they said Jesus was the Messiah is that they really did believe that He had been bodily raised from the dead.”
Another recent example of Christian-bashing in our time was when Saturday Night Live crossed a line of respect/disrespect, when they portrayed Jesus vanquishing the Roman Empire through violence. The fascinating thing is that Jesus did vanquish Rome -- by love, forgiveness, and non-violent means.
Historian Will Durant wrote a definitive, multivolume survey of world history. Durant commented on the Gospel’s success in ancient Rome.
He said, “There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fiery tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has ever known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.”
You can walk around Rome today and see the ruins of “the strongest state history has ever known,” and yet you can walk into a storefront in one of our inner cities and hear the name of Jesus, the risen Lord, being praised. Or in a cathedral, for that matter.
When beautiful American spirituals are performed in church, I’m reminded of how such hymns praising Jesus were written by slaves. These songs of praise are still used today, while the evil system that oppressed those slaves is “gone with the wind.”
William F. Buckley, Jr. once introduced a debate between a Christian scholar and a skeptic: “If during the course of the debate, [the skeptic] disappears in a puff of smoke, then rest assured that Jesus up in heaven has just cleared His throat.”