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)
How about this Meacham nugget? “Like the Bible — a document that often contradicts itself and from which one can construct sharply different arguments — theology is the product of human hands and hearts. What many believers in the 21st century accept as immutable doctrine was first formulated in the fog and confusion of the 1st century, a time when the followers of Jesus were baffled and overwhelmed by their experience of losing their Lord.”
Makes you wonder why they would cook up something as preposterous as the New Testament and then go on to be martyred for it.
Another line of media attack is to suggest that Christians cooked up Easter merely to seize on pagan festivals. Truth be told, the church has co-opted many a pagan tradition and redirected it to the glory of God. But the stark reality is that the Last Supper before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection necessarily conforms to the Jewish Passover, which happens to occur in the spring.
For those skeptical about the media’s intentions, they might want to check out the Culture and Media Institute’s new Eye on Culture report by Erin Brown, “Holy Week: Media Worship Earth Day, Attack Easter.”
Mrs. Brown writes that in 2010:
“ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows mentioned ‘Easter’ primarily in connection to the pedophilia scandals that swirled around the Vatican last year, being sure to highlight the ‘gravest outrage,’ ‘scandal,’ ‘sexual abuse’ and ‘crisis.’
“Instead, the networks chose to worship something else: Mother Earth. In contrast to Easter, the 40-year-old eco-holiday Earth Day … managed to get nothing but positive attention from the broadcast media.”
Speaking of sometimes squirrely networks, PBS offered up, six days before Easter,“The Silence," which the Frontline series’ Website says “reveals a little-known chapter of the Catholic Church sex abuse story: decades of abuse of Native Americans by priests and other church workers in Alaska.”
Without in any way discounting the plight of the victims, one can still wonder why PBS chose a Tuesday two days after Palm Sunday to air this.
Each spring, media mischief is like clockwork. Weary believers can shake their heads and observe, “There they go again.”
The wonderful thing is that, like spring, the Easter message is so powerful that it cannot be stopped by human contrivance. From China to Greece to North America, more than a billion Christians rejoiced on Easter Sunday by saying “Christ is risen.”