Monday, April 05, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Easter Myth?

The Pastor’s Perspective

Vol. 33 Num. 17

“Easter Myth?”

First Published: April 21, 2000

With Easter coming upon us, the various media will be gearing up for the annual exercise of demythologizing Christianity. Whether it’s Time or Newsweek or the New York Times or PBS or whatever, somebody will explain to us that Jesus was not a historical person, or that he never claimed to be divine, or that we can’t take those claims seriously, or that the resurrection is a myth, or some other boring, old hat liberal cliché.

So, if you are besieged by such nonsense and you’d like to trade it in for some good old-fashioned orthodox common sense, then let me suggest that you set your VCR’s on this week’s “One to One with John McLaughlin.” Our friend, Dr. Mark Dever (Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church) will be one of the debaters. He’ll be touching on issues relating to the origins of Christianity.

The show was taped a couple of weeks ago and I got an intriguing description of the process from Matt Schmucker (Director of the Center for Church Reform). He said: “The taping of "One on One with John McLaughlin" went very well. They switched Mark’s "opponent" at the last minute. So instead of Mark going up against a liberal female Christian, he went up against a conservative Muslim—the first ever chaplain appointed to serve the Muslims on the campus of Georgetown University here in D.C. Fortunately, the man was very kind and there was little controversy.”

Matt went on to comment that John McLaughlin himself was an extraordinary and intriguing personality, and that John was impressed with Mark. Matt says: “I think John liked Mark because Mark can be very short and to the point when he wants to be, which makes for good television. So, for instance, John would begin by saying, "Dr. Dever, isn't it true..." and Mark would come back with, "No, John, that's false." John would just about jump out of his chair yelling, "What, What?" It was all quite entertaining.”

The show airs on Easter on NBC and some PBS stations—usually in the morning so you'll have to set your VCR or find a faithful friend who’s figured out how to set his.

By the way, this is a wonderful time of year to strike up Gospel conversations with non-Christian, skeptical or agnostic friends relating to the claims of Christ. You might invite them to watch the video of “One to One” and discuss it over a cup of coffee. Or you might download my article on “The Divinity of Christ” from the church website and give it to a friend to read, and then ask him to discuss it over a meal. Be looking for opportunities to bear witness in this time of year when even pagans and nominal Christians pay some brief attention to Christianity.

Another non-threatening thing you could do is invite an unchurched friend to the choir’s presentation of Brahms’ “Requiem” on Easter Sunday evening. It is one of the greatest pieces of sacred choral music ever written, and the theology of the texts Brahms selected is rich. Some who might not be comfortable coming to our church at other times might be persuaded to come to the “Requiem.” This, in turn, might open the door for a Gospel conversation.

Let’s prayerfully prepare for this Lord’s Day’s worship. We will probably have many visitors in our midst and thus an opportunity to show Christian interest and hospitality. Let’s pray, too, for the message. We couldn’t ask for a better text than we have: Romans 1:16-17. In these verses Paul defines the Gospel! May the Lord bless his word.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

[Editorial Note, the interview of One on One with John McLaughlin was Season 15 episode 30, the transcript is not yet available online]

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