Easter Morning: Faith’s Foundations
by Roger Hines
April 20, 2014 12:00 AM | 1517 views | 14 14 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Today is Easter, the premier Christian holy day. What is the status of the Christian faith? Is it flourishing or is western civilization sliding into a post-Christian era as some historians claim?

These questions are important, but not as foundational as the following: Did God actually put on an Earth suit? Is Jesus who He said He was? Where is the evidence that Jesus is the life-changing Savior of whom millions testify? Did He really conquer death? These questions still stare humankind in the face, awaiting our answers.

The pluralism and multiculturalism of our day question the claims of Christianity. Pluralism speaks of “my truth” and “your truth” as though truth is a double-headed Hydra. Multiculturalism — not inherently, but as argued — implies all cultures enjoy moral equivalence (cannibalism is OK because “that’s their culture”) and that one religion is as good as another.

A chief criticism of Christians today centers on their belief that truth is not relative. To an orthodox Christian, there is no “my truth” or “your truth.” Truth is objective reality, and neither feelings nor druthers affect it. Ironically, the modern claim, “there are no absolutes,” is itself an absolutist statement.

Moderns simply don’t like the idea that truth has boundaries. In our rebellion against traditional thought, we view the word truth as narrow and onerous. Truth, of course, has always been narrow. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and there seems to be little we can do about it. Regardless of our station in life, Old Death visits us all, and we are powerless to change that truth.

So there are some truths we accept, but when it comes to matters outside the realm of physical science, we balk. For instance, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Millions of Christians are today exulting in the reality that what we call death is not the end after all. In the words of John Donne, “Death, thou shalt die!” Resurrection is the centerpiece of Christian theology, conquering that which so many fear most. Yet, this treasured centerpiece is also the bone in the throat of modern, “scientific” man.

Christianity is the world’s largest religion with over 2.2 billion adherents. Its three branches are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox and Protestantism. With the exception of some liberal Protestants, all three of these branches hold to the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus, considering it the keystone of their faith.

The groups within these three great branches are as the stars of the sky. Regarding Protestantism’s Baptist branch, it has been said that wherever you have two Baptists, you will have three opinions. Who knows how many different Methodist or Pentecostal groups there are? Still, belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus is the most foundational tenet of Christianity.

It is in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the epistles (letters) of the New Testament that Christians find the historical record of the resurrection. It is on the testimony of others and on their own transforming Christian experience that they stake the resurrection Gospel’s veracity. For example, the Apostle Paul, a former terrorist and persecutor of Christians, became the most prolific writer of the New Testament, expounding on and defending the resurrection. Obviously, something life-changing happened to him.

Evangelist Billy Graham, probably the world’s second most famous Christian after Paul, illustrates in the eyes of millions the power of the resurrection Gospel to keep a man’s ways straight and pure.

Perhaps one reason Christianity is rejected is that so many people judge it by its misrepresentation. The Crusades, the KKK, and Westboro Baptist Church are not a fair measure of Christianity. The Rev. Billy Graham’s “long obedience in the same direction” and your Christian neighbor who has consistently lived out his or her faith are far better testimonies and evidence of the Christian Gospel’s veracity and power.

One of the most contentious arguments in contemporary America is the role of Christianity in the nation’s founding. America, of course, is a land of religious freedom, but does anyone think the founders were informed or shaped by Hinduism, Islam or Buddhism? Misrepresentations and failings aside, it is the Holy Bible that has formed our national character. It is the Apostle Paul’s “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” that has lent Christians hope.

Every individual, institution and nation finds itself occasionally in need of a renaissance or a reformation. For the individual Christian believer, it is the resurrection that pulls him or her back to what is most foundational. That’s the purpose of Easter.

As Paul the transformed terrorist wrote, “If Christ be not risen, our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain.” That’s foundational.

Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.
Comments
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mdx9668
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April 22, 2014
This is a meeting I would give up a paycheck for, just to listen in from the sidelines. I know it would end in a draw, because neither side can or will be persuaded by the other. Obviously I'm with Roger in this debate if for no other reason that while Kevin "hopes for the best," I KNOW where I'll be going. And it will be the best. I hope for Kevin's sake he rolls with Roger and certifies his place with Jesus, who IS the Only Way. Tony Maddox Kennesaw
Kevin Foley
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April 24, 2014
@ Tony Maddox - Pride goeth before the fall, my friend. Based on some of the stuff I've seen you write here, you'd do well to reflect on what I wrote about the Golden Rule. Otherwise you might be in for a very unpleasant surprise at Heaven's check in desk (if there is one).
Kevin Foley
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April 21, 2014
@ Roger Hines - I don't think Romans 19-20 covers my question. In the days of Paul, very little was known about the physical world.

There were no "deserted islands" in places like South Pacific as far as Paul was concerned. The world extended only as far as the boundaries of the Roman empire.

If that hypothetical man I mentioned is exposed to God's manifestations, as promised by Paul, he might well interpret them differently from Paul and the other apostles. Thus, we have other religions.

The deal breaker for me is that unless one comes to God through Jesus Christ, he cannot be saved. This rules out Jews, Muslims (both branches of the House of Abraham along with Christianity), Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and so on. I don't think God ever made anyone he wouldn't forgive and welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven. But I don't profess to know because I'm an agnostic. Meantime, I live my life by the Golden Rule, however imperfectly, and hope for the best.

Anyway, you can Facebook message me and we can grab coffee.

Roger Hines
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April 21, 2014
Kevin, not chapters 19 and 20, but chapter 1, verses 19 and 20.
Kevin Foley
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April 21, 2014
@ BRKJV & Mike RB - So sanctimonious, the both of you anonymous types. I don't attend church because of the rampant hypocrisy I hear from those who proclaim their devotion to Jesus Christ.

If you want to talk about scripture, you and the others here need to read the part about Christ's command to care for the poor and sick and then tell me why every so-called Christian leader and supposed follower of Christ in Georgia isn't demanding Medicaid expansion loudly and persistently.

And, please, don't presume to tell me what you think Jesus meant. He made no conditions. He just wants it done.
Jim Smith
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April 21, 2014
Foley, it does not matter a twit what you think or any other human thinks. The only thing that mattes is what God says. Read the Word of God and sit under the preaching of the Word of God, then make your decision. Just remember, you are deciding where you will spend eternity. Be very careful with your choice and do not delay. Medicaid is nothing more than a red herring that you are tossing out, as a way of politicizing the discussion.
Kevin Foley
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April 20, 2014
Very eloquent, Roger.

Here is my argument, meant respectfully:

If a man is born on a desert island and never exposed to the Gospels, will he be saved or banished to hell?
Danny Johnson
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April 20, 2014
If a man is born on a desert island his mother will be there to help him along.

Mr. Foley, does the word "parenting" ring a bell?

Mike Woodliff
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April 20, 2014
Lord knows, I'm no Biblical scholar. However, I've read the Bible and studied it. I've attended Bible studies since I was a child. However, like Thomas, I have my doubts. There are questions regarding eternity, God and the afterlife to which the answers are, at best, elusive.

One verse does stick with me from 1 Samuel:

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Who is to say that your innocent, island born man doesn't have such a vision? I certainly wouldn't presume to condemn or even hazard a guess as to what becomes of him. I'm reasonably comfortable in knowing that I don't know. And for more comfort, I might even say that God will provide in some way for such beings.

Plainly, if one has any belief in God and Jesus, it is understood that we see things in the physical while God sees them in the ethereal and metaphysical.

Even Woody Allen had a great answer to your question. Why do we get in a twist over things to which we'll never get the answer? Why not enjoy this great and grand experience of being alive? God and the answers will out in due time.
Roger Hines
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April 20, 2014
Thanks, Kevin. I believe I can answer this. Give me a few hours, though, with our Easter company. Hope you're well. Let's get together.
BRKJV
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April 20, 2014
@Kevin Foley

And here is my respectful answer to you, why don't you come to a Bible-believing Bible-preaching local church where the King James Bible is proclaimed and believed, and you will get the answer you want and more. Your choice as to where you want to spend eternity. Chose wisely.
Mike RB
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April 20, 2014
The question asked by Kevin Foley is purely intellectual and does not apply to anyone who knows enough about Christianity to ask such a question. For you Kevin, that means you have no excuse, and ACTS 17:30 applies to you, because you clearly are aware of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, since you asked such a question. Now, for those on the hypothetical island, God spoke about them in Romans 2: 14-16 and James 1:17. Really Kevin, rather than asking questions here, why don't you purchase a King James Bible and read it, along with attending a local church where the King James Bible is proclaimed and believed. You fancy yourself as an intellectual, which means you should be eager to learn more. Well, go to church and learn the answer to all your questions and make sure you go to Sunday school, prior to church services.
anonymous
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April 20, 2014
As a Conservative I believe he would of course be banished to "EVERLASTING HELL", then he would have all eternity to wonder, "What am I do'in here".
Roger Hines
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April 20, 2014
Kevin,

Read Romans chapter 1 and see if you think this helps us. I believe it does, especially verses 19-20. According to this passage, the deserted island guy who has never been exposed to the Gospels will be judged by the amount of knowledge or revelation he does have, i.e., the very natural order. I believe God will provide a deserted island person and everybody else some means by which to hear and respond to the Gospel. Let's get together and talk about this and lots of other things. Would sincerely like to meet you. I know I would learn a lots.
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