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Newsweek’s Slander of Christianity.

Where is the line? When do we finally step out in boldness and say, “That’s it. Stop it. We’re not lying in spiritual lethargy anymore and we will now speak out. It’s time you hear what we have to say.” Do we as Christians intend forever to ignore the slander of those who ridicule us, malign us, and look down their pseudo-intellectual noses at us and our beliefs?

Do we think our silence a modern day version of turning the other cheek? Is this the way we practice the meekness of the beatitudes? Or is it just that we have become so mundane in our faith that we haven’t the energy or the time to do as Paul did and stand up for what we believe? When the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers disputed with him, he didn’t grin and bear it. He didn’t shrug his shoulders and walk away. He didn’t pretend they weren’t there. Nor did he run. He stood up to them and boldly proclaimed the truth about God (Acts 17:16-34).

Maybe you’ve seen the latest insult. If you were on MSNBC.com in the last couple of days, you saw the depiction of the crucified Christ on the icon of the cover of Newsweek. You may have read the accompanying article by Jon Meacham entitled Who Killed Jesus? (You can read it at http://www.jknirp.com/gibson3.htm) Basically, the article is his evaluation of the Mel Gibson move The Passion, but he addresses more than just the movie. He speaks about the Bible and about its inspiration. I haven’t yet seen the movie, and have no comment either way about his comments concerning it. What really troubles me is that this Managing Editor of Newsweek makes such smug assertions about scripture itself in a magazine that will be read by millions of people in this country and others.

Wanting to know who Jon Meacham is, I popped over to Newsweek’s website. At the time of this writing it has a bio for Jon. It says that he was named Managing Editor of Newsweek in 1998. He apparently has no formal religious or philosophical training since the only education listed for him is that he earned a B.A. in English from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. His lack of formal education in the realm doesn’t slow him when it comes to making pronouncements about the Bible. Let me share just a few quotes:

“But the Bible can be a problematic source. Though countless believers take it as the immutable word of God, Scripture is not always a faithful record of historical events; the Bible is the product of human authors who were writing in particular times and places with particular points to make and visions to advance . . .”

“The Bible did not descend from heaven fully formed and edged in gilt. The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John shaped their narratives several decades after Jesus’ death to attract converts and make their young religion—understood by many Christians to be a faction of Judaism—attractive to as broad an audience as possible . . .”

“We can also see why the writers [of the Gospels] downplayed the role of the ruling Romans in Jesus’ death. The advocates of Christianity—then a new, struggling faith—understandably chose to placate, not antagonize, the powers that were. Why remind the world that the earthly empire which still ran the Mediterranean had executed your hero as a revolutionary . . .”

“Frustrated, desperate, bloodthirsty, the mob says: ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ Gibson ultimately cut the cry from the film, and he was right to do so. Again, consider the source of the dialogue: a partisan Gospel writer. The Gospels were composed to present Jesus in the best possible light to potential converts in the Roman Empire—and to put the Temple leadership in the worst possible light . . .”

If Meacham’s assertions that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John weren’t inspired by God but were human books written from partisan human viewpoints weren’t enough, he goes on to make a statement about the deity of Jesus.

“It was as the church’s theology took shape, culminating in the Council of Nicaea in 325, that Jesus became the doctrinal Christ, the Son of God ‘who for us men and our salvation,’ the council’s original creed declared, ‘descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead’ . . .”

You can read the entire article if you like, but surely these quotes make it clear that the Managing Editor of Newsweek has written to millions that we Christians are following a man who wasn’t made the “doctrinal Christ” until about 300 years after his death. He makes it abundantly plain that our relying on the inspiration of the Gospels means that we rely on documents that are “not always a faithful record of historical events” because they were written by “human authors . . . with particular points to make and visions to advance.”

Why does the Managing Editor of Newsweek think he has the right to make such assertions in a news magazine? Does he think that we Christians have become so dazed that we won’t care? Would he write those kinds of things about Moses? About Muhammad? I think not, because he knows the Jewish community or the Muslim community would rise up in backlash to his arrogance.

Then why don’t we?

Seriously. Why don’t we?

Why not start by canceling your subscription to Newsweek? Write them or call them and tell them there are other news magazines available and from this point on you choose to receive one that isn’t biased against Christians. You can call them at 800-631-1040 or go to http://www.nwsub.com/newsweek/public/faq.asp for directions on how to change your subscription online.

Go a step beyond that. Send an email to all your buddies with the above phone number and web site address encouraging them to cancel their subscriptions, making sure that Newsweek knows the reason why.

Get that email forwarded among Christians at the volume of the urban legends that are passed from email to email, and we’ll generate quite a response. Let Newsweek (and by the resulting word of mouth other media outlets) know that they can write what they think of Gibson’s movie and we’ll accept that as an honest movie review, but that we draw the line at attacks on our beliefs and our faith. Make it loud and clear that it’s not just our Jewish and Muslim friends they have to be conscious of when they write or speak; it’s we Christians as well.

Tell them that we’ll listen all day long to honest debate and serious questions, but we are through being slandered. There are millions of us in this nation and we have pocketbooks and remote controls. If enough of us stop subscribing or watching, they’ll lose ratings and lose dollars.

We aren’t asking for special treatment, nor are we asking people to close their minds to thinking, questioning, and learning. If they have the courage to state to their readers, viewers, or listeners that Muhammad wasn’t a prophet, then we’ll take a different view of their saying that Jesus isn’t the “doctrinal son of God.” They don’t have to accept our beliefs or our faith, but they do have to respect them. Just as they respect the other major religions of the world. They have no more right to make negative statements about Biblical inspiration that they don’t understand than they have the right to make ignorant statements about the Koran or the Torah.

What about it? Ready to do more than write a letter to the editor that the magazine will ignore? Then why don’t you use your writing skills, your creativity, and your email list to get it started? Let’s start with Newsweek and let the message spread to the rest of the media.

We aren’t ignoring your ridicule, slander, disrespect, or innuendos any more. We are God’s children. We will act like God’s children. We won’t resort to the kinds of snide attacks aimed at us. However, we will boycott you financially if you insult us, our faith, our Savior, or our God.

We start now.

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