Monthly Archives: April 2018
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Mountaintop,” saturated with Scripture, the night before his death is chronicled by Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition, including a recording of the full speech. Here is the last minute of that speech:
Several Veracity readers came to me on Easter Sunday and asked me about a recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Easter Effect and How it Changed the World” (behind a paywall), by a Catholic intellectual, George Weigel. Weigel’s argument is that the event of Christ’s resurrection, so inspired, so disturbed, and so invigorated the world of the Roman empire, that it eventually led to Christianity’s effectively taking over the Mediterranean basin within just a few centuries. Weigel published a briefer essay along the same lines in the journal First Things in 2016 (no paywall).
In the First Things essay, I disagree with Weigel’s judgment that the popularity of the New Atheism of the likes of Richard Dawkins has “just about expired.” I only see the trend continuing to erode the cultural landscape, though in a more subdued manner, until the church recaptures the imagination of the “Easter effect.” This caveat aside, I recommend Weigel’s thoughts to you.
If you are interested in this theme, of how the “Easter Effect” radically changed the world, even to the present day, you can explore this idea in a couple of books that treat this topic in-depth. Weigel was partly inspired by the work of Baylor University sociologist, Rodney Stark, in his 2012 The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion. You can read a review of the book by Scott Wenig, of Denver Seminary.
In a similar vein, the infamously skeptical, UNC Chapel Hill scholar Bart Ehrman recently released The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World. What is remarkable about Ehrman’s book is that even though he is decidedly an agnostic, he nevertheless finds the impact of the claims to Christ’s Resurrection to be of tremendous historical significance. So, even though Ehrman does not believe the Resurrection to be true, he admits that something indeed happened, following Jesus’ death, that led to the radical transformation of the Roman empire. Charlotte’s Reformed Theological Seminary president, Michael Kruger, reviews Ehrman’s book.
HT: Paulette Parker
If you drive around parts of rural Virginia, the state where I live, you will find a number of churches built in the pre-Revolutionary War era. Nearly all of these old churches have one thing in common: the church altar faces east. The great, historic cathedrals of western Europe do the same.
Why? In Mark 16:1-2, we read that Jesus’ women disciples went out to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus with spices, at sunrise, only to find out that Christ had already risen. As a result, Christians have historically associated the Resurrection with the sun rising out of the east, in hopes that believers will one day share in that very same Resurrection that Jesus experienced, some 2,000 years ago. Many churches even today continue this tradition by having sunrise services on Easter morning. In fact, the word for Easter has the same root from which we get the English word for east.
Now some try to overly complicate this by associating Easter with having pagan origins, a tale which can be easily debunked (see here, here, and here). But, if it makes people feel better, just substitute the Scriptural Greek word pascha, transliterated from the Hebrew word for passover, as used by the Eastern Orthodox, or call it “Resurrection Day.” Whatever.
The point is: Do not get hung up on a word like Easter. Instead, please focus on what the concept behind the word means. Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead, because it gives us the great hope, that one day, we too will inherit Resurrected bodies. For a quick five-minute summary on the meaning of Resurrection Day, Easter, or Pascha, here is Bible scholar Ben Witherington.
In the meantime, let us celebrate remember the meaning of Resurrection Day: HE IS RISEN!