April 2009
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Elgin’s Books


  • Christianity and Secularism

  • Evidence for the Bible


  • Of First Importance

    Listen to the MP3

    As I have discussed previously all too often people dismiss rituals as meaningless and of little value. But is somewhat of a chicken and egg problem.  Are rituals dismissed because they are meaningless and of little value, or are they meaningless and of little value because they are dismissed?

    Whether something does or does not have meaning depends largely on us.  The cross is meaningful because we see it as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.  We give it meaning by associating it with what Christ did.  In short, we choose whether or not we will see it as significant.

    This phenomena is not simply limited to religion.  For example in 1971 Congress restructured federal holidays to give more three day weekends.  Before 1971 Memorial Day was May 30th. Now it is the last Monday in May.  As a three day weekend every year Memorial day has for most completely lost its meaning. A Gallop Poll last year show that only 28% of Americans knew the actual reason for the three Day weekend they were celebrating.  Instead,  for many Memorial Day is nothing more than a time for barbeques and parties rather than what it was originally intended, a solemn day to honor those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

    Yet when rituals are seen as meaningful, they can focus and magnified belief. They also serve a teaching function, as a way of transmitting important values to the next generation.  The casual anything goes attitude of society exists just as strongly in a church more eager to attract members than to make disciples.

    Apart from older churches with a long history of tradition such as the Roman Catholic Church, Easter and Christmas are pretty much the last Christian rituals, and for many even these are in decline. The meaning slowly draining away year after year, and for increasing numbers of young people the meaning is never implanted.

    This weekend most Western Churches will celebrate Easter which commemorates the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  (Orthodox observe Easter on the 19th)  This is the most important date on the Christian Calendar.

    Paul writing to the Corinthians said that “I passed on to you the most important points that  I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures-and is still alive!-” (1 Cor 15:3-4 ISV)

    This is so important and central to the Christian faith that Paul later writes “if the Messiah has not been raised, then our message means nothing and your  faith means nothing… your faith is worthless and you are still imprisoned by your sins.” (1 Cor 15:14,17 ISV)

    Given its centrality and importance it is not surprising that the resurrection is not only one of the most well documented events of the Bible , it is one of the most well documented events of the time period, and one which skeptics have attempted in vain to refute for 2000 years.  (See Christianity and Secularism Chapter 6)

    The magnitude of the event is beyond comprehension.  Even the natural aspects are difficult to fully grasp,  a man was betrayed by one of his inner circle and deserted by the rest.  The crowds that had hailed him one week earlier now called for his death.  He was savagely beaten, scourged, condemned to death and then crucified.  Because of the coming Sabbath, his body was hurriedly placed in a borrowed tomb. Which was then guarded by those who had had him executed.

    Yet starting early on the following Sunday morning, people began claiming to have seen him. And not just a few,  all of those close to him did, along with many of his followers. Even Paul who strongly tried to suppress the growing faith, saw him and converted as a results.   In fact Paul point out that one appearance was before a crowd of over 500 , and challenged skeptics to go and talk to those that were still alive about what they had seen.  In short a man who had died, had come back to life.

    As amazing as this was, this was still just of secondary importance, serving mainly as a confirmation of what was really the most astounding part, a part that went completely unseen by those who witness Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

    Jesus did not just die on the cross, he died for our sins. This is the truly astounding part and something that is beyond all comprehension. He died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), He died for me, and he died for you.  He did this that we may live.  “For as in Adam all die, so also in the Messiah will all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22 ISV)

    This is the true meaning of Easter, that Jesus the Son of God,  “died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures-and is still alive!” (1 Cor 15:3-4 ISV)    This is the true meaning of Easter.   Will what you do this weekend be in accord with this?

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

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