The Christian faith is based on the life and teachings of a man we know today as Jesus. Many critics of the story of Jesus try to minimize it, yet it is the foundation of Christianity. The Bible teaches that Christ was born of a virgin and was crucified and died on a cross. He died on the cross as a sin substitute for mankind. A final blood sacrifice to atone for all of our sins.
Jesus’s basic story seems innocuous enough. He was a child prodigy who grew up to be a religious leader and teacher. The problem was he claimed to be the Son of God. He also claimed to be the one true path to salvation. That did not sit well with other religious leaders and teachers 2,000 or so years ago. The result was hatred, fear, persecution and finally the crucifixion of Christ. At least, that is what most Christians believe, and that is what is written in the Bible.
No one living today was present in the time of Christ. Whether Christ was a real person, a fictional character, the Son of God or a raving lunatic is a matter of faith, belief or disbelief. People have been debating those questions for centuries, and they will likely be debating them for some time to come. Debate aside, it is clear there are still many people who hate and fear the idea of Christ and at least parts of his message.
The amount of anger and fear directed at Christianity in the world today should be obvious to even the least astute observer. Granted, the followers of Christ are not saints and there are examples of people misusing the scripture to justify everything from the Crusades to picketing the funerals of fallen members of the armed services. That does not adequately explain the contorted logic used to justify the hate and fear directed at Christianity across the world.
One example of this was the claim that the terrorist in Norway was a “right-wing, fundamentalist Christian.” One so-called theological authority raised this claim while speaking on the Michael Medved radio show. She was challenged on this point, and she forcefully responded he had a “cross” on the manifesto he published. Since he used a cross as a symbol, he must be a Christian. She further declared that extremists could twist the one true God belief to fit whatever perversion they wished.
Her assertion that this terrorist was a right-wing nut case Christian was based on his use of a cross in his ravings. This is just the latest attack on Christianity using the cross as the vehicle for the attack.1 A few days ago, an atheist group filed suit asking that a cross-shaped piece of scrap salvaged from the Twin Towers be removed from the 9-11 memorial site. They found it offensive. In other cases, Christians have been forced to remove crosses from their clothing at schools and in the workplace. Of course, many claim there is no place for a cross in any public venue, regardless of why it is there or how it came to be there.
The sadly amusing part of this situation is that a cross is only offensive if someone feels it is being used as a symbol of Christianity. A heavy-metal rocker can tattoo a cross on his forehead, wear one as jewelry and have one piercing his nose. It is simply a form of self-expression. Placing a cross in a jar of urine is not offensive. It is art. On the other hand, a kid wearing a T-shirt with a cross on it risks being suspended from school for being controversial.
Hate and fear go hand in hand. One of the few things the cultural diversity scholars have right is that fear breeds hatred and mistrust. People tend to fear the unknown, and people who look different, act different or live differently are an unknown. One ethnic, cultural group will fear another for that reason, but admitting fear is difficult, so the fear becomes mistrust, dislike and sometimes hatred.
Many non-Christians fear and mistrust Christians. They deeply fear the cross because of the message it represents. They will use any excuse to avoid admitting their fear. They will challenge the IQ of anyone who believes the story of Jesus, or the Bible in general. They will shout about the separation of church and state. They will object because they are offended by one faith system being honored or promoted over another. The likely truth is they are afraid.
Their problem is that admitting fear is admitting there is some doubt in their minds about the message behind the cross. Admitting doubt is the first step in wondering if there really is some meaning and significance to the crucifixion of Christ. Most people when faced with that kind of doubt will choose not to admit it, and many will turn their fear into hatred. Just as they did in Christ’s time.