The offense: A few weeks before Easter Sunday, Franklin Graham tweeted “Jesus Christ is God in the flesh; and he took your sins and mine to the Cross, dying in our place, so that we might live – if we put our faith in Him. (3/13/18, 3:03 PM). Obviously, Pastor Graham was making a general statement that captured the essence of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, but as we all know, the skeptics are ready to pounce on the most minute mistake made by a nationally-recognized Christian leader.
The responses: Hundreds reacted to Franklin Graham’s tweet. While I did not take an actual count of the pro and con responses, the slight majority seemed to come from the atheists, skeptics and a variety of other non-Christians.
One astute reader tweeted: “I have a question. Where is Jesus right now? Frank says he’s “God in the flesh.” Okay, so he’s made up of matter. Molecules. That means he displaces some space. Where? And don’t say “heaven,” unless you can give me some coordinates. I’m honestly asking. Anybody?”
Did the skeptic have a point? In a word, yes. In my humble opinion, Pastor Graham, for whom I have tremendous respect, most likely meant to say, “Jesus Christ is Lord; he came to our world as God in the flesh,” or words to that effect. That minor word change would have disarmed the many critics who pounced on the literal meaning of his words.
The choice – take the high road or engage? In my perusal of the many scores of responses from Christians, none offered any direct rebuttals to the skeptic. While many quoted scripture or made calls to have faith – answers that would carry weight with believers – most, in my opinion, were answers that were sloughed off like dead skin by the skeptics.
A suitable answer? Maybe a different response would have been more appropriate. How about one that would have met the skeptic in his own naturalistic world? Forget for a moment the dangers of engaging in a potentially fruitless tit-for-tat exchange that would most likely go nowhere. But if one were inclined to engage, perhaps one route to take might be the following:
“Actually, Jesus Christ did come to earth as God in the flesh, was crucified, and rose from the dead after three days. Where is he now? What would the coordinates be? I suspect the coordinates would be in the same zip code as all the dark matter and energy that not a single scientist can yet locate. They all know it exists, since it makes up roughly 85% of the entire universe, yet they can’t find it in this physical time/space continuum. Funny thing about invisible entities, MapQuest just can’t zero in on them yet. One thing we can find is the written record that documents over 500 witnesses observing Jesus Christ in the flesh after his resurrection and his disciples watching him convert to some other form and disappear in a bright light – a form of brilliant matter/energy we can’t locate yet. I suspect when scientists figure out how to locate the dark matter, they’ll find the light matter too.”
Christianese: Do Some Christian Phrases and Words Confuse You? ? Part One
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