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Meditation 348
Criticism of an Easter Day Sermon

By: Evan D

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So I attended church this week, (I am an agnostic in a foxhole waiting until I’m financially independent from my parents to break the news) and it being Easter weekend, this week’s sermon was about the resurrection.  The sermon was, in my opinion, merely a set of ad hoc arguments for the truth of the resurrection and its power therein to transform lives.  I will criticize some of the assertions below.

Assertion One:

The resurrection has the power to transform your life today.    

There is no evidence to back this one up given in the sermon; it is a priori knowledge, you know, that Jesus Christ can change your life if only you ask Him into your heart and believe really, really hard and then you can go to Heaven.  We take a brief look at the life of Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) and how his life was miraculously changed by Jesus on the road to Damascus , never mind the fact that we’re talking about resurrection here and not a blinding revelation.  Even if Saul’s conversion is a historical fact, according to the Biblical prose, the pastor must yet prove to me that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was responsible for that.  Next please explain to me how Saul’s or anyone else’s conversion has any implication for Jesus changing my life almost 2000 years after He supposedly was crucified. 

Assertion Two:

There is a disconnect in the lives we live as Christians and what we proclaim to believe.

This is the “you’re a sinner, shame, shame” part of the message.  The pastor gives as evidence for the assertion the statistic that 78% of Americans claim to believe that the Passion and the resurrection actually did occur.  While I wholeheartedly agree that many Christians are hypocrites and are not living by the book, I discount this statement because it is being used in a manipulative way to win converts or more faithful Christians.  The undertone that I get from this statement is “All you people that come to church only on holidays don’t really believe in the resurrection and are not worthy of Heaven because your works don’t agree with your faith.”  We refer to the scriptures on faith and works written in James which only proves to me that my intuition was correct.  To me, the second assertion discounts all merit of the first assertion, that the resurrection of Christ changes lives.  It seems to me that quite the opposite is true.

Assertion Three:

Christianity exists and therefore the resurrection must be true.

While the third assertion is not explicitly stated, it is the clincher on my anger; an article from Newsweek Magazine is flashed up on the PowerPoint overhead which reads:

“For many churchgoers who fill the pews this Holy Week, re-enacting the Passion, contemplating the cross and celebrating the Resurrection, the faith may appear seamless and monumental, comfortably unchanging from age to age. Yet from the Passion to the Resurrection to the nature of salvation, the basic tenets of Christianity were in flux from generation to generation as believers struggled to understand the meaning of Jesus' mission. Without the Resurrection, it is virtually impossible to imagine that the Jesus movement of the first decades of the first century would have long endured. A small band of devotees might have kept his name alive for a time, but the group would have been just one of many sects in first-century Judaism. So how, exactly, did the Jesus of  history, whom many in his own time saw as a failed prophet, come to be viewed by billions as the Christ of faith whom the Nicene Creed says is "God of God, Light of Light"?” [1]

The pastor simply hopes to state that Christianity could not have made it to where it is today without Jesus rising from the dead.  Peter and Paul were obviously too incompetent to start a movement of their own without divine inspiration from a resurrected Christ.  Why not instead believe that Constantine was too incompetent to start a political movement of his own without interjecting a bunch of Jewish myth into Roman Paganism?  I could easily think many other reasons for the long endurance of Christianity and unfortunately many of them have to do with the greed for money and power.

All you agnostics please join me for a post-Easter liturgy:





  1. Jon Meacham http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7242139/site/newsweek/