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Cynicism about Jesus as an Easter 'treat'

By Spencer Gear - posted Wednesday, 4 April 2018


If you walked into an Aussie supermarket before Easter, what were some of the suckers to entice us to buy? They don't promote paintings, mosaics, murals, Bibles and Christian literature about Jesus' crucifixion or the empty tomb with a weeping Mary outside it. The bunnies, eggs and chocolate are big commercial business. According to News Limited, in 2016 Australians spent $3 billion at Easter. It was a similar figure in 2014.

You might say: Come on! Don't be so ridiculous as to expect Australian secular people to support the original meaning of Easter. We are into chocolate and not that religious stuff! Besides, religion is on the nose!

If writers want to nit pick at or condemn Jesus Christ and Christianity, they especially choose two seasons important to Christians – Easter and Christmas.

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Days before Easter 2014, Kimberly Winston wrote an article that aimed at one of the core teachings of Christianity and was published in a religious magazine: 'Can you question the Resurrection and still be a Christian?' (The National Catholic Reporter, April 17). Then Winston proceeded to question the nature of the resurrection of Jesus.

Prophets of doom published this kind of information when leading to Easter 2015 and 2016:

  • Atheistic writer, David Fitzgerald, questioned the origin of Christianity, 'It appears that early Christianity managed to take the stories from these other faiths and incorporate them into the story of Jesus' (Daily Mail Australia, 3 April
  • The Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Elizabeth Farrelly, wrote, 'Could Jesus have actually been a woman?' In it she proposed, 'The familiar depictions of Jesus as a man could be, simply, wrong. I've argued before that God, if we're to have just one, should be un-gendered. Christ, however, is essentially embodied. Indeed, he could be hermaphroditic or intersex…. The church's exile of women is surely itself a heresy, exiling Jesus' (April 1, 2015).
  • 'Was Jesus really nailed to a cross?' (Conversation, March 17, 2016).

Are Winston's issues with the resurrection consistent with biblical and other evidence?

Her concern was that many Christians struggle with the literal versus metaphorical understanding of the resurrection. 'How literally must one take the Gospel story of Jesus' triumph to be called a Christian?' Is it possible to understand the resurrection as metaphor (or perhaps reject that it happened at all) and still claim to follow Christ?

1. Some issues with Winston's exposé of the resurrection

These are common targets for Easter debunkers of Christianity:

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a. The one-sided agenda of this journalist

This is seen at the outset by the choice of authors of each view. It seemed to be balanced because Winston cited two people supporting each side.

However, (a) who are the supporters of the literal and bodily resurrection of Jesus? Light-weight people were chosen: Father James Martin, an author, and a youth pastor of a house church, Reg Rivett;

(b) To promote the symbolic / metaphorical resurrection, she chose two heavy-weight scholars in the field, Professor Scott Korb and controversial retired Episcopalian bishop, John Shelby Spong.

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About the Author

Spencer Gear PhD is a retired counselling manager, independent researcher, Christian minister and freelance writer living in Brisbane Qld.

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