An agnostic historian just offered some interesting advice to Christians who want to be heard in a skeptical culture: “Preach the weird stuff.”
In a recent video interview with Glen Scrivener of Speak Life, Tom Holland, the award-winning historian of the ancient world and author of the book Dominion, said that Christians shouldn’t shy away from the things that make the Faith unique. For example, the idea that Jesus of Nazareth is both God and man, said Holland, “sets everything on its head.” In fact, it is the Incarnation that provides what Holland calls Christianity’s “strange singularity.”
Christians, especially in light of modern sensibilities, are tempted to downplay the supernatural dimension of the faith. Yet Holland asserts that Christians should insist on things like angels, demons, and miracles. Not only are these beliefs non-negotiable within historic, confessional Christianity, they are foundational to much of the world’s great art and literature. Christianity’s greatest contributions, the ones that literally transformed the world, as Holland documented in Dominion, are grounded in “the weird stuff” of Christianity.
Even better, these truths have stood the test of time. Perhaps that’s because they’re true!
In the early third century, the church father Tertullian wrote that the death and resurrection of Christ “is entirely credible, because it is unfitting . . . [and] it is certain, because it is impossible.” Tertullian understood that Christianity makes claims that people will find, at best, weird, and, at worst, offensive.
Even back then, people tried to make Christianity more palatable to contemporary ears. For example, the Gnostics, thinking the Incarnation and bodily resurrection were philosophical non-starters for the pagan world, remade Jesus into a sage and dispenser of hidden wisdom, and His physical resurrection into a spiritual one.
Fifteen hundred years later, in the so-called “Age of Enlightenment,” Christian ideas like the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, miracles, and the authority of Scripture were deemed to be insurmountable stumbling blocks for sophisticated minds, so, attempts were made, once again, to reinvent Jesus and Christianity to suit the spirit of the age: Jesus was a great teacher but not Divine, miracles had “reasonable” explanations, and Scripture could be scientifically scrutinized but still teach good morals.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera