Last month Christianity Today published “The Resurrection: Good News vs Fake News (An Easter Sermon Idea).” That article is by Karl Vaters, the pastor of an Assembly of God church in the suburbs of Los Angeles. It would be interesting to know how many Easter sermons will use his central idea—as I am in this blog article.
FAKE NEWS IS NOT NEW
In the past few months we have heard much about “fake news.” But the fake news phenomenon has been around for a long time. In fact, Wikipedia’s article says, “Significant fake news stories can be traced back to Octavian's 1st-century campaign of misinformation against Mark Antony.
Vaters sees evidence of fake news long before that, though. He avers that fake news was “how the serpent tempted Eve. By taking what God really said and twisting it just enough to make her doubt reality.”
Propaganda is a common type of fake news that has been around for centuries, and it has been widely used in religious squabbles, in politics, and especially in times of war. As I quoted in my 7/25/16 blog article, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.”
FAKE NEWS AND THE RESURRECTION
To quote Vaters again, “The first challenge to the gospel wasn’t an alternative idea, a better philosophy or the refutation of an argument.” No, “The first challenge to the truth of the gospel was the planting of fake news to compete with the real news.”
As Vaters points out, according to Matthew the Roman soldiers who had been guarding Jesus’ tomb were bribed to spread a fake news story. (If you need to review that story in Matthew 28:11-15, you can find it here.)
There are many today who do not believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. That is not surprising if (a) one does not believe in a transcendent God (who is also immanent) or (b) one does not believe that there is any reality beyond the material world, which can be fully analyzed by science.
Such people must find some way to dismiss the claims of all those who believe the good news about the Resurrection. So whether they use those words or not, they reject the reports about the reality of the Resurrection as just fake news.
THE GOOD NEWS OF THE RESURRECTION
There are, however, no reports that have been longer lasting or of greater significance than those of the Resurrection. It has been believed by hundreds of millions of people around the world for nearly two millennia now.
Even during the heyday of atheistic Marxism in the Soviet Union, strong belief in the Resurrection remained in the hearts of multitudes of primarily Eastern Orthodox Christian believers there. As was true before and since, on Easter morning someone would call out,
Христо́с воскре́се! (Christ is risen!)
And the people within earshot would respond,
Вои́стину воскре́се! (He is risen indeed!)
One of my favorite musical compositions is "Russian Easter Overture." It was composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) in 1888, nearly three decades before the Bolshevik Revolution. It expresses well the power of the ongoing Russian Orthodox belief in the Resurrection.
I encourage all of you to listen tomorrow (or anytime) to this magnificent 15-minute piece as performed by the Mariinsky Orchestra, one of the leading symphony orchestras in Russia, on YouTube here or here as conducted by Dmitri Kitayenko (b. 1940 in Leningrad).
Listening to that moving music reinforces my belief that the Resurrection is real! It is the reports denying that pivotal point in history that is fake news.