Ignorance about Christianity

Ignorance about Christianity April 3, 2018

It isn’t just that so many people today don’t believe in Christianity.  Often, they don’t even know what it is.  Holy Week showed some extreme examples of this.

In his comment on our Easter post, Carl Vehse gave us this, from “NPR Journalist and Catholic College Graduate Botches Description of Easter”:

In an example of stunning ignorance exhibited by an experienced journalist, an NPR reporter [Vanessa Romo] told readers Friday that Easter is “the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven.” Good grief.

As to NPR’s Romo, her LinkedIn profile indicates that she graduated in 1997 from Loyola Marymount University, a Catholic college in Los Angeles, with a bachelor’s degree in (not kidding) history. She also has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia.

Here is the story, with correction. See also this story and this response from NPR’s ombudsman, which blames hurried editing (so the editor also missed this howler!) while neglecting the bigger question of how a reporter chosen to write the story because of her Catholicism would not know this!

Then this story came out that:  Franciscan University Claims Facebook Rejected Ad Because It Shows Jesus on the Cross.

The image, a San Diamano Cross (depicted above) was rejected for being “shocking, sensational, and excessively violent.”  I love the statement on the Catholic university’s website:

And indeed, the Crucifixion of Christ was all of those things. It was the most sensational action in history: man executed his God.

It was shocking, yes: God deigned to take on flesh and was “obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

And it was certainly excessively violent: a man scourged to within an inch of his life, nailed naked to a cross and left to die, all the hate of all the sin in the world poured out its wrath upon his humanity.

“but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, an absurdity to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jew and Gentile, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24)

I don’t know if Face Book’s squeamishness at the crucifixion was ignorance, malice, or a perceptive insight, reminding us that the Cross of Jesus is supposed to be “shocking.”

But all of this underscores that many secular folks do not even know what Christianity is or what it teaches.  I have seen this even in scholarly books, including scholarly books on Christian writers.  Just talk to a non-Christian.  The notion that God became a human being, that Jesus is God in the flesh, often comes as a complete surprise.  The idea that Christianity is not about salvation by good works but by the free grace of God, thanks to what Christ did in His life, death, and resurrection, is completely new.  “I never heard that!” they will say.  “Is that what Christians really believe?”

Many of those who reject Christianity do not even know what they are rejecting.  We can start by informing them, if only by giving them the objective, historic, interesting beliefs that Christians hold to.  That in itself may have a surprising effect.


Photo:  Crucifixion of Christ/ Twitter Screenshot.  Franciscan University


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