(February 02, 2022)Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares about a current concern …
In these past few years a new phrase has been incorporated into the English language – ‘Cancel culture.’
‘Cancelling’ is a tool highly favoured by those who embrace the philosophy of ‘political correctness’ which vigorously tries to reset social values by promoting social and moral values that contradict historic (largely Judeo-Christian) values of right and wrong. Those who embrace this philosophy, which is gaining strength through the media, attempt to punish, shame, ostracise and eliminate all references to well-known people (especially those in the media and in professional circles) with whom they disagree.
Under the pretext of showing mutual respect for the values, views and opinions of others, those in the ‘cancel culture’ movement actually and actively try to silence those who express alternative values and morals. A recent example of this is the popular author J.K. Rowlings, the author of the Harry Potter books whose critics have called for a boycott of her books. Personally I do not like the theme of those books, however the ‘cancel brigade’ have vigorously attacked her for voicing her opinion that gender is determined by biology.
Dangerous to be a Christian
I mention this because…
- In recent years ‘cancel culture’ has been increasing its attack on Christianity and Christians.
- Internationally it has become progressively perilous to be a professing Christian.
- In some countries to be a follower of Jesus Christ is so dangerous that martyrdom awaits those courageous souls who refuse to deny Jesus.
Open Doors – World Watch List comments, ‘Across 76 countries, more than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith – an increase of 20 million since last year.’ These figures are horrendous! Apparently ‘one in every seven Christians live under at least high levels of persecution or discrimination for their faith.’
Although much persecution of Christians is taking place in countries in which non-Christian religions have dominated, in nations that historically have been influenced and shaped by the Christian faith we are witnessing a rejection of Christian values and dismissal of the Christian faith – often with derisive comments.
God and Jesus vilified
In Australia attacks on Christians and their faith are rapidly growing.
The late theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, mockingly asked, ‘What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?’ His bitter atheism is embraced by many in all walks of life not only in its denial of God’s existence but, by extension, by its rejection of biblical teaching and values that have served as a bedrock of moral stability for many nations for centuries.
Jesus particularly is being increasingly vilified. Have you noticed how often the name ‘Jesus’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ are used on television and in common speech as swear words? This is not surprising as the fact of Jesus’ existence as a real person is now dismissed by many people.
Dr John Dickson, a historian, and academic who does believe in the historicity of Jesus, recently commented in an article, ‘A new survey has found that less than half of all Australians believe Jesus was a real historical person. … The 2021 Australian Community Survey asked a representative sample of Australians, “Which of the following statements best reflects your understanding of Jesus Christ?” 22 per cent agreed that “Jesus is a mythical or fictional character”; 29 per cent said they “Don’t know” if Jesus lived; and just 49 per cent affirmed that “Jesus was a real person who actually lived.”’
An academic at Australian Catholic University, Dr Miles Pattenden, in reply to Dickson’s article, made this startling claim, ‘… most of us working within the secular academy – tend to treat the question of whether Jesus existed or not as neither knowable nor particularly interesting.’
He is, of course, quite wrong in his flagrant dismissal of Jesus and his assertion that Jesus’ existence is quite irrelevant. Dr Dickson responded to Pattenden’s comments by stating, ‘I thought it was worth pointing out that the vast majority of ancient historians (I said 99 per cent) reckon Jesus was a historical figure.’
I have been reflecting on these issues since Christmas as I noticed that there are many people and organisations that are trying to ‘cancel’ Jesus Christ! A number of organisations, while wanting to celebrate the Christmas season changed the greeting, ‘Happy Christmas’ to ‘Happy Holiday’ – sometimes giving the reason as ‘Not wanting to offend anyone by the Christian reference.’ Also, many greeting cards sent last Christmas used the phrase ‘Happy Holiday’ and Prince Harry and Megan unsurprisingly chose to distance themselves from the Christian basis of the celebration of Jesus’ birth with their ‘Holiday’ card!
Realities about Jesus
Isn’t it amazing that mere mortals think that they can ‘cancel’ Jesus? Jesus was God’s presence in human form among us and His coming into our world was to save us (1 Timothy 1:15). Yet amazingly men and women today think that they can dismiss Him, deride Him, deny Him and depose Him.
Consider some realities about our wonderful Jesus. He is the one…
- Who has ‘the name that is above every name’ (Philippians 2:9)
- Before whom one day ‘every knee will bow’ (Philippians 2:10)
- Who will be confessed by every tongue ‘that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11)
- Who is ‘The true light that gives light to every man’ (John 1:9)
- Who gave to those who believe in his name ‘the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12)
- Who gives the assurance that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Acts 2:21)
- About whom ‘All the prophets testify … that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name (Acts 10:43)
- And only who is ‘one God and one mediator between God and men’ (1 Timothy 2:5)
- By whom ‘all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:16-17)
- Before whose judgment seat ‘we must all appear … that each one may receive what is due Him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
With unimaginable arrogance, therefore, some human beings, who have no fear of God and who deny his existence, may think that they are cancelling Jesus as they mock His saving mission, but God cannot be disrespected or dismissed. Paul warns, ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sow’ (Galatians 6:7).
In the Book of Job, Eliphaz, who mistakenly assumed that Job’s suffering was related to some sin Job had committed, nevertheless made some appropriate comments about those who defied God. He described a sinner as one who ‘shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty’ (Job 15:25).
That certainly describes the attitude of those today who angrily oppose God. In great anger and arrogance they shake their fist at God and defiantly claim, ‘You didn’t make me – I invented you. Therefore I am cancelling you!’
Focus on Jesus!
Our focus on Jesus must be unwavering, our commitment to Him uncompromising and our love for Him deepening continually.
The 13th century prayer by Richard the Bishop of Chichester is one that is still filled with meaning for every Christian in these testing and tumultuous times…
O most merciful Redeemer,
Friend and Brother,
May I know thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
And follow thee more nearly
Day by day. Amen.’
Hebrews 12:2GNB… ‘Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.’
Dr Jim McClure, author of several books and Bible study series, welcomes questions from Christians seeking enlightenment on biblical perspectives.
His helpful book, Looking for Answers in a Confusing World, is offered free, as are all of Dr Jim’s highly recommended writings – such as Grace Revisited, Looking for Answers in a Confusing World, Overview of the Old and New Testaments, Love, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, The Masonic Deception, Word of Life in the Old and New Testaments, Interpreting the Letter of James, and Faith Works – A Commentary on the Letter of James. All are available in electronic version in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats with hyperlinks and. Link for orders and questions: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com
Thanks for this excellent article and the relevance of its importance for believers in society today. The hymn writer chose the words well ‘Jesus the name high over all….’ this truth remains while many may ignore it, neglect it or dismiss it and one day every knee will bow before Him.