March 28, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      There should have been a one-semester class, beginning of high school, called "Freshman Orientation for Life." They were concerned - mostly - with getting us outta-there in the prescribed time period. Their horizon was three years ... not thirty.

      What would we have heard? Things like: you'd better take your Spanish seriously, because you'll be livin' in the world's #2 city for the language (LA; Mexico City is #1). PE? Forget the football; join the golf team (your prospective customer will never say, "Hey, your proposal is interesting. Want to get together and scrimmage so we can talk about it?"). Home Economics is a joke (in reality, you'll buy near an upscale grocery boutique that offers "heat 'n eat" gourmet goodies that you can pick up on the way home from another long day at the sweatshop). In Biology, listen-up when they get to DNA (or else, you won't understand any of the twelve prime time hours devoted to the Law & Order and CSI family brands). Wood shop? Oh, please! (Anything you need to know about furniture you'll learn from the instructions that came with your assemble-it-yourself dining room set from IKEA!) And, don't forget math. (Every year - about this time - you'll be faced with "getting the stuff ready to go to the accountant." Tax time = Math time.)

      We equate (rightly) math with logic. When faced with a decision dilemma - you've got to make a call and there are facts a'plenty to consider - someone will give you the obvious counsel: "Do the math!" Translation: 1 + 1 = 2, if you can take the time to sort out the details and get them in a logical progression.

      I did the math this week concerning Easter. Didn't have a choice, really. Newsweek left me no option. They had some leftover money in the phone-poll budget (from the November elections), so they did an Easter poll. Must have been intriguing questions, because it produced astounding results.

      Here's what they "discovered." Among the 1000+ Americans who picked up and were willing to talk, 81% identified themselves as "Christian." Seventy-eight percent agreed that "Jesus was the Son of God?" Was he the Messiah (the Christ)? "Yes," said 76%. Was Jesus resurrected on the third day? This is where it gets interesting: 40% said he was resurrected, physically; 38% said he was resurrected, spiritually. Implicit in that answer is a troubling observation: the "Christians" are "split" on the nature of the Resurrection. Half see it as literal; the other half have found a way to have Jesus "resurrected," without the participation of his physical self. What kind of "resurrection" is that? On that basis, every ghost story smacks of "resurrection!"

      Big news, folks: do the math. It doesn't take much time in the Bible to come to understand the flow of the formula for the Christian faith. Here's the progression: first issue is the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Did he come out of the tomb on the Sunday of Passover Weekend ... physically transformed, from death to immortal, glorified vitality? "Touch me and see," he told his confused followers. "Spirits do not have flesh and bone as I have." If Jesus was raised immortal (key distinction: Jesus "resurrected" Lazarus, but it was a restoration to mortal life, not a transformation to immortality), it changes everything.

      If he was resurrected, the next sub-equation involves the Cross: did he die for his criminal behavior ... or, for yours? Was he a "perfect substitute," paying the sin debt of all humanity, or did he die for his own sins? Do the math on that one. If he was resurrected ... and if he died a substitutionary death, the next question involves his sinless life: was he, in fact, without flaw? Was he "one-of-a-kind" in that regard? Was he just a "good teacher" (the popular "plan B" for "tolerant" moderns), or was he, instead, God? You have to settle that one. Resurrection; death on the Cross; sinless life: brings us to the next critical question: was he born of a virgin? If so, who impregnated Mary? The only answer: the Holy Spirit. Immaculate conception; divinely conceived. Preexistent. Eternal God. Creator. One with the Father. One and only; King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Do the math ...

      News to Newsweek: you can't be "Christian" ... without the real-deal Resurrection. God says so; do the math. Have you done the math ... and come to the right answer? He is Risen ... He is Risen, Indeed!

Bob Shank


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