First Person Life

2006-01-31

I'm a conspiracy nutcase

There, I've said it. (Wow, that was cathardic -- not really).

What is the conspiracy I'm taken in by? -- is it the assassination of JFK -- that aliens are plotting to take over the world, being helped by the federal government?

No, I believe the conspiracy that is attested to by Scripture. The conspiracy of every evil force plotting and scheming to keep as many away from the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as possible. Satan himself is prince of this world (including the political and legal institutions) and realizes that each day his reign is coming closer to an end. As such, he does everything within his power to assure that as many people reject the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. The very Son of God who was born of human flesh, lived a life of perfect obedience, and died so that we might believe in Him and be reconciled to God -- forgiven and redeemed by Christ. All proven by His resurrection from the dead.

(O.K. so it's kind of like aliens taking over the world, but I digress...)
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This assault will not prevail. God's Word will continue to go forth, but we can expect increasing resistance to the proclamation of the Gospel. A Gospel which is rooted in historical events surrounding an hisorical person. Without the historic Jesus, our faith is in vain. Unless he was born, lived, died, and risen from the dead, we are still in our trespasses and sin -- with no hope.

Now, an Italian Court will decide (AP - via Sioux City Journal, Iowa) whether it is permissible in Italy to claim that Jesus is an historical person.

We are not currently required to use "qualifying language" to talk about the salvation wrought by Jesus of Nazareth to save sinners. This may soon be required in Italy (USA Today). Even if it's not, the doubt injected into people's minds by the mere existence of this suit is dangerous enough (See 1/29/2006 Post).

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As I expected, the case against the historicity of Christ is moving forward in Italy. This page will collect links regarding what the wider world is saying are the ramifications of the court case and to chart its progress.

Unlike some who believe this is a tempest in a tea-pot I maintain this is an all out satanic assault on the Gospel. Quotes from various articles (with links) appear below to explain why.

Italian Atheist Sues Priest Over Jesus' Existence (USA TODAY: 1/31/2006)

"The court will have to decide whether the statements Father Righi made were indeed fraudulent to decide whether the case has merit," says Antonio Schieppati, a retired director of the law faculty at the University of Rome and a legal consultant. "It has to make a judgment about the existence of Christ. As far as I know, no court has ever been required to do such a thing."

COMMENT: And we thought the Scopes Monkey trial was a big undecided question in it's day.

Schieppati says that if Cascioli is successful, the church will be forced to use conditional language when writing about some faith-related issues for the public. Even if the suit fails, it may damage the Catholic church's reputation.

COMMENT: How would this affect YOUR sermon preparation if you lived in Italy? Realize that you could be sued (or imprisoned?) for claiming that the incarnation was an historical event. How would you change your preaching to accomodate such a demand? The fact is, you can't. Without the historical reality of Christ, there is no Christianity.

COMMENT 2: I don't think it's the Catholic Church alone whose reputation would be damaged. Any church that preaches the Gospel purely (i.e. EVERY TRUE LUTHERAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH) will be case under suspicion by this court case. Yes, we are back to the time when the Pharisees and Sadducees are searching for a way to destroy Jesus.

The burden is on Cascioli to prove Jesus is a fabrication.

COMMENT: This is the opposite view than that held by the Zimbabwe Chronicle who claims that the burden of proof is on Righi to prove Jesus did exist. Anyone know anything about Italian Law that would shed light on this? It seems to me that the USAToday staff might be understanding the legal system from a distinctly American view of "Innocent until proven guilty." Remeber the Inquisition? But on the other hand, not knowing Italian Law, I have no idea who to believe here.



The End of God?(Mail and Guardian - Zimbabwe, Africa 1/27/2006)
Whereas he is under no obligation to prove that Jesus did not exist, Righi must prove to a learned judge, who must decide the merits of the case not in terms of his own religious beliefs, whatever they might be, but on the basis of law, that Jesus did exist, and was God incarnate.

COMMENT: I don't know the nuances of Italian Law, so I can't speak to the legal requirements of what Righi must prove to prevail in this case. However, if this language is how the media spins it, it becomes reality in many people's minds.


The Italian laws are not idiosyncratic. Belgium has similar laws in draft form which will make it a punishable offence to “abuse credulity in order to persuade [an individual] of the existence of false enterprises, an imaginary power or the occurrence of non-existing events” and there are moves afoot in the European Union to overrule religious objection as being a sufficient basis to avoid legal obligations. For instance, EU experts insist that the legal right of an individual to an abortion overrules the right of others to refuse to facilitate such an abortion. In other words, the standing and the legitimacy of behaviour based upon sectarian or faith-based belief is under serious threat. Cascioli is simply riding solo right at the front of the secular wave.

COMMENT: Again, I'm not an expert on International Law, the EU and the laws of other countries, but if true this analysis is very telling with regard to "the bigger picture" of what's going on.


Righi might imagine that his star witness would be Josephus Flavius, a Jewish historian of the period who appears to have testified to the existence of “Jesus, a wise man” who was crucified. If Righi puts Flavius in the witness box (so to speak), he runs the risk of Cascioli’s calling his own expert witness, Professor John Meier, well known Christian scholar, and author of A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Cascioli: “Tell me Professor, do you have any reason to doubt the historical integrity of Mr Flavius?” Oh absolutely. For instance, he had no compunction whatsoever in concocting an immense web of lies to support his claim to have been a Pharisee. “So, from a historiographical point of view, Mr Flavius is not a reliable witness?” Oh, absolutely not. “What’s the likelihood of a staunch Jew, one who writes a history precisely to demonstrate the superiority of Judaism over other religions, testifying to the status of Jesus Christ as the long-prophesied messiah?” None whatsoever, he never wrote that passage, it was a forgery interpolated by later Christians. Imagine letting Matlock loose on Righi’s witnesses!

COMMENT: Obviously, this is not a transcript of the real court case, but it is certainly interesting to consider how "reliable" the evidence is. Lest we be confused about this. It is true, there is substantially more evidence for the existence of Christ than any other historical figure around the period. However, there are very few (any?) individuals of historic value in the same manner as Christ. Moses may or may not have existed, and the Jewish religion could still stand. Socrates may or may not have existed, and modern rhetoric and philosophy would not suffer. I cannot think of any other individual in history that is so tied in to the eternal fate of so many. It is the teachings of Confucious, not Confusious himself. It is the teachings of Mohammed, not Mohammed himself. But in the case of Jesus of Nazareth, if he doesn't exist -- humanity is doomed.


OTHER NOTES:

It seems to me quite opportune that this case will be playing out at the same time the 2006 Winter Olympics are being held in Italy. There will be plenty of press around to cover the trial. If my conspiracy theory is correct, the court will rule in Cascioli's favor either toward the end of the games or during a lul on an otherwise slow news day. According to Mapquest,
the travel time between Torino and Viterbo Italy is less than 6 hours -- a quick trip for a correspondent looking for a big story.
Other Articles: (I may extract some as time allows)

  • Christ, Darwin on Trial (Chicago Tribune - Editorial - 1/29/2006)
  • Italian court asked to prove existence of Jesus in unusual case against parish priest(Sioux City Journal - AP - 1/31/2006)


  • OTHER RELATED LINKS:

  • Cascioli's Lawsuit Page (English)

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