Easter Nuts

Easter is renown for the annual nut parade trying t0 grab headlines with so-called discoveries about the “real Jesus story” we never knew. The pretense is to make the Bible relevant for modern minds, but in reality the Bible gets trashed and replaced with remarkably-useless speculations.

Check it out - the famous Nazareth family caskets!

Check it out - caskets for the famous Nazareth family found 100 miles south of their home! (So says Cameron.)

In Spring 2007, Hollywood director James Cameron (Titanic, Aliens, Terminator, and Avatar) grabbed headlines with The Lost Tomb of Jesus, a documentary that claimed “Jesus and Mary Magdalene were buried together and had a son.” The evidence? A tomb “discovered under an apartment complex in Jerusalem” contained the names of Jesus’ parents (Joseph and Mary). They marketed it as an archeology breakthrough that “will change the way we think about God, religion, and everything we have learned about the life and death of Jesus.”1 It seems a bit pretentious to me (The theory died quickly.).

Cameron’s marketing machine laid a goose egg, not a golden egg. It turns out Israel is littered with Joseph and Mary graves (common names in 1st C Israel), so it was never seriously entertained by scholars outside Cameron’s payroll.2 Actually, nobody thought much of Cameron’s theory, scholar or not.

Crossan loves TV cameras

Crossan loves TV cameras. Recognize him?

John Crossan is another Easter Nut who pops up like a weasel every Easter and Christmas to tell the world he knows more about Jesus than anyone else—including the eyewitnesses! Like Cameron, he seems pretentious, at best. He grabs headlines through the Jesus Seminar every Spring with another “discovery” that Jesus was nothing like the Bible describes. The body of Jesus is missing because the Romans threw criminal corpses in a mass grave, unmarked, he says. Jesus never rose from the dead, He “disappeared” like any other dead criminal. He conveniently ignores the historical record, which says Jerusalem’s wealthiest obtained special permission (read: bribes) and buried Jesus in a real grave. Pilate (the governor) never considered Jesus a criminal anyway, so why not take a bribe?

Crossan’s “Seminar” is another consortium of Hollywood marketers and producers (mixed with a few liberal theologians). Their only product is media hype, because their so-called “discoveries” are ludicrous. They claim the Bible is unreliable, but they rely on it to extract their new account of Jesus! Their “new discoveries” are merely their own speculations, which they consider newsworthy, so modifying their “discovery” a bit, they hold a press conference every Easter. (The press is starved for Easter stories, of course.)

Hell? No!

Read the article at Time.com

Read the article at Time.com

The 2011 Easter Nut Award surely belongs to Pastor Rob Bell from Mars Hill Bible Church. His latest book was on the cover of Time magazine last week because “with Easter at hand, this slim, lively book has ignited a new holy war in Christian circles and beyond,” the magazine said, and quotes Bell:

“I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian,” Bell says. “Something new is in the air.”

And in classic Easter Nut fashion, Bell is redefining “what it means to be a Christian,” especially at its core beliefs. His book carries a pretentious title which helps ignite “a new holy war,” as Time said (or sensationalism). It’s called Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Wowzer! I’ve got my own arrogance issues, for sure, but even I would consider “the fate of every person who ever lived” outside my realm of expertise. Pretentious it is, at least.

Bell is intent on redefining the Christian afterlife, as Time explains.

Bell’s arguments about heaven and hell raise doubts about the core of the Evangelical worldview, changing the common understanding of salvation so much that Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind than a faith based on divine revelation.

“Changing the common understanding of salvation” clearly puts Bell outside the biblical view. But with classic Emergent-speak, Bell coats his liberal views with sweet, Postmodern frosting.  He denies embracing universalism (even though he clearly does). Instead, “Bell insists he is only raising the possibility that theological rigidity — and thus a faith of exclusion — is a dangerous thing.”  Why castigate Bell for raising possibilities? Bell’s detractors are clearly over-reacting–guilty of “theological rigidity,” no doubt.


He really is not this spooky - or is he?


Or perhaps Bell is going beyond “raising the possibility” that “theological rigidity…is dangerous.” If so, is Bell engaged in subterfuge? To be precise, this is classic Emergent-Speak. (See “Wake Up Call” where Emergent Church leader Tony Jones employs it.) Watch how Bell tears into a Christian who believed in hell (with justification, since JC taught on hell more than anyone in the Bible). Read it, and you decide is Bell has an axe to grind:

Gandhi’s in hell?

He is?

We have confirmation of this?

Somebody knows this?

Without a doubt?

And that somebody decided to take on the responsibility of letting the rest of us know?

“Good burn, Rob!” I would say to him. He clearly castigated (castrated) someone for thinking wrongly about Gandhi. Gandhi, please recall, was educated in Britain and understood Christianity. He rejected the core teachings of Jesus that conflicted with his Hindu faith, and was not ashamed to say so.

Gandhi_costume“Somebody knows this?” Bell asked incredulously. Hello Rob! Wikipedia knows it! Does anyone on the planet think Gandhi was a Christian? (Other than Bell…) Gandhi had the integrity to admit where he disagreed with Jesus’ teachings (unlike Bell).

Maybe Gandhi changed his mind at the last minute and asked for God’s grace, but really—is Bell upset about ignoring that one-in-a-million chance? If so, it’s not important enough to merit a whole book!

Even the secular magazine writer understood Bell is saying more than “rigidity is a dangerous thing!”

Bell’s arguments about heaven and hell raise doubts about the core of the Evangelical worldview, changing the common understanding of salvation so much that Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind than a faith based on divine revelation.

It’s pretty sad when Time magazine is more trustworthy than a “pastor” (I’m not a big Time Mag fan).

No, I think if he were more forthright, Bell would admit he’s a universalist. For all my carping against Tony Jones, he seem appear more straightforward than Bell, and openly admits his universalist deviance. he  and would object to a straightforward understanding of this dismal pronouncement by Jesus:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  (Jesus, in Matthew 7:13-14)

What do you think? Does it bode well for Rob Bell?

The Real Thing

Please understand that I use “Easter Nut” in a lighthearted fashion, certainly not because I consider them insane. Both Rob Bell and Crossan contribute greatly to my own biblical knowledge (mostly by raising alternative views of the Bible). It is my earnest prayer that these men continue to investigate the life of Jesus and His message, and hopefully come to a true knowledge of Him. And director Cameron? I think your movies are way cool, but your documentaries have issues.

The Bible gives an account of Jesus and His message which is truly useful and time-tested, unlike these “discoveries” from unreliable sensationalists or axe-grinding malcontents. Easter is the historical pronouncement that “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep!” (1 Corinthians 15:20) There’s nothing like it on the planet. So, “as the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’”  (Romans 10:11)   It holds a sweet promise: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  (1 Corinthians 15:55)


  1. See The Jesus Family Tomb Web page, hosted by publisher Haper/Collins. This book was the basis for Cameron’s documentary. []
  2. See Remains of the Day at the Christianity Today Web for a refutation of The Jesus Family Tomb theory. []

9 thoughts on “Easter Nuts

  1. Adam Esterle

    Damn Keith I really like how you exposed the whole Ghandi argument. I think Ghandi would even think he’s being a jerk telling Ghandi that he is going to a place that he rejects and doesn’t believe in (i.e., “heaven”).

  2. Bryan Bassett

    Hello Rob! Wikipedia knows it!

    Great article Keith. It would be an honor to write something to inspire Time magazine to put out a cover based on your book. However Rob seems to be saying something pretty silly.

    Somebody knows this? Without a doubt? And that somebody decided to take on the responsibility of letting the rest of us know?

    I mean Benjamin Franklin did not believe in Christ as a savior so he went to hell, right? He was a “decent” dude. But he was a Deist. He mentioned this in his autobiography in 1771. .

    So the question “somebody knows this?”. Yeah. God let us know, in the Bible, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

    Silly Rob.

    P.S. Yeah James Cameron you have some awesome Movies. Terminator. Yeah, it was dope.

    1. Keith Post author

      Benjamin Franklin was a “decent womanizer”, actually. He loved to pick up young chicks (i.e., pay-to-play).

      Nonetheless, great points!

  3. Zak Rozler

    Good article, man. It really is interesting how all these people (like Bell) attempt to dismantle Christianity, yet all they’re doing is raising ideas that have no basis on truth.
    Overall, though, I think it’s pretty cool how as Christians we can openly listen to what such people have to say. Relating to your ending point, listening to opposing arguments truly does help me understand the Bible and what Jesus had to say more deeply.

  4. Jeff Smalley

    It seems today the post-modern way to try and affect people is to appeal to the idea of ‘How can we know for sure?’ Why is it that the post-modern way is it’s cool to not know anything for sure? Why is that correct way to deal with peoples’ beliefs?

    If I didn’t have any sort of absolute truth, I think life would really suck. I’d have the constant fear that I can never be sure of anything! How useless that would make you feel! So, in reality, the whole post-modern ‘all beliefs are right’ is either utter bullshit in peoples’ minds or people are really torn and feel useless…

  5. Ryan Finke

    Really interesting, Keith. This reminds me of when I was a universalist and it exposes the unseen arrogance factor that making up your own worldview carries. Definitely enjoyed reading this.

    1. Keith Post author

      Thanks Ryan, that’s a great testimony to the “hidden” gotcha’s that come with universalism. Thanks for the feedback.

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