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THE LAST WORD

Christians should base events of Holy Week on truth

Saturday, March 27, 2010 - 10:31 am

Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday tomorrow, commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ, culminating in his crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

If you are an atheist, I guess none of that matters because you don't believe in the deity of Christ anyway since you don't believe in the existence of God.

But even the celebrated atheist Christopher Hitchens knows the importance of the events of Holy Week as the foundation of the Christian faith. Hitchens has said, “I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”

A film called “Collision” was shown at the Allen County Public Library on Friday evening, in which Hitchens and evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson debate on the topic “Is Christianity Good for the World?” The film was featured at “Collision Fort Wayne,” which included the showing of the documentary and a discussion of atheism and Christianity by a local panel.

Christianity represents the largest religious group in the world at 2.1 billion, or about 33 percent, according to several sources. Islam is No. 2 at around 1.5 billion or 21 percent. Numbers, however, don't necessarily reflect belief. Whatever statistics you may find for the number of atheists in the world, for example, may or may not take into account those who profess to be Christians but who, in effect, don't really believe.

Belief in God relies on faith. But as many Christians point out, they don't check their brains at the door to embrace their faith. Belief — whether that there is a God or that there isn't — should rely on truth as well. And Christianity is more than a label or a church membership. If the events of Holy Week actually happened, then it seems belief should dictate a world view, a daily walk, a way of life and a hope for eternity.

One former atheist made that conclusion by searching for the truth and concluding that the events of Holy Week — in fact, the Bible in total — are truth: truth that transformed his life.

Lee Strobel, who holds a degree from Yale Law School, was an investigative newspaper reporter and legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. His formerly agnostic wife stunned him in 1979 with the announcement that she had become a Christian.

So Strobel says he decided to take his legal training and his journalism training and investigate whether there was any credibility to Christianity. He says he did it with a journalist's attitude: “Give me the facts. I'm going to look at both sides.”

After almost two years of intense investigation, Strobel says he became a follower of Jesus in 1981. He published “The Case For Christ” in 1998 documenting his conclusions. He says that in light of “the torrent of evidence that points toward Christianity,” it would have required more faith to retain his atheism than to become a Christian.