CNN religion quiz needs to take Christianity seriously

John Stonestreet,

In what has become an annual tradition of television programming claiming to reveal the real Jesus of Nazareth, it seems that CNN is off to an early start. Every Easter season, cable networks fill their lineups with specials featuring biblical and historical experts who often represent only the skeptical side of the longstanding debate about the historical Jesus.

This year, CNN even preempted their special series, “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery,” with an even stronger than usual dose of their “we will tell you, especially you Christians, what Christianity really is…” attitude towards believers and matters of faith. At CNN.com, all are invited to take a ten-question online promotional quiz entitled, “Do you have faith in your knowledge of Christianity?”

Among the crucially important matters of faith revealed by this little test are what a commune in southwest France serves for the Easter meal, what household items believers in Norway hide from evil spirits, what objects are thrown to celebrate Fat Tuesday in the Belgian town of Binche, which African nation claims to have the Ark of the Covenant, and who the shortest reigning Pontiff was.

In a quiz claiming to test one’s knowledge of Christianity, there is sum total of one question about Jesus Christ (where did He walk on water?). Nothing is asked about Jesus’ birth, words, death or resurrection. There are no questions about the Christian understanding of truth, sin, or salvation. Nothing about Paul or Peter. Nothing about the afterlife. Nothing about the human condition.

In reality, the quiz reveals virtually nothing about one’s knowledge of Christianity. It does, however, reveal much about how CNN and so many secular elites view religion, and the blind spot that clouds their thinking:: that secularists are just as much people of faith as the faithful they hope to educate.

For secularists who tend to see religion as little more than a cultural artifact of a world fast slipping away, the sort of obscure questions asked in the CNN.com quiz makes sense. Religious truth claims, in this view, only reflect the irrational beliefs of people hanging onto traditions from a time before omniscient science and enlightened reason. Religion describes only what people believe and do. It does not, and cannot, describe the world as it is.

In a recent presentation to the employees at Google, Tim Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church called this view of religion “simplistic and naive.” First, the world – when one looks outside of Europe and North America – is getting more, not less, religious. To suggest the opposite is a statement of cultural imperialism. Second, if secularists are right about God – that He doesn’t exist – then the universe and everything that exists, including our brains, resulted from natural, mindless processes. If this is really our story, than how can we substantiate our faith in human reason? Third, and this is critical, our faith in human reason is just that: faith. The statement that all things must be proven by reason to be true is an assumption we make that itself is not provable by reason. If embraced, it is taken by faith.

faithserious_small CNN religion quiz needs to take Christianity seriously Religion

None of this is to say that secularism is false and Christianity is true. Both secularism and Christianity make claims about the world we live in, about human nature, and about God. Both secularists and Christians, as Keller went on to demonstrate, rely on reason and faith in investigating and offering explanations about the world we experience.

Too many brilliant people, after investigating Christian truth claims in light of their own existential struggles, have embraced faith for it to be cavalierly dismissed. Atheists like Anthony Flew, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and C.S. Lewis came to believe that the intricate design and stubborn persistence of moral norms we see in the universe were best explained by the existence of a Higher Power. Skeptics like Lee Strobel and Malcolm Muggeridge found that there was far more to this Jesus of Nazareth and the historical evidence of His resurrection than typically presented in the annual network specials.

Christianity, like all belief systems, certainly deserves to be investigated and scrutinized. No one settle for an unexamined faith. But, by all means, it deserves to be taken seriously.

John Stonestreet is the President of the Colson Center and co-host of BreakPoint, a daily commentary on faith and culture.

  • DrArtaud

    Some links, on religion. Celebration of events, from one religion to another, are often misunderstood. As a Catholic, I’m not comfortable with (Video) “Prosperity Gospel” practiced by some Christians. They believe that if you pray for something, it will be granted. A locker room acquaintance at work has a wife with significant health problems. They both are born again Christians, they both have prayed for her health, and neither one is hurt, or surprised it’s not forthcoming, it’s just part of life. Yet some of their fellow church members have been incredulous that she has not healed.

    Video: ROCKET WARS

    A war to keep the peace. In the small village of Vrontados on the Greek island of Chios, there is unrest. For over a century, parishioners of two Greek Orthodox churches have engaged in a battle on Holy Saturday, firing more than 100,000 homemade rockets at each other’s churches once the sun goes down.

    …..The idea of giving your heart and soul over to something that you love is at the core of the story. We’re all after something we can give our lives to, something that can help create deeper connections with each other. It’s strange to think that this tradition can do it – but that’s a reality for many in Vrontados…..

    Its origin is unclear. One theory holds that churches on the island faked a civil war during the Turkish occupation so they could celebrate Easter without being plagued by war. Accordingly the ruse worked, as the Turks kept a safe distance, allowing the villagers to attend Easter Mass.

    Something missing from American Christians is, to an extent, symbology. Catholicism, Judaism, Christian Orthodoxy, all still use symbols.

    Carl Jung discussed the importance of symbols and differentiated them from signs. Jung also wrote about Synchronicity, or a meaningful coincidence. Oddly enough the following example on Symbols vs Signs, the $ is used, something I wrote about earlier today.

    …..A sign is something that we consciously construct to signify something. For example, the “$” sign signifies money. We all collectively agree on what this signifies. There is a one-to-one correspondence. A symbol is something that emerges from the unconscious (or collective unconscious)—it has an unconscious resonance in us and a vitality of its own; we can’t simply say exactly what they mean. There is the presence of mystery (the numinous), with their significance residing in the unconscious (or collective unconscious). In order to begin to understand them, we must be open to the experience of them, their power, the ideas and feelings they evoke. We can’t simply formulate them in neat, rational language and fully “know” them consciously. They must be lived with, carried around, experienced. Most figures that appear in dreams are symbolic.

    Religions need to coexist. I know, we deplore the term coexist because it’s been exploited by the left. But it’s a valid term. Despite issues between various Christian factions, and between some Christian and some Jewish ones, Christians and Jews are seldom homicidal about it. Alas, the same cannot be said of Islam.

    Video: Woman Who Was Raised Muslim Just Dropped Truth Bomb About Islam. EVERY Lib MUST See

    Me, I used to profess I was agnostic, which is really a cop-out, since you essentially believe that the existence of God can neither be proven or disproven. But if you look around life, you’ll see strange things that occur and exist that cannot be explained by science at this point. Ghosts, lights in the sky (not UFOs, per se, just lights, they’ve been reported long before hot air balloons and airplanes were ever dreamed of), miraculous guidance (things people do beyond reason that result in them saving lives). Things such as driving home in the winter by a dangerous route uncharacteristic of your habits and you save someone else that did and crashed. Or a captain on the Great Lakes during the early steamship years that was known for rescuing crews from sinking ships. He’d travel on dangerous waters that defied explanation and just happen upon distressed vessels. He even put his ship, in stormy waters, against a sinking ship to allow the crew to jump to his ship, even though it risked his ship and crew.

    But even if you want to dispute that, there are things, talked about in the following movie, that occur on the level of Microbiology that defy explanation. It’s interesting to watch.

    Movie: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stein

    I think we’re too critical of others in our own faith. Catholics are Christians, despite what some Christians say, and Catholics need to appreciate what Protestants, maybe more so Evangelicals, contribute to in the fight in America in keeping religion public, there is no prohibition against public expressions of religion.

    Of Jews and Christians, I’d love to see a well publicized collaboration between both. I’m wary of Jews opposition to Trump’s Executive Order based on the WWII Era rejection of Jewish refugees in the U.S., Jews were unconcerned about 8 years of obama rejecting Christian refugees. I’m not aware of a single group of Jews protesting the exclusion of Syrian Christian refugees escaping enslavement, rape and sex slavery, and hideous tortuous murders. A unification on common interests and an appreciation for what each religion brings to the other, is urgently needed.