Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 28, 2011

The Myth Campaign

Call me crazy, but I have been waiting to see this year’s anti-Christmas ad campaign by the American Atheists organization. Last year, they introduced their myth campaign on a large billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. Their billboard featured a familiar nativity scene with this message prominently displayed: “You know it’s a Myth. This Season Celebrate Reason.” I stated in a blog post last year that “while the message will undoubtedly be offensive to many, I see it as another opportunity for non-believers and believers alike to think deeply and to dialogue openly about the meaning of Christmas and the Person of Christ.” And, that’s not a bad thing. As believers we are called to love God with all of our mind, to own our beliefs, and to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). While we can’t stop atheists from exercising their First Amendment rights, we can use what they say as a springboard to share an opposing view.

Building on last year’s myth campaign, this year’s ad sponsored by the American Atheists organization features images of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa, and a devil-like figure with the words “37 million Americans know Myths when they see them.” One New Jersey pastor protested, “Only the most dense and simple-minded person would put [Jesus] in the same category as the other three. Clearly, even those who lack a personal commitment to Jesus recognize that there was in fact some historical figure by this name — religious leader and teacher — around 2,000 years ago.” Scholars Burridge and Gould, authors of “Jesus Then and Now,” would agree. They comment in their book that respectable scholars do not deny Jesus’ existence (p. 34). James Hannam, a scholar who came to Christianity from a scientific background, has said that to claim that Jesus never existed “requires selective skepticism about which sources are reliable and how others are interpreted.” He continues, “In the end, if Jesus did not exist, it makes Christianity a much more incredible phenomena than if he did.”

The American Atheists ads are scheduled to go up in Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida. Dave Silvermnan, president of American Atheists, has said that he hopes the group’s new signs are “equally thought provoking and spark plenty of conversations nationally.” I too, hope that they will spark lots of conversations. As Christ-followers we can either get angry or get smart by looking for opportunities to share with others about the hope that we have within us. And we should do it with gentleness and respect. The American Humanist Association has launched their own campaign featuring an image of Santa with the message: Bias Against Atheists Is Naughty, Not Nice. Although I think this is a bit whiney and hypersensitive, it does remind us that we should try to disagree without being disagreeable. I recall one conversation with a young man who called himself an atheist. Although he spoke to me in harsh and unkind tones, I intentionally treated him with respect and spoke to him kindly. Within minutes his tone and countenance changed. We had a good conversation and left the door open for further dialogue.

My Christmas will not be diminished in any way by the messages that atheists and humanists put on billboards because my heart has already been changed by a greater message — the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am determined to share my faith as I have opportunity and to treat others with kindness. I will continue to love and care for the least of these and to fight for the rights of the oppressed at Christmas just as I do throughout the year. And, while I dislike the atheist anti-Christmas ad campaign, I do not dislike atheists. According to my biblical worldview, they too are human beings created in the image of God and for whom Christ died. If I am right in my beliefs, and I believe that I am, then each of us will one day give an account for why we chose or rejected Jesus. We can put messages on billboards and debate or argue with others as much as we like. But, ultimately, all myths will be busted on the other side of the grave.

• • • • •
“For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus;
instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
2 Peter 1:16


Responses

  1. I love the comment that “All myths will be busted on the other side of the grave”. I would have loved to known where exactly to find the scripture I thought of after reading your quote, but instead I had to think and take a minute to research it. Then I found it on Bible Gateway; Phil 2:10-11 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. God is awesome!

    • Good word, Herschel. Also, 2 Peter 1:16 states: “For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”


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