In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a huge push to remove anything offensive from the public square. The primary and initial surge was to remove statues of Confederate leaders. It then moved to anyone who ever owned slaves. Now it has grown to include such historical figures as Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo to be more accurate).
I understand the angst caused by the presence of such objects. They are, after all, reminders of things in our past of which we’re not all that proud. Still, they are reminders of our history. As a former college history major, it grieves me that we would so carelessly toss aside what we’ve learned.
“An era of self-denial.”
I’m not going to use the old line, “If we fail to remember the past, we’re doomed to repeat it.” (Well, I guess I just did anyway. Sorry.) It seems we’re forgetting a lot of things these days. Maybe worse than forgetting them, we’re blotting them out. We’re making a concerted effort to enter into an era of self-denial. It’s like a total eclipse.
I understand the desire to avoid offending people. Unfortunately, the quashing of historical fact is an offense to all that is intellectually honest. We cannot retroactively relive our history. We cannot undo someone else’s wrongs through backdated denigration. Nor does it make us right and pure by destroying reminders of what occurred in centuries past.
As a Christian, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by what’s happening. Throughout my life, I’ve watched as the church has slowly gone through the same kind of systematic suppression in this country. We have slowly been marginalized to the point of historical, political, and cultural irrelevance.
This is a phenomenon that is beyond social affairs, however. It’s an occurrence of spiritual significance. The Bible tells us that many took offense at Jesus. The Apostle Paul referred to the “offense of the cross.” (Galatians 5:11)
If you look carefully, you may notice that various groups (such as pagans, atheists, humanists, politicians, and even many scientists) seem to have taken up an active crusade against us. In retrospect, I’m a bit surprised it’s taken so long. Ready or not, here they come. We used to attempt to tolerate one another. That no longer seems to be the case.
“The cross is a scandal.”
What will happen when all the offensive statues and monuments are gone? Will a truce be declared when all the names of towns and parks have been changed to something more palatable to the politically correct? I doubt it.
I think we may find that we’re next. The church, herself, is an offense. The cross of Christ is a scandal (1 Corinthians 1:23). Our very existence is viewed by many in society as a threat to their way of life.
If they could blot out Jesus from the pages of world history they would. Many have tried, and their efforts are ongoing. Look around you. They’re not nearly as subtle as they used to be. They’re aiming for a total eclipse of the Son.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]