Hollywood special effects are amazing! The days of the original Godzilla (1954) stomping through milk carton looking buildings are long gone. Today this movie is laughable rather than fearful (one wonders if the viewers then went more for the comedy than the terror themselves!). Our eyes have developed a rather sophisticated taste for special effects. Hollywood has made us special effect junkies. Nevertheless, we are more often that not still able to discern between Hollywood special effects and reality. Oh that this ability to discern was present in people when it comes to Jesus Christ and true Christianity.
There are two particular examples that have recently presented themselves in the mainstream media. One comes from the realm of a cult the other comes from the realm of a moviemaker. The first is concerning a cult called Growing in Grace. It is a twenty year old cult that is headquartered in Doral, FL. Its leader is Dr. Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda. The home page of the official website of this sect states “The Man Christ Jesus, Dr. Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda, is coming to the USA! The King of kings and Lords of lords has arrived in America.” An article in Foxnews.com states the following:
De Jesus had just a few hundred followers when he launched his church in a
Hialeah warehouse about 20 years ago. Today, he commands a global movement from his Doral headquarters that boasts 335 education centers, 200 pastors, 287 radio programs and a 24-hour Spanish-language TV network that’s available to 2 million homes — including by special request from some U.S. cable companies (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,254360,00.html).
One wonders why this lunatic would receive such a following. The reason: a lack of discernment and a non-assuming loyalty to a personality cult. If the claim that he is Jesus Christ is not enough to make people seriously wonder about this man’s deluded mind, there is also the reality that “only De Jesus and his right hand man, Carlos Cestero, are authorized to preach.” Hmmm. We should be reminded that Jesus Himself said “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24; cf. Mark 13:22).
The second opportunity for some to be carried away or at least question historic Christianity is today’s unveiling of what is thought to be the ossuaries (ancient coffins) which allegedly contain the remains of Jesus and his family. A documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” challenges the tenet of the Christian faith that Jesus rose from the dead. The filmmaker’s assertion is that ten stone boxes uncovered in a Jerusalem suburb in 1980 contain the bones of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and their children. Of course, this is not really a new claim. This is along the lines of the The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and the movie by the same name produced by Ron Howard. Essentially they both basically state that Orthodox Christianity, which has had pride of place for two thousand years, has essentially bullied its way to prominence, suppressing and oppressing any truth which undermines it. Documentaries such as “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” and Brown’s novel seek to plant a seed in skeptics and Christians minds alike that they have found the silver bullet to refute Christianity.
Discernment is a lost virtue. How can we tell what is real from what is false? Know the truth. The intent of this post is not to be a scholarly refutation of either of the topics broached. On the other hand, neither is this a facile dismissal of them. If Christians would return to the most basic of disciplines, reading our Bibles, we would quickly see that these claims are no more substantial or real than Godzilla stomping over those milk carton buildings.