Hugh Hewitt asks for responses to a Newsweek article that discusses the birth of Jesus and attempts to infer historical accuracy from the biblical accounts. The unfortunate truth is that no one in mainstream media is qualified to write such a piece because they lack the critical ingredient - faith - required to write with any authority. Those who have the faith are merely referred to as sources; another data point from which to write their scholarly theses.
The whole frustration we (the Christian base of believers) have with such articles is that any fool can do that kind of research and come up with the same or similar conclusions. It's very similar to those documentaries that promise to tackle a tough historical mystery, only to end with "it all depends on your perspective." I hate those documentaries, and articles of this nature leave a similar taste in my mouth.
The historical truth that these authors seek is, unfortunately, clouded by history itself. Primary source material is thin. There are precious few libraries of documents written in the meridian of time. Archaeological data is inferred from many sources, but relatively few authoritative writings directly from the horses' mouths, as it were. Those that exist are often suspect in their accuracy, and tended to be written from heavily biased perspectives. A Roman historian, for example, would tend to write so that whatever Ceasar they served came out smelling like roses, while other races or nations become either buffoons or fierce warriors (depending on who needed to be impressed).
The good news (so to speak) is that, for Christians, authoritative sources tend to come from within far more than from without. Even within the Church, writers are prolific and there are scholars plenty. But true faith and knowledge come from sources that no media story could ever articulate. Few have tried; all have failed.
Having given the Newsweek article a cursory reading, I can readily see that the author did a lot of research. But all of it is meaningless to the spiritually inclined. Oh, it makes interesting reading. But his arguments are not compelling to those who are comfortable in their faith. He might sway those few who are struggling with their faith to a greater degree, but by and large those fights were lost long before reading such a story. For the rest, we have faith in the writings of the prophets and the feelings we receive from the Holy Spirit.
A powerful combination with which no journalist - with or without a Pulitzer prize - can ever hope to compete.
UPDATE: I guess I've been blogging long enough now that I can actually link to myself. Refer to this post to see just how out of touch with spiritual reality even some major religions can become. Truly frightening stuff.
A Party Out of Ideas
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