CNN.com has posted an article detailing director Paul Verhoeven’s upcoming book claiming that Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin at all, but rather was the result of Mary being raped by a Roman soldier. Surprisingly (or not, depending on how you think about it), Verhoeven is a member of The Jesus Seminar, an eclectic group on a self-professed scholarly quest to find “the historical Jesus.” Controversial claims have come to be expected from the seminar, but what makes this one surprising is the response it’s getting from the rest of the group.
Jesus Seminar co-founder John Dominic Crossan, who himself denies Christ’s virgin birth and bodily resurrection, has commented that Verhoeven’s thesis is lacking in the evidence department. It seems both sides of the fence fully realize that Verhoeven doesn’t have much of a scholarly leg to stand on. Furthermore, his stated intention to make a Jesus film in the coming years lends increasing suspicion to the publicity-stunt nature of the claim. So my question is: why are we giving these ideas a billboard?
I think this is a good example of a big problem with modern media: media is a business, and controversy sells. CNN.com is my favorite of the ‘Big 3’ news giants’ websites (being better organized and supported than MSNBC and largely avoiding the gaudy sensationalism of Fox News), but here they’re giving a huge platform (as of my reading, the story was #10 on the site’s “10 Most Popular” list) to ideas that even those sympathetic to Verhoeven’s ideology admit are little more than speculation. Seriously, when John Dominic Crossan says your ideas are out there, you’ve got to step back and rethink your thought process. This is journalism being sacrificed on the altar of the almighty dollar, and it should be a reminder to Christians that when it comes to the faith, the truth is usually a bit more than a click away.
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