Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jesus `most significant person ever' in new research study

"Jesus `most significant person ever' in new research study," BizPac Review, December 17, 2013, Myra Adams. My comments are in bold. Just in time for the Christmas gift-giving season, is a new and widely reported book with the

[Right: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Heb 13:8): Credit: Catsandtheirmews.blogspot.com]

revelation, "Jesus Christ named history's most successful meme." ... An idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. Jesus is not a meme. The reason for the success of Christianity is that it is true! That is, it is objectively true: true whether it is believed or not. The growth of the Christian Church, that is the Church Invisible:

"The invisible church or church invisible is a theological concept of an "invisible" body of the elect who are known only to God, in contrast to the "visible church"—that is, the institutional body on earth which preaches the gospel and administers the sacraments. Every member of the invisible church is saved, while the visible church contains some individuals who are saved and others who are unsaved. According to this view, Bible passages such as Matthew 7:21-27, Matthew 13:24-30, and Matthew 24:29-51 speak about this distinction." "Invisible church," Wikipedia, 16 July 2013),
the one true Church, which is in every visible Christian denomination but transcends them all, is not due to human ideas but ultimately to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 37-39; 46-47; Rom 8:9).

The book declaring "Jesus is number one" is entitled, Who's Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank written by researchers, Steven Skiena and Charles Ward. To measure, meme strength and historical reputations, Skiena and Ward devised an internet-based ranking system and here is their top ten: 1. Jesus 2. Napoleon 3. William Shakespeare 4. Mohammad 5. Abraham Lincoln 6. George Washington 7. Adolf Hitler 8. Aristotle 9. Alexander the Great 10. Thomas Jefferson ... Based on meme strength, and how successfully the idea of the person has proliferated, Jesus was found to be "the most significant person ever." Again, Jesus is not a meme. And nor are the others either: they are all, real historical persons. Nevertheless, it is significant that even in this secular, post-Christian age, Jesus is still "the most significant person ever."

Being a "fan" of "the most significant person ever" I am in total agreement with Jesus topping the chart. In fact, back in July of 2012, I authored a piece that fully supports Skiena and Ward's research, but the context was the Shroud of Turin - what millions of others and I believe is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus: Here is an excerpt from Adams' 2012 article:

"Why is one of the most enduring mysteries of mankind still unresolved? With all the 21st century technology available to scientists, why does the faded image of a tortured man on a blood-stained cloth allegedly dating back 2000 years still baffle the scientific community? Of course the mystery I am alluding to is the Shroud of Turin – an artifact that millions of Christians believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus. For about 20 years I have been interested in the Shroud of Turin. Then in 2010, when it went on public display for only 44 days in Turin, Italy, I was fortunate to be among the two million people who saw it in person. My two decades of reading about the Shroud culminated in a first-hand look and led me to believe that this is the physical evidence proving that Jesus Christ was in fact resurrected from the dead." ("The Shroud of Turin: The Mystery that Science and Technology Will Someday Solve," PJ Media, Myra Adams, July 22, 2012).

Although I have never seen the Shroud, and at age 67 the odds are that I never will, nevertheless from what I have read intensively since 2005, I also believe that the Shroud is "the physical evidence proving" beyond reasonable doubt "that Jesus Christ was in fact resurrected from the dead"!

But regardless of whether you believe Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected, it cannot be disputed that he was then and still is today the most influential being who has ever existed in all human history. Jesus Christ's influence on the world in terms of culture, history, kingdoms, religion, empires, war, art, music, architecture, printing, human relations, charity, literature, exploration, population relocation, medicine, education, holidays, etc., cannot be refuted. In other words, if you live on this planet, Jesus has had an effect on your life whether you care to acknowledge Him or not. (An excellent book on this subject, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, was written by Dr. D. James Kennedy in 1994.) Here is a familiar quote from that book, which aptly summarises Jesus' influence on the world:

"Dr. James Allan Francis puts Christ's life and influence into perspective so well in his famous narrative:
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life."
(Kennedy D.J. & Newcombe J., "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?," 2001, pp.7-8).
Conversely, if Jesus had not been resurrected, the world's largest religion, Christianity, would not have grown and thrived for centuries and Jesus' influence on mankind would have been minimal or non-existent. Christianity is the only world religion which arose in the very heart - Jerusalem - of another world religion - Judaism. Imagine a new world religion arising in Mecca! Only Christ's physical resurrection can adequately explain the sudden origin and subsequent rapid rise of Christianity.

So that is why the mysterious Shroud, which could prove Christ's physical resurrection - the foundation of Christianity, is still an open and active cause célèbre among believers in Jesus' divinity and members of the scientific community who continue to study the Shroud and remain intrigued by its unique properties. The Shroud of Turin already has proved, beyond reasonable doubt, Christ's physical resurrection and therefore that Christianity is true. But that does not mean that that proof cannot continue to be unreasonably denied, by those (including some Christians) who don't like the implications of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true.

During these times when Jesus is under attack in our culture and Christian persecution is raging out of control around the world, it is reassuring that based on this latest study and historical research, Jesus as "meme" and person is still flourishing, despite all the attempts to undermine and negate HIM and HIS influence. Those who try to negate Jesus' influence, unwittingly confirm His influence, and carry out their part of His plan (Mt 13:24-30). But for those celebrating the real reason for the holiday season, the "Christ Mass," we believe Jesus is more than a person, thus holding an unfair advantage over the others on the list. The others on the list are mere men. But Jesus is the God-man (Jn 1:1,14; Php 2:5-7; Col 2:9). This of course is due to the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, celebrated by another holiday in the springtime – you know the one with the marshmallow eggs and chocolate bunnies.

Finally, here is my favorite quote from the book's author, Steve Skiena, in an interview with the UK Independent that I link to above: "The significance of Jesus is shown by his mindshare today fully 2,000 years after his death. We don't see the same happening for Justin Beiber." Or anti-Christians like Richard Dawkins. He and his ilk will be forgotten in 20 years, let alone 2000 years. But Jesus won't forget them and they will stand before Him at the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-32; Acts 10:41-42; 2Cor 5:10)!

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