If you read my column regularly you have probably noticed there are several things I rarely ever do. I try not to be intentionally controversial or adversarial by either the content or style of my writing. Sure, you may disagree with what I say but I trust we are disagreeing like friends over a cup of coffee.
I try not to be politically controversial.
I also try not to focus on controversial religious topics. They can often be laden with issues which can create undue angst. But since the Christmas season is upon us, I am making an exception.
In 1977 Josh McDowell wrote a book titled More Than a Carpenter. This book which has sold over 15 million copies grew out of McDowell’s own quest to ridicule and insult Christians. He decided to combat them with his own research to disprove the claims of Jesus.
To his surprise, however, he discovered that the evidence suggested just the opposite—that Jesus was truly who He claimed to be, making him More Than a Carpenter. In addition to sharing his own personal journey of faith, McDowell answers many of the questions which arise about Jesus.
His questions frame the chapters of his book: What Makes Jesus So Different? Lord, Liar, or Lunatic? What about Science? Are the Bible Records Reliable? Who Would Die for a Lie? What Good Is a Dead Messiah? Did You Hear What Happened to Saul? Isn’t There Some Other Way? He Changed My Life.
His insights remind me of the classic essay about Jesus by James Allan Francis titled “One Solitary Life:”
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never went to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things usually associated with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty-three.
His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and he went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, 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, Jesus is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that one solitary life.
I love that poem and it affirms the title of McDowell’s book that Jesus really was More Than a Carpenter. And that is why we celebrate Christmas.
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President of Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA
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