The news of the week begs the question made popular at the end of the 20th century: “Who’s your daddy?”
In the Northeast, Al Sharpton is hoping to figure out whether his daddy was related to Strom Thurmond’s daddy. In the Southeast, people are claiming to be the daddy of Anna Nicole’s baby.
And now James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director who resurrected the Titanic tale is hoping DNA tests, along with statistical analysis, will help sink the Christian claim that God was Jesus’ daddy.
Cameron has produced a new documentary, which airs Sunday on the Discovery channel. The documentary depicts the finding of a Jerusalem tomb containing 10 limestone boxes filled with the bones of what likely was a family. Five of the boxes were inscribed with New Testament names: Jesus, Mary, Matthew, Joseph and Mary Magdalene.
But hold on to your hymnbook, because if the suggestion that Jesus hit the snooze button on Easter Sunday doesn’t shake you up, the show asks a final “Who’s your daddy” question, when it translates the inscription found on the sixth box, “Judah, Son of Jesus.”
Cameron says in a news release he’s made his case and “now it’s time for the debate to begin.”
Like Cameron, there are a lot of people who enjoy engaging in a never-ending debate about faith. Every year, scholars stoke the debate over faith by pulling another item from the ground that will prove their faith or nonfaith conclusions.
Last year, scholars discovered the book of Judas, which supposedly debunks much of the Gospel story. On the other side of the shovel, Christian apologists remain on the hunt for Noah’s Ark or some other relic of proof.
With every discovery, people ask me, “Chaplain, what do you think?”
OK, here’s what I think. The problem with this sort of proof is it usually goes poof in the presence of real faith. There are a lot of things you can debate. You can debate archaeology, history, religion, theology, but in the area of faith I believe there is no room for debate.
When it comes to finding proof, the police can ask for it during a traffic stop. The lawyer can ask for it in a courtroom. The judge can demand it for a conviction. But faith isn’t something you prove, it’s something you demonstrate.
Even Jesus was skeptical when it came to producing proof that would provoke faith. At one point he told a crowd if he were to awaken a dead prophet, they’d not believe he was the son of God.
Jesus knew faith doesn’t rise up from archaeological digs, but from the living of our lives. Real faith comes from what we bury in our hearts. It’s a seed that starts out small — “like a mustard seed,” Jesus said. Later, Scripture would claim proof of faith is in the fruit it bears.
You can’t debate faith nor can you debunk it. Faith is a personal choice inside one’s heart. It’s a choice the famous and much controversial theologian Karl Bart called a “leap of faith.”
If you’re going to be a sojourner of faith, you’ll need to prepare for some leaps, because my guess is somewhere along the way you’ll be making some horrendous leaps that come with a rush one never would experience from a bungee cord on “Fear Factor.”
But be forewarned: It’s a leap you’ll need to make by yourself. When it comes to faith, it doesn’t matter who your daddy is. You’ll have to unearth it and claim it for your own.