The Desecration of Easter: Guest Column

On Good Friday, President Biden declared Easter Sunday as “Transgender Day of Visibility.” Though he must have known the outrage that would follow, his defenders were quick to note that March 31 has been recognized in this way for over a decade and just happened this year to coincide with Easter. Thus, they argued, Christians should not take offense that our “devoutly Catholic” president would desecrate this day recognized as sacred by millions for over two thousand years. This, in spite of the fact that two dozen other made-up days (not to mention three different months!) are marked on our calendars in recognition of the growing list of sexual identifications. 

The president’s actions can be best understood by an analysis of the spectacle that occurred in February inside New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. While the salacious details should, in the spirit of Paul’s warning to the Ephesians, be left unspoken, Professor Carl Trueman described in First Things a funeral held for a man who was a militant atheist, who dressed as a woman, was often outlandishly perverted, and engaged in prostitution. Funeral-goers made speeches meant to shock and offend and proclaimed the man a saint. 

Trueman noted how the event marked a shift from what he called “disenchantment” to “desecration”: 

The struggle for the heart of a culture always takes place in two areas: time and space. As the Christian transformation of the Roman Empire was marked by the emergence of the liturgical calendar and the turning of pagan temples into churches, so we can expect the reverse to take place when a culture paganizes. … Our age is not marked so much by disenchantment as by desecration. The culture’s officer class is committed not merely to marginalizing that which previous generations considered sacred. It is committed to its destruction. 

German sociologist Max Weber first used the term “disenchantment” in 1918 to describe the Western world’s shift from the belief in the divine and transcendent to materialistic scientism. In fact, the German word used by Weber translates more closely to “breaking a magic spell.” More recently, Charles Taylor popularized this notion of secularism as “disenchantment” in his magisterial A Secular Age. 

However, as Friedrich Nietzsche predicted in his parable of “The Madman,” a divine and transcendent view of the universe has been harder to abandon than many expected. The French revolutionaries were more than happy to abandon the belief that the king was divinely appointed but still proceeded as if there were moral absolutes, such as libertarian freedom, and other transcendent truths, such as that some have the right to exercise authority over others. Even so, Nietzsche’s “madman” predicted that, eventually, the “death of God” would leave many taken-for-granted beliefs about dignity and morality untethered and, therefore, vulnerable. 

He was right. The disenchantment of the West has, in fact, left us gnostic, doubting even the givenness of material reality. Some even appeal to scientific authority to say that our physical bodies are unrelated to sex and gender.  

This is the latest form of the Gnostic heresy that has taken various forms throughout Church history but always prioritizes an inner, “spiritual” knowledge about God and His world over and above anything He revealed about His world. In all its forms, gnosticism absolutizes the mistaken distinction between the “sacred” and the “mundane.” This distinction conflicts with a biblical vision, which teaches that God created all things spiritual and material, including human beings.  

Scripture also proclaims that Jesus was present at Creation and is Lord over heaven and earth—something that will be acknowledged at the end of history when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Here, Paul is not describing a personal, non-material, “inner” experience of Christians saying privately inside their hearts, “I think Jesus is Lord,” or “I’ve made Jesus Lord of my life.” What he’s describing is what Christianity teaches: that Jesus Christ is lord over time, space, and history. 

For example, almost as soon as Christ’s followers had the freedom to do so, they built grand, intricate cathedrals as sacred spaces within time and space as a way to proclaim His authority over time and space. These spaces were, in a sense, physical representations of the incarnation, the divine inhabiting the mundane. Not only are places like St. Patrick’s in New York City beautiful, but they were meant to say something about the kind of world in which we live, and the kind of authority God holds over all of it. Easter is not just a day off for fun and family, it is a remembrance of the obedience and victory that Christ had within time and space as the defining moment of human history. 

It only makes sense then, that those who wish to challenge God’s authority would attempt to reclaim these spaces for themselves. This is what Professor Trueman meant by this shift from “disenchantment” to “desecration”—a shift we’re in right now. “Disenchantment” describes the cultural detachment from transcendent reality. “Desecration” describes what inevitably follows, the attempt to usurp God’s claim to authority and instead claim times and spaces for another authority. Or, as Louise Perry tweeted in reaction to President Biden’s attempt to claim Easter Sunday for a different religion, “We are repaganizing.”  

The ideas of the sexual revolution, including the normalization of homosexuality and the denial of biological sex, begin by denying God’s role in creation and end by rejecting His authority over all of life. For revolutionaries, it’s not enough for others to merely “tolerate” their revolution. All must “affirm” it. 

Almost certainly, the kind of “desecration” we saw on Sunday will continue and even become more shocking. But, the truth remains: Christ is Creator and Lord. The truth is that every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that “all authority in heaven and on earth” belongs to Jesus. 

Copyright 2024 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from with permission.

Americans Still Believe in God … “But”

Statistical data from the General Social Survey shows that, contrary to what many think, the overwhelming majority of Americans—a whopping 86%—believe in God at some level. For every American that doesn’t believe in God, there are seven who do. 

Of course, just because 4 out of 5 Americans think God exists doesn’t mean they believe in the same God or, for that matter, in the God that actually exists. What we believe about God is a defining aspect of our lives. As A.W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  

What we believe about God shapes what we believe about the rest of life, including those ultimate, worldview-shaping questions of origin, identity, meaning, morality, and destiny. And the more a group of people is unmoored from the truth about these things together, the more disconnected they are from those essentials of a healthy and functioning society, such as justice, human dignity, and the care and protection of children.

Copyright 2023 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from with permission.

What the Popularity of Jesus Revolution Shows

Jesus continues to do pretty well at the box office, not to mention streaming online. The recent movie Jesus Revolution, which tells the story of a 1970s California revival, has so far made double what its critics predicted, grossing over $51 million in domestic ticket sales. In fact, the movie has already grossed more in sales than most of the 2023 Oscar nominees—combined.  

Though guardians of high culture prefer movies that demonize Christianity, Americans are hungry for something else. As John Calvin pointed out, humans possess a longing for God. This can either lead to superstition and idolatry, or to the true God revealed in Christ. Jesus Revolution is the latest case study of how artful storytelling can tap into this longing. 

The question in any era of human history is not whether we worship, but rather what we worship. The success of Jesus Revolution is a reminder that art can still capture the imagination and affirm the fundamental human desire for God we all share.

Copyright 2023 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from with permission.