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About the Theme of the Week
Each week on Colson, BreakPoint Radio and, and other channels we publish a great deal of new content around a vital theme. The ReSeries, John Stonestreet's video commentary, is often (but not always) the cornerstone of the weekly theme.

Theme of the Week: Is Christianity Optimistic?


Almost all the religions of the world fall into one of two categories. There are the optimistic ones and the pessimistic ones. Specifically, each faith makes certain claims about the human condition and about our ultimate destiny which are wishfully positive or hopelessly bleak.

With Eastern faiths like Buddhism, Hinduism and their New Age knockoffs peddled by popular daytime talk show hosts, we find an amazingly positive view of mankind. We are God, they teach, because everything is God (pantheism). If salvation exists, it consists in becoming enlightened, achieving unity with the universe, and discovering that ultimate reality and truth transcends good and evil.

Much like these, the humanistic philosophy which dominated much of the previous century saw man as autonomous and basically perfectible. Instead of transcendence, this movement sought ascendancy through science, technology and social engineering. But as John Stonestreet points out in this week's edition of "ReEngage," these ideas fell out of fashion when they came to a head in Naziism, eugenics and other deadly ideologies aimed at producing a better human race.

In the wake of this disillusionment emerged Postmodernism with its nihilistic rejection of absolute truth and insistence that everyone sets their own terms for morality and goodness. Similarly, the atheism of older thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche led many to conclude that power alone determines morality. These worldviews form what some consider the most pessimistic body of thought about human existence on the market.

Compare all these to Christianity. Sober-minded in its assessment of human nature as fallen and "dead" in the recapitulated trespasses of Adam, one is tempted to lump this religion in with the pessimistic philosophies of the past and present.

But in the gospel accounts of the first Holy Week, we find a striking duality: as Christ distributes the bread and wine of His forthcoming agony to His closest followers, describing how He would give His life for their sins, he says something surprising:

"I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom." (Matthew 26:29)

Jesus stands on the precipice of unimaginable sorrow, yet He looks forward to a coming Kingdom. Three days later, He would win a victory over sin and death which guaranteed that future Kingdom. In His resurrection, Christ rewrote human history and offered us the only solid basis in any religion for true hope.

The Faith He taught His followers minces no words about the human condition. But it also offers a message more joyous than any of the religions which place their bets on transcendence or self-deification: Christ has risen. He has defeated death and is the resurrection and life to all who follow Him.

This week at the Colson Center, we complete our series on Holy Week and invite you to join us as we commemorate Christ's Passion and His triumph over the grave. If you missed any of this series or want to dig deeper into the topics we've touched on, be sure to pick up your copy of "He Has Risen: The Worldview of Easter" from the Colson Center Online Bookstore.

From all of us at BreakPoint and the Colson Center, have a blessed Easter!

Explore This Week's Theme

ReEngage_Icon_small World religions are either optimistic or pessimistic about the human condition, but Christianity is different. John Stonestreet clarifies. >>Watch now.
TalkingPoints In his most recent Talking Points, T. M. Moore reminds us that Jesus' title "Lord" is more than just an honorific. It's a declaration of his authority over everyone and everything, whether we like it or not.  >>Read more.
BreakPoint_Daily_Commentary_Generic In Thursday's BreakPoint commentary, John Stonestreet challenges the idea that proclaiming truth means neglecting love and grace. Jesus, he says, didn't call us to do either, but both. >>Read more
the_point In Thursday's Point Commentary, John Stonestreet revisits the origins of Maundy Thursday, and what it can teach us today. >>Read more.
BPTW_icon_small John Stonestreet interviews Dr. James K. A. Smith on how worship is at the root of our worldview, and how love, more than logic, makes us who we are. >>Read more.