Sensationalism is a tool that the print media has used to attract attention, gain recognition or serve as a distraction to steer the headlines in a different direction. By the early 19th century, American newspapers relied on scoops and exposés to increase circulation. The origin of fake news likely began in The New York Sun’s “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835. This breaking news story claimed that there was an alien civilization on the moon, establishing the Sun as a leading and profitable newspaper. Perhaps, this explains why the apostle Paul warned the church at Thessalonica to test everything that they hear, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.
While they were on their way, behold, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had occurred. 12 And when they [the chief priests] had gathered with the elders and had consulted together, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers, 13 And said, Tell people, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we were sleeping. 14 And if the governor hears of it, we will appease him and make you safe and free from trouble and care. 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this story has been current among the Jews to the present day, Matthew 28:11-15.
In the middle of the first century AD, Paul was disturbed by another fake news story spread by religious and Roman leaders. This rumor inspired an entire chapter written to the church at Corinth. After soldiers were offered a bribe, Roman officials claimed that there was no resurrection of Jesus. Rather, the disciples came in the middle of the night to steal his body. Yet, Paul cuts through this lie by addressing the eye witnesses, more than 500 individuals who saw Jesus following his death on a cross. In the passage below, Paul reminds his audience that many of these people were still alive.
For I passed on to you first of all what I also had received, that Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for our sins in accordance with [what] the Scriptures [foretold], 4 That He was buried, that He arose on the third day as the Scriptures foretold, 5 And [also] that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the Twelve. 6 Then later He showed Himself to more than five hundred brethren at one time, the majority of whom are still alive, but some have fallen asleep [in death]. 7 Afterward He was seen by James, then by all the apostles (the special messengers), And last of all He appeared to me also, as to one prematurely and born dead [no better than an unperfected fetus among living men], 1 Corinthians 15:3-7.
Nearly 2000 years later, atheists, agnostics and revisionist historians continue to revive this fake news story. Using sources such as Gnostic gospels, written well after Christ’s death and resurrection, the search for Jesus’ missing body continues. Most of the shows referencing the Bible aired on the Discovery, History or Learning channels uses naturalistic scholars who believe this fake news story. Just in case you haven’t read Acts 1:9-11, news flash: Jesus ascended into heaven. According to the apostle Paul, without the resurrection there would be no faith. Thus, the next time someone tries to pass on this rumor as fact, don’t believe the fake news.
by Jay Mankus