Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ben Witherington Comments On "The Mystery Of Christmas"

At his blog, Ben Witherington comments on the CBS Christmas program that I reviewed earlier this week. Witherington and his commenters take a more positive view of the program than I did. One of the commenters mentions, though, that he was thinking of turning the program off after the first half of it, which featured liberal scholars like John Crossan. But did the second half, with Witherington and, briefly, Michael Molnar, outweigh the first half as much as Witherington and his commenters suggest? I don't think so. I only read the transcript posted online and saw part of the televised version. (It ran at about 1:30 A.M. here, and I turned it off once I was confident that there weren't any significant differences between the transcript and the televised version.) Maybe there were some things in the televised version that would significantly change my impression of the program, but I doubt it. My objections to the program have to do primarily with issues like who was interviewed and what arguments were addressed, so I doubt that something like the music on the program, the tone of voice, or clips of Christmas plays would significantly change my opinion.

I think what may be going on here is that many Christians have too low a standard in what they look for in these programs. They think that the inclusion of conservative scholars is highly significant, even when those scholars aren't presenting much evidence or are speaking on issues that aren't disputed much. I would suggest that people read the transcript of that program and ask whether CBS actually presented much of the evidence for the traditional Christian view. I don't think they did.