A large man with white hair and a white beard visited Graceland last Sunday on the eighty-second birthday of Elvis Presley. Someone posted his photo on the Facebook page “Elvis is Alive.” Now conspiracy theorists claim that the man is Elvis himself.
They believe that Elvis faked his death in 1977 and has been living in seclusion ever since. They claim there were discrepancies with his death certificate, reports of a wax dummy in the original coffin, and several accounts of Presley planning a diversion so he could retire away from the public. Some followers have even formed the First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine. Presleyterians are required to face Las Vegas daily and make a pilgrimage to Graceland at least once in their lives.
If you were talking to Presleyterians today, how would you convince them that they’re wrong? You could cite medical evidence that Presley died on August 16, 1977, but they would claim that such evidence was falsified or misinterpreted. You could debunk every Elvis sighting so far, but they would claim that their hero remains in seclusion. At the end of the day, you’d have a hard time convincing them that they’re wrong. Of course, they’d have an even harder time convincing you that they’re right.
We live in a world of Presleyterian logic today.
Iranian officials unveiled a huge billboard in Tehran commemorating “Captured US Sailors” Day. A year ago, they seized ten American sailors and two US Navy boats they claimed entered their waters illegally. They held the sailors for fifteen hours before releasing them. In their view, this was a triumph for Iranian supremacy over the “Great Satan.” In our view, it was a brazen attempt to embarrass America and our leaders.
The inauguration of Donald Trump is this Friday. His critics point to his approval rating, the lowest of any president-elect in recent history. His supporters see such polls as another example of media bias infecting the public.
Philosopher Antony Flew observed that any valid truth claim must be capable of falsification. If supporters of a position will not accept any evidence contradicting their assertion, they are merely stating an opinion. Claiming Elvis is alive turns out to be like claiming Martians are living in your back yard—if no evidence can dissuade you, you cannot persuade us.
This is how many people view Christianity—a superstitious faith founded on wish fulfillment whose followers refuse to change their beliefs regardless of the evidence. But they’re wrong. According to Paul, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, “our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). The resurrection is the “rope from which we swing,” the historical fact that demonstrates the historicity of our faith.
Here’s the catch: people in the twenty-first century cannot witness a resurrection that occurred in the first century. Therefore, we must be the evidence they seek. We must be so yielded to God’s Spirit that God’s Son can live his resurrected life in us. This and nothing less is Jesus’ intention for your life and mine today.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John . . . they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). If I ask those you meet today if you have “been with Jesus,” what will they say?
NOTE: I invite you to join the Dallas Baptist University Institute for Global Engagement and the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture for the Leadership Lecture Series featuring Matthew Dowd. Mr. Dowd is a political analyst for ABC News, a political consultant, founder of the ListenTo.Us political community, and co-author of the New York Times best-seller, Applebee’s America: How Successful Political, Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community. He will reflect on the 2016 presidential election as well as the current state of American politics. I will then lead a time of discussion with him.
We will meet on Monday, February 6, at 7 PM in Pilgrim Chapel on the DBU campus. Tickets are $5.00 per person. For more information or to register for this event, please visit www.dbu.edu/ige.
Publication date: January 18, 2017
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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