Silly Putty History

Millions of Americans are lining up to see "Schindler's List," a stunning new film about the Holocaust. Nominated for twelve Academy Awards, the film depicts in horrifying detail how Hitler's victims were herded into cattle cars and exterminated in gas chambers. But at some theaters there are lines of people who have no interest in seeing the movie. Instead they're trying to persuade movie-goers that the Holocaust depicted in the film never happened—that the story of Nazi death camps is a lie invented by Jewish people. The whole idea is so preposterous we might be tempted to dismiss the protesters as unbalanced fanatics. But in fact they're just the tip of an iceberg. In a Roper Poll, 1 in 5 Americans said it is "possible" that the Holocaust never happened. How can this be—when so many victims of Hitler's atrocities are still alive? How can a series of shattering historical events involving millions of people be questioned—and even denied outright? Part of the blame goes to our students' abysmal ignorance of history. Surveys reveal with embarrassing regularity that many Americans are unable to identify our country's most seminal historical documents, such as the Bill of Rights. But even more disturbing is the deliberate recasting of history for political purposes. This is a game with an almost endless number of players. There are feminists who dismiss much of Western history as the irrelevant myths of Dead White Males. They want to replace history with herstory, focused on women's experiences. Then there are black scholars who see history through the lens of Afrocentrism. Some insist that the great figures of Western history were actually black, from Plato to Jesus Christ. In a similar way, gay activists are constantly combing through history to augment their cause. Their latest claim is that Eleanor Roosevelt was a lesbian. These folks are tearing up history by the roots, replanting it in the garden of multiculturalism, and watering it with a heavy dose of relativism. Is it any wonder Americans no longer know what to believe? This is one issue where Christians ought to be on the front lines—because Christianity is firmly rooted in key historical events. Christianity teaches that God created Adam and Eve. That there was a universal flood. That Jesus was born about 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. That He performed miracles, died on the cross, and rose again from the dead. These historical events are not incidental to our faith, they are its very basis. Our spiritual teachings rest squarely on divine acts in history. But the revisionists are treating history as though it were as pliable as silly putty, to be stretched and manipulated to accommodate every special interest group. As a result, Christians are reduced to just one more interest group, interpreting history through the prism of our own personal preferences. So don't just shrug off the Holocaust deniers as a radical fringe group. We urgently need to help people to understand what is at stake: Together all these revisionist groups are helping to usher in a silly-putty view of history. One that is diametrically opposed to the Christian faith.


Chuck Colson


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