We’ve all heard someone ask the question, “If you could go back in time and kill one person, who would it be?” This is the standard rate for discussions on Reddit threads and on sites like Quora.com. Most people usually respond by identifying a world dictator who executed millions, the inventor of a weapon of mass destruction, or a person who formulated a dangerous ideology or belief.
On Twitter, a user asked, “If you were to be dumped 2000 years ago with just the knowledge you have now, what would you do? Timothy Snedicker, Ph.D. The student at USC Santa Barbara replied, “Easily, I would find Jesus of Nazareth and murder.” He later doubled his position on other tweets, saying, “Theologically speaking, it would be really important to get him before he calls and the ministry starts so that I have about a decade to get to Palestine to find the man and make my move. I do not want to be the heroic Judas Avant la lettre ”and that“ to murder him before his baptism ”was crucial.
After a firestorm of responses, Snedicker deleted his account. Interestingly, the statement on the home page of the Department of Religious Studies at USC-Santa Barbara claims that:
Our expertise lies in the academic research of world religions. Everyone emphasizes the sanctity of life. In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, human life is holy because God is holy (Lev 19: 4; Quran 5:32, 6: 131; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
Snedicker is a smart guy. He is a Ph.D. Student and teaching assistant at USC-Santa Barbara (a highly respected university), even if he spices up everything he writes with French and German phrases (which comes across as a Braggadocio attitude, but probably the standard rate for a young, selfish graduate student) . But he also knows enough to make a backward statement like, “The Catholics convinced me to change course. Instead of going back to kill Jesus, I’ll go back and save him from the crucifixion.”
Is that better? Not really. Snedicker admitted in another tweet that he did not have a “high Christology” but I suspect he knows enough to understand how central the crucifixion of Jesus is to Christian theology. Assuming that the possibility of saving Jesus from execution even existed, he would know that such an event would ruin Christianity. So his claim to “remorse” was little more than a bad comedy.
Snedicker’s comment reveals his historical illiteracy. When it appeared, Christianity increased the value of human life. It gave women a voice and stopped the heinous practice of child exposure. It limited the ridiculous sexual license of men and demanded loyalty from both partners. It led to the prohibition of violence and death as a sport. It offered a realistic, rather than mythological, view of the world that led to the rise of modern science. Christianity also led to the development of the university. All of this thanks to Jesus.
I wonder if Snedicker would like to imagine what his life would be like if he could murder Jesus, and if our laws and culture would be as draconian as they were 2,000 years ago. But I have a few other questions for him. He likes to write about the police – I wonder if he thinks his pedantic philosophizing is more curbing police brutality than the use of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23)? If he is as opposed to racism as his online materials suggest, he believes his articles, written for the cultural and philosophical elite, could do as much to correct racial relations in our country as applying the New Testament Doctrine on the Worth of All Mankind (Galatians 3:28)?
The New Testament offers a wealth of moral and ethical teachings that require that we respect one another, treat one another with love and care, help the powerless, and lift the fallen. I doubt Snedicker’s individual philosophy will do any of this. On the other hand, he’s just a young, arrogant 20 something philosophy student. Perhaps when he gets a little older and wiser he will learn what life is really like outside the echo chamber of his ivory tower.
Image courtesy Andrey Grushnikov / Pexels.com
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