A few months ago, a Scholastic handout came home, claiming that monotheism began with an Egyptian pharaoh (who, according to Wiki, lived about 1,400 years after Abraham). I pulled out my study Bible's timelines and we had a little one-on-one history lesson. I did not contact the teacher, as we were then involved in a 'thing' with the Science teacher over evolutionary theory being taught as immutable fact. (They're really going to start hating us at that school. No wonder all the other Christians in our town are homeschooling).
This month we're learning about the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity. Sounds great, right? Actually, the handouts (they don't use textbooks anymore, apparently) did pretty well on most of the facts...except when it came to Jesus. According to the main source, "Jesus was killed because he was a threat to Rome's power". Knowing full well the fallacy of that statement, my daughter nevertheless regurgitated it in a brief essay she was to write tonight for homework.
We had a chat. About revisionist history, what we know from the historical record contained in the Gospel accounts, why Jesus really came, and the (Jewish) conspiracy to kill Him. This is not new information for my daughter. She read the Gospel of Matthew in second grade, was in AWANA for several years, and was baptised at 12. One of only two Christian pupils in her school, my normally-reserved daughter has had to stand up a time or two for the truth (recently attempting to explain the Trinity to a skeptic).
I suggested she re-write the paper, pointing out the error in claiming Jesus was "a threat to Rome" or that he "started a new religion". Some things are too important to let slide by, we explained; sometimes you just have to take a stand. She was afraid that the teacher would fail her for deviating from the text. Explaining that teachers respect students who can think critically, I suggested she cite specific verses to support her rebuttal. (The Bible is a respected, acceptable historical accont; even by secular scholars). She agreed, and re-wrote the essay. Here is the (unedited) result:
The Spread of Christianity
"Christianity was the fulfillment of Judaism, and Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all 206 Messianic prophecies of the Torah. At the time of Christ, Judea was ruled by the Roman Empire. The three main groups of Jewish leaders were the Sadduccees, Zealots and the Pharisees. The Sanhedrin, or the ruling council, was mostly made up of Sadduccees. The Zealots were very political and against Rome, the Pharisees made a strict interpretation of Mosaic Law and added a lot to it. The Sadduccees were liberal, wealthy, and didn't believe in heaven or hell. Caiaphas, the High Priest, was a Sadduccee.
Jesus preached about faith and repentance and salvation, and not politics. He refused to get involved in political discussion. (See Matt. 22:21; Mark 12:17; and Luke 20:25). Later Paul and Peter told Christians to obey their rulers and to respect the government (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2, and 1 Peter 2:10,13). Jesus was not political, and Rome didn't take notice of Him. The Jewish leaders saw Jesus as a threat because He preached against their hypocrisy, He showed that they didn't really love God, and He claimed to be the Son of God and Messiah. The Jews expected a political Messih to save them from Rome, but Jesus saved them from their sins. The Sanhedrin wanted to kill Jesus when He gained popularity, but they didn't have the authority to kill people themselves, so they involved Pontious Pilate. They twisted what Jesus said, and charged Him with blasphemy and speaking against Rome as an excuse to kill Him, even though Jesus never did that. Pilate tried to release Jesus because he knew Jesus did not commit any political crime. (John 19:4;6). Finally Pilate gave in and Jesus was crucified, and He rose again on the third day, as was prophesied (Psalm 16:10; Hosea 6:1-3).
Seven weeks later, at Pentecost, Peter preached to thousands of people, and the Church Age began. The Apostles, including Paul of Tarsus, started to spread the Gospel all over the Mediterranean. For the next three centuries, Christians were persecuted in Rome by emperors. There were also a lot of heresies in the first four centuries. In 313, the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which prevented Christians from being persecuted. Then in 325, the Council of Nicea set down the Creed, which said what all Christians believe in. Constantine also built Constantinople, which is Istanbul today."
(I helped her find the Scripture references.) Let's hope she gets a good grade....I have a feeling this is going to be the first secular-propaganda-refutation of many she will have to make over her academic career. She may as well start young.