In recent years, ABC News usually has demonstrated a sensitivity about the importance of religious faith in people's lives, and has reported on faith with remarkable balance and fairness. ABC's reputation for religion coverage made the special Peter Jennings Reporting: The Search for Jesus especially disappointing. Though the special aired a week ago, likely never to be aired again, the ideas it presented to 16 million viewers will continue to echo.To be sure, attempting in two hours to cover the whole of Jesus' life and to summarize the scholarly debates about him is taking on a lot. But two limitations skewed the search before it hit the airwaves.First, a misguided sense of journalistic detachment limited the special's goal to Jesus the man. Anyone who reads the Bible or simply knows the cultural history is aware that Jesus' humanity is only half the story. Jesus' humanness alone is not what made him history's most important figure. Speculating about the color of Jesus' hair or eyes tells us nothing of why he has so transformed human history.The scenes of worship and art hinted at Jesus' majesty, but Search for Jesus made no effort to grapple with Jesus' claims of absolute authority. No analysis of these claims appeared anywhere; everything was poured through the human prism. How can a report that claims to be balanced ignore the central claim that has made this person the most significant figure of the last two millennia? Second, Search for Jesus made no effort to balance its liberal sources with any American evangelical representation. Instead, Jennings relied only on one British evangelical scholar—Anglican theologian N.T. Wright—and turned far more to members of the Jesus Seminar. As a result, less theologically savvy ...1
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