What would cause an admired and acclaimed leading news anchor to be suspended for 6 months without pay?
How could this happen to someone like NBC’s Nightly News Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams?
Williams had reported that his helicopter had been hit by rocket-propelled grenade fire and forced down while covering the Iraq war in March 2003. Williams repeated this story on the NBC Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015. However, soldiers who were present at the time Williams claimed to have been shot down disputed his account to Stars and Stripes.
(See also Soldiers offer eyewitness accounts of the Brian Williams Chinook story, Stars and Stripes, Feb 6, 2015.)
Subsequently on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Williams apologized for misremembering and conflating events in his mind as he tried to recall circumstances from 12 years previously.
On Tuesday, February 10, NBC News President Deborah Turness said,
“While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position. As Managing Editor and anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times….We believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.”
(From Brian Williams suspended for six months, USA Today, Feb 10, 2015.)
How Should Christians Respond?
Everyone of us has lied at least once in our life and probably many times for most of us. We just have not been caught so publicly as Mr. Williams. If he acknowledges his misstatements or falsehoods, we should be willing to forgive him and give him a second chance.
Nevertheless, I am very glad to see NBC uphold Truth as a vital value, even though I think it’s somewhat hypocritical. NBC has covered and promoted lying liberals for years with little criticism and precious few if any attempts to hold them to a standard of truth. Yet they feel their anchor must tell the truth.
The six-month suspension without pay is suitable discipline. I would restore him to his job when the suspension is completed.
How Does This Relate to the Resurrection of Jesus?
I think this Williams incident illustrates the credibility of the Resurrection accounts.
Williams’ fairly innocuous, relatively meaningless lie could not stand up to public scrutiny. Eyewitnesses came forward to dispute and disprove Williams’ account.
The apostles’ claim that Jesus had been raised from the dead was a far greater and much more significant claim than that of Williams. Yet there is no record of anybody disputing or disproving the claim.
Why was the soldier-guarded tomb empty? All that was needed to falsify the Resurrection claim was to produce the body. Where was the body?
The Resurrection of Jesus has withstood the most intense scrutiny of any historical claim. The Jewish leaders of the time would dearly loved to have been able to shut up the apostles by disproving the Resurrection through producing the body. They could not do so. All they could do was try to silence the apostles through threats. Over the ensuing 2000 years, innumerable people have sought to disprove or explain away the Resurrection without success.
The Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles in the New Testament are our best historical sources on the Resurrection. They document eyewitness accounts of what happened. They are reports by men who paid with severe persecution and eventually with their lives for their insistent testimony to the Resurrection.
The apostles claimed they saw the body from the tomb in the resurrected Jesus. The Apostle Paul reports that over 500 people, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote, saw Jesus simultaneously (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Far fewer than 500 people were available to correct Brian Williams’ account, and yet it was caught and corrected.
Jesus’ grave was public knowledge and guarded by a cadre of Roman soldiers. All that was necessary to disprove Resurrection claims was to produce the body. Nobody produced the body, because they could not.
Empty grave clothes left in the tomb show that the body was not stolen (John 20:5-7). No grave robber would have taken the time and effort to unwrap the body, leave the grave clothes, and carry off the bare body. The body would be easier to carry away if it were still wrapped in grave clothes.
The disciples would not have declared and died for Resurrection claims that were so easily falsifiable, unless they knew Jesus rose from the dead.
Scripture records over 500 people seeing Jesus alive on at least 10 different occasions within weeks after He had been buried in a sealed tomb for three days and three nights. Matthew, Mark, John, Peter and Paul recorded testimony to the Resurrection as eyewitnesses. Investigative reporter Luke documented his research findings.
I believe the disciples. The empty tomb and discarded grave clothes thunder, “Resurrection.”
Questions to Ponder
- Have you ever been publicly exposed in a lie? How embarrassing was it?
- Is it harder to forgive Brian Williams or a close confidant who lied to you?
- How do you explain the Resurrection? Did it happen as the Gospels report, or do you have some other explanation?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday February 25, 2015 A.D.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)