Nothing Else Matters!

“If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen — nothing else matters.”

–Among the last words of historian Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006)

Happy Easter!

HT: Of First Importance


  1. John W says:

    So… I’ll be dense. What is the message here? Being a bit of a critical person (perhaps even negative), I see a message that I’m going to assume isn’t the intent of these words.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Oooh, good. Got people thinking on this one. What do some others think Pelikan meant by this quote?

  3. Sharon Gamble says:

    If Christ is risen, nothing else matters: If the man, Jesus Christ, truly came back from the dead and lives today, then no amount of fame or fortune, money or anything else really matters. What matters is that we DO indeed live after we die and we best prepare for that, seeing as how that is going to last a whole lot longer than this world. If Christ lives, then He was not just a man, but God and following Him is what matters. Nothing else.

    If Christ is not risen, nothing else matters: If Christ did not rise from the dead, then the hope of resurrection is a fable and when we die we simply return to earth matter. If all our work and character building and fame and fortune end up in 70 years with us just dead…well then nothing really matters. What a waste.

    That, at least, is how I understood it! It all rides on whether or not Christ was a “good man” or actually God with skin on.

  4. John W says:

    I think I was going same direction as Sharon, but with my more critical, maybe even cynical, eye. Material achievements do not matter, but the focus upon a single facet of Faith automatically bothers me. The facets of our Faith are like that of a multi-faceted gem — focusing on one too hard obscures the rest. I don’t think we have the ability to perceive it all at once, so we need to be an constant state of exploration of our Faith. That includes exercising it in the many ways that we have been directed to, and that isn’t just taking heart that there is an afterlife. That’s nice, but the bottom line is that afterlife is in the amorphous “tomorrow”; I am right here today, right now, and what I do and say matters because that’s what I will be judged for. If I die tomorrow or 60 years from now, it won’t matter if I am hopeful about an afterlife if I am not living a good life (in the eyes of God) today.

    If Christ has not risen, why are we at waste? Would we even know the difference? We pity a version of ourselves that would be ignorant of this salvation… but yet may still be fully capable of goodness and love. What is wrong with striving for goodness and wholesomeness outside of religion? I’ve always had a problem with judging “good people” who aren’t Christians in way that essentially says, “That’s nice dear,… but you’re going to Hell.” How do -we- know… how do we -really- know exactly how God judges people? Do we get a second chance like Catholics believe? I don’t know. I do know I’d rather live in a world of people trying to be good and wholesome even if they didn’t believe the same way I did than in a world of believers who were overly absorbed in thoughts of “the next life”.

    Nothing Else Matters? I can’t buy it. We’re here, right now, today. What we do, what we say, how we treat each other matters. It doesn’t matter what we cleave to for religious faith — that’s between each of us individually and our God, god, gods, or nothing at all. I do not think it is a coincidence that so many religions have the same basic message of “Hey, guys… why don’t you just be nice to each other, eh?” Call it God working in mysterious ways, call it the desire for mankind to ultimately find a way to coexist, call it a fluke, but the desire to treat each other nicely has come from many unique sources. Nothing Else Matters? Apparently, it does matter, and not just to Christians.

  5. Ray Fowler says:

    Here are some of my thoughts.

    1) It is a provocative quote, which means it is intended to provoke reaction and thought.

    2) It is an absolute statement, which means it is purposely phrased in the strongest possible way in order to make a point. In an absolute statement, any qualifers are implied rather than stated for they would otherwise dilute the point that is being made.

    3) It is a paradoxical statement, which means it is intended to make us stop and think. The same conclusion is given to two contradictory premises. This forces us to stop and ask, “In what way does nothing else matter if Christ is risen? In what way does nothing else matter if Christ is not risen?”

    When dealing with any quote, we must look at the context of the words and the intent of the speaker. Pelikan was a Christian believer who was close to death. I don’t believe his intent was to say that this life does not matter, but that Christ’s resurrection is so important that it changes everything, that in comparison nothing else (ultimately) matters.

    If you want to read more of my thoughts on the quote and how it relates to the Bible, I preached a whole sermon on it for Easter.

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