The historical impact of Jesusâ€™ thinking is so pervasive that it is often taken for granted. The record of his life and teaching, the Gospels, have impacted the world so much that they have been translated into 2,527 languages. The second-most-translated book, Don Quixote, has been translated into about 60 languages. In America, the first law to require mass universal education was declared in Massachusetts in 1647. It was called, believe it or not, â€œThe Old Deluder Satan Act.â€ â€œIt being one chief product of that Old Deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scripturesâ€¦; and to the end that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers.â€ This is a beautiful vision that everyone should learn: that ignorance is the devilâ€™s tool, that God is the God of truth. Jesusâ€™ followers have often behaved worse when they have possessed political power than when they were persecuted by it. The word hypocrite is used seventeen times in the New Testament. Every time it is used, it is used by Jesus. I know of few other words that are so singularly his. â€œIt is clear from the literary records that it was Jesus alone who brought this term hypocrisy and the corresponding character into the moral record of the Western world.â€ It is in Jesusâ€™ name that desperate people pray, grateful people worship, and angry people swear. From christenings to weddings to sickrooms to funerals, it is in Jesusâ€™ name that people are hatched, matched, patched, and dispatched. Yale historian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote, â€œRegardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western Culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of the history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?
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