The classic film “Inherit the Wind” is a fictional account of the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Pandering for votes, Tennessee’s legislature outlawed teaching the theory of evolution and instead said only the creation story in Genesis should be taught in the state’s schools.
They did not specify which creation story in Genesis should be taught, nor did they allocate funds for new textbooks. All the current books included Darwin’s theory, so teachers were confused.
A coal mine owner came up with the idea to hold a show trial to test the law. It would be a huge boon for Dayton.
William Jennings Bryan volunteered to prosecute the case. He had been Woodrow Wilson’s secretary of state and ran for president three times himself. Clarence Darrow, the sharpest lawyer in the nation, was hired by a Baltimore newspaper to defend the teacher, who agreed to be arrested for the show to begin.
In the film, the teacher’s betrothed confides in Bryan some of the discussions she and her fiance had about religion and science. Bryan plots to use this information to win his case.
Although the woman protests, the judge allows Bryan to badger her about the teacher’s views on the controversial subjects. She breaks down on the stand and is excused.
Bryan justified his betrayal of the woman’s confidence by stating that his win would be a win for God that would last a thousand years.
The question we all face at times is: how far should we bend the rules in order to win? Is winning at all costs a biblical principle?
To be sure, some pretty sordid tactics have been used throughout Christian history to secure a win. Think of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Salem witch trials.
In each of these instances, Christians used truly barbaric means to uphold their perceived biblical principles. Sadly, we have not learned too much from our fathers’ mistakes.
Southern preachers used the Bible to justify slavery, and later, Jim Crow laws, to subjugate an entire race of people. Discrimination and cruelty are not in our past yet.
Jesus came to show us God’s heart. Using unholy means to meet holy goals is not allowed. Jesus decreed that God’s way was through love and redemption.
Jesus won through losing. One who wishes to save his life must be willing to give up his life. We try to separate the spiritual from the physical here, but Jesus made no such distinction. Neither can we.
– Mike Mitchell, pastor at Gault Avenue Baptist Church