Over the weekend, a teaching assistant at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) tweeted that if he were sent back 2,000 years in a time machine, he would “assassinate Jesus of Nazareth” before Jesus’ ministry.
Tim Snediker, a doctoral student in religious studies, responded to a question on Twitter. “If you were dropped 2000 years back in time with nothing but the knowledge you have now – what would you do?” Andrew Trask asked.
“Easy, I would find and assassinate Jesus of Nazareth,” Snediker tweeted.
Such a claim may seem bizarre — after all, Jesus suffered death in the Crucifixion only to rise again — but the teaching assistant made sure to point out that he would kill Jesus before the Savior’s ministry began.
“Theologically speaking, it would be really important to get him before his calling and ministry begins, so that gives me roughly a decade to make it to Palestine, locate the man, and make my move,” Snediker explained. “I don’t want to be the heroic Judas avant la lettre (before the concept existed).”
Snediker appears to have deleted his account, but Catholic traditionalist Ben LeBlanc captured his tweets. After the tweets and before deleting his account, the teaching assistant changed his profile to read, “Tim has repented; now he wants to save Jesus.”
Christian author Rod Dreher noted that the UCSB religious studies department has posted a statement backing the Black Lives Matter movement. That statement grounds the “sanctity of human life” in many religions, particularly the Abrahamic faiths. “In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, human life is holy because God is holy (Lev 19:4; Qur’an 5:32, 6:131; 1 Corinthians 3:16).”
Not only is Jesus a human being, but He is also God, so Snediker’s tweets may doubly violate the religious studies department’s statement.
According to Snediker’s profile page, his doctorate’s focus includes the philosophy of religion, political theology, and pyschoanalysis.
Jesus’s Resurrection and the Christianity inspired by it have arguably changed the world fundamentally and for the better. Christianity arguably inspired orphanages, hospitals, philanthropy in general, science, limited government, and the free-market system.
From a political and historical perspective, it would be fascinating to see how human history would have progressed without Jesus Christ’s teaching, His Death, and His Resurrection. As a Christian, I would consider such an eventually terribly bleak, not just because I believe that human society would lose so much good but because if Snediker were able to carry out his mission successfully, there would be no way sinful human beings could find reconciliation with God. Snediker would have damned every soul to hell.
Of course, God’s sovereignty would not allow that to happen, but perhaps this hypothetical helps explain just how offensive it is for a Christian to hear Snediker’s plan.
It seems the teaching assistant has reversed his position, but this situation will likely make it extremely awkward for him to teach or assist in teaching Christian undergraduates.
Christians should be able to forgive the teaching assistant for this, but the school should probably require a public apology for Snediker to clear things up.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.