Reasonable Faith

faithreason


Peter 3:15 says that we are to be ready to give a defense of our faith. Are you ready? Sadly, many Christians watch more TV in a week than they spend in a year preparing themselves to answer questions about God and the Bible. Many people equate faith with a blind leap in the dark or wishful thinking, but the faith that the Bible requires is intelligent faith. It is neither blind nor irrational. Defending the faith isn’t just for your pastor, though. The church needs an army of saints who are able to articulate the truth persuasively and graciously.
Listed below are my best attempts to clear up uncertainties and address painfully honest questions that both Christians and skeptics have. My hope is that it equips you with strong enough reasoning and evidence to profess your faith and answer the question “Why should I believe in God?” 



If God is so loving, why does He allow evil and suffering?

Christianity teaches that contrary to Buddhism, suffering is real; contrary to karma, suffering is often unfair; but contrary to secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine. Non-believers assume that suffering should keep people from God, while many who suffer a great deal turn to God, not from him. The atheists’ solution doesn’t remove the suffering. In fact, it worsens it by removing hope. Rather than condemning God for allowing evil, we should be thankful that He withholds the punishment we deserve. God created the possibility of evil; people actualized that potentiality. The source of evil is not God’s power but mankind’s freedom. Even an all-powerful God could not have created a world in which people had genuine freedom and yet there was no potentiality for sin because our freedom includes the possibility of sin within its own meaning.

What about all the contradictions in the Bible?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inKMIcKXo_w
http://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-difficulties/

How can you believe in a religion with impossible stories like Noah and the Flood?

I am glad there are things in the Bible I do not understand. If I could take that book up and read it as I would any other book, I might think I could write a book like that. It’s natural to be skeptical of a story like Noah. However, the greatest miracle in the Bible is not Noah and the flood. The greatest miracle in the Bible is recorded in the first verse: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” If that miracle is true, then every miracle in the Bible is at least possible (including Noah’s Ark). If God created the universe, then He can do whatever He wants inside of it. Common sense is no match for the voice of God.

Does archaeology disprove the Bible?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo7CKYPFxDw

Was Jesus just a moral teacher?

No spiritual teacher (e.g., Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.) has ever claimed to be God. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus claims to have always existed, to have authority to forgive sins, and he claims to be God. That leaves us with only two options: either Jesus is an evil deceiver or Jesus is who he says he is. He didn’t leave any other option open. During His time on earth, Jesus performed amazing miracles, that as John rightly observes, serve as signs that manifest his glory (John 2:11). He healed diseases, exorcised demons, turned water into wine, calmed storms, walked on water, and even raised people from the dead. After examining the claims, character, and miracles of Jesus throughout the Bible, it’d be foolish to write him off as simply a moral teacher.

If God created Heaven and earth then who created God?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=109&v=eZfdYI4U1Vs

What evidence do you have the Bible is trustworthy?

If I had to narrow it down to a few pieces of evidence, I would probably say: fulfilled prophecies, archaeological discoveries, and the Bible’s amazing unity. The Bible, unlike any other religious book, has demonstrated itself to be the Word of God through its ability to rightly predict the future. There are literally hundreds of very specific prophecies in the Bible that were spoken hundreds of years before their fulfillment that have already come to pass. No other religious book can verify itself in this way. The Bible has also been proven to be historically reliable by thousands of archaeological discoveries that have verified the names of persons, places, events, and customs mentioned in the Bible.

Finally, there is the Bible’s amazing unity. Here is a book that is actually a collection of sixty-six different books, written down by more than forty different authors, over a period of 1,500 plus years, on three different continents, in three different languages, and it addresses life’s most controversial topics from beginning to end. You would think there would be chaos, confusion, and contradictions, yet the Bible miraculously remains absolutely consistent and internally harmonious from beginning to end. These three pieces of evidence (fulfilled prophecy, archaeological discoveries, and the Bible’s amazing unity) build a compelling case for the divine origin and historical reliability of the Bible.

How is it that the Bible explains the earth to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old when we know that dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqMwqwb8Vn0

What about other religions?

It is no more narrow to claim that one religion is right than to claim that one way to think about all religions (namely that all are equal) is right. We are all exclusive in our beliefs about religion, but in different ways. Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. When investigating Christianity vs. other religions, we see that Christianity is unique among the religions of the world for several reasons. First, unlike other religions, Christianity is rooted in history and evidence. Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of Caesar Augustus and was put to death by Pontius Pilate, a first-century Roman Governor. The testimony of his life, death, and resurrection is not only validated by credible eyewitness testimony but by credible extra-biblical evidence as well. Furthermore, of all the great religious leaders of the world (Buddha, Moses, Zoroaster, Lao Tzu, Muhammad), only Jesus claimed to be God in human flesh.

Does evolution explain away Christianity?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf5ovSpS2GU

Hasn’t the Bible undergone corruption as it was translated hundreds of times down through the centuries?

The Bible has been translated into hundreds of different languages down through the centuries, but the text of the Bible has been accurately preserved all the way through. How do we know that to be the case? First, there is the manuscript evidence. Today, there exists several thousand partial and complete, ancient handwritten manuscript copies of the Bible, some dating as far back as the third century B.C. These manuscripts have allowed textual critics and scholars to verify that the Bible we have today is the same Bible the early church had.

Secondly, there are the writings of the church fathers. By church fathers, I am referring to leaders in the early church. In their commentaries on the Bible, their letters to one another, and their letters to other churches, these men quoted the New Testament Scriptures alone more than 86,000 times. Their quotations have allowed scholars to reconstruct nearly the entire New Testament. These two forms of evidence, the manuscript evidence and the writings of the church fathers, verify conclusively that the original text of the Bible has been accurately preserved.

If God is omnipotent, why does he not just show himself to all of us, all at once, thereby ending this game of free will and temptation?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBu_Jw61UZE

How can you prove that Jesus rose from the dead?

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said. If he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead. Here’s a quick list of the historical evidence of Jesus’s death on the cross:

  • A public execution assured His death
  • A high official secured the gravesite
  • In spite of guards, the grave was found empty
  • His apostles were dramatically changed
  • Witnesses were willing to die for their claims
  • Jewish believers changed their day of worship
  • Although it was unexpected, it was clearly predicted
  • It was a fitting climax to a miraculous life
  • The growth of the Christian church hereafter

Following His death on the cross, Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb on Sunday morning. On the road to Emmaus, He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in their presence and invited them to touch His scars. Scripture records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time. Some may argue that a few people could have agreed to a deception, but how can one explain the collaboration of 500 people?

Is God just?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GswSg2ohqmA

Why should I care?

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. This statement compels us to seriously embrace the fact that we’re saved by God’s grace through faith alone. That’s all God requires for salvation to be obtained. It is also important to note that our faith in God brings forth deep transformation into our lives. Faith allows us to condition and organize our lives in such a way that His will and purpose can be accomplished in us. Our faith in Him is the cornerstone that sustains us in times of need, trials, and hard sufferings. By having faith in God, we can certainly look way beyond life’s obstacles with a firm assurance that He’s with us and will always be with us no matter what happens.

What is worthwhile under the sun?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrsQ1tc-2wk&t=18s

Other Useful Links:

http://www.alwaysbeready.com/quotations + http://crossexamined.org/videos + http://www.insight.org/resources/bible + www.bethinking.org + http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/answers.html + http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/faith-christian-netflix-religious/2016/03/02/id/717021/

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Live A Great Story

“Sometimes you have to go out of your way to get into trouble–its called fun.” – Robin Williams (Good Morning Vietnam)

Societies have survived decades without math, but never has there been a society that didn’t tell stories. It seems crazy, but it makes sense because life doesn’t come to us like a math problem; it comes to us the way a story does, scene by scene. In fact, stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful and meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact, and they are good medicine in times of trouble and adversity. It’s the reason why “fine” is just not a good enough answer when someone asks how your weekend or winter break was. Nobody wants to or even cares to remember the easy stories.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the point of life is the same as the point of a story, which is character transformation. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. It’s ridiculous how much of our lives are spent trying to avoid conflict; half of the commercials on television are selling us something that will make life easier. Part of me wonders if our stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life, because the truth is, great stories need a little disadvantage and discomfort. A person has to go on strange adventures to build up a list of stories. He has to jump off bridges and go for midnight swims, travel to new places and stand in empty deserts, engage in rambling conversations with strangers, and eventually allow himself to fall in love. The ambitions we have will become the stories we live, so if you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask them what they want.

If you ask me, I want my life to be a testimony to the joy that can be found in spontaneous living. I want to live in a way that inspires people to find out who they are uniquely made to be and what they are uniquely designed to do. I want to live a great story with my life that leaves a beautiful feeling even as the credits roll. And that’s exactly why I created this blog and my travel website in the first place. When I look back on my life, I want to remember the crazy things I did, and all the times I worked harder to make a day stand out. I even started capturing each of my memories in a journal I call “Days to Remember” to make sure that I am filling my life with plenty of memorable scenes.

I find it interesting that in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It’s as though God is saying, “Write a good story; take somebody with you, and let me help.” I know that one day, I’ll tell all of my stories to God and I bet he’ll laugh. He’ll remind me of the parts I forgot, and then he’ll explain what it all means as we sit and remember my story together. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting, the climax and the resolution, and all we need to do is fill in the story. In that case, it would be a crime not to venture out, now wouldn’t it?

Rediscover What’s Important (God’s Bucket List)

Hey guys, sorry that I haven’t posted something in forever. Up to this point, all of my writing efforts have been going towards the book that I just finished writing for Quarto Publishing Company, and a lot of my time has been devoted towards planning the two month backpacking trip that I am about to embark on. Although I can’t release too much information about the book, I can tell you that it will be coming out in stores in January and it is right on track with the kind of stuff that I write in my blog right now. Here is a little excerpt that I wrote for the book, which unfortunately won’t be making it into the final copy:

 

The basic idea behind a bucket list is that our souls were meant to desire something greater. We all have greater yearnings and wants that are just out of reach, and I believe that we were created like this for a reason. I believe that we were meant to desire something greater simply because we are meant to be satisfied by something greater. What if we were designed to achieve a set of goals that could not be measured by any physical standards or by anyone else? What if there were an actual bucket list that God designed specifically for you? An agenda of adventures that He wants you to experience and a way of living that you were meant to live before you kick the proverbial bucket? You may imagine that submitting and seeking a life in God would be extremely limiting, totally unappealing, and would translate into becoming a cloistered nun, a missionary in Ethiopia, or something else contrary to the dreams you have already written down up to this point. In fact, I think a great deal of followers in the church believe that God put them on the earth to be a good boy or girl and nothing else. I guarantee you however, this is not the case. That’s why he devised the world in such a way that we are rewarded most when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives, which is to say, when we live by faith. God doesn’t expect us to be “successful”; only faithful. When God set man on the earth, he gave us an incredible mission—he gave us a charter to explore, build, conquer, and each care for different things in his creation. He gave us permission to live from the heart, and whether it’s building a boat and sailing it, writing a symphony and playing it, planting a field and caring for it—those are the things you were made to do because those are the desires that are most suitable for drawing us near to himself. So don’t suppress any of these desires that you may have, but embrace them. In the same breath, the key to this grand way of living life is to submit to God’s version of your deepest desires instead of insisting that He bless, approve, and put the final stamp on our version of things. God’s bucket list for you is unique, and if you’re trying to embrace His list, who better to talk to than God Himself. Through whatever goals he sets for you, know that the ultimate goal is for you to know Him more. Therefore, let your desires endure, let your passions persist, and make sure to live a life that is ultimately driven by eternity.