Where can we get answers to some tough questions about Christianity and God?The answers to the following questions are not intended to be exhaustive, but hopefully they will establish a beginning point for dialogue. Please feel free to respond back, or to check out some of the links at the end for more answers to your questions.
The questions listed below are answered in a running dialogue. It is probably better to read the whole document to see your question in the context of other difficult questions, because many answers are built upon previous answers.
The Bible is a lot of made-up stories. Everyone knows it was made up hundreds of years after Jesus lived... if He ever actually lived at all. Besides, it has been altered through the ages with each new translation.
No! Both Jewish and Roman writers, including Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny refer to Jesus as well. None of these men were Jesus' followers, and they mention Him only in passing, but they had no doubt about His existence or impact. Some people have relegated Jesus to the level of Peter Pan, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy.
- But today, 2,000 years later, the only real way to keep believing that He belongs to the land of Fairy Tales is to close our minds to hard historical facts.
- No serious scholar doubts the existence of Jesus as an historical figure.
- "If He made us do the right things, then all our problems would be over."
- But when you think about it, life without freedom to choose the way we want to live is not really much of a life at all.
- God made a decision to create freedom, even though it would lead to pain and suffering.
- This constitutes a value judgment: freedom was more important than the avoidance of evil.
These natural disasters are not the direct result of human choice, are they? The Bible says that the whole of creation was actually broken because of mankind's broken relationship with God—Rom. 1:18-21; 8:19-23. We are not living in the perfect world God intended for us. Of course, we are not personally responsible for earthquakes, but the Bible claims that the human race as a whole is responsible for the fact that the world is in a mess.
- "All religions lead to God.
- "It is up to you what you make of Christianity."
- "Is Christianity the 'only way'?"
- "The important thing is to be sincere."
- "Why do Christians think they are right all the time?"
- "Isn't it a bit arrogant for Christians to insist they are right and everyone else is wrong?"
- "Christianity is just 'one way' among many ways."
Several years ago my wife and I went to the British Isles. I had a great time, but the most difficult part for me emotionally was driving in Great Britain. I would never drive in London, but when we got back from Ireland, the rail was on strike, so we had no choice but to rent a car and drive through the Cotswalds, i.e., the countryside.
In an age of relativism, people want to think their view of right and wrong is as good as anyone else's, as long as it is sincere.
Let's take a look at just three of the major religions in the world:
The story of Jesus centers around what happened to Him on the cross.
Everywhere you go, you see the symbol of the cross: sometimes empty, sometimes with Jesus hanging on it. People wear crosses around their necks and in their ears, and they hang them outside churches.
Here's a summary of your questions and comments:
"Is suicide the ultimate sin? I know of a few people who have committed suicide and I wonder, can those who have committed suicide find a heavenly home? This troubles me as I hate to imagine anyone in hell. I am so glad I have my Jesus."
First of all, I want you to know I am sorry for your pain. The pain of losing a friend/acquaintance to suicide is very traumatic. I want to remind you, Jesus made it a priority to befriend people who felt the kind of pain you're feeling, and to help them find healing. They included a prostitute abused by men, a leper outcast by society, and countless others who suffered from loneliness, fear, and rejection. Jesus was a friend they could count on when no one else seemed to care. He was someone who loved and understood them—just like He loves and understands you.
Eric's dad died when Eric was 15. They had been very close, so when his mom remarried about a year later, Eric had a hard time adjusting. His stepdad talked about how much God loved him, but Eric didn't want to hear it... just like he didn't want to hear the stranger in the school assembly say things get better; that suicide isn't any answer. Eric had lived through three years of anger, pain, and emptiness looking for better. It didn't exist.
Should we really turn the other cheek in every circumstance?
One of the most difficult applications of Matthew 5:38-42 is in the area of husband and wife battering. What is the Christian response to this problem? This passage states: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' but I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Does that mean the one who is battered is not to resist, and provide a fresh target every time the abuser wants one? What is the most appropriate response? With the entire teaching and principles of "Responding to an Evil Person" in mind, the following is an attempt to apply that teaching to this tragic problem in many homes. These verses do not give the total response, so we will have to compare Scripture with Scripture to arrive at an answer. Here are general guidelines.
Question: You have asked me to reflect a little bit about shyness and how you might help a coworker who is extremely shy. I am asked about this subject frequently, as people know there was a time in my life when I was very shy. Since that time, I have discovered shyness is not a negative thing. One can be born with a certain genetic predisposition to shyness, and there are environmental factors and modeling by parents and peers that can also affect a person's self-esteem and shyness. Beyond those factors, however, there is something surprising about shyness that most people do not understand.
When a person's rights are violated, it's all too common to respond in retaliation. The Pharisees of Christ's day, for instance, were so bent on revenge that they sidestepped the clear teaching of the law and took the administration of justice out of the courts and into their own hands. They saw it as a matter of right and duty to personally take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and, in some, cases go beyond that.