What if someone never has the chance to hear about Christ? Christians claim that Jesus is the 'only way' to reconciliation with God. But there must be MANY people who have never heard of Him, either because they lived in a part of the world where they would have had no chance to hear of Him, or they lived in a time that communication was not like it is today. So are these people 'doomed to Hell' just because they did not have the chance to hear, much less accept, Jesus as Savior and Lord? This is a fair, and important question. It seems very arrogant, and very 'politically incorrect' to assert that Jesus is the only way to God, and that some may not make it to heaven if they do not have a chance to accept Him. Many Christians inappropriately avoid the question, or water down the answer to 'fit in' and 'not offend'. But the issue behind this really is: What did Jesus say about it, and what did He mean about it? We've discussed elsewhere why Jesus is the only way to reconciliation with God, so here we'll focus on the other half of the issue – about those people who 'never had the chance to choose'. First, we must understand the real issue, and clarify what are basically false assumptions. Christians hold that Jesus is the means of salvation. He clearly said that 'whosever believeth in him [Jesus] shall not perish…", but this refers specifically to those who choose to reject Him personally. Jesus also said "I am the way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me." This assertion does declares that Jesus is the only way, but it does not specifically preclude those who do not have a chance to personally accept or reject Jesus as Savior. Let me explain. First, we are ALL condemned because we are guilty – not because we did not believe in Jesus. We will be judged according to our deeds; we will be punished according to our crimes against God. Justice demands this. God's perfection demands it.
"The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…and each person was judged according to what he had done." Revelation 20:12,13b
Second, we must understand that God has revealed Himself to everyone in the world, and at all times in history. In His Natural Revelation, He exhibits Himself in the very existence of the world, it's wonderful design, our internal longings toward Him, etc etc etc.
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20
"He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons' He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17
But third, we know that by our very nature we do not seek God – we seek our own fulfillment.
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them." Romans 1:18-19
"There is no one righteous, no even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God." Romans 3:10
Fourth, we must understand that it is God who is seeking us out. He loves all of us, and does not want any of us to be separated from Him for eternity. He proved this to us by taking on the punishment Himself, that was due to all of us.
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
Fifth, when the un-evangelized hears the call of God and responds to his feelings of guilt and submission from the law placed in his heart, he receives the gospel of grace that was provided by the death and resurrection of Christ.
"Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciousness also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." Romans 2:14-16
So to summarize, it was the death and resurrection of Jesus that solely provided for the salvation of the world. For those of us who have heard the gospel, we have the responsibility to accept or reject Jesus as Savior and Lord. For those who have not heard the gospel, and are genuinely seeking God (because God is drawing them near), they will receive the grace of God. Many do not accept this response, and it is certainly open to debate. But we should consider the saints of the Old Testament, who were clearly following God's will before Jesus lived, died and was resurrected on this earth. These are people who heard the call of God on their lives, and their belief was credited to them as righteousness. They were seeking for God, and they called on Him for reconciliation.
"But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:12,14
"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Romans 4:3b
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Joel 2:32 (Old Testament!)
Some seekers feel they must compare the different 'religions' to see which one 'works'. While this may be exactly the best means to discover 'Truth', it is certainly in keeping with the consumer-mentality that we have in Western culture. For those who feel they must pursue this route, Christianity provides an excellent starting place. There are several reasons that a seeker should consider Christianity first: Christianity Is Evidential and Testable Christianity is based upon solid historical fact. You can investigate the documentation, the rules for acceptance in the fields of antiquity and legal evidences. Many have been convinced that the Bible is the most documented and reliable ancient manuscript in existence! And once you become convinced of it's reliability, you can begin to consider the validity of its claims. But if you invalidate it, you can move on. The trouble with other 'religions', especially surreal worldviews such as Buddhism, Hinduism or New Age, is that you must either agree to accept incoherent postulates (what is the sound of one hand clapping anyway, and what does it have to do with anything important?), or you must commit to a loooong process of discovery (since many – such as Buddhism – make claims that it takes a lifetime of devotion in order to finally realize what they're talking about!) So with Christianity you can investigate evidence and make a coherent decision! Christianity Is Unique With GRACE With Christianity, you don't have to buy anything! Salvation is free to those who believe! God has set forth impossible requirements for us to fulfill, but out of His love provides us with the means to accomplish it! Beware those who appear to be 'prophets for a profit'! A universal need for fulfillment has turned into a universal con opportunity, with peddlers of all sorts offering 'salvation' for a price. Many offer jibberish or the latest politically correct slogans, but none really offer a realistic answer to the problems of guilt and loneliness in our lives but Christianity. Many require strict adherence to certain requirements in order to appease a god who will decide if we're acceptable after we die – without providing any certainty now, when we need it. And who wants to meditate for days, or walk over hot coals? So again, it makes sense to check out Christianity first – it provides a way out of our guilt and fulfills our religious impulses – and it's free! Christianity Is Livable And Fits Our Knowledge Of The World – With Christianity you can be honest with yourself. With many of the other 'religions' you must live a 'lie'. Christianity allows for a complete lifestyle, based upon the Creator's intentions, not what we seem to 'want' or seem to 'hope'. With others, you will proclaim one thing, and then live another. For example, a Buddhist or a Hindu proclaims that the world is an illusion – but they still expect exact change, and look both ways before crossing the street. They will assert that pain and suffering are not real, or that they are earned from past sins, but this does nothing to comfort the dying or afflicted. With 'naturalistic religions' (such as Atheism or Secular Humanism), one will pretend that their lives have meaning, but must accept that they are the product of an accident, with no inherent value. 'Religions' such as Mormonism or Islam or Judaism must appease a demanding God who shows no grace, and gives no assurances of salvation. Their lives must be a life of fear and worry, not a live of peace and hope. In short, with Christianity you may live your beliefs; with all the others you must 'compartmentalize' your life into separate areas of belief that contrast with how we live. Jesus Christ – One very interesting aspect of many other 'religions' is that they include Jesus! Islam says He was definitely a major prophet from God, even higher than Abraham – just not higher than Muhammad. Judaism admits that He lived, just not as the Messiah that they are looking for. Many adherents to Hinduism or Buddhism admit that He was a very special man, and had tremendous impact on the world and is to be admired and learned from. There seems to be a trend, and that is that all the major religions believe that He existed, and that He was a tremendous influence. So it is perfectly logical to begin with a study of the real Jesus – to see why all the others include Him and revere Him so well. A proper study of Christianity does just that. So, in summary, if one is seeking for the Truth, and wants to begin a study of the world's 'religions' to determine which one fits our lives, our needs, and our world best, it makes perfect sense to begin with an open minded and in depth study of the Christian faith first.
The Objection: “Christians sure are arrogant and intolerant of other ‘religions’!” “How could anyone be so insensitive to believe that they are ‘right’ and everyone else is ‘wrong’?!” “There must be many paths to God, because there are so many different ‘religions.'” ‘Who is to say that Jesus was the one and only Messiah?’
The Answer: Who is to say that Jesus is the one and only Messiah? Jesus is!
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
One must remember that Christians are not making this claim because they are arrogant, or meaning to offend (though indeed, they know the claim is offensive, since the Bible itself warns us!) They are making the claim because they believe it to be true! And if it is true, then the WORST possible thing a Christian could do is NOT make the claim to someone else! Imagine having a cure for a disease, knowing someone who could use it to save their life, and then not sharing it because we were afraid that they might be ‘offended’ that we claim to have the ‘only cure’! A Christian is simply trying to help!
It is also interesting to consider that Christianity is certainly not the only ‘religion’ that claims exclusivity! But one hardly ever hears the arrogance accusation leveled against a Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu! But it is true – the Muslim believes that Jesus was NOT God, and that He was NOT killed on a cross, and that He certainly did NOT rise from the dead as a propitiation for our sin. The Jew does not believe these things either, but they certainly don’t believe that Muhammad was the final prophet of God! And the Hindu believes that one person is everything, everything is one person, and other strange ‘spiritualized’ things that certainly don’t agree with the tenets of Christianity!
The fact behind this is, that ALL truth is, by definition, exclusive! Think about it – if it is true that the grass is green, then it is certainly not any other color! Is anyone offended by that? It’s a silly accusation when you think about it, isn’t it. So, the only question left is, which is the true Truth? And that is what this website and the resources are for, to provide information and evidence for the proper consideration of Truth…we’ll just let the Spirit lead and you decide for yourself. All we ask as Christians, is that you listen, consider, and realize that we are presenting this news to you with love in our hearts and your best interest in mind, at the behest of our mutual Lord.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18b-20
Now, the Christian knows that it is God who is reaching out to us, and that we cannot ‘convert’ someone. That is the function of the Holy Spirit. But we are the ambassadors; the messengers of the news that answers the questions of the seeker. The Holy Spirit will enflame the spiritual nature of all people, and then he uses the Christian to assist in understanding how to proceed and grow. So in your consideration of the Truth of Christianity, and comparison of the ‘truth claims’ of the other ‘religions’, keep this claim in mind:
“From one man He made every nation of men, that thy should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the diving being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill…now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:26-27,29,30b,31
The Objection: How can you claim that Christianity is the only way?! How can you say that someone is wrong? Everyone has the right to decide for themselves what is right or wrong! You’re being intolerant and hateful when you say your way is the only way, because “Everything Is Relative”.
What Are Some Of The Ways That We See Relativism Every Day?
“You can’t impose your morals on me”! The person saying this is clearly an imposing moral judgment isn’t he! In addition, all societal laws impose a moral requirement, according to the perspective of the lawgiver. So the right question is not ‘are morals neutral?’ but instead ‘what morals are right or true‘?
“You should not be judgmental”! Sometimes it seems that the non-believer’s favorite Bible verse seems to be ‘Judge not lest ye be judged”! But similar to the mis-logic of the moral neutrality claim, the non-judgmental claim is itself a claim that passes judgment! The logic trend we are seeing is grounded in a specific issue: That these claims of neutrality are ‘unlivable’.
“You Are Being Intolerant”! “Tolerance” seems to be one of the dogma’s of current Western social philosophy (aka religion). Violate this maxim at your own peril – because the disciples of ‘tolerance’ will certainly be intolerant of your view! The problem is, popular culture has misunderstood the concept and definition of tolerance. According to Webster, tolerance is defined as “to recognize and respect without necessarily agreeing to sympathizing”. In other words, by definition a person is in disagreement with another’s view, if they are going to be ‘tolerant’. But today, tolerance has been redefined essentially as ‘acceptance’. Clearly, this adjustment of definition has been accomplished to confuse an honorable condition (tolerance) for one that is logically impossible (acceptance of all terms.)
Some Of The Problems With Relativism
No One Is Right, No One Is Wrong – Are we ready to acknowledge that Abraham Lincoln and the Union was wrong about trying to abolish slavery? Is the earth round or not? Were the civil reformers in the 1960’s right or not? The society cannot dictate, because if it is allowed to, no one could say that the Nazi’s were wrong! Are we ready to live with that?
Relativists Cannot Preach ‘Tolerance’ – What is the first thing a relativist says when they discuss morality with someone who does not agree with them? They claim they are wrong (thus violating their misguided definition of tolerance!)
Relativists Cannot Cry Foul – Steal their car, and the average relativist will declare that you did something wrong! Personal definition of morality is up to the person making it, so get ready for the person to say that stealing the car fits within his own personal morality! Claiming that he broke the law is illogical, since he may disagree with that which the society has determined is moral!
The Requirement For Objective Truth – Is there something that is ‘right’ or ‘true’, no matter what and no matter when and no matter who? There must be! Otherwise we are not honest with ourselves. The ‘unlivability’ mentioned above refers to the concept that the people making these claims simply can’t follow through on them; they can’t live the way that they claim; they say it but they can’t do it! Indeed, as it has been said, “If there is no truth, that’s a great reason to tolerate no one!”
Indeed, it is intuitive that there must be Objective Truth. The logic above indicates this, as well as all the other illogical results of subjectivism. It is obvious to us, naturally. It is required to live without contradicting ourselves. Don’t agree? How do we know the from the following example: There are no square circles. How do we know this? We just know! These are rational intuitions (according to Koukl). Just as there are rational intuitions, there are moral intuitions, which can be known (for example: rape is wrong). In short, if we want to talk like we live, we must believe in Objective Truth. The only question that remains, is: “What is the Objective Truth?”
How Are We To Find Out What Is ‘True’?
Is it by the law, or by what society wants? No. That would simply implement a system of ‘those in power make the laws’, also known as ‘might makes right’. Most people (except those in power) would intuitively agree that this is ‘wrong’, or at least clearly undesirable (think of the Nazi regime, and what was ‘legal’ in that society!)
Is it by what I like? No. This is the most prevalent kind of relativism. But my definition is clearly not going to be everyone’s definition, and would be based upon what I want, and are subject to change. Clearly not objective, if it is subject to change. In reality, we see that people are generally just trying to get ‘their way’, and use subjectivity to claim their prize. In short, this is nothing more than selfishness!
There must be an ‘external benchmark‘, for there to be something to compare against, in order to determine if something is ‘true’. Morals are not something we can touch or measure – and they are part of all of us – any person at any time in the history of the world. There must be something immaterial, also known as super-natural. This is what places Objective Truth squarely in the realm of the spiritual, and provides another rational reason to believe (have faith in) Christianity.
Think Of Some Of The Benefits Of The Christian Worldview:
– An External Lawgiver Is The Source Of Right And Wrong
– Tolerance Is Expected
– Love, Caregiving, and Compassion Are The Norm
Atheism, Naturalism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism cannot offer these positions! Christianity therefore proves itself to be the only morally coherent, livable Faith!
Finally, Jesus claimed to be the ‘Truth’. What does this mean practically? It means that Jesus, as the Creator and Sovereign of all creation, is the source and meaning of all things that are True. It means that anything that is True is based in His will and desire, and that we are accountable to Him solely and surely.
The Charge: “Christianity was great for the folks 2000 years ago who didn’t know better!” “Science has dis-proven the ‘fables’ of Christianity.” “Christianity is a crutch for those who cannot take care of themselves, or who need something to hope for because they have too many failures or troubles in their lives.” “Times have changed, and Christianity is out of date.” Whatever the charge, a very popular sentiment in our time is that ‘Christianity Is Not Relevant To Our Modern Lives Today!”
Let’s Think About This – Lets consider the meaning behind this claim, and ask ourselves some very important questions. Would you act upon something even if you knew it isn’t true? Would you accept something as true once you are convinced of the evidence, or despite the evidence? These seem like simplistic questions – think of your answers to them as you consider the discourse below:
There are many ‘apparent’ reasons that we could make the claim of Irrelevance:
“Christianity Is Too Restricting” – ‘Thou shalt not’ is sometimes seen as the mantra of a Christian. This is too bad, since real Christianity is about freedom! Christians believe that they are saved by grace, through faith, not by what they do or don’t do! It is the love of the Lord they have for doing what He did for them, that causes them to obey His commands. AND, His commands ‘are not burdensome’, and are indeed intended for the benefit of mankind (the world might just be a better place if everyone loved their neighbor as themselves!)
“Christianity Is Too Boring” – A fellowship of loving, caring, and intellectually honest and open people is the most exciting social aspect of Christianity. Many non-believers seek this social acceptance, many with disastrous results! And, when the Holy Spirit enters your life and a loving relationship with Christ is experienced, the things that you may think are ‘fun’ today sure seem a mile away! In short, your focus and purpose in life will be different (a result of being spiritually ‘born again’) and you will realize that you finally grasp the ‘meaning of life’.
Christianity Is Misunderstood – Many people have been ‘put off’ by a bad relationship with a ‘Christian’ or have had trouble accepting or understanding a particular Church’s doctrine. The worst thing that a Christian can do is be judgmental or critical. In reality, Christians are no ‘better’ than the worst ‘sinner’, and should realize that the only difference is that we are ‘saved’. The Church is intended to be like a hospital for sick people, instead of a cliquish den of self-righteous piety. A healthy Church will provide education and accountability, but be balanced with a strong social cohesion and care network for those inside and outside the Church. It is the place to be when you need help, inclusion, or a place to go to be safe. Properly understood, the Church is a refuge in the storm.
Now let’s think of some of the reasons why Christianity is indeed relevant to our lives today:
Christianity Is Livable (It Is Our History) – In the West, we enjoy the benefits of a social system based upon Judeo-Christian values. Our freedoms, our responsibilities, and our morals that we have (for the most part) ‘grown up on’ are based directly on a foundation of values that God has placed in us, for our benefit and for us to seek Him. Any other system of morality is ultimately un-livable (Atheism, New Age, etc etc) because they generally all, by default, still utilize the framework of values that has been established by God and Christ, not the values that they prescribe for themselves (which would certainly make THEM irrelevant!). A denial of this comes either from ignorance of history, or from a misunderstanding of the values that we enjoy vs. what each other worldview prescribes. Just attempt to live your life without a baseline of freedom, equality, hope, purpose, or meaning, as the others would have you do! You see, Christianity is relevant to you in this regard already – we simply need to ponder and acknowledge it! (See the questions regarding Relativism and Meaning)
Christianity Is Intuitive (It’s Obvious) – Do we really believe that something (indeed everything!) came from nothing? Show me the evidence of that! Did the ‘laws of science’ evolve from randomness? Is there ANY evidence of that? The Naturalists just presume they always existed! Indeed, the recent observations of science point to a beginning of the creation, and the rapid expansion of life (not the slow evolution, as evidenced by the ‘Cambrian Explosion’). We can also easily see the fallen nature of man (just watch the news any day), as well as feel our desire for acceptance, comfort and hope (our ‘religious instincts’). When we realize these things, Christianity seems more and more reasonable, just from our daily observations of life! (How’s that for relevant?!)
Christianity Is Needed (Comforting) – Speaking of our ‘religious instinct‘, when we are honest with ourselves and acknowledge the shortcomings of our human nature, we then realize that we spend enormous amounts of energy and resources attempting to be ‘happy’. The problem is, that all that working to be happy rarely ever succeeds! When we finally acknowledge that we are in fact not the center of the universe, and that there is a higher purpose to which we can aspire, we become set free from the treadmill of the pursuit of happiness/disappointment, and also see past the inevitable problems of life (especially our human weaknesses, sicknesses and death!) and look toward the hope of fulfillment of our purpose in Christ! (True happiness – extremely relevant!)
Christianity Is TRUE! – Most importantly (in fact, the only ‘real’ reason – the others are just ‘side benefits’!) is the fact that Jesus is indeed the Christ! The Apologetics (defenses of the faith) as well as the assurances of the Holy Spirit to our hearts lead us to the conclusion this Christianity is True. Any denial of Truth is clearly Not Relevant! A person may as well deny the rising of the sun or the inevitability of death – Truth is Truth whether we want to acknowledge it or not! The acceptance of this fact goes beyond declaring Christianity relevant, and now forces us to consider whether our personal beliefs are relevant, if we indeed choose not to believe!
The pages on this website, as well as the myriad of references included, seek to persuade that Christianity is a reasonable concept, and indeed the TRUTH. But a clear understanding of the evidences can only be obtained if an open mind is present, free of misconceptions and preconceived problems. Please consider this as you take the time to review the further evidences of Christianity.
Do You Think Your Life Has Meaning? Here’s the Issue: Without God, we are an accidental byproduct of nature. Death is all we can look forward to, and whatever we gain in life will be gone, with no memory of it in the end. The whole universe will eventually collapse upon itself, and everything that exists will be dead, ruined, and with nothing or no one to care what ever happened in our comparatively short period of existence. Compared to the infinite lengths of time that will exist after the death of our universe, our existence becomes insignificant and ultimately meaningless, because we will end in nothing.
But Think About It: If nothing exists after the universe is gone, then what we do during our life has no ultimate meaning. Objective values can only exist if they survive after everything is dead and gone.
If nothing exists after the universe is gone, then there is no ultimate purpose of our lives. The accidents of chance are all that exist, having arrived with no reason, and with nothing to show for itself after it is gone. No one will remember, no one will care.
If nothing exists after the universe is gone, then there is no ultimate value. All things can be permitted, and there is no right or wrong. We have seen how this is an un-livable condition, since we all live as if we have a right or wrong, even if we (vainly) try to develop their definition ourselves. No evil acts will be punished, no good acts will be rewarded. Anything accomplished in this life will be left for nothing, in the end when everything is waste.
Talk about the ultimate ‘waste of time’! Yet, these thoughts have driven the concerns of man since the beginning of time. It fuels what has been called our ‘religious impulse’. People in all ages, in all nations, in all races, have feared this inevitable doom, and have pursued a meaning that is beyond themselves. But we all desire our lives to be purposeful, to have meaning. We want to know what is right and wrong, and know how to live our lives. How can we resolve this issue? How can we continue to have a will to live – to live a life that enables meaning, purpose, and value?
The Resolution: In order to have ultimate meaning, there must be life after our current existence. Something must exist beyond nature. In order to have purpose to our current life, there must be something that remains after all is dead and passed. What is the common definition of this condition? Immortality.
By definition, God is that which is beyond nature, and that which created everything for it’s own purpose (this is the most basic definition of God.) With God, we have a creation that has a purpose (the Glory of God), mankind that has value and meaning (made in the image of God, created for fellowship with God). With God, we have ‘Truth’, meaning and objective guideline: Objective right and wrong, which will allow us to determine what is good or evil.
There is no consistent alternative. If God does not exist than anything goes. Nihilism is the inevitable result; anything else is an inconsistent lie.
Beware The Ignorance – The ultimate mistake is to ignore this issue. Postmodernism (Relativism) is a description of the condition where people choose to develop their own personal value and morality. We choose to not think about it – we choose instead to believe that we have meaning in our own time, and that our own purposes will satisfy our needs. But this is but a placebo – it makes us feel better, but is totally ineffective in describing or determining ultimate value. What we do to keep from going crazy is ignoring the issue. We lose ourselves in ‘escape’ (Craig). This is the Ultimate Condition of Denial. Most other religious worldviews are designed by man to solve the human condition and ease the pain of the religious impulse. But there can only be one truth. This argument does not prove the case for Christianity, but it does lead us to investigate and look for God, and His meaning and purpose.
Summary – If God does not exist, then life is futile. If God does exist, then life has meaning. Atheism is impractical, as it is un-livable and un-bearable. It is reasonable, therefore, to believe in God, and by further extension, Christianity. For Christianity is the only consistent ‘religion’, and the only worldview with the power of reconciliation with the Creator.
By definition, ‘Supernatural’ is something that is ‘not natural’ – something that is not a part of nature. When we skeptically think of the supernatural, concepts such as God usually come to mind – things that, if they are to be believed at all, must be taken ‘on faith’ because we cannot test, touch or otherwise empirically ‘prove’ their existence or qualities. And because we by definition cannot empirically prove it, many conclude that the Supernatural does not exist – but is this a premature conclusion? Is it possible to ‘know’ that the Supernatural does indeed exist? Is it possible that the ‘Supernatural’ is right in front of our eyes every day? I believe it is – in fact I believe that all of nature itself is based upon the existence of the Supernatural.
Why? Because everything ‘natural and evidential’ breaks down eventually into something that is not explainable by natural causes. Everything! Let me give you an example. A few years ago I was explaining to my youngest daughter how the light in the living room works. I had watched her grow in her discovery of knowledge, and finally one day on her own she equated the bright light in the middle of the ceiling with a properly positioned switch on the wall. For about a year, that switch was all she needed to ‘know’ about light – this knowledge took care of her need for shedding light in the room and that’s all she needed to know. She clearly had incomplete knowledge – but it was sufficient for her to get about her life everyday.
To the electrician who understands the nature of electricity she must seem youthfully naïve when he hears her confident explanation of the functionality of light. But then even the electrician’s knowledge – which sustains his livelihood with his level of knowledge of electricity, is incomplete when compared to the nuclear power plant engineers and then the quantum physicist. But the quantum physicist lives at the base of electrical knowledge, and even he must admit that he cannot explain fully what or why. For example, in quantum mechanics a photon appears to have properties of both a particle and a wave– but how can that be? He doesn’t know – but he knows enough about the results of what happens to be able to design nuclear power plants and light switches with confidence. We can know what happens, but we don’t know why.
Now I don’t often contemplate the maddeningly complex issues of chaos theory, Heisenberg uncertainty principles and dark matter when flipping on the light switch, but they are there at the base of our knowledge, and they are unexplainable to our current models of physics.
But does this make it ‘supernatural’? The skeptic would simply say that we just don’t know enough about nature yet. Perhaps the grand unified theory will emerge and answer all our questions. But, even if it does it will not explain the eternal question ‘Why?’.
All that these laws of physics do is explain the nature of physics. They cannot by definition explain the laws themselves. Where did the laws come from? Can they be eternal? Can they be self-generating? No – we see no evidence of an eternity past, and it is philosophically impossible (because if there was an infinite set of seconds behind us we would never get to now.) And we see the evidences of a beginning to time and space in front of us every day in cause and effect, the second law of thermodynamics, and the expansion of the universe.
Add to this the interesting qualities of concepts like color, time, and numbers. Is something red when light is not shown upon it? Is it still red if it appears gray to someone colorblind? This shows us that red is a concept, not a physical state. It is something that a physical phenomenon matches up to. The same is true of numbers (in counting to three we conform to the concept of three) and of emotions such as love or hate (we certainly cannot weigh love!)
Perhaps our initial knee-jerk negative issues with the knowledge of the Supernatural are found in the concept of the word ‘knowledge.’ The study of how we know what we know is called Epistemology – and it gets quite weird really fast. This is the venue of questions such as “If a tree falls in the forest does it make any noise?” which are tricky to answer, because we just ‘know’ from our experiences that falling trees make noise – but if no one is there to hear it then you by definition you cannot ‘prove’ it. Some argue that this particular problem is in the definition – that noise is only noise if it is heard by something – but does this satisfy our curiosity? Does this absence of evidence somehow negate what we think that we ‘know’ from our experiences – that the physical laws of the universe cause sound waves when there is a collision, and don’t seem to be contingent upon whether we’re there or not? Or can we apply the experiential evidence we see (and hear!) every day to that which we cannot see and hear, and trust in the knowledge being accurate.
“Trust” is the key word – and is in fact the most accurate definition of the words ‘belief’ and ‘faith’. It is by trust that my daughter lives in the world of quantum mechanics; it is by trust that you and I live each day in a world of uncertain knowledge – that the cook that prepares my food is handling it properly; that the pilot of the plane I am boarding is competent; that the driver approaching me will stay on his side of the road; that my wife truly loves me, etc. etc. etc.
So – it appears we do in fact live everyday with the reality of incomplete and unknowable knowledge. And it appears that the concepts of numbers, colors, love, and the source of physical laws themselves are all in the realm of the Supernatural. We do indeed live in a ‘Supernatural’ world every moment of our lives – and we do quite well – therefore we shouldn’t have such a problem with the concept.
The most interesting aspect of the Supernatural is the obviousness of the qualities of God. We are told in Romans 1:19-20 that “God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” How can the invisible be clearly seen? We can see it with the eye of the mind, which is confirmed by the observance of the evidence of the Supernatural that is in front of us every day. We saw that there cannot be an actual infinity in the natural world – so there must be something that started it all off that is outside of time – the real definition of eternal. And His independence from the creation displays His divine nature – He is beyond us; His nature is not like ours – and this is described perfectly as the “I am that I am.”
But I left off the last part of the verse above. It concludes that God put all this evidence in front of us “…so that men are without excuse.” This means that when one says “God you did not give me enough evidence” He will simply say “My child, the evidence of the Supernatural was in front of you every day.”
We’ve discussed a big mistake that Christians make, so its now only fair to talk about a big mistake that non-believers make. If you are a non-believer, please consider fairly whether you have been guilty of this mistake, and think about what you ought to do about it.
This mistake is committed, I think, mainly by those non-believers in Western cultures – indeed, I believe it is a product of our Western culture. We are raised these days, and influenced heavily, to believe that Christians are ignorant. We see it every day – whether we laugh at Ned Flanders on the Simpson’s, or accept the labels that are put on Christians that are always interpreted as placing them on the ‘fringe’ – labels such as ‘fundamentalist’. Christians are often considered to be anti-science (because they don’t ‘believe’ in evolution), or even un-American (because they are ‘anti-choice’ (read anti-abortion)). The mistake is, Christians are seen to be stupid, uninformed, or just simply ignorant.
Now, there are many people who may indeed earn this distinction, but I don’t believe that they represent the majority of Christians; they certainly don’t represent the facts behind the doctrine and the faith. In fact, this is the purpose of this entire website: to present the facts behind the faith – not to ‘convert’ people to Christianity, but to get people started thinking differently about it. I believe that once a person is honestly seeking, the Holy Spirit makes evidence become clear.
So consider these assertions that are explored more deeply on other pages in this website. I think they may surprise you, and I hope they lead you into further thought and maybe a different perspective of Christianity.
…is the only way of life that can provide hope and meaning to life, by basing value and purpose outside of ourselves, and our corrupted universe. (We all live as though we have value and purpose, but have we thought about why we think that? It is because we are made in God’s image, and for His purpose!) This makes Christianity by definition relevant to ALL people in ALL times.
…provides a view of science that is consistent, by providing a source of the ‘laws’ of science (science can’t explain the source of these laws by using the laws of science – that would be a circular argument!), by explaining the cause of the cosmos (unless you want to believe that there is no cause to everything!), and fits with everyday life (someone please show me something that came from nothing or how order comes from chaos!).
…is the only ‘religion’ that solves the problem of sin. We all know we have the problem (we all know what sin is, and that we are prone to it!) – and we all know we can’t fix it ourselves. Christianity provides a way that is beyond ourselves.
…is the only ‘religion’ that doesn’t smack of being made-up for a particular person’s advantage. If all mankind is born with a seeking nature to seek for God, then making up a ‘religion’ is the ultimate con game – watch television preachers, or consider some of the other nonsense religions (what is ‘one hand clapping’ anyway?) and you’ll see this con in action. But NO ONE could have made up Christianity! It benefits no person (it is free!), it has God reaching to us instead of us trying to appease Him (a very unique property of Christianity), many of the early adherents were killed because of it, it makes claims that are outrageous (such as the resurrection) and better documented than any manuscript of antiquity, it has influenced more people than any other (even today’s date is based upon it!) and most importantly, it has changed lives!
So Christian’s have quite a claim…it is therefore worth considering the evidence and making an honest assessment and comparison to your spiritual needs and realities. And if we’re right, having the only view of life that is logical, consistent and livable, then the biggest mistake a non-believer can make is to think precisely the opposite!
Well obviously, this is a subjective opinion! Other folks may believe that something else is a bigger mistake, but surely this one fits up there pretty high on many people’s list. My guess is that many Christian’s are making this very mistake and don’t even realize it! (And this is one of the reason’s I think it is the worst one!)
OK – here it is: I believe that the biggest mistake Christian’s make is that they tend to be too ‘religious’!
“Huh?! Christianity is just another religion, right? Therefore Christians are by definition religious!” you might say. But let’s think about that. The term ‘religion’ is hard to define…but let’s try. Let’s try from a practical perspective – meaning what most people think of when they hear the term. How about “the belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshipped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe”, or maybe “the practice of religious observations and rites” (both from the Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary, 1959). These are pretty close, notwithstanding the debate regarding the applicability of ‘non-deistic’ religions such as Buddhism or Atheism or Naturalism. In any case, when most people think of the term ‘religion’, they think of the belief in a supernatural being, and a list of do’s and don’ts required from that being.
And that is the problem. Most of the other religions fit this description, but true Christianity does not! Furthermore, when a Christian behaves like it does, he portrays an improper picture of the faith. Let me elaborate. All ‘religions’ have placed at the center of their universe either a God which must be appeased, or no God. We elaborate elsewhere why the ‘no God’ concept is irrational (something -indeed everything- from nothing, etc etc etc). Islam, Judaism, etc etc must do their good ‘deeds’ and await their ‘judgment’ from the divine ‘judge’. They only rely on what they have either done or not done in their lives to live up to a supernatural standard. But Christianity is unique – contrary to popular opinion, it is totally opposite to this!
With Christianity, we don’t have mankind trying to appease a God, or trying to be worthy of His love and mercy. In Christianity, the believer’s don’t attempt to be accepted by what they do – it is God who is reaching out to us! God loves us – unconditionally – and has extended His Grace to us, because of His mercy! Make no mistake, He is perfect, therefore He could never reconcile with anything less than perfect. We could NEVER achieve the perfection of God, which is required for reconciliation with Him. Our daily choices to ignore His sovereignty over all creation and place our wants and needs above Him separate us from Him. But He provided a way out – and He did it Himself, all we have to do is believe!
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…(all) are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:21-22a,24
What about all the ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt not’s’? We must remember that the Old Testament provides us the law – which when we see it shows us that we can never achieve this required perfection, as well as points to the redeemer of all who believe (indeed, even Abraham, the father of the Jews, was saved by ‘faith’, not by observing the law). The law shows us that we need a redeemer, and Christ is that fulfillment of the law for us.
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 3:20
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6
“The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in Hi who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Romans 4:23-25
So why are some Christian’s still requiring adherence to a list of things a person should or should not do? It is a case of misunderstood timing. We see now that we are only saved by our trust in Jesus to present us acceptable to God (this is what ‘faith’ is), and when we understand the love He showed to us, and the things He went through for us (His perfect life, and His death), we are overcome with gratitude. He is our Savior, and therefore He has earned the right to be our Lord. So what do we do for our Lord? We obey Him.
“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world [which is self-centeredness], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
You see, we obey because we love Him back, and are thankful. We don’t obey in order to be saved, but we can see how healthy our faith is by our actions.
“What good is it brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a [counterfeit] faith save him? …faith without deeds is useless [it is a dead faith]. James 2:14,20b
So, the problem comes when a Christian projects the fruits of faith onto a person who has no faith. This confuses the non-believer, and causes him to think that he must accomplish all these things (or not do all these others) in order to be saved. It causes a misconception about ‘fun’ or ‘boring’, by thinking that the Christian must legalistically limit ‘fun things’ and only allow ‘boring things’. When instead, after the Holy Spirit has renewed the believer’s thinking and created a ‘new life’ in Christ, our whole perspective of ‘fun’ and ‘boring’ changes, due to gratitude and Lordship. The end result of this bad perspective usually does nothing to bring the non-believer to a thinking condition about the faith, and instead just ‘turns them off to it’, which is a tragedy. A Christian should appropriately model a loving, caring, and long-term thinking lifestyle, and point the non-believer to the evidence external to him (in the world) as well as internal (inside the non-believer). We assist the Spirit in the conversion process, and then leave the fruits of the faith to be worked out between the new believer and his Savior and Lord. Then and only then is it appropriate to assist in spiritual growth, provide accountability, or rebuke a believer according to his deeds.
The bottom line of this problem is that the Christian can sometimes provide the wrong picture of Christianity to the non-believer by his actions. And if this sends the non-believer away with a bad taste in his mouth, then the Christian has committed a terrible mistake.