Category Archives for "Essays"

Aren’t Religions All The Same?


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.

Dangerous Misconception


The most dangerous misconception about Christianity is the thought that it is not relevant to today...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.

Only God Can Provide Meaning


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.

The Ordinary Supernatural


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.”

NonBelievers Greatest Mistake


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!

The Christian’s Biggest Mistake


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.

The Problem of Evil


Considered to be the oldest, most perplexing issue when it comes to ‘thinking’ about God and His nature or existence is “The Problem of Evil”. 

The answers to the Problem of Evil are known as ‘Theodicy’, which literally means “God Justified”, (meaning God is justified despite the existence of evil).  Here is a summary of the issues and their well-considered Theodicy’s (answers to the problems of evil), presented by theologians and philosophers over the centuries.

The Problem Defined – The problem is perhaps most succinctly summarized by David Hume (over 200 years ago) in the following question: “Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able?  Then he is impotent.  Is he able, but not willing?  Then he is malevolent.  Is he both willing and able?  Whence then is evil?”

C. S. Lewis explains the logical problem succinctly, focusing on evil manifested in suffering: “If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to do what He wished.  But the creatures are not happy.  Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.” 

Many personalize the problem, with a reluctance to place trust in a God who would allow evil.  Of course, this is typically an emotional response, with the alternatives to the existence of God usually not carefully thought out.  So, the Theodicy’s have been pondered for ages, designed to figure out this most perplexing problem.   Here are a few of them.

The Free Will Defense – The Free Will Defense places the blame for evil and suffering square on the shoulders of fallen mankind.  It was the will of God to create a universe in which rational beings could freely decide to love and obey Him.  In this universe, the inevitable companion of freely doing good is freely doing evil.  This is most clearly evident when we realize that the vast majority of evil occurs at the hand of man, not of God.  The hope of mankind therefore is that in the next world, our sufferings will be extinguished and considered worth the price (if they are remembered at all) for the union with the Creator of the Universe. 

The Laws Of Nature – The Free Will Defense attributes the vast majority of evil and suffering in the world to man, but there still remains that which is called ‘natural evil’.  These are things such as devastating earthquakes, killer storms, fires that ravage homes disease, car accidents and the like.  We know from revelation that the world suffers from our bad choices as well.  When mankind fell from grace, the world had to fall also (perhaps to accommodate our bad choices!)  In creating this world in which we can freely choose for or against God, the essential properties of nature (take the hardness of wood for example) are stable and unchanging.  As an example, wood can be used as a building material because of its hardness and flexibility, but it can also be used to bash someone over the head if one chooses to swing it at another.  It does not instantly turn into a feather just because it is being used in an ‘evil’ act.  It is our abuse of our freedom that hurts the person, not the wood!  God made the wood that way, but He did not hurt the person with it.  At most, God is indirectly responsible because of the stability of the laws of nature that He instituted, but again, these are required for our exercise of our free will.  Philip Yancey illustrates this issue well:

…giving a child a pair of ice skates, knowing that he may fall, is a very different matter from knocking him down on the ice.”  Yancey; Where Is God When It Hurts; pg 65

In this world we are left to make our own choices, and then left to the consequences of them.  If God were to step in each time and save us, say, by making the piece of lumber turn soft as a feather just before it hits me across the head, then I will not be living in a world that is free to choose.  I would make different choices knowing that I would be saved from harm. 

Suffering Is A Reminder To Us That We Are Not In Control – Taken to the extreme, this Theodicy describes the fallen world as a place in which God ‘shapes souls’, but I believe that this a bit off the mark.  More likely, according to scripture, the pain and evil we will inevitably experience is sometimes used by God to remind us of our fallibility and cause us to search for what we long for – peace with our finiteness.  In the end, we will ALL suffer the ultimate disappointment – death. 

When we are fat and happy, we are generally content with ourselves, even if the majority of our neighbors in the world live in hunger or suffering.  It is precisely our hungers, our sicknesses, and our pain that remind us that we are not happy in this world, and cause us to look for hope beyond what we see here.  This was summarized perfectly in C.S. Lewis’ famous lines:

…the human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it…God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscious, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  Lewis; The Problem Of Pain; ppg 92-93

The person who realizes this and searches for answers from the Giver of our purpose will have the strongest faith because of the suffering.  Rabbi Abraham Heschel says it clearly: “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.”

Christianity Has A Unique Perspective On Evil and Suffering – ALL other ‘religions’ place mankind in a position of reaching to God by achieving requiring perfection or pacification of their gods.  But as we have learned elsewhere with God and Christ, unique in Christianity, He instead is reaching to us.  The same is true regarding suffering.  We know that God does not want us to suffer, but we do because of the nature of the fallen world.  God has such compassion on us and our condition, that He SHARED in our suffering – from the pains of birth to the strains of growing up, even to the point of accepting a horrible death!  Indeed, the entire message of God’s revelation to us (the Bible) is the story of how God will redeem mankind from this suffering, restore the creation back to the way it was meant to be, and reconcile us back to Him.  With Christianity, we are assured that we do not belong in this world.  ALL other ‘religions’ assert that we must simply accept our miserable lot in life, and eventually die, placing ourselves at a ruthless god’s mercy (at the best!)  In contrast, with a view of the future unlike the others, Christians show their faith when looking after the suffering, caring and sympathizing for them.  It is a most compassionate means of displaying the love of Christ.  Christians don’t focus on the question of ‘Why?’, but on ‘What can I do?’  The false religions essentially tell us to ‘just deal with it.’

Most importantly, we are assured that suffering is NOT used by God as punishment for sins.  Christ took compassion on the sufferings of those He came across, never once saying ‘you’re getting what you deserve!”  This is most clearly exemplified when Christ was asked by His disciples why some died in a construction accident, or why a person was born with birth defects:

…Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish!  Luke 13:4

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  “Neither this man nor His parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.  As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.”  John 9:2b-3

Turning the question of evil around, many have proposed that the existence of evil does not in fact disprove the existence of God, but in fact PROVES His existence!  How?  One must consider how one classifies something as evil.  If there is no lawgiver, then there is no law.  If the forces of nature are the ultimate reality, then suffering and ‘evil’ are natural things, and we should just accept them.  In fact, we must expect them as part of life, just as we would the ‘good’ things in life…in effect, there is no difference!  We cannot call something ‘evil’ as if it was wrong, because it is just natural.  A person hurting another would have a reason to, because it is his nature to.  Extend this thinking on to the generally accepted evils of the world, from a school bus crashing, to the holocaust.  But, something inside us tells us that these things are more than just undesirable, that they are wrong.  But without a basis of right and wrong, we cannot call something wrong.  We know that might does not make right (take Nazism for example), so we go to war in the 1940’s to stop the spread of evil.  We know there are reasons that drive us to do this, because if there weren’t no one would have gone to war, because it certainly wasn’t in their personal interest to do so!  Therefore, by definition right and wrong must be prescribed by something beyond nature.  That being is called God – and He puts that sense in us to cause us to seek Him.

“…they show the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thought now accusing, now even defending them.”  Romans 2:15

Finally, we must keep a proper perspective upon evil and suffering in our lives.  It is so easy to fall into a ‘human-centered’ frame of mind, and think that God is here to please us and to make our lives comfortable.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The cosmos is designed to be ‘God-centered’.  We must remember that the purpose of life is to serve God and to serve others, not to satisfy our own desires or to seek total comfort.  We live in a fallen world, which is due to our own sin and rebellion from Him.  God has every reason to give up on every one of us, even the most ‘good’ of us, yet He doesn’t because of His love and grace.  We should therefore live our lives in constant thankfulness and praise because of that love and grace, even despite our human condition of suffering.  

We must also remember that we are finite beings trying to understand the ways of the infinite, so we ‘see through the glass darkly’, and will never be able to understand the total blessings that an infinite God has in store for us.  We therefore place our trust in the promise that our sufferings in this world will be ‘worth the price’ on that blessed day of reunion with God, through Christ.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Matthew 10:39

“You [the Lord] asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge:’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful or me to know.”  Job 42:3

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed…And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:18-19, 28