In the previous entries I presented a summary of the biblical and historic Christian faith. This message of God to man is in many ways its own defense. It is a message which resonates with the human intellect and the needs of the human soul.
I would be remiss, though, simply to write this summary and not acknowledge some of the objections people have toward the message. So here are some short answers to common objections to the Christian faith. (These may or may not be objections you have or have heard. However, I hope the answer to each one will help advance you toward faith.)
In a later entry I intend to write out longer answers with more details. I also hope to provide you with some links for further study. For now, though, a few quick answers may move you along toward embracing Christ.
If everything needs a cause doesn’t God also need a cause? This is a common objection to theistic belief, for it seems to turn the argument for God about the universe needing a cause against itself and assert that, if that is true, then God too needs a cause. However the objection is based on a false premise. Everything does NOT need a cause. Only things MADE need a cause. This includes all matter and energy for science has proven everything in the physical universe needs some cause. We know the universe cannot be its own cause. For there to be a universe there has to be something outside and before the universe to make it. That is the application of simple logic. By necessity there must be a first uncaused, cause to cause all other effects and causes. The universe, even if it existed as a highly condensed original mass, cannot be its own cause. That’s impossible. So there must be an uncreated, unmade, and personal first cause. That is the definition of God. Since He always existed, and since He was never made, causation does not apply to Him. He is the one Being never formed, never invented, and never commenced. Again, it is logically required that there be an original uncaused cause. So there is no escaping the need for God. The universe cannot be explained any other way nor has it ever been explained another way. The lack of an alternative explanation proves the point. God is undeniable. All thinking must start with the concept of God to explain anything and everything.
Rather than an original cause such as God, couldn’t there also have been an infinite regression of causes, thus rendering the logical need for God obsolete? This supposed solution to do away with the logical need for God has been proposed as a remedy. It sounds intriguing at first, but as a mental device to do away with God, it not only does not work, it creates an additional local conundrum. An infinite regression of causes is an easy concept to postulate, but not one easily defended. If there were an infinite regression of causes, then they would go backwards into the past forever without ever ending. Causes would go on and on, never having a starting point. And that lack of a starting point is a major problem. For if the past never had a starting point, there would be no way for the causes to progress forward to the present. The present would not be possible. However, the present obviously has been reached, since we live in the present. So the existence of the present disproves an infinite regression, and additional evidence a starting point is required. We are forced to come back to the need for a first, uncaused cause as that starting point. God is undeniable!
How could Creation actually be real? How could everything be made out of nothing? Creation does not mean creation out of nothing, as if nothing created everything. That would be a problem, and it is a problem to the atheist materialist. But the biblical concept of creation is that of God using nothing but Himself, His ideas, and His innate eternal power and bringing all things into existence. In other words, God, not nothing, is the source of creation. Creation is a logical concept which posits God as the greater and the creation as the lesser. It is axiomatic that the lesser never can make the greater; only the greater is capable to form the lesser. God is all powerful, eternal, and limitless in resources. His resources are all contained in Himself. So from Himself He merely wills to create, uses His own design, and brings into existence what did not exist before. Creation only seems fanciful or magical to those who do not recognize the existence and power of God. Once one admits that there must be an omnipotent God, and that no other proposal actually explains the universe, then the difficulty of creation evaporates instantly. An omnipotent God does not have any problem speaking the vast universe into existence. This is what Genesis records God doing. “Then God said, ‘Let there be …’ and there was!” So the issue boils down to the existence of God. If He is there (and He is) then not only creation but miracles are more than possible, they are expected. The supernatural is not problematic when it is conceded that a supernatural Being exists. By way of contrast, if one does not believe in the existence of God, then he must believe everything was created by nothing. Atheism is the belief system with the logical problem, not theism.
Doesn’t modern science disprove the historicity of the Genesis account? This, of course, is one of the great questions people have today. If it is true that science has disproven the early chapters of Genesis and the concept of immediate creation, then that would be a huge problem for our faith in Scripture. In fact, this objection is so common you would think the proof against Genesis has indeed already been abundantly furnished. However, it does not appear that many students in public educational institutions are able to distinguish proven science from scientific theory. When someone asserts that science has disproven Genesis, they immediately betray their confusion about what constitutes true science. The question of origins does not fall into the strictly science category. Theories about the age of the earth, the development of life, and the planet’s formation may be advanced, but none of them are provable by any scientific observation. Science requires repeatable and testable factors with added controls. The origin of the planet or universe, by its very nature, cannot be repeated or tested. Modern day scientists certainly are free to postulate how they think the earth was formed, but no one saw it formed. No one recorded how it was accomplished either. One may look for clues in the present world, but assumptions still have to be made for the interpretation of those clues to be valid. One assumption some scientists make is that present natural processes are the key to understanding the past. But that is not science; that is philosophy and faith. So people who fall back on science to deny Genesis are being disingenuous. There are too many unproven assumptions to call their theories “proven.” Dating methods, for example, all have their assumptions, and can only tell us about the past if those assumptions are true. Uniformitarianism (the belief that all things continue in the present as they had in the past) is one of those assumptions. It that unprovable assumption is not true, any theory resting on that assumption is immediately suspect. Evolutionary scientists assume many unprovable things. Today scientists have discovered some very important facts which seem to contradict the theory of evolution, such as irreducibly complex systems and information embedded in DNA. These realities are certainly open for debate, but that is the point. They are open, not closed. We maintain that one can still believe in proven science and the Genesis account without contradiction. There are plenty of scientists who are experts in their field, who believe the Genesis account of creation fits the facts of science much better than the theory of evolution. There are dating methods which contradict old earth assumptions. There are biological laws which fit well the truths taught in Genesis. One must make sure he does not discard faith in Genesis due to prejudice or a closed mind.
How could there have been a world-wide flood as the Bible teaches? Usually this question stems from those who do not think there is enough water on the planet to cover the highest mountains. It also stems from the predominant theory that the earth’s mountain ranges developed over an immense period of time due, primarily, to the very slow present movement of the continental plates. However this theory is just that – a theory, no matter how widely accepted today. No one witnessed what happened, and there are alternate theories which posit a rapid movement of the plates and a rapid rise of the mountains during a time of great upheaval in earth’s past. Along with this, several facts are often overlooked by the majority view. The earth’s surface is 70% water, and the ocean bottoms get very deep especially in the great ocean trenches. This supplies plenty of water to cover the entire world assuming those mountain ranges developed much more rapidly and were lower in elevation during the time of the flood. Evidence for a worldwide flood exists in great detail outside the Bible in the marine fossils on top of every mountain range. Usually these marine fossils are said to originate from smaller floods much longer in the past. However, again that is a theory. A global flood explains the facts, some geologists believe, even better. There are also ancient accounts of the flood in a wide range of civilizations across the entire globe. These stories may have developed legendary elements in them, but they all confirm that all of humanity remembers and recorded some giant flood. Some of the names and details in these ancient traditions are remarkably similar. There is other evidence for the flood as well including the fossil record which exhibits (as one famous creation scientist has popularized – “Billions of dead things laid down by water all over the earth”). Two scientists can look at exactly the same fossil or geological evidence and provide variant theories for their cause. Keep an open mind! After all, isn’t that what learning is all about!
How can God have a Son if He is sexless and spirit? There are somethings which are true about God that have no perfect parallel in the world of humanity. The Sonship of Jesus is one of those realities. Jesus is not God’s Son in the sense of some act of procreation and sex as if the Son of God came into existence by birth. God does not have a body and is not a sexual being. He is Father, Son, and Spirit in some eternal Triune relationship. The Son is eternally begotten of God in some way which is difficult to fully explain or even imagine. His sonship is in relation to His Father. He always is begotten of God. Some call this “eternal generation.” It’s a name for something no one can fully comprehend but is true nonetheless. So this is a question which would require probing into the very nature of God, something finite creatures like us cannot do very effectively. All we have to answer this question is what God reveals to us about Himself. He reveals Himself as Father, and lets us know that He is not one singular person, but three persons in one God. The one eternal God has three equal interpersonal relationships who are related to one another in a unique inexplicable way. God communicated Christ as being His Son, for in the world of humans we know that a son is the expression of the father, is generated from the father, obeys the father, and honors the father. Jesus is come into the world as the Son of God in all these ways. He obeys God, reveals God, and is rightly related to God. He has the same nature as the Father.
Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself? Many claim that there are numerous mistakes or contradictions in the Bible. You hear this so often you might think it is an incontrovertible fact. However the problem with this claim is in the details. It is easy to say the Bible contradicts itself, it is much harder to prove it. Often what some people call contradictions are not contradictions at all and are only assumed to be by those wanting to dismiss the Bible as a mere human book. Sometimes the discrepancies in varying accounts are differences in time periods and in God’s dealing with men in those dispensations. For example God would allow or forbid certain practices at different times in human history because the practice was not moral in and of itself. Later He would allow a practice because He entered into a different covenant with man. These are not contradictions but changes in the outworking of God’s program. Thoughtful readers of the Bible have no problem seeing that God changed some lesser important rules over time to fit differing purposes and relationships with men. What was true and necessary for the nation of Israel was not required of the church, or vise-versa. Other places of Scripture provide variant details of the same account. These are not contradictory but complementary because they can be easily harmonized. One account adds more color to the other account without contradicting it. For example one gospel account may mention an angel who appeared while another mentions two angels appearing at the same account. One is simply more detailed than the other, since the first did not declare there was only one angel which appeared. Other times there are seemingly divergent moral teachings which, upon closer inspection, are found to be complementary not contradictory. It is appropriate to judge other’s actions in one sense, but it is inappropriate to judge someone’s heart or eternal destination. It takes a degree of spiritual discernment to see some of the nuances in moral instruction. Wisdom is able to see when one course of action would be correct and the same course of action in a difference setting would be wrong. There are a few cases where the ancient manuscripts are faulty on very small issues which likely does not represent the original writings. Though a longer study of this is needed, the reader should know that the so-called contradictions in Scripture have long been explained. This myth of the Bible having contradictions is advanced either by those who have never studied the issue seriously or those who have an axe to grind. Considering that the Bible was written over a 1500 year period of time, by over 40 authors, in three languages, and in numerous countries, the remarkable harmony of the message and details of the Bible is further evidence of its divine origin.
How can a loving God send people to Hell? This question, the way it is usually asked, assumes that the Christian religion teaches that God wants to send human beings to hell. The objection sometimes views humans as basically good (or at least trying to do good) and a vindictive God hovering over them waiting for them to do wrong so He can assign them a place with the damned! It conjures up a sadistic God who can’t wait to have men die and assign them to eternal torture. This is a very far cry from what the Bible teaches about God’s character and man’s motives. The Bible does warn people about eternal destruction and the eternal fire which awaits many souls beyond the grave. The same Bible also teaches that God is loving to the core of His being and takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked. He loves to display His grace by saving people from their own foolishness. Man, rather than being good, resists and opposes God’s rule and His grace. Humans are adamantly opposed to God’s control over their lives. They resist the commands and moral requirements of God constantly because they want to live differently. Yet God does not assign them to punishment but continues to shower kindness upon them by sending them rain and letting them grow their crops. God also patiently waits for them to turn away from their sins which He warns will ultimately destroy them. After many opportunities to see the emptiness of their way, if man stubbornly refuses, God merely grants them the consequences of their life’s actions. He sends them away from the place of His blessing into a place opposed to God and unavailing of His blessing. In this horrific place of just torment God assigns a proper intensity of punishment according to how people lived. He metes out perfect justice. Since Heaven and the Kingdom of God were generously offered to everyone, if one chooses against God, because there is no real in-between place (limbo) he ends up choosing hell for himself. God should not be blamed for assigning man the just consequences of his choices especially after such a display of patient love.
Hasn’t the Bible been changed through the years? We dealt with this question concerning the New Testament in the section discussing the lack of credibility of Mormonism and Islam – religions which claim to be restorative of a lost, original message from God but are disproven by observable facts. The basic answer is … “No, it has not been changed.” We have the tangible evidence Scripture has not been changed. The OT received a tremendous step forward at the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls which affirmed the incredible preservation of the Hebrew (Masoretic) manuscript tradition for over 1000 years. The New Testament has even more evidence for its amazing and accurate preservation. The Bible is the best preserved book from antiquity by far. No other book from the ancient world is anywhere near as accurately preserved. God wanted his word preserved, and He made sure it was not changed or distorted. No guessing about this question is needed. The evidence speaks for itself to those who seek the truth and do not want to be influences by gossip and slander.
How can we believe in a resurrection from the dead when no permanent resurrection from a provably dead person has ever been seen? Believing in something you have not seen is different than believing in something no one on earth has ever seen. Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead was witnessed by hundreds of people on several occasions due to his ongoing appearances following his resurrection. Thousands of eyewitnesses saw Jesus crucified and killed, and hundreds saw him after he was raised from the dead. Furthermore, the contact they had with him was up close and personal. They touched him. They saw the nail marks in his hands. They ate with him. They listened to him teach. They walked with him for miles. These men and women were certain Jesus was resurrected. Furthermore, the writers who recorded his resurrection did so within a few years after the event proving the resurrection was no legend or myth. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, for example, was penned in the mid 50s A.D. He wrote the following in chapter 15:3f “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” The same eyewitnesses sealed their testimony in blood throughout the world proving their message was no hoax. They were willing to die for what they had seen! That proves the sincerity of their belief. Furthermore, the resurrection of Jesus was predicted in Scripture hundreds of years in advance. It was not a random or weird anomaly in history but a sign that He had conquered death for everyone. The resurrection was needed since death is the greatest enemy of man. He who did the seemingly impossible proved Himself the Savior of the World. It would be expected the Savior of mankind sent by God would defeat man’s greatest enemy.
Why must Jesus be the only way to God? The question of how to get to God is one God alone should be allowed to answer. People can argue about their opinions on earth, but the only answer that is worth a hill of beans is the one God supplies. If Heaven is His throne room, then only God knows who will make it to him and who will rejected. So when God speaks and makes it clear that He can only be approached by those who have explicit faith in His Son Jesus, then the case is closed and the argument is over. Any of us down here who dislike His answer and change it, wind up opposing God and contradicting His word. Exclusive salvation in Jesus does not mean Christianity is mean and narrow in its outlook. It does not mean our minds are pompously closed to evidence and reason. It means our minds are settled upon what God has manifestly affirmed. The Bible indicates only those who place their faith in God’s Son while turning from a life of sin will receive everlasting life. John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Not only has God declared that salvation and forgiveness can only be found in His Son, but He has also told us the reason. Only Jesus lived a life which fully pleased God. All other humans are sinners and deserving of their own death. No one else can save us because no one else can even save themselves. Only Jesus was qualified to die for the sins of mankind and thus pay the penalty for sin. No one else was acceptable to God as a holy sacrifice. Only Jesus was raised permanently from the dead as an example of those to follow. All others are dead and in the grave. So for these historic reasons, only Jesus is qualified to save. Other paths or spiritual guides, therefore, according to God, are false paths of faith and will greatly disappoint. They will not lead to life but to eternal destruction. Listen to God and you will be safe. Ignore His warnings, and you will suffer the consequences.
Isn’t God unfair to condemn those who have never heard of Jesus or the Bible? This is simultaneously one of the most asked questions about Christianity and one of its sharpest objections. If He only has one way to reach back to paradise, but He doesn’t even give some people an opportunity, doesn’t that make God a monster? If they can’t hear about Jesus, how can they believe in Him? And if they can’t believe in Him, how can they get saved? It is a fair question, but one with a very good answer. The basic answer is that everyone has heard about God to some extent. The New Testament teaching about Jesus is not the only revelation God has sent into the world. Long before Jesus lived, God spoke to the early humans. But they did not want His word. They moved away from His teachings and turned to serving idols instead. Also God made a creation and stamped each human being with a conscience. So man who is made in the image of God has an awareness of Him and his truth inside of each person. Every human being, just because they are made in God’s image, knows the right thing to do to some extent. However what does he do with the knowledge and revelation already given to him in creation and in his own constitutional makeup? The answer is that, rather than responding to it in faith, he suppresses and ignores it. He chooses to live his own way rather than doing what is right. Man replaces the worship of the Creator with worship of some aspect of the creation. People dishonor God by the way they live and the gods they worship in place of the true God. So God will not judge men for not hearing about Jesus but for rejecting the revelation He already gave them. God is just and fair. Those who respond to His revelation get more revelation from God so they can hear of the Savior. Those who do not want what He has revealed, get even what was revealed taken away from them. So God deals with each person based upon what they know and what they seek. If they want God, they will hear about Jesus. God has his resources to get the message to those who want it.