For the initiated in the idea of giving a defense of the Christian faith (a term we call “apologetics”), a blog post of this sort may have little value. But I thought it would be helpful since many of my readers (and many brothers and sisters in Christ) do not make it a regular practice to study this area of theology and the alleged “problems” with the Christian faith.

Recently, I was having a conversation online with someone (who will remain nameless) that I attend church with. We were conversing about a satiric article I had shared that commented on the “age of the earth” issue.

For the first time in her Christian walk, she had been exposed to fellow Believers who maintained that the earth was actually billions of years old, not thousands. Of course, it’s no secret that my conviction and the one we promote on this blog is the latter–and due to that, I have done (and constantly do) extensive research to find if that conclusion holds water scientifically.

But since this is the way she had always been taught, she didn’t even know that there was a different opinion among evangelicals! I say this not to embarrass or discourage her, nor to throw shade on anyone who has ever been a spiritual authority in her life. But because it demonstrates clearly that the church, as a whole, can do a better job of teaching and instructing on how to “cast down imaginations” (1 Corinthians 10:5).

This particular view is one that she, like many Christians, believed to be held by only those who subscribe to the theory of evolution. In a sense this is okay, because I don’t expect the majority of Christians to engage in an in-house discussion over the age of the earth.

In the broad sense, however, it does demonstrate that there are problems and teachings that are going to reach us and our children that we must be aware of and learn how to deal with. The Bible teaches that in the last days, knowledge is going to increase–and it has!

So must our knowledge increase, as Christians, so that we can give the most reasonable defense possible for what we believe (1 Peter 3:15).

This post is part one of a two-week series that aims to give just 5 out of 10 big “problems” that Christianity either has or is faced with and just a few ideas on how to deal with each one of them. Links will be provided on those which I have already written about in more detail.

Also, I will provide some thoughts to consider and questions to ask in a conversation where you find yourself confronting these challenges. There is no way to make a complete refutation (or case) for each of these issues in this post, but instead, my goal will be to direct your thinking in a way that will help you understand these challenges better.

Problem #1. Alternative Creation Narratives

 

Considering the way I prefaced the blog post, I thought it natural to first explain the challenge of alternative creation narratives. Christians don’t often discuss these things in the context of our regular church worship services, and often times, there is no one in the church who either feels qualified to speak on these matters or wants the responsibility.

The challenge here is that a natural reading of the Biblical text seems to leave little room for interpretation other than the young age view. I realize even that statement is controversial to those who are familiar with the turf, but I stand by it regardless. The two most common challenges are Day-Age creation and the Gap Theory, but an idea called Theistic Evolution is slowly creeping its way up the ladder of influence among evangelicals.

To give a quick summary:

  1. Day-Age Creationists hold that the “Days” in Genesis one could be interpreted to mean long periods of time, as other uses of the Hebrew word “Yom” indicate in the Bible. There is much more to it than this, but I think this is the crux of the argument.
  2. Gap Theorists hold that there is a long period time (indeed, billions of years) in between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and even make the case for a pre-Adamite civilization where events such as the fall of Lucifer would have occurred.
  3. Theistic Evolutionists hold that science dogmatically supports Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, but also that the God of the Bible exists and is who He says He is. They believe God used evolution as His mechanism for life and see no Scriptural reason to believe otherwise.

Each of these viewpoints has problems both scientifically and theologically. In other words, one must twist and distort both Scripture and science in order to make it comport with our known experience.

A natural reading of Scripture supports a young earth/universe and a natural look at the world around us indicates that plants, animals, and humans never turn into anything else. That simple sentence summarizes very powerful cases which could be made against all three alternatives (there are even more, but hardly worth the mention).

Although I greatly appreciate science and greatly appreciate the theologians and philosophers of higher education, I don’t believe God wrote His Word or formed His world in such a way that a Ph.D. is required to understand its message.

Important thoughts to consider:

  1. The context of Genesis one plainly indicates a 24-hour day.
  2. Suffering and death are required prior to man’s Fall on each of these views.
  3. Evolution itself has scientific issues that must be dealt with.
  4. The God who created everything is capable of telling us how, plainly.

Questions to ask your “opponent”:

  1. If God used evolution, why does the Bible tell us that He created animals according to their kind and that they will bring forth after their kind?
  2. Have you ever considered the lack of Biblical support for a pre-Adamite civilization? And that if the world had been destroyed pre-Genesis 1:1, there would be no evidence for geologic ages to explain by the Gap Theory in the first place?
  3. If all of the markers for the word “day” in the Old Testament which indicate a 24-hour day are present (evening, morning, number), on what basis should we interpret it to mean long ages? If it is a scientific basis, wouldn’t that mean science was the ultimate authority instead of God?

To view all blog posts on creation at any given time, click here.

Problem #2. The True Definition of Faith

 

I spent some time on the idea of faith last week. I was speaking then on the issue of child-like faith, but while writing that piece I spent some time reflecting on the nature of faith as it relates to the Word of God.

If you have spent any time at all debating an atheist about your beliefs, you have almost certainly been accused of having a “blind faith.” The great Mark Twain defined this for us ever so eloquently as “believing what you know ain’t so!”

And if you, Christian, have never considered the reasons for your faith, you may actually be guilty of the charge made against you! Now, perhaps this isn’t a problem for you. Some seem to have a larger “faith muscle” than others. God says that EVERY MAN has been dealt a measure of faith (Romans 12:3), and He also says that without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6)

In general, however, most opponents of Christianity believe that reason lies on the side of their worldview (whichever it may be), and it is the duty of the Christian (1 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Peter 3:15) to educate them otherwise.

The simplest way to characterize and confront this notion is that the word often translated “faith” in the Bible actually means trust, and could be just as well translated. So if trust in well-established facts is an acceptable means of apprehending “truth” in their worldview (which they must admit), then your worldview is, in that respect, equal to theirs.

Now, using that argumentation, you may be asked to provide evidence of these so-called “facts” which is a bit irrelevant to (and way beyond) this blog post, but this article and this article will help you sort out a defense for that challenge.

Important thoughts to consider:

  1. The Bible regularly makes use of evidential language and performs fatal tests on itself, such that it could easily be found contradictory and proven false if it was.
  2. If Christianity is simply “trust based on truth” then it is just as valid as any other worldview that claims to follow that path.
  3. In a worldview that excludes God, there is no reason to assume that reason is valid. Christianity is actually the most reasonable.

Questions to ask your “opponent”:

  1. Have you ever read the Bible? On what basis do you claim that faith in God is equal to “blind faith”?
  2. What do you mean by “blind faith”? Is it the kind of faith one must use to believe that the universe came to exist spontaneously, and the kind one must use to believe that life arose on its own?
  3. If the Bible were proven to be true, with a doubt, would that actually change your mind about trusting Christ, or is your objection based on moral choice rather than reason and logic?

I also have written more extensively about this issue here and here.

Problem #3. The Lack of Apologetics Instruction

 

This is a challenge that is actually internal for many churches and bodies of believers. However, the implications of this challenge actually under-gird the challenges brought against the Christian faith.

In a sense, this speaks directly to the issue of faith that we just dealt with. By not teaching apologetics of any sort in our churches, we actually strip members of the ability to give a rational defense of the faith. The reason is that if no other instruction is given, it is usually inferred that “blind faith” is what our whole conviction rests on–that’s pretty weak ground.

You know, I find it very interesting that more churches don’t capitalize on this opportunity, as easy as it is. This could be because many have a terrible misconception about the nature of apologetics. Contrary to popular belief, one need not be a Ph.D. scientist or philosopher to make reasonable statements about the world we live in.

Actually, the Bible gives us very specific instructions about how to defend the faith! Verses like 1 Peter 3:15 and 1 Cor. 10:5 (mentioned multiple times already) tell us that we should defend the faith, but Proverbs 26:4-5 specifically tells us how.

Dr. Jason Lisle, in his book The Ultimate Proof of Creation, describes this as the “Don’t Answer; Answer” method. It’s simple! Step 1, Don’t answer (vv. 4). Politely let the opponent know you disagree with their position. Step 2, Answer (vv. 5). Grant their position for the sake of argument and follow it to its logical conclusion (which God has made SURE will be absurd if it is not based on the Bible).

That easy! Here is an example:

DONT ANSWER: “I reject your claim that there is no scientific evidence for God. In fact, there is some excellent research being done in the fields of Topology, Astronomy, and even Archeology which suggest and support Biblical Creation. ANSWER: But for the sake of argument, let’s say there wasn’t any “scientific” evidence for God. Since science requires uniformity of nature, which is impossible in your naturalistic worldview, how do you suppose that “science” is supposed to work anyway?”

Great books have been written on the subject (such as the one mentioned above) if you want to learn more, but you can defend the faith TODAY even if you don’t know ONE THING about science or philosophy.

Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Important thoughts to consider:

  1. The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of ALL knowledge.
  2. If we are commanded to defend the faith, I think it’s reasonable to incorporate that kind of training into our churches.
  3. Our college students are being sent to the wolves when they leave our churches. Better apologetics instruction will help them share and defend their faith while they’re there!
  4. Defending the faith does not have to be hard! The truth is not afraid of questions.

Questions to ask your “opponent”:

  1. On your worldview, how does one account for the ability to have knowledge and use logic and reason to argue?
  2. On your worldview, on what basis do you hold that the world will the same tomorrow as it is today, which demonstrates uniformity of nature–the precondition required to even use the scientific method.
  3. On your worldview, how do you account for objective moral absolutes like, “it’s wrong to torture babies for fun?”

I have also written on this here and here.

Problem #4. The Relativity of Morality and Truth

 

A key area of contention in today’s cultural arena is the idea of relativity. You know, “what’s true for you isn’t true for me!” And, “What’s right for you isn’t right for me!”

Relativity is an absolutely vicious cycle that many get sucked into as a defense against Christianity, but the easiest way to defend against it is just to show that it’s demonstrably false!

Similarly to what would happen in a conversation like the one described in the last problem, the relativistic worldview can be easily reduced to absurdity simply because it betrays things we know to be basic about the world.

Christian Apologist Greg Koukl so eloquently subtitled his late 90’s book Relativism with, “feet firmly planted in mid-air.” The point is that no matter how scholarly one sounds when speaking theoretically in defense of this position, nobody lives it consistently.

Consider the person who bases his entire worldview (and oppositions to it) on the premise that there just is. no. truth. period. If you were to ask him if his last statement were true or not, he would be forced to say NO in order to remain intellectually honest! Of course, nobody makes a case for something they don’t believe is true, so the denier of truth must use truth to claim it doesn’t exist!

How about morality? If someone were to argue that there was no such thing as right and wrong, and your response was to scald their head by pouring a bucket of boiling hot water on top of them, I wonder if their opinion would change? Notice–they could say what they want–but their reaction will betray their lips. See, people may say there is no right or wrong, but nobody lives that way.

Postmodernism is a sinking sand, yet millions live by it. People live their entire lives based on this one simple lie.

Important thoughts to consider:

  1. Objective absolutes are some of the strongest pieces of evidence for God’s existence.
  2. Though society may play a part in determining law, we must understand the human nature of morality which we all know and affirm deep down.
  3. Truth is based on two laws of logic, (1) The Law of Non-Contradiction and (2) The Law of the Excluded Middle. Since logic requires a precondition met only by the God of the Bible (see problem #3), and laws need lawgivers, God is the best possible explanation for objective truth (which is EASILY demonstrated to exist).

Questions to ask your “opponent”:

  1. Can you demonstrate an example where two things can be shown both to be true and not true at the same time in the same place?
  2. I understand you feel morality is a relative idea–this makes me wonder if I were to take something from you that didn’t belong to me, would you feel violated? If so, would you feel this way because there was a law prohibiting my actions, or because you have a belief deep down that stealing is wrong?

You can read more here about the nature of morality and here to find out where the struggle began.

Problem #5. “Jesus Myth” Theories

 

If someone were to challenge your faith by claiming that Jesus Christ didn’t even exist, and was only a myth, do you know how you would respond?

Despite much evidence to the contrary and even the testimony of skeptical scholars, you will have many atheist bandwagoners who are repeating falsehoods they have heard on the Internet for the last how ever many years.

Here are the facts: (1) Jesus of Nazareth was a REAL person. (2) Jesus was indeed crucified on a Roman Cross on the order of Pontious Pilate. (3) Jesus was buried in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. (4) His disciples and many others are credited with legitimate belief that they were eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus Christ.

I’m not citing a particular source because almost all historians (secular or otherwise) who research in this area are in agreement on the facts I just listed. Now, to be sure, many of them don’t believe the implications of #4 and certainly don’t believe that He actually rose from the dead and is the Son of God, but it is only because of their pre-commitment to naturalism.

In other words, if the supernatural were granted to be possible to these scholars, the facts of history would demand belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

THAT is powerful testimony.

This resource page is loaded with information about this. But one of the greatest, short refutations to this idea can be found on the same site, and is actually sourced on a blog for an atheist call-in show! It references a popular Youtube movie called “Zeitgeist” which is sort of the cornerstone of the Jesus Myth movement. Here it is:

“Most of us have seen Zeitgeist and we’ve commented about it numerous times on both shows. I’ve actually watched it several times, and if others hadn’t already done a brilliant job of debunking the nonsense in that film, I’d probably devote more time to doing exactly that. The first third of the film is an unscholarly, sophomoric, horribly flawed, over-simplification that tries to portray Christianity as nothing more than the next incarnation of the astrologically themed religions that preceded it. Like all conspiracy theories, they combine a few facts, focus on correlations and build an intriguing story that seems to fit the pieces together nicely – provided you don’t actually dig below the surface to find out where they might have gone wrong.”

In short, my absolute best advice when someone brings in Jesus Myth nonsense is to politely inform them that in order to have a productive conversation about the truth of Christianity, they must do more research than they currently have. A person who is arguing from this standpoint is either (1) not interested anyway and is just trying to get on your nerves or (2) has been misinformed to the point of indoctrination.

I have not written on this subject yet, but the resource page mentioned above will be a great help to you in discerning the truth on this subject. Actually, this is one of the only times where I can safely recommend a secular individual as well, named Bart Ehrman. He is NO friend of Christianity by any means, but you’ll get laughed out of the room claiming that Jesus is a myth around him.

Important thoughts to consider:

  1. Horus, Orsiris, Mithras, Zoathra, Krishna–these are all common names associated with the Jesus Myth theory.
  2. Individuals claim that different aspects of these myths have been cobbled together to create Jesus.
  3. The “similar details” of almost each one of these myths are either completely false, baseless, or were simply added for the purpose of falsifying the testimony of Jesus.

Questions to ask your “opponent”:

  1. What detailed research have you done which led you to the conclusion that Jesus was just a myth?
  2. I’m confused when you say Jesus was mythical. Are you aware that secular scholarship is nearly 100% in agreement that Jesus not only existed, but died, was buried, and reported to have been seen post-burial?
  3. Have you ever considered that if Jesus is a real person, and is God as He claimed to be, the implications of that fact on your life are astronomical?

Part 1 Conclusion

 

As you can see, there is much opposition to the Christian faith. But you can rest assured that for every challenge, there is an answer!

Now, that doesn’t mean there are not still questions. Of course there are! But there is sufficient evidence in our experience of the world around us to safely conclude that there is a God who created the universe, He did send His Son to die and redeem mankind, and He wants to be in a relationship with YOU.

Next week, we’ll see the remaining five BIG challenges the many Christians don’t even know about.

Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!

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