Category Archives: Bible

Five Reasons Why I Am A Christian

I think it is of dire importance that everyone, not just Christians, know why they believe what they believe. Often, when faced with defending one’s beliefs people begin to grab for ideas from thin air. True beliefs will guide the way in which we live, so knowing why we believe something is important because either we end being hypocrites or taking a “blind leap” into something. When I say “blind leap” I am not meaning faith, for faith is not blind. Our life is to short to live in blindness, so seeking the truth is of utmost importance. In my post I would like to share a few reasons for my belief in the Christian worldview. I believe there are many reasons, but I am going to share five of the ones that have impacted my decision. These five are morality, design, longing, reality, and the reliability of Scripture.

1. Morality

My reason here is that good and evil both give evidence that an intelligent being exists, and I believe that intelligent being is God. It is evident there is an objective moral law, all laws have lawmakers, therefore there is an objective moral lawmaker, and the objective moral lawmaker is God. First, we must look at the idea that there are objective moral laws. Most people that live on this planet, from pure experience, and say that there is “right” and “wrong”, “ought” and “ought not”. And if you claim otherwise then you most likely are claiming a form of relativism. In which case, I believe fails miserable. So as not to take up too much space, or blab on too long, if you want to see why check out “Relativism Self-Destructs” by Greg Koukl. I think you will see that relativism doesn’t allow for anything to be “just”, “right”, “fair”, or “wrong.” Second, we have to understand laws, or what ought and ought not to be, must be given by a lawmaker. We have obligations to other intelligent beings, not inanimate objects. So it seems easy to conclude that the objective moral law came from a lawgiver that is intelligent, not just an inanimate object or thing such as a tree, the universe, or nature. Last, I think when God’s Word is compared to the world around us it fits so well. What God considers good and bad is consistent with the objective moral law. Also God is an intelligent being, whom is all-good, and more than capable of setting up such a law. As a last comment, I believe then that even if some only sees the evil in this world and how difficult it is, even if it makes them mad at God, it still means that there is right and wrong, and we come right back to seeing the need for a objective moral lawgiver.

2. Signature of Design

I will not spend as much time explaining this because I have written on this topic in my post “Is There Scientific Evidence for God?” . I don’t see science and God as something that needs to be on separate sides of the spectrum. I think it makes logical since that if God created this world, then His signature will be all over it. I believe all of life here on Earth, including the Earth itself, shows massive amounts of God’s design. If you want to see several reasons for my belief in this then check out my previous post.

3. A Deep Longing

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” — CS Lewis

Many people long for earthly items: money, fame, property, etc. Yet many people who gain these items often are not satisfied. For example, a reporter asked J. Paul Getty, a very wealthy businessman, “How much money is enough?” Mr. Getty replied, “Just one dollar more.” I cannot deny that deep inside it just seems that there is no experience in this world that can deeply satisfy the desire I have inside knowing that at the end of my life I will take none of my fame, money, property, or earthly items with me. It seems as I reflect that we have but a short time on earth (typically 70-80 years) and yet I, and it seems many others, wonder if there must be more. For more than we think live but a short time or the time spent on earth seemed to be more torturous than good. I believe the Bible speaks to this longing. The Bible tells us that we were made in the image of God, and we’re created to be in relationship with our Creator. God, through Christ, has given us that opportunity to reconcile the relationship, make use of our time here on earth (which effects our eternity), and have hope for the future after death.

4. Speaks to Reality

Christianity makes the most sense of all of reality we live in, which includes both the physical and nonphysical world. Why are we here on earth? How did the world come to be? Why is there evil in the world? And many other questions can be answered when one takes a deep look into the Bible. I believe when searching for answers whether it be spiritual (the soul, sin, God…) or physical (nature, jobs, people…) can be clearly understood through the Christian worldview. Not all the answers we receive are what we like, but God is not here to be what we like rather He is what is true. We cannot see gravity, and I may deeply desire to fly, but if I choose to jump from a high point I will get hurt whether I believe otherwise. If you want some of these answers I have other articles in my blog archive that speaks to some of them.

5. Reliability of Scripture

Based on ancient history criterion the Bible is extremely reliable as a historical document. Most historical documents have 10 manuscripts, but the NT has over 5,000 partial or whole manuscripts. If other languages are included there are 25,000.

Many claim, such as Bart Ehrman, that there are too many variations in the manuscripts. However, over 80% of the errors spelling. The other errors have no threat to the Christian doctrine.

Most ancient works have a gap of 700 years between copies. Whereas, the New Testament is 40-100 years. The Gospels can be dated early in history, placing the writings near to the actual events in history. Acts does not include death of Peter and Paul (AD 63-66), Jewish war with Romans (AD 66), or the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70). Thus we can conclude Luke wrote Acts before AD 62, and the Gospel of Luke and other Gospels must have been before AD 60. This means NT documents were written within 30 years of the events recorded.

There are embarrassing accounts in the Bible, which if all the writers were saying was not true then they most likely would not have shared. Some examples are Jesus calling Peter “Satan” (Mark 8:33), the disciples falling asleep while Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:40), Peters denial of Jesus (John 18:25-27), etc.

The disciples of Jesus were direct eyewitnesses of the accounts shared in the Bible, and there is archaeological evidence to back of their nearness to the events.

  1. 2 Peter 1:16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
  2. 1 John 1:1: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.”
  3. Acts 2:32, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.”

There are still other evidences that show the reliability of the Scriptures such as: testimony from secular resources, and prophecy that was fulfilled.

I hope that these reasons are helpful to those who are already a Christian, and gives those who are not a chance to think about the Christian worldview and their own beliefs. You can take these 5 reasons with you everywhere you go. To help you I have made a pneumonic device using your hand:

5 Reasons

Thumb- The Lawgiver

IndexInner Longing

MiddleMakes Sense of Reality

RingReliability of Scripture

PinkyPoints to a Designer

Articles:

“Evil As An Evidence For God” By Greg Koukl

“Evidence for God From Morality” By Jim Wallace

“Can the New Testament Be Trusted?” by Sean McDowell

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Morality, Other Religions

How Much Do You Owe? And Who Can Pardon It?

Christ, in Matthew, tells us of a parable of a man who owes an unimaginable amount (more than a life times wages) to a King. The King, being gracious, forgave the man’s debt. However, the man went out the next day to collect a menial amount of money (a day’s wage) from another servant, was unable to forgive the servant’s debt, and put him in jail. The King was furious and put the first man in jail because, after being forgiven his unpayable debt, he was unwilling to forgive a minor debt to him.

The parable Christ shared was used to show to importance of forgiving others because we have been forgiven by God. This is a common theme mentioned in the Bible, especially by Christ. However, I want to focus more on a certain part of the parable.

I have written about the problem of evil (Selfish Is As Selfish Does  and Hear No Evil…See No Evil…Speak No Evil) and many religions and world views agree there is evil in the world, but have differing opinions how to go about solving that problem.I want to paint a picture of what the Bible says about evil and how that problem was ultimately solved. (Preface: Before I start I must first say that what I am about to say is not how all evil will be handled, for there are still consequences and punishment for evil on Earth now and after. Rather it is more of an aim to show that Christianity is the best when it comes to handling the evil in one’s own life, the importance of doing so, and the beauty of being pardon of it.)

In the parable Jesus told there was a King that forgave a servant of an unpayable debt. Not only is the debt immense, but the King has no obligations to forgive the debt owed. The King has the right to punish his servant for his inability to repay the debt. Also we must not forget the difference in status between the King and a servant makes the forgiveness much more extravagant and meaningful. The Bible parallels this with humanity and God. We owe a debt for our disobedience to God that is unpayable. The magnitude of our debt can not be grasped. It must be looked at in the light of who this debt is owed to, the Creator of the Universe. Anyone would agree (if thinking properly) that when a person commits a crime they deserve punishment, and if one’s life is examined closely enough it obvious we have committed crimes against God. However, we are powerless to pay for these debts. In Romans 6:23 it states “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The beauty of it all is that since the beginning of time God had planned to give us a pardon for our debt. In Jeremiah 31:31-37, it speaks about a New Covenant that would be give to mankind in which God “will forgive their iniquities, and [He] will remember their sin no more.” In the Covenant it is also promised that this forgiveness would come through a sacrifice, but not of our own. The sacrifice would be Jesus Christ. In Matthew 26:28, Jesus says, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Not only would our unpayable debt be forgiven, but it would not be of our own works, abilities, or possessions.

What makes this pardon even more grand and beautiful is that it is through a gift of God’s grace alone. Romans 5:10 speaks about us being “enemies of God”. Knowing that we are enemies the pardon becomes even more amazing. For when we are forgiven it is while we are enemies, and we are transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His Beloved Son (Colossians 1:13-14). Grace not only means free gift, but it also implies that we are undeserving of it as enemies of God (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:24; 5:15; 6:23).

How sad it is that many work so hard to clear their debt (sin) in their lives through money, works, meditation, and many other means. Yet before them is a free gift of God that forgives them of all their debt. And in light of this forgiveness should we not dedicate our lives to God in pursuit of living the way He commands because that is the way it was intended.

I will end with asking that you consider the gift God has offered by searching for the truth. It may take a lot of work, but I promise in the end it will be worth it because if it is true then it is not something to be taken lightly. I would like to end with a quote by Charles H Brent:

To be able to look into God’s face, and know with the knowledge of faith that there is nothing between the soul and Him, is the experience the fullest peace the soul can know. Whatever else pardon may be, it is above all things admission to full fellowship with God.

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Selfish Is As Selfish Does

Why are people so selfish? How is it that it can be so easy to look after ourselves, but so difficult to think of others? Why do we choose what we want, rather than what is right? All of these are good questions and I am sure have gone through many people’s minds at some point (especially when something is done to them as a result of selfishness). Selfishness not only effects others, but it can be a detrimental to our own character, relationships, and life.

In the face of many different horrible acts around the world, whether it is mass genocide, oppression of a race or gender, murder, the question still stands why are people so selfish? Our planet is being misused and so are it’s inhabitance, and yet many know what they should be doing. In light of this thought, I would like to argue that selfishness is wrong (absolute, not relative morality) and must defined correctly. Also it is not the result of evolution, rather a result of sin (disobedience toward God).

The comment I received was that selfishness originated from a natural, animal instinct for survival. However, as time went we realized the pleasure in serving ourselves and began abusing that natural instinct that helped us survive in ways that were wrong. I cannot say where they get the idea of wrong from, whether it is part of evolution or culture, but it seems their idea of wrong is not absolute.

Defining Terms

I believe it is actually not best to use the word selfishness when speaking about survival. It is possible to do something selfish that helps you survive, but I don’t think that is what was intended by the use of it above. Selfishness is defined as “(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” If selfishness is only “instinct”, then it seems you are unable to do it for selfish reasons because you can’t control it. The idea of selfishness implies a wrong doing or inconsideration towards others. I think it would be better to use the word self-preservation, which is defined as “the protection of oneself from harm or death, esp. regarded as a basic instinct in human beings and animals.”

Why Not Evolution?

Selfishness cannot have come from evolution because selfishness has to do with morality, absolute morality, and I strongly believe the evidence shows that evolution has no grounding for morality, especially absolute morals.

Not all, but many who argue for evolution take the idea of morals as being genetic. It makes most since if you are going to hold to an evolutionary position, but not everyone is consistent with their worldview. If morals are genetic, then we have a huge issue: What is the difference between Mother Teresa and Hitler? Also how could be praise Mother Teresa or condemn Hitler? We cannot praise nor condemn anyone because genetics are not something we can control, rather it is through time and chance that we gain a certain genetic disposition.

Robert Wright in his book The Moral Animal says, “My hope is that people will use the knowledge [in this book] not only to improve their lives–as a source of ‘self- help’–but as cause to treat other people more decently.” And also on pg. 377 Wright says, “Go above and beyond the call of a smoothly functioning conscience; help those who aren’t likely to help you in return, and do so when nobody’s watching.  This is one way to be a truly moral animal.” The problem is he’s making morally objective statements, which is transcendent in nature. However, evolution is descriptive, or can only describe how to act at that moment, and not how one should act in the future. Why “ought” we be moral tomorrow? Morality has an “oughtness”, but mere behavior is descriptive. It is a mere function of the environment to select anything that will benefit the survival of the species. Wright attests to this in the same book by saying, “Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse” (pg. 13).

Also science is based on empirical evidence, and there is no empirical evidence for morality. In the evolution morality must be assumed because it won’t work otherwise. Let me give an example that Greg Koukl used. Suppose there were a group of chimps, and one chimp does something that is “selfish” behavior. Then the other chimps proceed to “punish” that chimp for his “selfish” behavior. From the empirical, or external, evidence this situation could easily look like morality. However, one must not assume external behavior is all that is there, because there are also non-behavioral elements. There are two important elements that are part of morality, but cannot be observed by external behavior: Intent and motive. Intent is whether something was done on purpose or accident, and motive is why the person did it. Neither of these two elements can be observed through external behaviors. Yet we know that morality depends deeply on these elements. For example, if a young man stuck out his foot to trip an old lady it would be wrong. On the other hand, if the boys foot was sticking out in an isle and the old lady tripped on it by accident it would not be the same. We can clearly see the intent matters and the same goes for motive.

Morality is not explained, it is denied because it is only something condition by the environment for survival. We may call it morality, but there is no right or wrong. Again evolution cannot explain morality’s oughtness. Why shouldn’t the chimp be selfish?

Anyways moral choices need to be made by free agents, not dictated by internal mechanics like natural instincts.

Christianity Is The Perfect Fit

Just like I wrote in A Spiritual Journey Less Taken, Christianity has an amazing worldview fit. This means what Christianity says fits well with reality. I believe that when it comes to selfishness and morality, Christianity does a great job of explaining it and it fits with reality.

Since the beginning of time man of his own free will, and able to make moral choices, has chosen to disobey God (sin). Adam and Eve when given a choice made the decision they would rather be god of their lives, rather than the actually Creator of the Universe (rebellion). Their act of choosing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could even be deemed selfish. For many years to come throughout the Old Testament, and many other ancient history, we can see selfishness pervade much of mankind’s choices. It even speaks in Romans 1  of men who dishonor and disobey God, whom are given up to the lusts of their hearts. Again another picture of selfishness.

The more dreadful part of this is that all are enslaved to there disobedience to God, or sin, (Romans 6:6) and obey the passions of their disobedience (Romans 6:12). It isn’t an instinct, but it is something that is keeping people blinded to the truth. The most glorious part is that it doesn’t have to be that way. God has chosen to redeem mankind from this disobedience, and freely give us a pardon from it. Even though we deserve justice, which is death and eternal separation from God. Through Jesus anyone can have that reconciliation that we all desire and long for in our hearts. However, it is only through Jesus (John 14:6).

Conclusion

I hope you can see that it is most reasonable to believe that morality cannot be based in evolution. Also that selfishness is not only morally wrong, but it is best explained by a Christian worldview. Most importantly, there is Good News, and that is God sent Jesus to reconcile his creation and we can accept this free gracious gift and begin to rid ourselves of this selfish way of living.

Sources:
Robert Wright, The Moral Animal–Why We Are the Way We Are:  The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (New York:  Pantheon Books, 1994)

Koukl, Greg.  Monkey Morality: Can Evolution Explain Ethics http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6221

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That’s Just Your Interpretation

How many times in a religious (or worldview) conversation have you heard someone say, “That’s just your interpretation”?

When someone makes such a comment they are actually trying to say, “What you said is not true because it is just what you think it means.” Basically, your interpretation is just an opinion. I strongly believe that this is a poor argument and an incorrect way of looking at the word interpretation.

Often people like to come up with their own definitions, or society redefines a word, then makes the same argument. For example, how often do we hear someone say, “Christians are intolerant.” In most circumstances, the use of the word intolerant is supposed to communicate that the Christian is saying their beliefs are true, and someone else’s belief is wrong. Many see tolerance as accepting all people’s beliefs or views as equally true. However, if you know anything about logic that breaks the Law of Noncontradiction; two opposing things cannot be true at the same time. The true definition, as defined by the dictionary, is “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own.” Notice that the true definition requires that I disagree with someone to be tolerant toward them, and it does not require that I agree, rather that I have a certain attitude toward them.

The same issue of incorrect defining is occurring with the word interpretation. In a religious or worldview discussion, many tend to see an interpretation as an opinion or more like a way we see it, but for ourself alone. However, the dictionary defines “an interpretation as an explanation of the meaning of another’s artistic or creative work.” It is important to notice that an interpretation is not just what you think, but rather what you think the author intended in their writing. In that case, there has to be a correct or right interpretation of the text or idea. An interpretation will only hold or be a better interpretation than another’s if there are facts to back up the interpretation.

The next time someone says, “That’s just your interpretation”, then there are two ways to guide the discussion. First, you can use one of the Columbo Tactics by Greg Koukl, from his book Tactics, by asking, “What do you mean by interpretation?” Hopefully that will clear up the larger problem, and guide the conversation to clearer understanding for both people. Second, the person must give proof, or evidence, for why your interpretation is not the correct one. As we have seen there must be a correct interpretation based on the definition of what an interpretation is. Not all interpretations are valid, but we do know there is a correct one. For example, if I told someone I just met that I noticed they hated their wife, but had no reason, or evidence, to prove so, then they have good reason to say that my interpretation is wrong. However, that person could only say that I was wrong because there is a correct interpretation of how he feels for his wife.

I hope you can see now that there is a correct or right interpretation of ideas or text, and that they need proof to back it up whether someone is claiming or rejecting an interpretation. Again there are truths in this world, and two contradictory ideas cannot be true at the same time.

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