How Will You Answer the Questions?

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How Will You Answer the Questions?

Not long ago the lead singer of a Christian metal band told the world how he had become an atheist and this caused quite a stir on the internet. The band is The Order of Elijah and the singer is Shannon Low. He explained his deconversion on the band’s Facebook page. One of the things that bothers me the most about the story is how the Christian friends around him responded to some questions he began to have about God, Jesus and the Bible.

question-marks-300x300Rather than helping him with answers to these legitimate questions he was having, he says that his Christian friends would literally get furious with him for even addressing the questions. He says that sometimes he would actually lose Christian friends by simply pondering certain questions. Certainly this should not happen in the family of Christ.

God is Not Afraid of Questions and Neither Should We Be

As I have written here several times, I don’t think God is afraid of our questions. It’s natural that we have some questions about our faith and we should not fear asking them. Many of the initial questions Shannon Low had were about some of the prophet’s behavior, and the behavior of God himself in the Old Testament. These are valid questions, ones which many of us who follow Christ may not have great answers for off the top of our heads. However, a lot of good Christian thinkers have given a lot of thought and have written a lot about these questions over the years and there are answers. How much better would it have been if Shannon’s Christian friends had said, “You know, those are  good questions. Let’s read and work through them together.”

Without Answers from Christian Friends He Went Looking Elsewhere

Because his Christian friends weren’t prepared to answer his questions, or even to look for answers with him, he looked elsewhere and found Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion. He says that he learned things about the history of the Bible that he didn’t know before. He says, “I never knew that the earliest gospel wasn’t written until half a century after Christ supposedly died, or that Paul never read any gospels, or that there isn’t even any evidence from that time that Jesus existed.”

The reason he didn’t know those things was because they are untrue or misleading misinformation. It’s too bad that in his years as a Christian he didn’t learn more about how the New Testament came together so that he wouldn’t be swayed by this kind of misinformation.

Though a gap of 50 years would be very good by historical standards when it comes to ancient documents, evidence is good that the first Gospel was written well before that and the letters of Paul were written even earlier, about 25 years after Jesus’ death. What’s more, he quotes material that scholars have dated to as early as 5 years after the crucifixion. That’s why Paul didn’t read the Gospels, because he wrote even earlier, closer to the events. Paul was familiar, though, with the eyewitness sources of the Gospels to follow soon after. And the idea that there isn’t any evidence from the time Jesus existed is just plain untrue, as you can read here.

I’m not saying that I no longer have any questions about Christianity. There are still some things that can bring some tension. But when I consider all the evidence and put the whole case together, I believe that the case for Christianity is a strong case and makes the most sense of all the evidence there is.

Just “Giving Them to God”

Sadly, I think there’s one more way Shannon’s Christian friends may have failed him. Through a good portion of his life he struggled with an addiction to alcohol. He says, “I stopped trying to pray my alcoholism away and began combating it with real methods. I began confronting my problems head on rather than ‘giving them to god’” Now of course, I believe we should give our problems to God, we should trust in him and ask for his help. But that doesn’t mean that we should just pray and not combat them with real methods with God’s help. Maybe this is what he was hearing in his Christian circle, but prayer is not a substitute for getting counseling and therapy.

I think most of us would not say that prayer is a substitute for going to the doctor when you’re sick. It’s also not a substitute for getting counseling help when you need it. Yes, we pray and ask God to bring healing, physical, mental or emotional, but that doesn’t mean we don’t gratefully take advantage of the ways he’s provided to help with that healing.

Going along with that, I’d like to make one more application. I sometimes hear in the church that we don’t really need apologetics, we don’t really need to share the evidence for Christianity because people come to faith by the Holy Spirit and he can overcome any faulty opposing ideas they have. And while God can certainly do that, he often works through normal means.

If my daughter is sick, if her health is under attack by some disease, I could think, “I don’t need to take her to the doctor, after all God can overcome whatever is attacking her without any help.” But I wound’t do that because God has provided the doctors and all the knowledge that can be brought to help make her well, and I believe that making use of that knowledge is part of his plan.

Likewise, God has provided the knowledge that combats the attacks that are brought against him and against Christianity, and I totally believe that using that information is part of his plan to bring people to himself. But in order for that to happen we need to be sharing the evidence with them. Let’s not just sit back while God and Christ are under attack, as people around us are being fed misinformation that leads them further from him. Let’s be prepared to answer their questions and let’s be used by God in dispensing the truth, the evidence for the Gospel, the case for Christianity.

Thanks to William Lane Craig for his Reasonable Faith podcast on this.

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Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Case Making, How to Share, Loving God with your Mind, Questions

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