In this day and age of skepticism, Christians should be able to provide basic answers to questions about their faith. Here are five doubt-filled questions aimed at Christians today:
1.Moral Truth— Isn’t this just a matter of opinion?
Many have concluded that morality must be relegated to opinion. This is called Relativism. This belief states that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute, but are relative to the persons or groups holding them. This mindset comes from the prevailing attitude that tolerance trumps truth. However, what happens when one’s truth collides with another? Without having a shared basis in transcendent, objective morals (know as telos), anyone in power could change the moral rules. This would then become Subjectivism, and left unchecked, it would most likely lead to anarchy.
Others recognize Subjectivism would be bad, and suggest we base morality in science. Yet if we do, morals would always be changing, since science is constantly changing with new discoveries. What then would we base our morals on, the latest scientific theory or the most influential leader on Earth?
For morality to be valid and binding on all, it must have some connection to objective essences (non-material realities) that are independent of individual or community constructions. If humanity is going to be moral, then we must come to the realization that morality is ultimately owed to One greater than the individual and community.
The objective nature of morality requires essence. Essences are immaterial and universal, so we can share them. With morality based in a Transcendent Source (a.k.a. God, who gave us the Ten Commandments), morals remains stable and something all people can anchor themselves to, which will help facilitate safer communities.
2. Why should we consider the claims of Christianity first, before any other worldview or religion?
If one knows something to be true, it’s best to start there. Why wade through a bunch of false teachings, just to finally end up, exhausted from the search, at the feet of Jesus? One might as well start there for one basic reason—the Resurrection.
Christianity is the only religion that is falsifiable. That means you can research it to figure out if the claims of Christianity are true historically. Other religions base their beliefs on “personal experiences,” like that of the Buddha in his “enlightenment experience,” or the Prophet Mohammed, in his “dream.” Yet Christianity is based on a historical person, Jesus Christ, who was murdered, rose from the dead, and then seen by hundreds of eye-witnesses, who later wrote about it to record this miraculous event in history. This was recorded in historical documents.
Credible historians all agree on four basis truths of the life of Christ. You can read about it in my blog here: http://thinkdivinely.com/cliffsnotes-apologetics-1-a-bare-bones-defense-of-the-resurrection/.
3. Hasn’t the Bible been changed from so many translations over the centuries?
The 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is overwhelming evidence substantiating the Old Testament copyists’ accuracy. Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix discuss this in their book, A General Introduction to the Bible. They state that “the result of comparative studies reveals that there is a word-for-word identity in more than 95 percent of the cases and the 5 percent variation consists mostly of slips of the pen and spelling.” The Dead Sea Scrolls date from the third century BC to the first century AD. Being that these scrolls are that ancient while retaining a high of percentage of accuracy is an excellent polemic against the liberal textual criticisms of today that claim the copying of the scriptures must have undergone radical revisions. This is now proven untrue.
Others have argued that since we don’t have the original autographs, we cannot be sure that the Bible we have today is what the authors actually wrote. There are no original historical autographs from that time for any ancient text. It was standard practice that manuscripts were carefully copied onto new scrolls, as the older versions eventually wore out. Despite slight imperfections, nothing was changed in the meaning of the text. Scribes were trained to be technical, precise and they thrived on accuracy. Strict rules were used to ensure the scriptures were copied scrupulously. The Dead Sea scrolls attest to this kind of accuracy.
4. Why can’t anyone add to the writings of the Bible?
The Bible has been closed since the 4th century, which means no one can add a single word to it. This was the Canonization process Church Fathers used to ensure the Bible was the authentic of God. The actual word Canon means “measuring rod” or “rule.” Canonization was a necessary formality that the Church needed to conduct because of a rise in non-inspired writings (during the first few centuries after Christ’s resurrection) that claimed to be authoritative but, in fact, were fake or heretical. These non-authoritative books are called the New Testament Apocrypha, and include books like: the Gospel of Thomas, Mary’s Gospel, and the Acts of Andrew to list just a few.
The most important criteria for choosing which of the Christian writings to be canonized were authorship. If an apostle, or an apostle’s scribe/associate, wrote the book(s), then it was determined to be Scripture. The dating of the book(s) was also considered, and must have been written within the apostolic period (before the close of the first century). The apostles were deemed the only authors God inspired to write the New Testament because of the consistent, reliable portrayal of Christ.
Priests, Prophets, Kings and their scribes authored the Old Testament. This testament was already established by the time of Christ. Jesus himself quoted regularly from the Old Testament, and by doing such, He validated its authenticity as God’s inspired word.
The authors of the New Testament were those who walked with Jesus (or knew the original disciples of Christ), which gives them a huge amount of authority to be the writers of Scripture. Since then, many have written books about Scripture, adding insight and wisdom from their personal life experiences. That is fine. We should be able to learn from others about the Bible, but to add to it? No. Any faith that claims it has the authority to do so must also be considered a false teaching.
5. If there is only supposed to be “one true Church,” it seems confusing that there are so many Christian denominations.
There are really just three main branches: Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. There are many variations of these basic three, but these churches have more in common than not. Different church denominations have traditions that are not always the same, but generally, if the main doctrines are in place, all believe a primary message. Even though traditions are performed differently (like communion or baptism), if the denomination believes the main doctrine of Jesus being the Son of God who died on the cross for mankind’s sins, and then rose again to ascend into heaven, then other church traditions are not as crucial to the basic understanding of salvation.
Because fallen man does not have complete and perfect understanding of God, some error is unavoidable in church denominations. There is grace for that. There is room for disagreement on issues where Scripture is silent or unclear. Overall, denominations that hold to the orthodoxy of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit are generally true churches. Those who deny this, do not have the full truth of who God is, and therefore, do not understand that salvation is found in one name under heaven, Jesus Christ, the God-man.
The best thing different churches can do for one another is to keep the love commandment—to love each other, despite differences in how church services or traditions are conducted. It is love that shows the world who God really is, and it’s love that ultimately draws people to believe in Jesus Christ.
“…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21