Top 5 Arguments Skeptics Give Against the Christian Faith

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Whenever you find someone who believes strongly in something, there will be those who also doubt it. As Christians, healthy questioning of what we believe is needed,  as holding to a set of beliefs only because they were passed down to us makes our faith shallow and weak. I have no respect for untested faith, where someone is unwilling to let their faith be questioned out of fear or laziness.

Now that doesn’t mean everyone who questions your faith deserves a voice. Apostates lurk the blog world, looking for Christians they can attack. Jesus spoke about these kinds of people. He told the disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” if the apostles encountered someone not willing to listen. It is not my responsibility to convince a bitter and angry skeptic to believe in the faith. Because they want you to enter their arena of attack, they will guilt you with words like “the burden of proof is on you” or “if you are a Christian then you will stay loving and humble,” while they have the freedom to curse, demean and berate you. They lure Christians to enter dialogue where their fellow antagonists wait to attack. They are not our targets to evangelize. We should heed Jesus’ words and feel no guilt for their faithlessness. The Lord will be their judge.

With that said, we should still be aware of what skeptics are saying, especially in the questions they raise. Not all skeptics are close-minded and antagonistic to the faith. Here are five questions I see skeptics raising:

If God is a good God, how can He allow so much suffering and evil in the world?

shutterstock_492404062.jpg    One thing we cannot deny is evil exists in our world. Atrocious things happen to people that are seemingly undeserved. Yet, God is working in suffering; some of the most powerful testimonies have come from those who have endured great tragedy. God often raises beauty from ashes. It is God that gives us the hope that things can be better. We also need to remember that sin entered the world through disobedience and tainted all of humanity and the world. Disease, pestilence, drought, natural disasters, murders, bigotry, and all other catalyst of suffering are the result of sin. Some shake their fists at God, but it is we who brought this upon ourselves.

How could I come to church or believe in what you say when the church is full of hypocrites?

shutterstock_388569646.jpg   This is not totally false. Many hypocrites come to church every Sunday. I would argue it comes with the way a church is set up. Church welcomes all to come, including hypocrites. I wonder if anyone has been a part of any gathering, social club, or civic group where some didn’t poorly represent the greater identity? Poor examples don’t necessarily undermine the core as being strong and faithful. While the church should preach against hypocrisy and hold those accountable who practice it, people choose how they will live. There will always be those who confess Christ and live opposite of Him. The problem with this argument against the faith is it fails to acknowledge those who do live out their faith well. Not all live hypocritically, and as long as there are faithful servants of Christ, then the church is not lost. This argument is simply an excuse to justify their own unwillingness to set foot in church and to deny the faith. God transcends His followers as He is perfect and they are flawed and broken. Every Christian will make mistakes and be hypocritical in some manner.

Isn’t Christianity a crutch for people to avoid facing the realities of this world?

shutterstock_327126659.jpg    Karl Marx claimed that religion is “an opiate of society.” Skeptics argue in the same vein that faith is “pie in the sky” thinking, an unwillingness to deal with injustices in the world honestly. For a Christian, hope is found in Christ. It is not wishful thinking but the only reality that we can cling to that is consistent, loving, and pure. It is not a crutch or an escape; rather it is hope. Claiming that Christians are weak because they cannot face the harsh realities is a skeptic’s way of denying hope. What is life without hope? Faith is believing there is hope beyond what you can see. Some the most courageous people who have ever lived have been so because they clung to there faith. They faced incredible obstacles because God gave them strength to do so. They were not in denial of their sufferings but found hope in them through Christ.

How can you claim that Jesus is the only way to God?

shutterstock_218152.jpg     This is a big one. If God exists, why do Christians see their way as the only true way to God. Truth is, we don’t claim it. We do not exclude other faiths or deny their access to the true God. Jesus did. He said that He was “the way, the truth,and the life, and that no person comes to the Father but by Him” (John 14:6). Jesus made Christianity exclusive, and, as His followers, we do the same. It is through Jesus that one can be saved. It is not a popular belief, but it is the Gospel. Popularity has never been our goal. Narrow is the way and few who find it, says our sacred text. Many get tripped up by this, but we trust in the word of our Lord that says He alone is the way to God.

If God is real and Jesus is alive, then why doesn’t He do a public broadcast across the globe telling who He is and His intentions for us?

shutterstock_559280869       Silence is deafening for skeptics. They can’t get past the fact that God would be so “aloof” with His creation. At one time, God did walk among us. But through man’s disobedience, humanity was banned from His garden and presence. Now through Christ, we are reunited with Him by faith to one day see Him “face to face” again. When Thomas touched the scars after the resurrection, Jesus told him that he believed because He saw with his own eyes but “blessed are those who have not yet seen and still believe.” Skeptics are unwilling to acknowledge faith, but it is faith that saves us and brings us into right relationship with God. One day, God’s presence will be overwhelmingly evident to all. There will be no more skeptics on that day. “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord”—from the most faithful to the vilest to the most bitter atheist.

This list is far from exhaustive, but these are questions I encounter often as I talk with those who doubt our faith. We will never be able to “talk” anyone into salvation, but that should not stop us from sharing our faith and doing all we can to answer their questions. Not to do so shows a lack of care and willingness to help them see. Yet, many skeptics have one agenda: to ridicule and belittle the faith. They do this because they must. They need to justify their doubt lest they are proved wrong and condemned. Show them grace, but do not waste your time. Instead, find those willing to listen and spread the Gospel!

Where were you on 9/11?

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:3

I was at my desk in the bank when someone popped their head in and asked if I had heard about a plane crashing into a New York tower. It sounded strange to hear it. Surely they were mistaken. How could that happen? We all gathered around a 32-inch TV in the break room watching grey smoke billow out of the World Trade Center tower. I remember thinking: how could someone make that kind of flight error, and how many had paid the price with their lives? As I debated with others over what might have happened, all doubt was removed when one of the ladies gasped and covered her mouth, her eyes glued to the screen. We all turned back to the television as smoke billowed from the second tower. The news  anchor looked visibly shaken as he reported another plane had hit the second tower.

In that moment, all of us in that room — along with all of our fellow Americans — knew this was deliberate, an obvious attack of terror. The worst was yet to come, though, as reports came in that the Pentagon was hit and another plane had crashed on what appeared to be a direct route to Washington D.C. I remember thinking, what else is going to happen? Then, maybe the most devastating moment of all, watching the first tower collapse into a pile as a massive cloud of smoke rushed down the streets. Soon, the second tower collapsed.

It was all so surreal. It just didn’t seem possible. I felt so helpless watching it. My firstborn was nine days old. What kind of world have I brought my daughter into?

Reality hit, smack in the face, as the facade of safety was ripped from us — we were vulnerable to terror, even on our own soil. The response of Christians varied. Some insensitively pronounced this as an act of judgment upon America by God. Others lashed out with hateful rhetoric towards all Muslims. Many just tried to figure out where God was in all of it.

Someone wrote a poem. We don’t know who as the author was never credited. I think the words capture perfectly where God was in this tragedy.

“MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL” (author unknown)

You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001.

Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke-filled room with a man who called his wife to say ‘good-bye.’ 

I held his fingers steady as he dialed. 

I gave him the peace to say, “Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK. I am ready to go.”

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children.

I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn’t coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help.

“I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!” I said. “Of course I will show you the way home – only believe in Me now.”

I was at the base of the building with the Pastor ministering to the injured and devastated souls.

I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer.

I was with the crew as they were overtaken.

I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their

faith has saved them.

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .

I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.

Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name – though not all know Me.

Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.

Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; “Come to Me… this way… take my hand.”

Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.

But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do.

However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey for you.

But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well.

Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are ‘ready to go.’

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

Love, God

Where were you on 9/11 when the towers fell? Did you hold steady in faith that God was still loving? Did you trust Him even though you couldn’t make sense of the tragedy?

For His children, God doesn’t create tragedy, but He is always in the midst of it to see us through… even if it is to Glory.

Christian Response to Orlando Massacre


For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Infected saints, we live in a world polluted by hatred and evil. Again, we are confronted with senseless tragedy by radical individuals for no other purpose than to instill fear and reveal the depth of their hate. Many have died. Families are devastated. Orlando is in pain. All of us are affected and hurt for them. It doesn’t matter the lifestyle or beliefs of the victims here. They didn’t deserve this. No one does. We are not called to be judge nor executioner. Yet, so often, flawed individuals do heinous acts in the name of their god. Tragic…. Senseless…. A divine opportunity for the church.

I am a Christian. I hold to the morals as set out for me in God’s Word. I do not create them or have the right to pick and choose the ones I like. He sets the standard I follow. My calling, my passion, my life ― none of these are dedicated to getting others to follow those same morals. I am not dedicating my life’s work to getting people to act better. What would be the point? So they can live “cleaner” lives and still be dead on the inside? That is not my hope. That is not the goal of the church ― to reform the world to act better. We are to preach a different message than dead legalism.

I am an evangelist to both the world and the church. To the world, I preach love and grace. They need to know I care. That my agenda is pure. That I have their best intentions at heart. To the church, I preach the same message but not as ones who are to receive, but rather to give, love and grace. To the church, I say: “Quit ignoring. Quit staying in a bubble, loving those like you and not engaging the hurting all around you. It is not enough to just not hate. Not hating does not mean you care. That is not the Gospel!”

Love is active and messy. We need to reach out. We all should be looking for opportunity to show love and care to the LGBT community around us. This means engaging in dialogue and showing love by listening and praying and serving them. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with their lifestyle. It also doesn’t mean calling it out through hateful rhetoric either.

Too often, the church’s response is to retreat and not engage. Christ doesn’t want us to stand aside and watch. It is not enough to say we don’t hate. If we don’t engage, doesn’t that send the message that we don’t care? It’s tough work. It’s messy. Some will judge us for caring and call us compromisers. That’s okay. They did the same to Jesus.

This recent tragedy is horrible; yet, it is an opportunity for the church to show care. To give love. To be the Gospel lived out. It starts with words but does not end there. It’s time to step out and love, in action, those who are not like us or who do not believe like us. Jesus would be right in the middle of this, loving them and offering eternal hope. We should do the same!

Last Week of Jesus- Thursday

 

 

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36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.    Matthew 26:36-44

It is Thursday night. In less than 24 hours Jesus will be dead. Could you imagine the emotional turmoil of knowing tomorrow would be your last? Jesus was humans and he was struggling with knowing what was to come.  So he led his disciples to go and pray. His favorite spot was the Garden of Gethsemane. He and the disciples had just finished the Last Supper for the Passover. Jesus had watched as Judas left the table to go and betray Him. He passed the cup to Peter, knowing that Peter would deny him three times tomorrow. One last intimate meal with his twelve, knowing they would all scatter from Him in His hour of greatest suffering.  Jesus needed perspective so He went to the garden to find peace, guidance, and comfort from His Father.

How Jesus dealt with his impending suffering and death epitomizes how we should deal with our own pain and tragedy. We can learn how to deal with our own times of trials and pain from Jesus here in three specific ways.

Jesus brought Friends With Him

In His most difficult hours, anticipating His own death, Jesus drew his friends close to him. During these difficult times, we need people to walk with us. So many times we isolate form others when facing tough times. Be vulnerable with them. You are hurting. Ask them to bear it with you. People who care about you will do that. Jesus never shut them out. Even though they were often confused and probably frustrating to him, He included them until the end. He needed them.

Don’t Write Friends Off If They Fail To Meet Your Expectations and Disappoint You

Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him. It had been a rough and tiring week. They were emotionally and physically spent. While praying, the disciples fell asleep. Jesus was disappointed to say the least. Wouldn’t you be? You are going to die and your closest friends fall asleep on you when their supposed to be praying for you! But what I want you to notice is that Jesus did not write them off. He continued to let them in and share His burden even after they disappointed Him. He needed them and He did not let their mistake destroy the bond. We need friends to be with us when we are hurting but we need to remember they have their own lives to live and their own struggles to face. They may fail to meet our expectations perfectly in our time of need. Show them grace. You need them. Let them be there for you even in their imperfections and quirks.

Jesus was Persistent In Praying

Jesus found a special place to pray. He found His prayer closest. No coined prayers offered here. Jesus prayed his guts out. His intimacy with the Father was on full display. Jesus prayed all night and did not stop until he had peace and His answer. Notice Jesus didn’t get what he asked for. He wanted to be saved from the torture, the pain… He wanted to be released from impending death. Yet, His Father said no. His Father’s will was for Jesus to die for humanity. The very ones to kill Jesus was who He would be dying for.  Jesus submitted fully and came to peace with what his father desired. We give up to quickly in our prayers. We pray a quick prayer and walk away already anticipating no clear answer. Why? We need to pray with determination. We need to cry out to God and not stop until we hear from him. God will answer if we seek Him until he does. If we need to pray all night then so be it. God will answer.

What a gut wrenching night this was for Jesus and his disciples. To know that tomorrow you die. Jesus could have stopped it. He had the power to do so. Yet, he submitted to His Father and died for us. He went through all of this suffering for me and for you. When we suffer, He is with us. He understands our pain and agony. He has experienced it. We are never alone. He walks with us all the way into eternity.

Oh God Rescue Me

 

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Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.    James 1:2-4

Sometimes God does not change your circumstance because He is trying to change your heart. When things are tough you cry out to God. You beg Him to remove the pain, the sorrow, the difficulty. You been there? You don’t want to hurt anymore and so you cry out. And often… God seems silent. He doesn’t remove the thing that is causing you such pain. The cancer is still there. The broken relationship is still broken. The bank account is still empty. The loss of a loved one is still permanent. Others tell you to find hope in it all and you wonder what good could ever come out of such pain.

But what if God, in fact, is not being silent. What if he is speaking a different way than you would have thought? What if God is thinking much bigger than your circumstance? God knows if He were to just remove the circumstance you would most likely fall back into business as usual. You are slow to remember and would go back into living life as you choose, oblivious of His working in and around you. What if God wanted to get your attention in a much more transformative way? What if He wants to change your heart? Draw you closer to Himself by getting you to recognizing your desperate need for Him. Is the pain worth that, to be loved and cared for by our Creator? To see your need for him and to be filled up by Him? So you lose things you loved and valued, but gain more of God. Is there any greater prize than eternity with Him?

It’s not easy. Life was never meant to be. God does not promise health and wealth (1 Peter 4:13). Run from those who teach that. Those who truly follow God will most definitely find hardship and suffering on this earth but the life to come is well worth the suffering.

Why God Do You Let Them Die?

 


Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, in order that they may behold my glory.    John 17:24

Now a disclaimer here before you read. I am speaking only about those who are in Christ below. Without Christ death is the grand finale of condemnation. We are correct to feel despair for the death of a person without Christ. May it be a reminder to us of the urgency to share our faith so no one has to die without hope.

Here is something I have come to terms with: What we want God to do and what we get from God often does not agree. I want to personally admit that for myself today. Perhaps there is no more obvious example of this than when it comes to our prayers for the dying. We weep and beg God to save our loved ones from death but often they die anyway. Forgive me if I sound insensitive but that is our reality. I recently experienced this with my own dad. He was in ICU for two weeks and everyday it seemed he got slowly worse. It was torturous for us. We begged God to save Him. We had others come in and do the same in their prayers. Hundreds were interceding in prayer for him. We cried out in faith, knowing God could save him. But on December 18th he breathed his last breath. I had to process again why my prayers and the prayers of the faithful didn’t seem to be enough to save dad. Did God not care? Was He too busy to help one hurting family out? Did I not have enough faith when I prayed?

Most of us feel the way I did after my dad’s death but we don’t dare say it. We don’t want to come across as doubting or that we are angry with God. Even in our despair we feel the need to defend God. We are left with so many unanswered questions though. We are unsettled in our spirit and struggling to find solace that they are in a better place. In our minds, a better place to us is with us!

What I think we need is perspective. Perhaps we are missing a big piece of the puzzle.  We so desperately want our loved ones here that no other option seems justifiable in our desperation. We can’t see beyond our own pain and grief. Surely God would want to give them back to us. But what if Jesus feels the same way that we do about them? What if he so wants our loved one to be with Him that no other option is acceptable. In His prayer for his people, Jesus reveals His desire for them:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, in order that they may behold my glory. John 17:24

He wants them to come home. He yearns for His people to be with Him in glory. Sure God respects this life and allows us to live it but He wants to be with His people as His ultimate desire. When you see it clearly you know this to be glorious news. Jesus wants to be with me! He wants us to enjoy the paradise He has created for us. He wants us to be in His presence. It is hard not to be selfish and want them here but what are we keeping them from? If it is time for them to be welcomed home what could really compare to what they are about to gain in Christ?

When a loved one is suffering in the hospital, who knows the pain and agony that await them if they were to live. Sometimes I think death is an act of mercy from God. We want them with us so badly that it is hard to conceive death as mercy but God doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly. He rewards us by bringing us home. The doctors told us that if dad survived his quality of life would be poor… most likely life on a ventilator. I would not wish that on my dad. I would not want to keep my dad from going home.

James compares this life to a water vapor, here and gone in an instant. Ever wonder why God made life so short? Again, I see it is an act of mercy. God doesn’t want us living a  long time without having the opportunity to walk fully in His presence. When we can see it this way we recognize death for what it is, a gift. Even if it comes suddenly or unexpected, we must not go into despair, knowing that are loved one is with Christ.