Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Answer the Most Common Objections to Christianity

The following is a report on the practical applications of Alex
McFarland's new book, The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity,
(Regal Books, 2007).

People in today's society have many questions about faith, and every
question deserves an honest answer. If you've taken the time to think
through exactly what you believe and why you believe it, you'll be
prepared to give people the answers they need to genuinely seek – and
find – Christ.

Here's how you can answer the most common objections to Christianity:

* Make your responses theological, reasonable, and practical. Ask
yourself: "Does what I have to say square up with the Bible?", "Does
what I say make sense?", "Is it credible and factually correct?", "Am
I giving people truth that is relevant to life?" and "Have I
successfully bridged the gap from the 'ivory towers of academia' to
the 'real world' where people live their day-to-day lives?".

* Understand the questions behind the questions. Get to know why
people are asking the questions they're asking in the first place.
Find out what issues are stirring their souls and motivating them to
seek answers.

* Respond to "I don't believe that God exists. How can anybody be
sure?" Recognize that, logically, neither atheism nor agnosticism make
sense. Atheism requires complete knowledge of everything (which no
human has) in order to declare for certain that there is no God.
Agnostics claim that they can't know anything for sure, but it's a
contradiction to say, "One thing I know about God: You can't know
anything about Him." Explain the evidence for God's existence: Every
effect has a cause (Both science and the Bible acknowledge that the
universe had a beginning, and that it couldn't have arrived without a
force behind it), Every creation has a Creator (Nature itself points
toward its Creator and reveals what He is like), Every design has a
Designer (The intricate design all around you – from the patterns the
universe to the uniqueness of a DNA strand – show that they must have
resulted from an intelligent Designer rather than just mindless
happenstance), Communication requires a Communicator (the cells in
people's bodies are filled with complex instructions that were
programmed by Someone intelligent to communicate that information),
and Every law has a Lawgiver (The universal moral law of what's right
and what's wrong transcends cultures, and must have come from an
outside source – the One who gave all humans a conscience. Not only
that, but people's universal inability to keep the moral code
perfectly reveals that all humans need forgiveness from a Savior).
Understand that God must be personal, as well, because He created
people to be personal (with wills, emotions, personalities, volitions,
and ambitions), and He Himself must be at least as sophisticated as
who He has created. Realize also that God reveals Himself to the world
so He can be sought. Know that He wants people to seek Him, and
promises that if they do, they'll find Him.

* Respond to "But what about evolution? Couldn't God have created us
but used evolution to do it?" Acknowledge that species have indeed
changed over time to survive, but that the theory of evolution
mistakenly claims that those adaptations can actually result in the
creation of new species. It also inaccurately claims that life itself
could have randomly evolved from non-living material. Understand that
the mathematical probability of life originating at random is so
miniscule as to render that concept absurd. Know that the process of
evolution (new, additional genetic information occurring in living
forms or new life by genetic mutation) has never been observed in all
of recorded history. Realize that the earth's fossil record reveals
that every living form has appeared suddenly and completely developed
– not through gradual transition, as the evolution theory would
suggest. Understand that current research in molecular biology has
revealed what evolution's original theorist, Charles Darwin, didn't
know: Proteins and nucleic acids are too structurally complex to have
arisen spontaneously in the same place at the same time, and all the
amino acids in DNA are of the same molecular orientation and couldn't
have begun by chance, so life could not have originated solely by
chemical means. Acknowledge that it's irrational to believe that
something can come from nothing, that chaos birthed order, and that
lifeless matter produced consciousness. Remember that, while
evolutionists claim that biological life arose accidentally, people
don't see information arising accidentally anywhere in the physical
world. Realize that accepting the theory of evolution requires faith,
just as believing in creationism does, because no human alive today
can travel back in time to observe what happened when the universe
began. Acknowledge that creationism is just as scientific as
evolution, because each seeks to explain within its framework all the
real known data of science and history. Know that, while the Bible
leaves the time frame meant by "day" in the creation account
unspecified, the point isn't how much time the process took. Recognize
that the Bible is very clear about what matters most – Who is
responsible for creation (God).

* Respond to "How do I know the Bible is really true?" Realize that
many more ancient copies and portions of the Bible have been found
than those of any other ancient manuscript. Know that each of those
biblical writings have been accepted as authentic by historians.
Recognize that many of the biblical accounts were recorded just a
short time after they took place, in contrast to the huge time gap of
centuries that existed with most other ancient manuscripts. Understand
that when various biblical manuscripts have been scrutinized against
each other, they've been proven to be consistent. Realize that no
other ancient document can even come close to the New Testament in
terms of number of manuscripts found and the closeness in time to the
original autographs, so questioning the New Testament's credibility
would require tossing out the validity of every other ancient
manuscript ever found. Recognize that the Bible qualifies as the most
reliable, verifiable source ever written. Consider the myriad of
archeological discoveries that verify people, places, and events the
Bible mentions. Also consider the hundreds of biblical prophecies that
have been fulfilled in specific and meticulous ways – often, long
after the prophetic writer had died. Think about the Bible's
historical and scientific accuracy. Ponder how indestructible the
Bible has proven to be, despite many attempts throughout history to
either censor or eradicate it. Realize that the Bible's unique
structure points to its reliability, since it maintains perfect unity
and consistency throughout, despite its 66 different books written by
at least 40 different people from all walks of life over a period of
2,000 years. Consider how profoundly the Bible has impacted world
culture and events – more than any other document in human history.
Think about the Bible's unique power to change people's lives.

* Respond to "What about all the errors in the Bible?" Admit that the
Bible contains complicated passages that can be difficult to
understand. But be assured that a proven error has never been found in
all of Scripture. Remember that, although the New Testament wasn't
officially compiled until the Council of Nicea in 327 A.D., the early
Church already acknowledged the same 27 New Testament books long
before then. Understand that, while early Christians wrestled with
doctrinal differences, they agreed on the core of the faith – the
essential beliefs related to Jesus and the salvation He offers. Know
that what can appear to be variations in biblical narratives are not
contradictions. Realize that, just like modern journalists, the author
of each biblical book mentioned only the details that were most
vividly impressed on their minds or the minds of those who witnessed
the different events. Understand that a partial account doesn't mean a
false account, and that none of the details mentioned in any of the
accounts conflict with details in other accounts. Consider that all of
the biblical authors openly acknowledged that they were writing with
divine inspiration, and if all of them were wrong in those claims,
then they were either lying or insane – neither of which makes sense,
because they wrote the world's most beautiful literature containing
the most perfect moral code ever devised. Think beyond mere
assumptions as you wrestle with the Bible's difficult passages. For
example, rather than assuming that a race of people not descended from
Adam and Eve must have existed for Cain to find a wife, realize that
he could have married one of his sisters, especially since the command
against incest didn't come from Moses until at least 400 years later.
Understand that the Bible is reliable because its specific and
verifiable claims have all been found to be true, eyewitnesses to
biblical events and many other people throughout history have
testified to its credibility, and biblical teachings have profoundly
impacted the world in ways that go far beyond any other book.

* Respond to "What makes Jesus so different from other great men of
history?" Recognize that Jesus stands out above all people because of:
His prophesied coming, His supernatural birth, His miraculous deeds,
His distinctive teaching, and His actions that substantiated His
claims. Understand that the greatest proof of Jesus' uniqueness is His
resurrection, which has been verified extensively, through evidence
such as the testimonies of the empty tomb, the numerous appearances of
Jesus after He was resurrected, the instant and powerful change in the
disciples afterward, and the complete silence of Jewish and Roman

* Respond to "Aren't there many roads to heaven? Don't all paths
ultimately lead to the same place?" Understand that all religious
viewpoints can't be true, because they're bound to contradict at some
point. Know that it's logical for opposite roads to lead to different
destinations. Remember that Jesus explicitly stated, "I am the way and
the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,"
(John 14:6) and that the Bible is unmistakably clear that there is
only one road to heaven – through the salvation Jesus alone offers.
Recognize the legitimate authority Jesus has to speak on the subject.
Know that popular opinion to the contrary, while politically correct,
is spiritually wrong.

* Respond to "Is hell for real? If so, how can a loving God send
people there?" Don't deny the truth that hell exists. Understand that
hell is necessary because God's just nature demands that sin be
punished. Realize that all people actually deserve hell, but God's
great love compelled Him to offer heaven to everyone who trusts Him.
Know that God gives everyone the freedom to decide what they want for
themselves, and those who end up in hell put themselves there by
rejecting Jesus' offer of salvation and choosing to trust in their own
imperfect efforts (which are bound to fail) instead. Remember God's
promise to allow everyone who truly seeks Him to find Him. Be assured
that no one goes to hell because they can't be reached; they go
because they don't want God.

* Respond to "I don't think I'm a sinner. I'm not so bad." Know that
being "not so bad" or "pretty good" isn't enough to earn your way to
heaven. Understand that you must be perfectly righteous to go to
heaven, and that is only possible by trusting in Jesus' work on the
cross for you. Realize that God doesn't rank sins as people do; to
God, sin is sin, even though one person might be a murderer and
another might be a child who simply lies about brushing her teeth
before bedtime. Remember that, in His holiness, God can't stand any
kind of sin, but a saving relationship with Jesus will make a person
perfectly pure and acceptable to God.

* Respond to "Christians are all hypocrites. Why would I want to
become one of them?" Admit that all Christians, because they're
imperfect humans, sometimes fail to live up to the standard Jesus set.
Understand that Christians don't claim to be perfect – just forgiven –
and that they're all growing into better and better people, thanks to
God's grace. Focus on Jesus Himself and decide to believe in
Christianity, despite the behavior of some Christians, because: God
offers you Christ instead of Christians, Christian truth is not
negated by human failures, all people are hypocrites in reality, and
human failures make the need for Jesus all the more clear.

* Respond to "Why is there evil in the world? What about suffering?"
Understand that, while God allows evil because He has given His
creatures free will, God never causes evil Himself. Recognize that
humanity is to blame for the evil that has corrupted our natural
world. Remember God's promises in Scripture to handle evil in His way
and timing, because He is in ultimate control. Trust in God's love,
power, and wisdom and notice all the ways He constantly uses suffering
to accomplish good purposes in people's lives. Know that the existence
of suffering does not the reality of God. Rely on God's strength to
help you and others deal with suffering well and emerge better people
as a result.

* Help people find the ultimate Answer – Jesus Himself. After you help
explain the answers to people's various questions about Christianity,
encourage them to begin an eternal relationship with Jesus that will
fulfill them more than anything else. Offer to pray with them.

Adapted from The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity, copyright
2007 by Alex McFarland. Published by Regal Books, Ventura, Ca.,

Alex McFarland (M.A., Christian Thought/Apologetics, Liberty
University) is a speaker, writer and advocate for Christian
apologetics, as well as the president of Southern Seminary and the
former director of Teen Apologetics at Focus on the Family. An author
and popular speaker at hundreds of locations throughout the United
States and abroad, Alex is also the weekly host for Truth Talk Live
radio program, and the founder of Truth for a New Generation
apologetics conferences. He has also been interviewed by Billy
Graham's Decision radio broadcast, James Dobson on Focus on the
Family, The New York Times, the BBC, Christianity Today and many other
media outlets.

No comments: