Frequently asked questions
Your not the first person to have a few questions before being convinced!
That’s ok, in fact it’s really healthy. This page might not have your exact question, but it does contain 10 common questions or allegations.
“You’re right. There is far too much hypocrisy in the Church. And there always has been. But it’s certainly not being condoned.”
“We should keep in mind that unfortunately there are hypocrites in all areas of life. Many police are jailed for corruption, many sporting icons take drugs, and of course countless politicians have been exposed. In fact, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, at times we all fail to live up to what we profess. But we don’t reject the authority of the justice system, the pleasure of sports entertainment, or the need for a governing body, just because there are hypocrites in these areas. We don’t dismiss all areas of life where hypocrites are involved. Instead, we weigh up the validity and truth of each area and acknowledge the failing of the individual rather than the entire entity to which that individual belongs.
I also think it’s important to note that numerous times Jesus mentions that his biggest issue with the religious institutions of his day was their hypocrisy. So if you feel that there are hypocrites in religion, Jesus totally agrees with you and in fact devoted much of his time to strongly speaking against it.”
“In some ways, talking about hypocrisy is a bit of a red herring. Truth is what matters. How do the actions of some who call themselves Christian change whether or not Christianity is true? It doesn’t.”
“It’s interesting that you think that we cannot know anything unless we can touch or see it, because it seems that…
“the things we value most are things we can’t touch or see. Things like love, justice, and purpose. Most people I know confidently believe these things exist.
But what about God? How can we be confident that God exists even if we can’t touch or see him? Well, God can be known in at least three different ways. First, through his creation, where we live in a universe where dozens of finely tuned physical constants have been set up in perfect combination to allow life. For instance, the ratio of the electromagnetic force to gravity cannot vary by more than 1 part in 10 to the 40 without life becoming impossible. That’s like a single person winning 6 Gold Lotto’s in a row, and that is only one of the dozens of finely tuned constants. Even the fact that the universe exists at all, as opposed to nothing, points to something eternal, powerful, and intelligent which caused it.
Second, we can know God’s existence through God reaching down to us and speaking to humankind through the claims of the Biblical authors. These claims are backed up by incredibly advanced medical knowledge and hundreds of specific prophecies which have all been clearly fulfilled, which is only explainable by an intelligent source which is outside of time. Third, we can know that God exists because of Jesus, who claimed he was God in the flesh and backed it up with his life, his miracles, and his resurrection which was witnessed by a multitude of people including sceptics, most of whom were willing to die for their claim that they had seen the resurrected Jesus.
Ultimately, though, the Bible challenges all of us to test out its claims about God—if we seek God and live as if his commands are true, then His truth and reality will become clear.”
“This challenge gets to the heart of all our lives. We’ve all been touched by tragedy. Car crashes, family breakdown, bankruptcy, sickness, death. In the face of all this suffering, there’s something deep within that knows ‘This is not the way the world is supposed to be. But how do we explain this?
Suffering poses a problem for everyone. Take two examples. In Hinduism, your suffering is bad karma working its way out in the present reincarnation—it’s justice. And in Atheism, humanity only exists because we outlasted the opposition—only the strongest deserve to survive. In most belief systems, suffering is the way the world is supposed to be. It may not be our preference, but on what basis can we judge it as ‘wrong’ or ‘evil,’ or say we should help the hurting?
“The fact that we all believe some things to be evil, and suffering to be bad, suggests that there must be some ultimate standard of good and evil. And to speak of an ultimate standard is to speak of God. If anything, suffering is evidence for God.”
Now, it’s easy to say that God should have made a world without suffering. But what would it take? I suffered a broken neck back in 1998.I could blame God for it, but ultimately the pain came from my poor choices plus natural laws like gravity.
God could step in every time and re-arrange the universe for a soft landing, but then would we really be free? Without freedom, there can be no love. And love is the greatest thing of all. God has geared this life so you can accept or reject His love. But He won’t force His love on anyone. A world without suffering is a world of mindless, loveless robots.
God made us to love him, love each other, and lovingly care for this world. Instead, we’ve each despised God, abused each other, and vandalized our planet. In a world designed for relationship, our choices affect others. Good and evil run through every heart, and the blood of the world is on every hand. Blaming God for this is to miss our personal responsibility.
Christianity makes sense of why your suffering is not the way it’s supposed to be. We’re in a good world gone bad. But to speak of ‘God-and-suffering’ is to miss the heart of our story, for God entered the story to set things right. The problem looks radically different when we speak of ‘God-in-Jesus-and-suffering.’
Did Jesus sit idly by and watch our pain? He healed the sick, set captives free, and comforted those grieving. In my experience, He’s still doing this today.
When we’re in pain, smart answers don’t help. We need a wounded healer to stay by our side. As I was paralyzed, I pictured Jesus immobilized on a cross. I’d sinned. He hadn’t. He picked up the tab for all our sin that causes so much suffering. He is the God with scars. So God suffers too. He enters into this mystery. Even more, He defeats death and grounds my hope that one day He will resurrect the whole cosmos and us with it to a world without suffering—no more tears, no more brokenness, just a loving embrace. In this God I can trust. That’s how I make sense of suffering.”
“Over the last 50 or so years in philosophical circles, most have come to recognize that scientific knowing and religious knowing are more similar than different. As humans, we’re all limited and biased, so our thinking alone can’t guarantee or prove that any given truth claim is correct. All knowing is built on trust, and unless we trust, we can’t live. We trust that our senses tell us something true about what is really real, and we trust the authority of people who claim to know something that we don’t or can’t know for ourselves. So we start with some assumptions, and work from there. Take historical science surrounding our origins, for instance.
Some say science has shown that we evolved through a totally unguided process over the last 15 billion years. But the only way we can scientifically claim this is if we make a couple of assumptions.
First, you have to assume that God didn’t do it—that’s naturalism. And second, you have to assume that natural processes in the past happen the same as they do in the present, otherwise you can’t connect today’s measurements to yesteryear’s events.
If some scientists assume God didn’t do it then that is a faith claim, and so the conflict is primarily over assumptions, not evidence. Both scientific and religious explanations have much to offer in our search for truth and meaning.”
Of the world’s major belief systems only three claim that God has definitively spoken through revelation (creation, conscience, prophets, dreams, visions, miracles)—Islam, Judaism and Christianity—and of these three only one makes the outrageous claim that God himself became a man in Jesus Christ. Christianity is a good place to start the search!
If we can’t see how religions can fit together, and if they are fundamentally different, shouldn’t we test the claims of each to see which one corresponds best to our reality (history, reason, experience, longings)? How can you test them?
Criteria for truth:
Consistency – is it internally consistent as a worldview? Are the Bible and our understanding of the nature of, and path to, God coherent?
Completeness – do the teaching of the Bible and Jesus make sense of everything (origins, meaning, suffering, destiny, and other religions)?
Correspondence – do the teachings of the Bible correspond to our reality? Are its claims historically verifiable? Does God make sense of our scientific and existential discoveries? Does the Bible’s teaching explain well the heart of the human dilemma?
Livability – can you live it out and find it brings greater fulfillment and freedom?
“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less”- C.S. Lewis
“Just listen to the famous Chicago gangster, Al Capone. He thought he was a good but misunderstood man.He said ‘I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.’
Compare that to Gandhi, who, near the end of his life said, ‘It is an unbroken torture to me that I am still so far from Him whom I know governs every breath of my life and whose offspring I am.I know it is because of the evil passions within me that keep me so far from Him; yet I can’t get away from them.’
And that leads into an important point. I’m not talking about Christianity as some sort of add on to make your life better, or to make you nicer to your mum.The claims of Christianity aren’t about being strong or weak. They are about saying that there is a God who is there, who created us, loves us, and wants a relationship with us. Will that affect how a Christian lives? For sure. But that is secondary to the relationship that is at the heart of Christianity.
But, since you raise it, do you really think you are a good person. Really? I know that for me personally, as I look back on my life, I’ve done all manner of evil to others, putting my own needs and desires above the good of other people. And worse, I know that many bad things I wanted to do, I didn’t do, not because I was good, but because I didn’t want the consequences. I may not be Al Capone, but I am not even Gandhi, let alone perfect. So, for me, no, I don’t think I am a good person. How about you?
When I look at my life, I’ve lied, I’ve lusted, I’ve stolen and I have failed to love God and others with all I am. If God judges me by these standards, I am not looking good. I need a Saviour. And that is what Jesus did—he paid for my wrongs, and set me free.”
“Yes, in Europe in particular there is this idea that religion was just a phase in the cultural development of Homo sapiens, humankind. And thus Christianity is outdated.
I base my judgments on evidence, however. And there is no evidence for the idea that ‘Christianity is outdated and irrelevant.’ Indeed, today we face the same issues and problems that confronted the Hebrews, the same issues that confronted the New Testament church, and indeed the same issues that have confronted the Christian church over the last two thousand or so years.
The Bible—the backbone of Christianity—tells us how to deal with the human heart which, of course, is the heart of the human problem, the human condition. Alas, the human heart is the same today as it was thousands of years ago! And so I would argue that Christianity is neither outdated nor irrelevant.
The Bible is particularly helpful with the most common and greatest of all sins: pride.
Most if not all sin is a sin of pride. We may think we know better than God: that’s pride and arrogance. We may think we are better than other people around us: that’s pride and arrogance. We seek to compete with our fellow human beings, to keep them out of the in-group and to keep us in the in-group: that’s pride and arrogance. When we make our own gods and idols: that’s pride and arrogance. We turn our back on God’s grace through Jesus: that’s pride and arrogance, too.
I could go on. My personal prayer is “Lord show me more of my pride and arrogance, and then change me. Please, before I do more damage!”
“Let me share with you the six top reasons I have find most convincing. First, the Bible claims to be God’s word which is a useful start. Second, the Bible as a piece of literature is totally unique in so many ways.
It is a compilation of 66 books, by over 40 different authors, written over fifteen hundred years in three different languages. Despite this the Bible shows an astonishing unity in presenting one message of God’s attempt to restore humankind.
As if this wasn’t enough, it is unique in being by far the best selling piece of literature in human history and has been translated into more languages than any other written work and has survived more attempts to ban, destroy, or intellectually undermine its existence. For these reasons, it undeniably unique, and that is to be expected if it is of divine origin.
Third, the Bible contains remarkable evidence of fulfilled prophecy. Hundreds of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled, specifically and meticulously, often long after the prophetic writer had passed away. The existence and history of Israel is an amazing example. Most striking are the fulfilled prophecies of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
In the Old Testament there are approximately sixty major messianic prophecies and 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one person, Jesus of Nazareth.
Fourth, if the Bible is God’s Word, it should be true in what it teaches. Where the Bible speaks to what happened in history that is something that can be verified as true. When it speaks to an issue relating to science we find something observable. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document.
Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true.
In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best documented book from the ancient world. This is even more amazing when you consider that the Bible contains advanced scientific and medical knowledge that was breathtakingly ahead of the ancient world it was written in. All through the first five books of the Bible, God provided the Israelites with wise and beneficial laws to protect health. Other scientific examples include how the bible alludes to a suspended and spherical earth, to the vast number of stars, and to subterranean ocean currents.
Fifth, the Bible contains amongst other things, a great deal of teaching about how a person may best live. Stealing is said to be wrong and giving is said to be good. If the Bible is God’s Word then these teachings must be true. So people can test the truth of the Scriptures by applying its teaching to their lives. So when the Bible teaches that it is better to give than to receive, that’s something we can practically do, to decide for ourselves if the teaching is transformative.
It is precisely because of this that the Bible remains one of the most important documents in the history of civilization. The Bible has transformed numerous cultures such as by the abolition of slavery in western society and the ending of cannibalism in the Pacific. The Bible also beneficially changes the lives of individuals. I’m sure we can all recall stories and testimonies of people who were criminals, drunks, prostitutes, or just down and out, who turn to the Bible and find their whole life renovated.
On a person level I find it quite satisfying that the Bible has both verities and mysteries in it—that it is full of things we can verify, and it contains other things that leave us standing in wide-eyed wonder. Reason gives us confidence; revelation gives us hope. The Bible speaks to us with both.”
“Hey that’s a tough one. I mean I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about that question as well, since there have been tonnes of times when God hasn’t seemed to answer my prayers either, at least not in the way I wanted. But let me share with you some of the answers that I’ve found helpful.
The Bible gives a whole host of reasons why God doesn’t answer some prayers. In some cases it would override free-will… It’s like in the movie Bruce Almighty. Although he is given God’s omnipotence, the power to do anything, the one cosmic no-no is that he can’t interfere with free-will.
I mean would you want God trumping in every time you did something to hurt someone else? What kind of world would we have? Some other reasons are things like doubt, not persisting, impure motives, unforgiveness, even not treating your spouse right. Sometimes sin blocks our prayers. God isn’t like the Genie in Aladdin who is a slave even to the people opposed to Him, satisfying their desires when in their heart they cherish the very things that separate them from God and from others.
With so many possibilities as to why God might not answer prayers, although we may not always see it, the problem is a little more complex than simply, “If he loved me He would have said yes!” I find it’s helpful to see the whole thing as though God is our Father and we are His children. The child can ask for something they want—even something they feel they need—but because the father loves the child and often can understand the consequences a whole lot better, sometimes in his wisdom the father says, “No,” or just, “Later.” You said it well, “the question is one of trust.” Can I trust God to do what is right by me?
God can see the end from the beginning, which means he has a whole lot more perspective on what will be good for me in the long-run. Often we think of suffering and struggle as bad, but it can serve a useful purpose in bringing about a greater good. Take getting a vaccination. The young child doesn’t understand why their father is letting someone jab a big metal needle into their arm, but the short term pain is to bring about a much longer term security. And that is the way all different kinds of suffering are treated in the Bible. God isn’t committed to our happiness—He is committed to our holiness, to our being transformed into children of God, and when we trust in Him the road of suffering and struggle shapes our character and dependence on Him. Happiness is the byproduct. And all this is for God’s glory.
But let me take a step back for a second … Can you imagine a world where God, just like Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty, hit the “Yes to All” button when answering prayers? Who would we become? What would our world look like? I’ve found that retrospect has allowed me to see how in God saying “no” or “not yet,” he has actually protected me from becoming proud, self-sufficient or complacent—all of which lead me down a dangerous path away from God. Ultimately, though, He has promised to set everything right in this world when Jesus returns, so suffering, sickness, injustice and poverty will all come to an end. Every good and beautiful prayer I have ever uttered will be answered!
Perhaps rather than question God’s response to our prayers, we should examine our response to His answer. If it is a “Yes,” then we should give thanks that God delights in giving good gifts to His children. And if it seems to be a “No” or “Not yet,” then we should trust that our Father knows it is either not good for us in the long run or perhaps just not the right time. This makes me want to pray, want to ask for good things both for me and for others, knowing that God always takes hold of everything to bring about good to those who love Him. I hope that helps make a little more sense of the question for you.”
For all the reasons I’ve heard for rejecting Christianity, this objection tends to be central. Often we don’t want to believe, because it will interfere with our freedom. We don’t want the whole God thing to be true, because we don’t want any authority telling us what to do. Following Jesus cramps my style and constrains my sexuality.
I get why you feel this way. Perhaps getting drunk and casual sex is your definition of fun. Why tie yourself to a rule-based club? Besides which, some Christians are so religious and serious that they look out of place at anything but a funeral.
But what is freedom? Is it merely the absence of constraint, to do what you wanna’ do, and be what you wanna’ be? If so, then Christianity is a loss of freedom. I’ve made an unconditional commitment to follow Jesus—to discipline my life according to His teaching.
But is that all freedom is? Think of all those bad habits we have—binging on chocolate, ogling internet porn, cutting our flesh, injecting illicit drugs. In Australia we’re free to do as we want… but are we really ‘free’ if we can’t control ourselves? No wonder these same ‘free’ people willingly submit to the authority of coaches and counselors to help discipline their desires. We’re all looking for someone to trust who leads us to life.
Freedom is more than the absence of constraint. A train is most free when it’s secured to the tracks, not when it rides rough-shod over the dirt. Trains were designed to run on tracks. Likewise, freedom always comes with a form. Lungs come alive with oxygen, plants come alive in soil, fish come alive in the sea, the heart comes alive pumping blood, and we come alive in God—we were made for Him. Like the banks of a river, the right form channels our vitality, energy and affections toward life.
So here’s where our discussion moves beyond words. Jesus says that if you keep returning to the same harmful habits, then you’re not free. You’re a slave to selfishness, a slave to sin. But, Jesus claims that if anyone—and that includes you—if anyone follows Him and lives in His form, the rhythms of grace … “then you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is not a proposition to argue over. It’s a challenge to accept or reject. Try it and see.
Remember, this was the same Jesus who went to wild parties — a friend to prostitutes, drunkards, and tax collectors. He didn’t judge or condemn. He just offered a better way.
Have you taken up Jesus’ challenge? Have you tried His form? If not, how can you be so sure that Jesus isn’t trustworthy? Ask someone who has, and hear the difference it makes.
And I’m starting to understand why Jesus brings freedom. It’s because love is the most liberating form. “Love God, love others”—this summarizes all the Bible’s commands. It’s more an invitation to life than an imposition. But not only do we get the right form … we also connect to the power source. For God is Love. If love is more than an emotion—if love is a commitment—then surely binding myself to the source of love is the path to freedom.
It’s in choosing to follow Jesus that I’ve really found my life. We’re all worried about being used, or controlled, or manipulated. But at the heart of the Christian message is Jesus—the God man—who gave up all of His freedoms to show us how to live. Free to find all we were made to be. Free to find joy and happiness even during the toughest times. Free to love. And because He first loved me, I can love Him, and I can love others. And in so doing, I can be free.
Still not convinced?
If you’ve got more questions then we recomend you try one of these great books:
The Reason For God – By Tim Keller
The Case For Christ – By Lee Strobel
Or alternatively, you could try this website:
Two Ways To Live – By Mathias Media
You can get in contact with us and we will try and help point you in the right direction.
We’re happy to answer any of your questions.
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