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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Questions and claims about Christianity from the world...

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ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4489


 Questions and claims about Christianity from the world...

Brethren,

I have been compiling a list of questions (many are more or less accusations) that seem to have become more common when speaking about the Lord with non-Christians. I have noticed a trend where many of the same questions and accusations have become more popular as a criticism of Christianity and the Christian faith.

For instance, I have spoken with several people who claimed that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality in the Gospels. They subsequently call into doubt the teachings or inspiration of the rest of the New Testament. This, of course, is often used by activist groups meant to call into question or even revise the teachings of the Bible so that it is more accepting of homosexuality.

When I first heard these things, I thought about how egregious and ridiculous a few people could be -- and that they were desperately trying to validate a lifestyle that is contrary to God's Word. However, I've noticed more and more people asking questions about this (or making bold claims). Thus, it seems like more and more people are either parroting a popular criticism or, worse, actually believing it.

When I was in college, I once spoke at a Christian fellowship that I was a part of. Some of these college students were raised in Christian homes. Others were more recent converts -- including many who had converted while at the university.

During the meeting, I gave my fellow students a piece of paper with various topics on it -- including issues about doctrine, social issues and even moral questions. There were social topics about abortion, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, gay marriage, etc... I also included doctrinal issues -- including controversial doctrinal questions -- such as the second coming, questions about salvation (e.g., how is it "obtained," can be lost, etc...), water baptism, speaking in tongues, drinking alcoholic beverages, etc... In total, I included about 25 topics (including some that are often hotly debated).

Next to each topic, I included two columns. Under the first column, I gave the students some time to write what they believed about each topic. I explained that this was not a exam or test -- and that they can be as concise or clear as they wanted. I gave the students about 15 minutes to write down what they believed about each topic in that first column. I said that they could write short answer -- such as "a sin" next to things that they felt were sins or "acceptable for Christians" to things that they felt were acceptable behavior. For certain doctrinal issues, I asked that they be a little more specific. For instance, next to topics pertaining to the second coming of Christ, I asked that they put some specific beliefs (e.g., rapture, no rapture, etc...). After about 15 minutes, we moved on to the next part of the exercise.

For the second column, I asked the students to write WHY they believed what they believed. I asked that they include passages from Scriptures as much as possible to explain why they believed as they did. I told them that this was an open-book test. I even said that they could talk among themselves. If they didn't know a specific reason for why they believed, I said that they could put down things like "my church teaches this" or "my parents taught me this."

After some time, I asked that everyone return to their seats. I asked that, by a show of hands, how many people had an answer for all of the topics in the first column (what they believe). Most of the students had filled out all or nearly all of that column. Next, I asked how many answers that they had for the second column. Just as I suspected, most of the second column was empty. In other words, many of the students knew WHAT they believed, but they just didn't know WHY they believed it.

In the course of the discussion, I explained that many of us believe the way we do because we have been "raised" or even trained to believe that way at home, church or through a plethora of Christian resources (almost doctrinal or issue-related peer pressure). I then explained that there is nothing wrong with being taught or trained -- but that there is certainly something wrong with not verifying the reasons for our beliefs. In other words, many people believe because they are told to believe it rather than being clearly shown why to believe it. Most of the students believed that homosexuality and abortion was immoral and sinful, but many couldn't explain -- from the Bible -- why they believed that way.

I encouraged the students to be diligent in studying God's Word for themselves and know WHY they believe WHAT they believe. I also explained that it is best to know WHAT they believe only after they know WHY from the Scriptures.

Now, I am noticing that the world is filled with similar uncertainty. Whereas the Christian heritage of the west (both right and wrong) allowed many people in the past to at least have a passing familiarity with the Scriptures and morality derived from it, I have noticed a rapidly growing animosity toward Christians, Christianity and, consequently but subtly spoken, Christ and the Word.

Lately, I have noticed aggressive questions (often with ulterior motives) in which people are justifying certain things and trying to use the Bible as a means for that justification. I know that this is nothing new, but it seems to be happening in the West at a much more rapid pace and with much greater boldness.

I am trying to make a list of the "questions" and claims made by the world and then come up with good answers for those things. I know that the Lord will inspire answers when questioned, but I think that it is prudent to know these things for ourselves even before we ever approach outsiders about such things.

Has anyone else noticed specific questions, accusations or claims that have become more common? What are they? These things would be helpful for me as I compile my list and prayerfully dig into the Word for clear answers.

Here are some examples:

Claim: - "Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. Everything written about homosexuality in the New Testament was written by Paul."

Claim: - "The New Testament doesn't mention abortion as a sin. In fact, the Bible teaches that a fetus isn't a person until they are born of water."

Question: - "Does the Bible truly teach that the universe is 6000 years old?"

Claim/Question: - "Evolution is a fact. How do you reconcile evolution with the Bible?"

Claim: - "The Bible condones slavery!"

Claim: - "So what if the Bible says that homosexuality and abortion are sins? The Bible also says that parents should stone their rebellious children and kill children. Why believe one thing but reject the other?"

Claim: - "The New Testament was written hundreds of years after Jesus lived."

Claim: - "God is a villain and a bigot. He called for children to be killed, hates people, allows bad things to happen and even tortures people in hell forever."

Claim: - "Christians, Jews and Muslims all serve the same God."

Has anyone else noticed other claims or questions from the world that seem to have been parroted or grown more common? I would like to study each claim or question and compile Biblical responses to each.

Thank you for your help.


_________________
Christopher

 2015/1/2 14:58Profile
TMK
Member



Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5237
NC, USA

 Re: Questions and claims about Christianity from the world...

Yes Chris-- I gave heard all of these and they are quite common.

Dr Michael brown has answered many of these accusations in various articles etc so he would be one resource. Hank hanegraaf as well.

P.S. Jesus doesn't talk about homosexuality, but he defines marriage (the only legitimate avenue for a sexual relationship) and by inference excludes fornication (any sex outside legitimate marriage).


_________________
Todd

 2015/1/2 15:33Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4489


 Re:

Hi TMK,

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I completely agree that Jesus didn't directly speak about homosexuality, but he indirectly referenced it by defining marriage (one man and one woman as intended from the beginning) and then mentioning that sex outside of a marriage -- as well as lust -- is immoral and sinful. Unfortunately, there are many people in the world (and, sadly, the Church) who can't seem to answer this when asked or confronted.

I think that it would be great for ministries to provide answers to such topics -- not only to unbelievers but to believers who can search the Scriptures with a Berean attitude to know what the Word says about such matters. There are just too many people who are convinced and indoctrinated by men (e.g., churches, denominations, pastors, teachers, books, etc...) rather than educated by the Word of God.

I would love to see a list of issues, topics and even doctrines -- including controversial ones -- in which answers are provided according to a Scriptural basis. If an issue or topic is not definitive or is questionable, then various perspectives (all from Scripture) can be provided to explain possible answers. I think that extensively knowing and understanding an issue or doctrine -- and possible alternate thoughts upon it -- is healthier to believers than simply complying to what they are taught by a minister, church or denomination.


_________________
Christopher

 2015/1/2 20:18Profile
yuehan
Member



Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 510


 Re: Questions and claims about Christianity from the world...

Chris,

Some of those questions are quite postmodern! You might be interested in "Can We Know the Truth?" (Richard Phillips) - a fairly short book on the "crisis of truth" in our postmodern era.

I think these questions are usually undergirded by hidden assumptions (about God, about life), and sometimes it could be constructive to hack away at those foundations instead. Ultimately, anyone who wants to know the truth will find the answer (John 7:17, Matt 7:7).

 2015/1/8 15:09Profile
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7431
Mississippi

 Re:

Chris, the questions you posted appear to come from a hostile mindset. The mindset I am scared of is the one that is so sweet, so kind, so gentle - so gentle to be very persuasive in dismantling the clear teachings of the WORD on these issues. You will find these writings among liberal Mennonites - makes me sick. And you cannot convince them otherwise - it is an act of futility. This is what happens when people work at disobeying God, work at modifying His Word to accommodate their sin.

Enough of my rabbit trail..

Sandra


_________________
Sandra Miller

 2015/1/8 17:27Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4489


 Re:

Hello,

I apologize for the delayed response. Yes, the questions are often hostile -- because they are asked by those who are in the world and often very critical of Christianity. While often they are "deceptive" questions (because the person asking often has no desire to know the truth or receive any sort of adequate explanation, answer or response), there are some people who ask such questions with an open mind.

Not too long ago, I was speaking to one man who asked several questions (often while interjecting critical statements) and then telling me, "Show me where I am wrong."

I suppose that my point is that this post-modern world is much more cynical (or, at least, cynical in greater numbers) and is asking very bold -- almost accusatory -- questions. While I don't think that we can convince many of them otherwise, I think that it is possible to affect others who might hear the truth and answer or, in online or print media, read such truth or answers.

I read one testimony of a man who was converted to Christ after reading something in, of all places, an atheist forum. While the atheists ganged up and mocked the Christian who had ventured into the forum, the Christian did answer many of their questions. One person ventured into the forum after-the-fact and read those responses and was struck to the heart.

One thing that saddens me is that some people only define Christianity by the watered-down and diluted "gospel" that they see on television or in churches that are so desperate to avoid offending others that they refuse to present what Paul called "all the counsel of God." It is a false gospel where people are so desperate to "love" the world into Heaven that they refuse to tell them the truth.

Sadly, there are plenty of Christians who do know what they believe but lack the knowledge of Scripture to say why they believe it according to Scripture. When confronted by the world (through either true or false intentions), they just don't have an answer other than what they themselves have been taught. To me, this is like saying that we "just know" that 7x7=49 because we memorized multiplication tables from a young age instead of knowing the reason that 7x7=49 (i.e., 7+7+7+7+7+7+7=49).

I think that it is good to know answers to accusations, claims and specific questions -- even if we may not feel it appropriate to waste our time "casting pearls among swine" (so to speak). This way, if we do answer, the answer might be enough to affect the one asking or someone else who hears that answer (or reads it in a discussion later on). I know that many of those types of questions are becoming more and more accusatory or with an attitude that is very cold to even considering the possibility of being wrong. However, there could be someone else listening (or reading) who might have their conscience pricked by an answer rings in the ears of their heart.

Prior to meeting Christ and giving my life to Him, I was the type of person who would ask questions that sometimes came across as a bit cynical. However, I was waiting...or, perhaps, hoping...to be corrected. Unfortunately for me, I don't think that I ever found anyone who could answer those questions. Thankfully, I still had an encounter with the Lord that caused me to pour my life out to him. I just sometimes wonder if I would have come to Christ sooner if I had found answers to any of my doubts even sooner.

I hope that makes some sense. I certainly don't think that someone can be "convinced" by a mere debate to become a Christian (whereas we need the Holy Spirit to convict and woo our hearts). I just think that the Lord could use little things -- including a single answer to a question or even accusation -- that might make us think more intently about spiritual things.


_________________
Christopher

 2015/1/9 2:54Profile
TMK
Member



Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5237
NC, USA

 Re: Questions and claims about Christianity from the world...

Some of the problem with the cynical questions are that they are true- or arguably true (the Bible condones slavery, says that rebellious children must be stoned) and others are iffy propositions that may not be worth defending (the earth is 6000 years old). Others come at God from the wrong starting place- e.g. God did command the killing of children etc, so the starting point for the cynic is that God is not good, while the starting point for the believer is that God IS good and we have to work from there.

Answering some of these questions would take a fairly long explanation and the problem would be getting a cynic to sit still long enough to listen to, or read, the answers.

Besides, there are plenty of resources online where if a cynic really wanted answers to these objections, they could find them very easily. Asking these questions is a defense mechanism. They don't want to change, or are resisting conviction, so as long as they can hold up these questions as being unanswered in their mind they feel justified in not believing.


_________________
Todd

 2015/1/9 6:23Profile









 Re:

When it comes to any questions that are highly debatable or contentious I think the adage (proverb, short wise saying) to follow is:

"People don't care what you know until they know that you care."

 2015/1/9 11:40
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4489


 Re:

Hello,

I agree that we should be careful to use the time that we have and not waste it with foolish quarrels. However, I also think that probably isn't a good idea to assume that cynics (even "honest" cynics) would knowingly find or come across legitimate Biblical websites and/or find the answers for themselves. While this might help the "cynics from within" (e.g., youth raised among the Church who are questioning the validity of the faith, others who have a working knowledge of Christianity and are "standing at the crossroads" so to speak, etc...), I don't know many people living firmly in the world who might be considering such things.

I think that this is one problem with Christian attitudes toward physical isolation from the world. The apostles went out to the highways, byways and even the Temple to share Christ with the world. They didn't expect the world to simply wander into the fold. While this does happen (where unbelievers show up in meetings where Christians gather), I think that it is not the model for winning the world for Christ.

I heard a minister speak who preached in the Soviet Union prior to and after glasnost. Ever since the communists took power, the people in those regions where this man preached only knew Christianity through the perspective of skeptical, state-mandated atheism in which they were instructed from infancy. He faced plenty of questions that seemed quite cynical but were sometimes asked from individuals contemplating spiritual matters. He explained that he had to become aware of the propaganda waged by the government against religion (and Christianity in particular).

We now live in a society where it is becoming increasingly skeptical of Christianity. Some atheists or skeptics are, like you said, cynics who ask questions as defense mechanisms and are completely resistant toward conviction or learning the truth. Some almost feel like they are on a mission to discredit Christianity or faith in general. Still, I think that there are others who might truly ponder spiritual matters. More importantly, I think that there are some people who may not be participating firsthand in such discussions or debates, but they are simply secondhand "hearers" and "readers." They may be truly looking for answers and are unsatisfied with what they get from obstinate and bitter atheists or from Christians who just can't seem to offer any answers to relevant questions.

You're certainly right about some of these answers (e.g., Yes, the Bible DID condone slavery in the Old Testament; Yes, the Old Testament law did include stipulations about stoning rebellious children; Yes, individuals -- including babies -- were commanded to be put to death in the Old Testament, etc...); however, I think that it is important to explain these things from a distinctly New Testament Christian perspective.


_________________
Christopher

 2015/1/9 14:00Profile
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7431
Mississippi

 Re:

In my own walk with the LORD, working to find answers to questions that perplexed me, I can say that God heard my questions and in time showed me the answers. Every time. I was too scared to voice my questions to others lest people would criticize me. So I carried this burden by myself.

In counseling people at the CPC I learned they knew they were sinning and that God does not approve. In my 15 years there I met only one person who appeared to be oblivious to this reality. Since they know many will work to justify it. Having encountered it one too many times I am left wondering what benefit is my counseling? Then I was forced to pray that God would send in only people He has been working with and He took me at my word and did so. Huge difference. Didn't enhance the stats though, but that is not what it was all about.

I am convinced, too, that mere argument/debate has limited value in helping people understand. It takes Holy Spirit conviction. In this process the HS will/may use a statement someone made somewhere sometime to bring this about.

Yes, we do need to know the WORD so we can rightly defend, explain what we believe and why.

God bless.

Sandra


_________________
Sandra Miller

 2015/1/9 15:09Profile





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