Archive for April, 2015

Faith and evidenceSo, who insisted that Christianity is built entirely on faith? That’s never been my viewpoint and I’m struggling to think of even one Christian who makes this notion their line in the sand.

And yet, someone in an atheist Internet community posted this graphic and figured it would cause lots of people to nod in agreement.

But making a statement in a graphic doesn’t make it true. It would be like me insisting all atheists are militant, arrogant and patronizing. Equally false.

Before I get going here, let me make it clear that faith is definitely a key part of following Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God). In fact, one of Jesus’s ancient followers spells it out: “Whoever comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who sincerely try to find Him.”

But nowhere does any of the ancient source documents about Jesus claim that evidence is irrelevant. Indeed, evidence is mentioned at key points.

Consider the resurrection of Jesus, which is one of the most important parts of Christianity. In a letter from a missionary named Paul (who spent much of his life telling people about Jesus), he wrote that after rising from the dead, “Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.”

That certainly reads like evidence to me, especially as the underlying message is ‘if you don’t believe me about the resurrection, then go ahead and investigate for yourself’. If following Jesus is built entirely on faith, why would any of his ancient followers make this statement?

Here’s another example, from one of the people Jesus personally trained to follow after Him: “We didn’t repeat crafty myths when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Quite the contrary, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes.” Again, more evidence.

The website FaithFacts.org has this take on the faith vs. evidence debate:
Blind faith is faith without evidence, which would be superstition. The Bible does not call us to blind faith. The Bible calls us to faith in evidence. We submit that various truth claims, including Christianity, should be evaluated on the evidence.

I can tell you, without any hesitation, that if I was called to follow Jesus based solely on faith, I probably wouldn’t be a follower today. I was presented with evidence, then asked to make a leap of faith based on that evidence and based on the logic of following Jesus. I made that leap and have never regretted it.

So, where do you stand? Does a mix of faith and evidence make sense to you when considering Jesus? If it does, have you done any research? You may have friends or family members who discourage checking out the claims of Jesus, but this is important stuff.

Do the work. And if you still have questions, check out the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (http://carm.org/). Or email me at fdking@hotmail.com. I’ll do my imperfect best to help.

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Bill Maher atheismFirst of all, “religion” certainly is dangerous, and for more reasons than Bill Maher lists in this meme. Like Maher (a well-known TV host/political commentator/atheist), I want nothing to do with “religion” and I explain why here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-cP.

Now, what about “faith” (an entirely different thing) being dangerous? Are there people out there who believe their faith affiliation supplies all the answers to every question? Sadly, yes.

In my faith, saying Jesus of Nazareth — who many people believe is the Son of God — is the answer to everything is superficial and, in my opinion, shows a disturbing lack of thought.

(Then again, we live in a culture that discourages thoughtful living, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.)

I have all kinds of questions that following Jesus doesn’t answer:

  • Is there life on other planets?
  • If there is life on other planets, do they know about God?
  • Why is our world set up so people and animals kill and eat each other to survive?
  • When is Jesus going to return (as primary source Jesus biographies say He will)?
  • Why is spirituality so repugnant to some people and so welcome to others?
  • And finally, how did hip-hop ever become popular? 😉

What’s truly fascinating is that Jesus Himself didn’t know the answers to all the questions. Before He was crucified on a Roman cross, one of his followers asked when He would return. Jesus replied “No one knows when that day or time will be. The Son and the angels in heaven don’t know when it will be. Only the Father knows.”

Does this bother some Jesus followers? Probably. But it doesn’t bother me; serious Jesus followers like me believe He is God AND man and when He was physically on earth, Jesus set his Godhood aside. Thus the lack of knowledge about His return.

But what about my questions? There was a time when some of them, especially the third question, disturbed me greatly. I’m not nearly so disturbed today, but these unanswered questions are still important.

Our culture tends to suggest we can be God, with all the wisdom, all the technology and all the resources to command our lives and destinies. But my questions (which I don’t believe science can ever answer) are important and necessary because they remind me that God is God. And I am NOT.

So what about you; do your unanswered questions keep you from seriously investigating what it means to follow Jesus and be transformed by His love, His life, His death and His resurrection? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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More than words 4.15When I first encountered this graphic on an Internet atheist community, I thought “No way!”

But upon investigation, I’ve concluded that the ‘charge’ is correct. Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the son of God, did *not* make a blanket I-love-you statement about all of humanity.

So why do people like me insist that Jesus does, indeed, love me, YOU and everyone else? Let’s look at the evidence:

1.  Among the most famous statements in ancient documents comes from one of the four primary-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on earth. It states “God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.

Does it make even a bit of sense that God would not want Jesus to love the world the way He does?

2.  In that same biography, Jesus tells his followers “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they [people who believe in Him] can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Again, why would Jesus care about the kind of lives people are living if He didn’t love them?

3.  One of Jesus’ earliest and most influential followers told people that “Christ had no sin. But God made him become sin. God did this for us so that in Christ we could become right with God.

This passage refers to one of the basic tenets following Jesus, that He died on a Roman cross to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. Why would Jesus do this if he didn’t love humanity? Why?

4.  One of the original-source Jesus biographies noted a crucial time in His life. Jesus, knowing he was about to be arrested on trumped-up charges and eventually put to death, went off on his own and prayed “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.

Why would he pray this if he wasn’t in complete union with what His Father wanted? His Father — who created you and me — wanted to take away the inevitable negative judgment on everyone who has done wrong and failed to do right (and that means every person on this planet). Why would God  — and by extension, Jesus — want to do this if He didn’t love me and YOU?

After offering up all this evidence, I’m reminded of “More Than Words”, the 1990s pop hit by Extreme. Some of the lyrics go like this:
More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
‘Cause I’d already know.

Exactly. Jesus doesn’t say He loves me. Or you. He went further and proved it by his life, death and resurrection. And all this is offered as a gift to YOU. Are you interested in accepting it? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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