Responses to Common Objections to the Christian Faith
It is common when witnessing for my presentation of the gospel to be refuted with reasons as to why it cannot be true. These objections, while intellectual in nature, are often rooted in something deeper such as an unwillingness to surrender to God or an experience of disappointment with God, that has resulted in a resistance to spiritual truth.
For example, a high school-aged boy at a Eugene park repeatedly responded with angry questions as a fellow Christian and I attempted to share the gospel with him. For thirty minutes he heatedly offered intellectual arguments. Then, all of the sudden, he blurted out: “And why would God not answer my prayer when I called out to him after my dad died!”
At that point, what seemed like a fruitless conversation, became personal and warm. At the root of this boy’s objections was a feeling that God had let him down. With the real issue revealed, my friend and I were able to show him compassion and pray for him. He left us eager to go home and read the gospel of John. The lesson I learned that day was that intellectual arguments against the gospel often have an emotional source.
Sometimes resistance to the gospel is rooted in genuine questions about our beliefs. It is important that we be able to clearly articulate the Christian perspective on tough issues. The following are questions I frequently hear and my typical response to them:
“What do Christians (or God) have against homosexuals
When this subject comes up I try to draw the person’s attention to this larger truth: All of us have sinned, fallen short of the glory of God and need a Savior. I state God’s standard regarding sexuality: that it is intended to be expressed in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. I want them to know that God is not “picking on homosexuals.” Homosexual activity is one of many sins for which people need forgiveness. My main purpose is not to change their views on homosexuality (that can come later.) My purpose is to get them to consider Christ.
I try to direct the conversation toward Jesus and their response to him.
Doesn’t evolution disprove the Bible?
Regarding science and evolution, I sometimes get in over my head. I am no scientist! However, my usual way of dealing with this subject is to appeal to the argument for intelligent design. I offer the complexity and sophistication of just about any body part or the many systems of the body and their interdependence as an argument for an intelligent designer. The random changes over millions of years that evolution proposes is an inadequate explanation for the magnificence of the natural world.
If there is a God who is good, why is there so much evil in the world
As to the difficult question of how a good God can allow evil, I bring up the devil as well as the effects of the fall, including the sinful nature of humanity as an explanation. I point out that God’s ways are higher than ours and often beyond our comprehension and that an eternal viewpoint helps us bring evil events into perspective. I also explain how Christian faith not only has a good explanation for evil but also offers a way for people to overcome it.
How do you know the Bible is true?
On the matter of the truthfulness of the Bible, people often say that it is unreliable because it has been changed or re-written so many times. While it is true that there were many copying errors made with the New Testament, it is not difficult for scholars to analyze those copies and determine what the original says.
I point out that the Bible claims to be God’s word. For example, Paul states that
“all Scripture is God breathed”
(2 Tim. 3:16). Peter claimed that
“no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”
(2 Peter 1:20-21).
Of course, just because someone makes a claim, does not make that claim true. I draw their attention to the dozens of Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled- particularly ones dealing with the Messiah including his birth, death and resurrection. The large number of fulfilled prophecies is a persuasive argument for the divine nature of the Word.
Also, the consistency of the Bible is incredible given that it was written by at least 40 authors over a period of at least 1,500 years. Repeatedly, archeology has supported the events, persons and places mentioned in the Bible. And last but not least, millions of lives have been changed for the better through the truths of Scripture.
Do you really believe that people who don’t believe like you do, go to hell?
This objection has to do with the narrowness of Christianity and the penalty of hell for non-believers. When someone asks if I believe that someone is going to hell just because they don’t believe the way I do, I explain that everyone is “in trouble” with God because of their sin. God, in His mercy, provided a solution, a way to be reconciled to God, when He sent His Son to die for our sins. It is the one way that God has provided to be right with Himself. It is not a matter of people needing to believe what I believe but one of assessing whether the Bible’s statements about Jesus are true. He is the one that claimed to be the Way.
I often share that I once believed that lots of world religions contained essential truth. I borrowed what I thought was the best from each one to put together my own philosophy of life. But Jesus’ words
“I am the way and the truth and the life”
“no one comes to the Father except through me”
(John 14:6) kept haunting me. Eventually I had to decide whether or not His claims were true. Concluding that they were right, I could no longer cobble together my own composite religion. I encourage people to consider Jesus’ claims, particularly by reading the gospel of John.
Next week: “The ABCs of the Gospel”
Copyright Ed Skipper 2013