I was at work the other day, and we were all getting ready to go over to the church services. I was speaking to a friend who was asking about the times that certain businesses in the area would open up. I let him know. Then as he was leaving I suggested, politely, "why don't you join us at church sometime?" And thus began a 20 minute debate.
The objections he brought up were fiery and passionate. In fact I could hardly get a word in edge wise. Have you ever had one of those discussions with a non-believer that just seems to escalate at record paces? I have that from time to time. I've made more than one enemy simply by inviting them to church. Oh well. It's a far cry from what people like Canon White go through in Iraq, but it's a start.
Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to look at his objections (there were a lot) one by one and see if they hold weight and how one can answer those kinds of objections. It's good to learn these kinds of things, not to mention it's fascinating!
So let's see here, first..
1. "The Bible is a means of control."
Sub-objections included: "Constantine used Christianity to control the Roman empire."
"Millions of witches were burned at the stake by the Catholic church."
"Constantine was forcefully baptized on his death bed he wasn't even a Christian."
2. "Why should I differentiate between Greek myths and Christianity? It's all myth."
3. "None of the gospels were eyewitness accounts, they were stories passed down by word of mouth and weren't even recorded on papyrus until after 60 AD."
4. "I don't understand how Jesus dying on the cross is such a big sacrifice. Many people die on battlefields, or being tortured or slowly by disease over days or weeks, having died a much more painful death. And then the Bible says he rises again, so he's alive and well in heaven right now, so how is that such a big sacrifice to absolve all humanity of sin?"
5. "If God is the first cause, who made God? Saying God is eternal is a cop out."
6. "The United States has separation of church and state, so Christianity had nothing to do with the founding of the country or the freedom."
7. "There is no way Noah could gather all the animals from across the whole planet, one male and one female and get them on the ark. And there is no way Noah and his family could build such a large craft."
These are fairly common objections, don't you think? So how would you answer? What would you say?
I said very little. I couldn't get a word in. But those objections are reasonable and interesting. Let's see if there are answers..
1. So is the Bible a means of control? Is the Bible an "opiate for the masses" as Karl Marx called all religion? It's true that the Bible tells Christians to obey the ruling authorities. The Bible tells Christians to await a paradise after death. The Bible tells Christians not to seek worldly wealth. Was the Bible developed to keep the sheeple in line? I find it quite unlikely. Empirically, we've seen that the most free nations of the world are predominantly Christian nations. The United States is an excellent example. Europe as well. South Korea is another example. Then think about the opposite, think about nations that have adopted atheism. Stalin's Russia, the genocide in Cambodia, and Hitler's Nazi Germany are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. It turned out that Karl Marx's writings were used as the opiate of the masses, leading to genocide. Very ironic. Read about the genocide in Cambodia here.
Did Constantine use Christianity to control his empire? Hard to say what Constantine's motives were. But the Roman empire was originally predominantly pagan. The entry of Christianity was not by the hand of Constantine, but by the work of dedicated Christians of the early church. Constantine simply made it legal, and later the official religion of the empire. Doubtful that it was used as a means of control. Constantine had the Roman military to maintain control. As far as Constantine being baptized on his death bed, there is no way to know for certain if his baptism was sincere or not.
Finally, were millions of witches burned? At Salem, there were only twenty. A tragedy to be certain, but religiously motivated? That's speculative. Supported in the Bible? Not at all. One must not judge a religious system by how it is abused by a minority. Learn more here.
2. What's the difference between Greek myths and the Bible? A great deal, I should think. I've heard this one worded "Should I believe in leprechauns too?" There is a great difference between mythical stories and the Biblical texts. The Greek myths read like legendary myths. The "gods" in the Greek myths are petty, disturbing images of gods made in the image of man. The Jesus Christ described in the Bible is a beautiful portrait of divine perfection. The books of the Bible read like historical accounts. In addition, the historical reliability of the gospels and books of the Bible are powerful, with outside references and thousands of copies with only miniscule differences. Watch a presentation by William Lane Craig on the historicity of the gospels (at Yale University).
3. The gospels of John and Matthew were indeed eyewitness accounts written before AD 70 (before the destruction of the Jewish temple.) Mark and Luke were not eyewitness accounts, but investigative reports. Click here for information.
4. Why is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his resurrection an acceptable sacrifice for all sins? That is an excellent question. To begin with, we must understand who Jesus Christ is. He is both fully man and fully God. God himself came in human form. In addition, Jesus Christ, the God-man lived a perfect life. Never made one "mistake", "slip" or "white lie." He never sinned even once. That is unheard of. It's never ever been done. It's so alien the idea of it is ludicruous. Imagine if someone you knew, anyone, said I never made a mistake, not even once. You'd know instantly that it's a lie. God himself offered his own life, and he was killed, when he was not guilty of a single crime. Not even one. Every time I smoked a cigarette, or thought something perverse about a female, I was wracking up a debt to the architect of the universe. Since God made everything, including me, it all belongs to him. I belong to him, regardless of if I want to acknowledge that. Considering the incredible debt I've wracked up over 29 years of hurting myself and others, I am very much in need of a savior. Why does God's son Jesus provide that? Because he takes my place, and receives the punishment I should've received. He endured ridicule, hatred, torture, and a slow death on a cross. Then he descended, and endured death itself. But a pure sinless man could not remain dead, he was resurrected, because of his perfection. And so I will also be resurrected after my death, because I choose to believe that Jesus Christ is my savior, the remover of my sins. He has facilitated my rebirth into a new family, the family of God. For an incredible in depth study of the cross, I recommend a book called The Cross of Jesus Christ by John R.W. Stott.
5. The question "Who made God?" is an excellent question. Before I became a Christian, I asked this question. And Christians told me that God is eternal, he has no beginning or end. I thought that was a bad answer too. It seems like a cop-out indeed! But it's important to remember that within naturalism, the theory of the big bang one must also ask the question "What came first?" It can't just be "and then the big bang." What created the big bang? Everything that begins has a cause. Therefore one must either postulate eternal energy or eternal nothingness preceding the big bang, right? But even if so, who created the nothingness, or, who created the energy? Same problem. The architect must be outside the system, and timeless, with no beginning or end, because everything with a beginning has a cause. So God must be causeless and eternal, a state outside the human ability to comprehend. That too seemed a cop-out, but it's not. It's simply a statement of fact. Comprehending an eternal causeless being is at least somewhat impossible. Given the choice between eternal energy and a timeless divine architect, an architect seems more plausible. The Kalam Cosmological Argument explains it better than I could, click here to view the quick video.
6. Is the United States a Christian nation? The Supreme Court said so in 1892: "These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. 143 U.S. 457 (1892)."
7. How could Noah and his family build an ark of such large dimensions? Isn't the Noah story impossible? It may seem implausible, but it is certainly not impossible. Given that God exists and is an eternal being, infinite in power, he can do anything he likes. If God can call the universe into existence from nothingness, then helping Noah build a big boat doesn't seem like such a difficult task. Noah may have only had himself and his family, but according to an article from the Institute for Creation Research, Noah may have had over 100 years to build the ark. If you recall, in those ancient days people lived much longer, possibly due to more pure and unfettered DNA. Given such a large amount of time, and divine assistance, the possibility of an ark being built by a family becomes much more possible. Read the full article on ICR here.
I firmly believe in politely answering questions regarding the Bible and the Christian worldview. I believe many have honest questions that should be answered with love. Of course many have an agenda and simply wish to attack. But that's OK. There is no way to know who is sincere and who is not. So if you can get a word, offer some answers and recommend some books or Youtube videos. I always tell people to go to Youtube.com and search for videos from Ravi Zacharias, Frank Turek, and William Lane Craig my favorite Christian apologists. I also recommend C.S. Lewis books like the Problem of Pain and Mere Christianity.
But the questions and answers are only given with the hope of leading a person to Jesus Christ. He is the reason for all of it. Jesus Christ is God. People desperately need to know him, and it's painfully obvious day by day. There is so much brokeness in the world, and Jesus is the cure to all of it.
Thank you for reading, and God bless you!