I was recently asked by a friend of a friend to help out with some tricky questions for an Apologetics course, ie. defending the Christian faith from scrutiny and skepticism. I was intrigued by the questions and felt I should share both the questions and answers on our blog. Please comment to add to your reasons for or against.
How is the Christian Gospel perceived in the culture today?
Hypocritical, narrow, inconsistent, or old-fashioned–to name a few. I think this is mostly because Christians are not living consistent with the Christianity of the Bible. We define hypocritical behavior by saying we believe in Christ and denying Him with our actions. Our definition of “Christian” is many times dealing with someone who just becomes a member of a church or goes to a church regularly, maybe. But the true definition, is someone who patterns his or her life after Christ, a devotee or faithful follower.
What are some moral reasons people may reject the Christian Gospel?
A lot of the arguments deal with a misconception of the God of the Old Testament. He asked the Israelites to kill men, women, and children in many cases…and to eradicate entire people groups. This can be understood though, if we understand what these people groups were doing to their own children…like sacrificing them, alive, and throwing them in a fire. If these things, and much worse, were happening today, we would rise up and stop it. There is also a good genetic argument that stems back to the time of Noah, that left many of these people altered, to say the least, or diseased mentally and spiritually. Other than this, many people, without a deep grasp on the Bible, feel like God doesn’t make sense morally. We have to ask ourselves if sin begets death? If it does, God’s actions are not too strenuous. He is trying to keep us from pain and heartache, not to mention death. Remember, sin is not bad because it is forbidden; it’s forbidden because it is bad.
What are some emotional reasons people have for rejecting the Christian Gospel?
Emotional grievances with Christianity almost always come from personal harm or loss caused by someone, especially a family member, professing to be a Christian. Examples of this include a pastor who steals from his church or commits adultery with someone in the church, or a false teacher who has led someone into cult-like behavior, or a parent who has abused or beat their child in some way, all the while going to church and touting a faith in Christ. The most dangerous person in the world is a hypocritical or backslidden Christian. They may know the truth or some of it, but have made the willful choice to act contrary or destructively on a whim, often hurting the faith or lives of many others. Our sin always affects the people around us.
What are some intellectual reasons people may reject the Christian Gospel?
Many times, an intellectual affront to the Gospel is caused by a perceived contradiction or error in either the Bible or Christian action. Since we have already addressed the problems with Christian action (Christians don’t act like Jesus, or even know what that means), let’s talk about apparent contradictions on the Bible. Most people usually hear an argument, or better, a comment or opinion from somebody sounding “smart,” and it makes general sense. Most people also want to find a reason NOT to believe the Bible or what it says…nor do they want to know who God is. But we need to know who we are listening to; not everyone who teaches or professes at a school may actually know what they are talking about. Many atheists have confessed that, it isn’t that they DON’T believe in God, but that they DON’T WANT to believe in the God who is presented to them. They also usually don’t want to deal with the implications of what God may require of their lives, if He really exists.
You will also run into teachers and professors who have been morally or emotionally compromised themselves, who then side with intellectual standpoints that back up an already wounded soul towards God. This is how these various reasons to reject the Gospel can snowball. Most rejection of belief intellectually, begins in personal injury. If you can make a dent in the Bible intellectually, maybe the whole thing is flawed anyway. But, when errors or contradictions are looked into, in the original languages, with the evidence of history and archaeology, many seeming errors or arguments against, deflate. Also, the sheer staying power of Christianity and countless individual testimonies cannot be simply ignored. On top of this, there are historically documented revivals (especially in the last 400-500 years) and entire countries affected by the Gospel to the power of the saving of souls.
What can Christians do to address these objections and communicate the Christian Gospel?
The answer to this one is simple and profound, singular but with many parts: Read your Bible. Do what your Bible says. Pray. Pray a lot. Worship God with your words and your life. Know what it truly means to be a Disciple of Christ…a student, devotee, understudy, carbon-copy, etc. Love your neighbor. Don’t just go to church, be the church. Pick up your cross…die to your self (don’t coddle it)…and follow Jesus. Receive the Holy Spirit. Trust God with your life; He knows what He is doing. Feed the spirit, spiritual things; rather than the flesh, fleshly thing. Keep fighting. Never give up. Understand the grace that has saved you.
This is good for starters. Do you see the theme? Statistics say that Christians don’t read their Bibles or understand them or follow what they say. Statistics also say that Christians are low on prayer, low on love, and don’t like being uncomfortable. And our problems are just as bad as all the rest of the world’s problems. With all that Christ has promised us in His Word, this should not be.