Why: Two Values, Two Excuses, One Reassurance

theology apologetics culture thinker

Christians must not be afraid of the whys which we encounter, whether it is from nonbelievers challenging our faith or our own young people doubting theirs.

Why is inevitable. But, why is also valuable. Continue reading “Why: Two Values, Two Excuses, One Reassurance”

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Why: A Short History

Asking why is a habit that is near and dear to all our hearts. It’s one of those things that is simply a part of being human.

At every age level, we ask why.

My six-year-old son, like every six-year-old, asks why about everything just out of sheer curiosity. It never gets old…to him.

I’ve noticed the teenagers I teach ask why about everything. However, it is out of a genuine concern for understanding and with a pure commitment to respect for authority. (They also often ask me why I’m so sarcastic.)

We adults look at teenagers and ask why. Just why?

By the way, teenagers need not resent that statement. Every adult has had that moment where they looked back in time at themselves. We remember something we said, something we wore, something we did, or something we did to our hair, and we ask ourselves why.

Many why questions we have in life are much more imperative in nature. These are the questions about who we are as people, what we ought to believe, how we ought to live. Perhaps the most important questions we will ever ask concern our identity as Christians.

But, here’s the thing…

It is precisely those questions of eternal importance which we so often avoid. We hear a why brought to conversations about our beliefs and we fall back, not willing to see where those conversations may lead.

The Bible, however, exposes this as more than a bad habit. It is disobedience of the most dangerous sort. We are commanded to “be ready always to give an answer” to every why. Continue reading “Why: A Short History”

Both Sides of Every Story

open book apologetics worldviews

As quotable as C.S. Lewis is, my favorite quote of his has to be the following:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

As was his style, in this one statement he says so much. The Christian worldview is not without its evidence. However, multitudes of skeptics over the centuries, to include Lewis, have been convinced, not only by the truth they see in Christianity but also by the truth that it enables them to see.

Ultimately Ultimate

We can categorize worldviews at the most general level by their concept of ultimate reality. They may be defined by how they answer questions about the nature of being, namely “What is there?”—what philosophers call ontology—and “Where did it come from?”—what philosophers call cosmology. Based on their answers to answers to these questions, every worldview essentially falls under one of three categories: naturalism, pantheism, or theism.

There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately physical. That is to say, “there is nothing more to the mental, biological and social realms than arrangements of physical entities.”[1] These worldviews are often grouped in the category of naturalism.

There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately spiritual. That is to say, there is only “a single spiritual entity, of which the physical world must be understood as a partial manifestation.”[2] These worldviews are often grouped in the category of pantheism.

Finally, there are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately “owed to one supreme Being, who is distinct from Creation.”[3] That is to say, there is “a dualistic relation between God and the world,”[4] typically asserting that God is both transcendent, existing outside of and being sovereign over the physical universe, as well as immanent, existing inside of and being involved with the physical universe.

These descriptions are massively oversimplified by necessity. Each category includes a long list of specific philosophies and religions, many of which have precious little in common with others in the same category. Some seem to be more viable options than others. Some have many more adherents than others. However, the one thing that unites them is their view of reality, what is ultimately ultimate.

The question we have now is, which one is ultimately right? Continue reading “Both Sides of Every Story”

Believing in Miracles in an Age of Skepticism

3 Reasons to Believe that Miracles are Possible

In a few weeks, millions of Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For many of them, the resurrection has become more about commemorating a tradition than about affirming a doctrine. Nevertheless, as we saw last week, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is central to the entire Christian faith. Historic Christianity does not just affirm a generic idea of resurrection, nor does it hold to a spiritualization of Jesus’ resurrection. Historic Christianity, that is Biblical Christianity, is founded on the miraculous event of Jesus Christ’s death by crucifixion and physical resurrection.

Yet, believing in such an astonishing miracle has become increasingly difficult in this age of skepticism. For some people, miracles are a deal breaker in terms of religious belief. Many adhere to Christian ideals and admire Christian contributions in the world. But, accepting a miracle as anything more than a symbolic myth seems too backward for the modern mind.

The late Christopher Hitchens, bestselling author and ardent atheist, frequently debated Christians in a formal setting. He often began his cross-examination by simply asking his opponent, “Do you really believe that Jesus rose from the dead?” When the Christian predictably answered yes, Hitches would turn to his audience and declare, “Ladies and gentlemen, my opponent has just demonstrated that science has done nothing for his worldview.”[1]

The accusation is straightforward, but it cuts deeply. Can a person appreciate modern science and at the same time believe Biblical Christianity with its insistence on the reality of miracles?

Here’s the thing…

I believe you can. The following are three reasons why.
Continue reading “Believing in Miracles in an Age of Skepticism”

Is Inherited Belief Inherently False?

Five problems with believing that it is

An idea has made its way from the halls of academia onto the pages of bestselling books and highly-followed blogs. The idea is that a person’s religious beliefs are largely determined by the culture in which that person lives. That is to say, religion is culturally conditioned. On a societal level, families are pressured by way of politics or economics to conform to a religious norm. On a personal level, children are pressured by way of indoctrination to conform. Many conclude, therefore, that religious belief is generally not so much about finding truth or trusting God, as much as it is about brainwashing and fitting in.

In his book The God Delusion, Dr. Richard Dawkins explained it this way:

If you are religious at all, it is overwhelmingly probable that your religion is that of your parents. If you were born in Arkansas and you think Christianity is true and Islam false, knowing full well that you would think the opposite if you had been born in Afghanistan, you are the victim of childhood indoctrination.[1]

Many people in many places have addressed this issue, but their arguments always seem to boil down to two main objections:

Continue reading “Is Inherited Belief Inherently False?”

No Blind Faith Here

A Modern Misconception

For many people, the term “blind faith” is redundant. The popular assumption is that a sort of blindness is inherent, and often intentional, in religious faith. This notion is prevalent in popular conversation on the topic. Famous quotes are thrown around, like that time that Mark Twain quipped, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Or there was that one time Ayn Rand wrote, “Faith is the commitment of one’s consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof.” In his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian identified his two favorite definitions of faith as “belief without evidence” and “pretending to know things you don’t.”

By definition—at least by popular definition—faith is blind.

Consequently, faith and rationality are often seen as incompatible, mutually exclusive terms. They are treated as opposite approaches to truth. On a popular level, it is assumed by many unbelievers that if a person is rational, they have no need for faith. On a personal level, it is assumed by many believers that if a person has faith, there is no need for rationality.

But why do we assume that there is this great divide between faith and reason?

Here’s the thing…

I don’t know.

The Bible describes a marriage between faith and reason, not a divorce. Besides, everyone’s worldview at some point rests on accepting a foundational idea by faith, no matter how much rationality precedes it.

Continue reading “No Blind Faith Here”

Talking Young People and Their Worldviews

What keeps young people in the church as adults? What are those who leave missing? What must we do to keep them?

Statistics for young people who leave the church after becoming adults have been haunting pastors, teachers, and parents since the early 2000s. As early as 2005, the Barna Group found that 61% of young adults who had been raised in evangelical homes and churches described themselves as “spiritually disengaged.” Similar statistics have been rising steadily ever since. Depending on the scope and demographics being studied, research has found that the current percentage of churched young people turning from the faith as young adults is well over 70%.

On a personal level, I see these statistics as a glaring reality. Growing up in a vibrant youth group with scores of teenagers at any given meeting, I can attest to the accuracy of the statistics. A large portion of the people I grew up with has moved away from any active involvement in church. For many, the personal connection diminished as we grew up, or else was decimated by church scandal. Many, facing the harshness of life, found few answers to the questions thrown at them by circumstances and doubts.  Now, as a youth worker and high school teacher, I have seen young people who are heavily involved in our church as teenagers go off to college, never to return. Many have found homes at other churches in other parts of the country, for which I am deeply grateful. However, at least an equal number have simply not allowed church to remain a meaningful part of their lives. A significant portion has walked away from the faith altogether.

Continue reading “Talking Young People and Their Worldviews”