Have you ever asked this question? Well, I have, and I have an answer for myself… Yes, I believe the Bible. The current culture does not come to the Bible as a text to be honored and revered, in fact, most of the time people come to this holy book with skepticism… so how do I talk to people about the Bible.
I get the call, not all that infrequently, from a concerned parent, older relative, or friend. Someone whom they care about has decided they are an atheist. They can’t believe in the “flying spaghetti monster.” Not all that original, but definitely makes their position clear, “I can’t trust the Bible.” I think that’s the core issue. They say they don’t believe in God or Jesus, but ultimately, it’s a lack of trust in the Bible, because that is where we (Christians) get our knowledge of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
These are not technical arguments, but they are thoughts I might throw out…
- What kind of evidence would you need to see in order to believe in (the historical) Jesus? This, in my mind, gets to the heart of the matter. Mike Licona has a great book on the resurrection of Jesus. People who attack your faith are not (really) looking for reasoned arguments, they just want to throw a monkey-wrench into your faith and show you how much smarter they are than you… don’t let them get to you.
- Why don’t you apply the same evidence to everything else? The truth is, the “new atheists” place such a high bar of evidence that most things from history (or even many contemporary things) won’t pass. Do they believe in George Washington? Why? That was 200 years ago, why would your bar be higher for something 2,000 years ago. Do you believe in Julius Caesar, the greatest Emperor in one of the largest empires of all of history. Historical documents are exactly: 1 funerary inscription (at the time of his death), and 5 other documents no earlier than about 100 years after his death. That’s it. Where as, we have 27 documents that reference Jesus from within 20-60 years of his death.
- What kind of evidence would you expect? Jesus was an itinerate rabbi in the first century. He didn’t write any books, He wasn’t a ruler or a king (in the earthly sense), His fame grew after He had died, and rose again. So, what tangible evidence would you expect? The fact that we have first century historical accounts, and perhaps even some physical evidence, is ASTOUNDING for a figure such as Jesus (in human terms). He was mentioned by historical non-Christian sources in addition to the 4 Gospels/NT and other Christian writings.
- If there is reasonable evidence that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, based on objective historical data, would you believe? The answer to this is usually obfuscation. “well there isn’t such evidence…” I would point you back to Mike Licona’s book for that one. There is. Any objective Ancient Historian will tell you… Jesus lived, died, and (at least his followers believed they saw Him) rose from the dead.
If you are a Believer, does it bother you that there are people who not only don’t believe in Jesus, but will claim He wasn’t a real person, let alone was raised from the dead? It should bother you, listen to this verse:
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
- Paul not only represents the truth, he gives a command to people “be reconciled to God.” He was not “wishy-washy” or milk-toast about it, it’s a command. We need a good deal more of a spine when we talk about the Gospel, it’s not a suggestion, every person must be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Do we believe that or not? Paul did.
- Paul says the Believer is an “ambassador” for Christ. There is no “plan b” so to speak. If the world is going to hear about this command to be reconciled to God, it’s going to come from His people, the Church (cf. Rom 10:14).
- Paul tells them this is a compelling story. It is not “ho-hum” or something to be taken for granted. This is an appeal by almighty God to the hearts of men. Paul says that he “implores” people to get themselves right with God. He does not sit back and say “oh well, if they were meant to believe they will believe.” I don’t care how “calvinistic” you are, if your theology lessens your drive to plead with people to turn to God through Jesus, you’re wrong (even if you’re right).
And I guess that’s the story. I’m not hoping to convince some radical atheist out there to believe in Jesus at one reading of my blog… I’m writing more here for the Christian to be encouraged. Are you so passionate about your faith, have you been so changed that you want to tell the story? Is the “good news” all that good in your eyes?
So is the Bible true. Yes, but more importantly for your salvation, Jesus is true. Follow Him.
May this be a moment where we all pause to fan into flame that ember of faith that God used to touch us. May we go into all the world and preach the Gospel!
What about you?
Are you a Believer? If so, what was it in your own heart/mind that convinced you?
Have you encountered the “new atheists” who are “evangelistic” in their message and enthusiastic in their proselytizing?
What do you find the most convincing “arguments” for God/Jesus?