Monday, August 19, 2013

Ambassador Challenge #4: Is The Bible Reliable?

The Da Vinci Code put the criticism of the reliability of the Bible on the cultural map by embedding several controversial claims into the public square:
  • The accepted history of Christianity is a lie.
  • The Gospels are remarkably inaccurate.
  • Constantine got rid of other competing gospels.
  • Judaism and early Christianity were actually religions of goddess worship.
  • Jesus was clearly not God.
DVC had a huge impact on the public perception of the Bible. For some, it confirmed their disbelief. For others, it caused them to doubt the reliability of the Bible, and they scrambled to come up with a way to cling to Jesus while explaining away the Bible.  Of course, we learn about Jesus through the Bible, so the reliability of the Bible is kind of a big deal. As a way of thinking through some of the claims, here are some minimal facts about the Bible that it would be helpful to know.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ambassador Challenge #3: Do All Roads Lead To God?

Religious people generally choose one of four different positions when talking about God: exclusivism, inclusivism, pluralism or universalism. 

  •  Exclusivism (particularism). There is one true religion. An exclusivist follower of Christ claims Christianity is the only true religion, and salvation is impossible without explicit trust in Christ. 
  • Inclusivism. Others can experience the benefits of the one true religion in spite of following a false religion. An inclusivist follower of Christ claims there is no salvation outside of Christ, but God will extend grace to those who have partial or distorted knowledge and implicitly – perhaps unknowingly – believe in him. God can be sought and found in other religions in spite of their flaws, and that will be salvatory.
  •  Pluralism. All religions are capable of leading to God (think Life of Pi). This is the basic idea behind the imagery on bumper stickers like “CoExist.”
  •  Universalism. Eventually, all will be saved no matter what they believe.
The claim that all roads lead to God is a pluralist position, though some forms of inclusivism may claim this as well. There are two basic claims that the religious pluralist makes: All of us are right because we know something about God, and what we see will be sufficient to lead us to God.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ambassador Challenge #2: Can Truth Be Known?

In Acts 17, the Greek philosophers told Paul he had some “strange ideas” about God because he talked about Jesus and the Resurrection. Paul responded by giving them this classic speech in which he quoted their poets and writers and while making a general case for the God’s existence before arriving at the conclusion that Jesus was, in fact, God.
Last week we took a similar approach by asking how we can be effective ambassadors for Christ give reasons for the existence of God. This week we will be looking more closely at issues involving truth – specifically, what do we do when we engage with someone who is agnostic; that is, skeptical that truth can be known.  John records the following conversation when Jesus was taken to Pilate for trial:
“The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. (John 18:37-38)
This was not an unusual response from a man who was probably greatly influenced by the skeptical philosophers around him. One famous saying at the time (from Pliny) was, “The only certain thing is that nothing is certain.”
We as Christians will eventually make the claim that not only can we know Christ in the sense that we can experience him; we can know Him in the sense that we can gain some sort of objective knowledge about him. In a world full of voices that increasingly sound like Pilate and Pliny, how can we navigate in a conversation with an agnostic from Point A (Skepticism or Agnosticism) to Point B (Truth) and eventually Point C (Truth about Christ)?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ambassador Challenge #1:Does God Exist?

Christian theologians often cite three classic reasons for believing the Christian God exists. They do not claim that these arguments lead to final, complete truth, only that their cumulative impact (through the use of abductive reasoning) presents a reasonable, compelling case for God’s existence.

1) The Cosmological Argument

Why is there something rather than nothing? Cosmological arguments have to do with the origin of the universe. Not the universe as in planets and stars, but the universe as in everything that is. It is often presented in this simple syllogistic style:
  • Everything that begins to exist has a cause 
  • The universe began to exist 
  • The universe has a cause 
In short – something outside of the universe caused the universe. As Greg Koukl likes to say, “a big bang needs a big banger”.