During Sunday services on February 25, Pastor Dan asked the people of Grace to text in questions during all three services. There was a great response! Barry Poudrier, with Pastor Dan’s input, is answering those that weren’t answered in service! Watch for a series of these posts in the coming days for more answers.
Barry has gone to Grace for over four years and is an avid apologist. He has a background in training, development, and technology. He also has a passion for music and plays acoustic guitar on Grace’s Worship Team.
For this post, Barry answers questions that are more apologetically slanted. Apologetics are reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, in this case, God. We’ll post more answers soon!
1. How do you defend the existence of God?
Remember, no matter what, always lead with love. Then begin with these concepts:
Why is there something rather than nothing? Either God created the universe, or the universe came from nothing by nothing and for nothing. God is not a less logical explanation of reality than a universe which randomly created itself out of nothing.
The universe is perfectly tuned for the existence of intelligent life, despite the impossible odds. Critical conditions for our very survival (like gravitational force, distance from the sun, etc.) occurring purely through random chance are hugely improbable. Roger Penrose of Oxford states, “the odds of the universe’s initial state existing by chance alone is 10 to the tenth to the one hundred and twenty third power – a number so inconceivable that to call it astronomical would be an understatement”.
If God does not exist, then objective morals do not exist – no good, no evil, just self-interest. All ethics are an illusion to be discarded. Popular atheist author Richard Dawkins states, “There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference… We are machines for propagating DNA… It is every living object’s sole ‘reason’ for being”.
2. There are many different religions, and everyone believes with the same conviction that theirs is the truth, so how do we know Christianity is the correct one?
Origin, meaning, morality, and destiny – regardless of a person’s religion, these are the questions all people seek to answer. It would be fair to say all major religions have elements of truth in them. The question then becomes, “Does Christianity have a right to make exclusive claims regarding the truth of origin, meaning, morality and destiny?” Toward that end, there are significant and unique aspects of Christianity which support its position to make these claims:
There is a strong historical background – The life of Jesus of Nazareth has been documented by Roman and Jewish, as well as Christian historians. The Gospels and books of the New Testament read as historical accounts with specific persons, places and things mentioned – not with the literary vagueness of mythology.
There is a unique worldview – A thread through most religions puts the requirement on the individual to gain spiritual progression and purification. Christianity reverses this by stating there is nothing we can do within ourselves to improve our state spiritually – we are dependent entirely on Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross to bring us into relationship with God. We can’t do it on our own.
It squares with the reality of life – Christianity deals continuously with the state of human existence, not with a lofty poetic, but rather, brutally honest assessment of the human condition. According to Christianity, we are flawed, we suffer (often because of our own actions) and we are more inclined to be hypocritical in our thoughts and actions than genuinely altruistic. In short, we need a Savior.
The testimony of the martyrs – The original followers of Christ did exactly what you’d expect them to do once their leader was arrested – they scattered and hid, even denying any association with Him to protect themselves from prosecution. Yet, these same followers, after claiming they had seen Jesus of Nazareth resurrected, routinely went to their deaths proclaiming their belief in Him.
3. Why do Christians insist on battling over doctrinal/ritual differences?
Because Christians are first and foremost, imperfect people. Even the earliest churches in the Bible had points of division in them which they were reprimanded for by the apostles. This all-too-human behavior is very different from what Jesus and the Bible teaches – in 2 Timothy it says, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth”.
Our focus should be on what the Bible and Jesus actually says, and not the trappings of human nature – ego, the need to be right, etc.
I’ll say it again, remember, whenever presenting a defense for Christ, always lead with love.