Christianity is a Fact-Based Religion
Christianity is grounded in facts and evidence, both historical and scientific. Its claims about God, God’s creation, God’s plan of redemption, the Bible, the ministry, miracles and above all – the resurrection of Jesus can be objectively verified through evidences by studying astronomy, physics, molecular biology and genetics, archaeology, history, the Bible and ancient non-Biblical documents. These claims are not merely imposed as “truth” by one person through some revelation. Therefore Christianity (and Judaism) stands on a foundation of evidence completely different from other religions. In comparison, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and all the other religions of the world largely rely upon a revelation to one “prophet.” This prophet subsequently writes a book of his revelations, which becomes the “bible” on which the faith of his followers rests.
Jesus, however, never wrote a book, perhaps not even a letter. How did Jesus actually conduct his “three-year campaign” and how would it compare to the ways people nowadays try to get their message across? When we consider the basic facts about His life, the vast impact He has had is nothing short of incredible.
Jesus taught his apostles, who after His resurrection took the gospel message throughout the world. That message is still spread by Christians today. Unlike the approach of most other religions, non-believers are invited to hear the Word, assess the message themselves and by exercising their free will, choose to become (and remain) a believer. Unlike Islam, Christianity does not try to insulate its believers against the influence of other religions; rather it trains its followers to distinguish between true and false teachings. To do this the Christian believer must research and challenge, then verify and assess these first principles, the basic truths of the faith. One needs to make up one’s own mind about this. Do not accept something as true just because someone tells you so. Accept only those truths that YOU, after careful consideration, believe to be TRUTH. Only then you can know these truths, and honestly accept them as such, grow stronger in your faith, and “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14).
The study of the evidences for the Christian faith is called Christian Apologetics. The word apologetics comes from the Greek απολογία (“apologia,” which means a verbal defense, answer, or reply). Therefore, Christian apologetics deals with all critics who oppose or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible. Christian apologetics includes complex subjects such as Biblical manuscript transmission, philosophy, biology, mathematics, evolution, and logic, but it can also consist of simple answers to questions about Jesus or a Bible passage.
It is important to approach these questions and issues related to Christianitian apologetics with an open mind. Try to be objective and judge the information in such a manner. Seek to avoid the bias of preconceived ideas. Presume innocence until guilt is proved. Position yourself to be the jury in a trial and insist upon objective evidence. Remember that the faith of Christianity is not afraid of open, honest inquiry; no truth fears investigation.
The Great Men of History
Ask anybody: “Who are the great men in human history?” And likely you will near names such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy or perhaps even Ronald Reagan. What do these men have in common? What made them great? They were successful because they were powerful, and with this power they changed the course of history by their heroic actions, ruling countries or even whole continents.
How different these “great men” are when compared to the person of Jesus of Nazareth!
Jesus had little of what made these great men of history great: certainly no political clout, no military machine, no war chest. Most of us know the basic facts about Jesus’ life and ministry, but still, read the following summary of the powerful impact of His message, His death and His resurrection:
How different is Jesus compared to the great world leaders. Alexander the Great and Napoleon were fabled warriors – Jesus never held a sword or led an army. George Washington liberated his people from foreign occupation – Jesus never raised even His voice against the Roman occupiers of His country. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were all elected to head powerful governments – Jesus never ran for office. He never marshaled the power of government to enforce social changes. Most renowned leaders have been wealthy– Jesus owned little and lived with the poor. And lastly, all great world leaders were famous during their lifetime, but are dead now – Jesus died as a criminal and was executed by crucifixion, but His death was the birth of Christianity.
Jesus of Nazareth is by far the greatest person in history. He did not pursue the agendas which made others great, still He towers above them all. He turned the world upside down as no one had done before or has done after Him. Now one-third of the world population calls themselves His followers, Christians and even those who do not follow Him, still experience the impact He had, has had, and will have on the world. This observation alone sets Him aside from all others.
Christianity and Christian apologetics are based on facts and evidences, and it demands nothing less than truth. Throughout the Bible, God’s word is claimed to be true, as Jesus himself said in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus was arrested by the Jews and tried by the Romans. Interrogated by the governor, “Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” (John 18:37).
special note of Pilate’s reply, asked whimsically:
“’What is truth?’ Pilate asked.” (John 18:38).
Today truth is a very sensitive subject. Many say truth is whatever you declare it to be, and no absolute truth exists. Any argument for absolute truth is considered a political blunder, a self-incriminating mark of judgmental intolerance.
Absolute truth does exist, logically proved by the statement: "There exists an absolute truth." Suppose we claim this to be false, that is, that there is no such thing as absolute truth. By making that assertion, we claim that the sentence "There exists no absolute truth" is absolutely true. That statement is self-contradictory, so its negation is true: “There exists an absolute truth.”
The same concept applies to Christian apologetics and truths. Objective proof that Christianity is based on true and valid facts implies other religions and/or beliefs cannot be true at the same time. Modern society calls that intolerant, but it is the logical consequence of absolute truth.
The discussion of truth and absolute truth has filled many books and even fueled long arguments. For our purpose here, it is important to realize that truth and even absolute truth, does exist, and it is essential to recognize some characteristics of truth are not always well accepted in our society:
Truth is intolerant: This is a necessary implication. Two plus two adds up to four, and the answer cannot be three or five. Hence the correct answer is only four and that truth is absolute. It is not open to various “interpretations” nor can it be changed to better fit our “politically correct” culture. This also applies to Christianity. If claims of Christianity are true, then conflicting claims cannot be true. Therefore, it is logically impossible to consider the option that “all religions are the same and it does not matter which one you believe” as many people think. Each religion makes claims that conflict with those of other religions, and such cannot all be true.
Truth does not have to be liked or to be popular to be true: Many people reject God or Christianity because:
· They do not like a God who allows evil and suffering to exist.
· They do not like God’s commands.
· They do not like a God who ordered innocent children killed and commanded whole nations be destroyed.
· They do not like a God who allows only believers in Christ’s sacrifice for our sin to go to heaven.
· They think the church is full of hypocrites.
· And so on.
Disliking the truth does not make it less true! I might not like the speed limit on the highway or taxes to be paid, but these are still the rules and I must obey them. If I decide not to do so, these laws are still valid; if I speed I can get a ticket, and if I do not pay my taxes I will suffer the consequences.
Truth does not have to be the majority opinion: Truth does not require a majority consensus. For instance, for a very long time most folks thought the world flat, but we long since discovered the fallacy of that belief. Fifty years ago the scientific community preached modern man had been around for more that 1 million years. Now the scientific majority opinion has shifted to less than 100,000 years, and many believe mankind has been around even less than 50,000 years. The truth has not changed, only the majority opinion. So we must be careful as we search for truth to be certain our conclusion is backed by solid evidence and genuine facts, and that it is not just what the majority wants it to be.
The famous writer G.K. Chesterton summarizes our tendency to dislike the truth:
“Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we
have made fiction to suit ourselves.”
Ultimately there are only three reasons why people do not accept and follow truth:
Ignorance: They just do not know about the truth because either they never had an opportunity to hear about it (like people who live in remote places where the gospel has not yet been heard) or they were wrongly informed (like Muslims indoctrinated with teachings that shun honest research and verification).
Rebellion: They have heard the truth but decided not to accept it. Many people in our society today for self-centered reasons simply like the way they live and do not want to change their behavior.
Apathy: They just do not care for it. It is simply not interesting to them. They are indifferent. In our times, this might be the largest (and fastest growing) group of non-believers as people are more and more occupied with themselves. Day-to-day affairs of the world distract them so thoroughly that even thinking about truth is not relevant. Such concerns do not make it on their radar screen, so to speak.
Agnostic-turned-Christian apologist and historian C.S. Lewis summarized the current tendency towards apathy in the following quote: 
“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft
underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without
Finding truth through Christian apologetics and by studying the evidences, requires one to be open minded, objective and honest. Only when one is willing to consider all the facts and evidences without a preconceived conclusion one can find truth. This sounds simple and obvious, but in practice it is always much harder to apply.
Two Main Arguments against Christianity
Non-believers present numerous vigorous objections against Christianity. Of these, two arguments are likely the most popular and seem to be the strongest and each addressed by apologetics as well:
Life’s Big Questions
As far as I can tell, every human being at some point in life struggles with some variation of these four basic questions:
Throughout human history, people have tried to answer these questions. Science and philosophy are silent on these questions. Only religion, along with its associated worldview, is able to show purpose and provide meaningful answers.
Early, more primitive civilizations associated the supernatural with natural phenomena such as the sun, moon and stars. World religions today center upon three views of God:
This leads to the following (simplified) overview of the possible answers to “life’s big questions”:
Table 1- 1 : The Various Worldviews
Clearly these answers vary widely dependent on one’s view of God. Therefore, it is only logical to start our quest for truth with an in-depth analysis to decide if we can find conclusive evidence for the existence of God. This will be the topic of our first discussion in the next chapters as we start our research into Christian apologetics.
Next to: Does God Exist?
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