<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> How Do We Know That Christianity is Right?
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How Do We Know That Christianity is Right?

By William R. Cunningham
(based on a lecture by Dr. J.P. Moreland – www.bethinking.org/resource.php?ID=191)

 

Introduction

How would you answer someone if they wanted to know why you thought that Christianity is the right way?  How do you as a Christian know without a doubt that your faith is indeed the right faith?  There are so many religions today and we have to wonder which one is right.  Muslims believe that they have the right way and so do the Hindus, Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.  How do you know which of these world religions is actually the right one?

Well that is the question we are going to discuss today.  I believe that a Christian should know why he believes what he believes.  I believe that a Christian should be able to give an answer for the faith that she has (1 Peter 3:15).  Christianity does not have to be entered into blindly, but rather it is most beneficial if the Christian knows why he or she is a Christian and why Christianity is the only way to salvation and therefore to God.

 

Know The Truth

Why should Christianity be true above all other religions?  This is a fundamental question and one that probably should be asked.  A Hindu, Jehovah’s Witness or a representative from any number of religions could approach you claiming that their religions are the only true religion.  How would you know if what he or she said was indeed the truth?  Now if we were to take the perspective of someone who is not a Christian then we would have to ask why Christianity should be true and every other religion false.

The Muslims say that they have the truth and the Jehovah’s Witnesses say that they have the truth.  How is indeed telling the truth and which one knows the truth?  Yet another view today is that everyone has a little bit of the truth so we can pick and chose from each religion to get the truth.  Let’s discuss the concept of truth so that we could better discern whether Christianity is indeed true.

 

Truth and What Works

Just because something works does not mean that it is true.  Dr. Mooreland told a story of a man that he called, One Mug.  One Mug was a dunce, but those around him treated him as though he was a genius.  They tricked him into thinking that he was very smart all the way through high school and college.  One Mug thought that everyone liked him and that he was very smart whereas the truth was that he was still a dunce.  One Mug’s belief of himself worked for him, but it was not true.

There is a difference between whether a belief works and whether it is true.  Therefore, it is important to seek the truth of a matter even if the truth doesn’t feel good.  We tend to only want to believe something if it works for us and that is the very thing that could get us into trouble.  Sometimes the truth is something that we don’t want to hear, but it is the very thing that we should deal with.

 Let me give you another example of the concept of the truth that works.  Consider the teachings of the faith movement.  The faith teachers tell us that God wants us to be rich or that God wants to bless us with new cars, new homes, etc.  They tell us that if we have enough faith that we could be healed of any disease.  They tell us to tithe our money, give to the man or woman of God and great blessings would come upon us.

This works for many people because they serve those faith teachers with all of their might.  They give them thousands of dollars each year and they religiously do what the faith teachers say.  Sunday after Sunday and conference after conference they give their time and money to the faith teachers.  However, I noticed something very interesting during my years as a participant in the faith movement.  I noticed that the faith teachers were indeed prospering materialistically, but everyone else had the same story.  What the faith teachers were preaching was not working.  People still had the same struggles and they surely were not rich with the mighty blessings that they were promised, though not by God.

The people loved to hear the prospects of material wealth.  They loved to hear that they could have the new car or home of their dreams.  They fantasized about having all of the money that they could ever need so the faith movements and their belief in its doctrines worked for them and they continued in it.  Some people became wise to the ploys of the faith teachers (many were simply trying to build a kingdom for themselves) and departed while others remain still hoping for the blessings promised to them.

Even though the teachings of those faith teachers still work for many it still does not make it true.  Even though the promise of riches and the picture of God painted by the faith teachers have never materialized, the teachings still work because what is promised is what the people want.  However, the question we should ask ourselves is whether or not the teachings are true.  Does God want all Christians to be rich?  Does God want to give you that new Lexus or new home of your dreams?  So what works is not necessarily what is true.  It is therefore important to find out what is true instead of merely what works.

 

Getting to the Truth

There are many religions in the world However, all of the various religions and beliefs in the world cannot be true because some contradict each other.  It doesn’t matter how many people have been convinced that a particular point of view is true.  What is true is true. For example consider the facts about the following religions.

Buddha was an agnostic and therefore doesn’t believe that we can know God.  Hindus say there are three hundred and thirty million gods and it is wrong to say there is just one.  Judaism says there is one God, but Jesus Christ was just an ordinary man, not the son of God.  In Islam the greatest sin is to believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God.  Now all of these religions cannot be right because they contradict each other.  Of course with those we have Christianity declaring that Jesus is the son of God who died on the cross and was raised from the dead for our sins.

Which religion should you believe?  Which one has the truth?  They all contradict each other so it isn’t an easy task to determine which one is right.  However, as I will show you shortly, there is a way that we can know which one is telling the truth.

 

Truth A La Carte

Some people believe that all religions have a bit of the truth and we can therefore take aspects from each religion to determine what the truth ultimately is.  These people would take various aspects from the different religions and come up with their own view of what the truth is.  However, this approach is tainted because we will only pick those things that we like.  We make God out to be what we want him to be.  Here we will create a God in our own image.

So creating truth from pieces of each religion would create a “truth” that is unreliable at best.  So again we are left with the same question about knowing the truth.  How can we know which religion is true?  Why should we believe that Christianity is true?

 

Determining the Truth

Christianity is the only one that is based on evidence.  Becoming a Christian is not a blind act of faith.  Christianity has historical evidence for the claims that are in the Bible.  Jesus Christ was the only one who claimed that he was God who came to the earth.  Consider the following illustration taken from the New Testament.

Christians believe that the New Testament books are the cannon of the Christian faith.  However, why should we believe that?  Why shouldn’t we think of the New Testament as merely a collection of twenty seven books and nothing more?  Consider Luke 1:1-4.

Luke 1:1-4 (NKJV) -- {1} Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, {2} just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, {3} it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, {4} that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

  • Luke researched
  • Luke interrogated eye witnesses
  • He did his best to ensure that he was giving real facts

Was Luke telling the truth or did he just say that he did these things.  So how can we tell if Luke was telling the truth?

Some would argue that the New Testament is nothing but legend and shouldn’t be considered as a source of actual events or facts.  In a legend the details do not matter, but in real history the details do matter very much.  Interestingly enough in the gospel minor details have been confirmed.    For example John chapter five mentions a little town called Bethesda that has a pool with five porches where Jesus healed a man at the pool.  Skeptics thought that this was a legend because there was no evidence of a town called Bethesda until archaeologists found the city and discovered that it was indeed surrounded by five porches.  This doesn’t mean that Jesus healed a man there, but that the writer at least was concerned with details.

The New Testament is confirmed even to the minutest irrelevant details.

There are also extra-biblical documents that support the details of the Bible.

Jesus taught his disciples using the same technique that the rabbis taught their student.  The students of rabbis were required to memorize the teachings and sayings of the rabbi so that they could teach what the rabbi taught after the rabbi died.

The disciples memorized what Jesus taught them and were able to write them down later.

The New Testament was written in a culture where memorization of the teachings of a religious teacher was preserved.

A. N. Shermon White, professor at Cambridge (Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament).  He said that even when a event as orally passed down for two generations that the overall facts of the event were preserved.  He said that it takes longer than two generations for an event to become legend.

  • Acts – 60-62 AD by general scholarly consensus.
  • Luke – 58 – 60 AD was written before Acts
  • Matthew and Mark before 58 AD
  • Portions of Paul’s letters were dated in the 30’s AD.  These were quotes that Paul included in his letter.  These talked about Jesus as being a teacher, raised from the dead, is God himself, and performed miracles.

The point here is that within one generation Jesus is worshipped as God, which is well within the time it would take for it to be legend.  Basically, there wasn’t enough time for the claims in the Bible to become legend.

Christianity has evidence behind it.

Christians still have a privilege to continue to learn why we believe what we believe.  This way we can learn how to answer people’s questions more efficiently than we can now.

 

CONCLUSION

Christianity is the only religion that has evidence to support it.  It is not based on a person’s vision, dream, great idea, or experience.  It is based on the life of Jesus Christ and the redemptive act of Jesus Christ.  The accounts in the Bible are supported by historical and archeological data.  The one thing that I really like about Christianity is that it is very objective.  No other religion can claim that to my knowledge.  All other religions are subjective at best.  However, I should again point out here that Christianity is not a mere religion, but rather a system of faith if you will.  Christianity is real compared to other religions.  I hope that this would help you understand Christianity and the validity of it.  It is not a mere religion formulated by the ideas of people, but rather the real activity of God on earth.  Amen.

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