Happy Birthday to Me
So, my birthday is coming up this month. You know all that I want for a birthday gift? I just want you, you who are reading this article, to consider Jesus Christ. Happy birthday to me.
It’s not for my benefit, though, you know. It’s for yours. I’m not trying to spread my opinions just for the sake of it. The existence of God and the fact that Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead really is good news. And it will benefit you like nothing else can.
Now, I don’t want to be too hard on those of you who have intellectual doubts. I totally get doubt. What I’m here to convey is that those doubts can be overcome if you’re really seeking. And by reason, even. Did you know the Bible tells me to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that I have? That in the early church, the apostle Paul went every day into the synagogues to reason with the people?
So I write because I think I owe you an explanation. I would want you to do the same for me if we were in each other’s shoes. The problem is that all of you struggle with different things. I don’t have the space or the knowledge to answer all of your questions, so I just want to put a large enough rock in your shoe to encourage you to spend some time this summer doing your own research. You could start by reading some Christian “apologetics” (defense) books or talking to Christian folks you know. I do have a little space here though, and the questions brought up in a recent article seem most common, so I’ll offer a short (though by no means complete) answer to them.
Does evolution disprove God? No. Not in the least. First, contrary to popular belief, it is a debatable subject. I promise you there are plenty of credible scientists, even non-religious ones, who disagree with it. Further, let’s say we sift through the evidence and decide we do believe evolution is fact; well, we are joined by many faithful Christians. There are believers on all ends of this debate.
In light of this, in Timothy Keller’s book, “The Reason for God”, he argues “The skeptical inquirer does not need to accept any one of these positions in order to embrace the Christian faith. Rather, he or she should concentrate on and weigh the central claims of Christianity. Only after drawing conclusions about the person of Christ, the resurrection, and the central tenets of the Christian message should one think through the various options with regard to creation and evolution.”
Another huge stumbling block, the idea of hell, causes doubt in many of you. I argue that this tends to be not as much an intellectual argument as is it an emotional one. Still, I get that it’s hard. I really do. I don’t fully comprehend it myself, but I don’t think we should doubt because of an inability to wrap our heads around it.
There do exist many Christians who get around the difficulty by believing doctrines such as annihilationism and such (that we will just be snuffed out or that punishment will only be temporary), but Biblically, I just don’t see it.
You see, not only do we all sin, but we are all sinners. We don’t just need forgiveness from God, we need Him to make us new…holy. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hell is an existence without God due to a lack of holiness. To help understand the eternality of Hell, I would submit to you that it’s not like people there will no longer sin. Even if our sins deserved only a temporary punishment, hell is a terrible place, and without God there will be so much hatred and greed and selfishness…people will sin even more there than they did here, adding to their sentence indefinitely. I would say there is no indication that people in Hell will be repentant. The indication, in fact, is that they won’t be looking to turn to God at all, but will be continuing to rebel against Him, blaming Him and Hating Him. No matter the specifics, Hell sucks, and we don’t want to go there. That’s the big idea. It’s a deterrent. I’m grateful Jesus let us know what was up and gave a way of escape.
Lastly, I have questions too. How do you explain away the prophetic nature of the Bible? And the way it has survived under such ferocious attack? How do you explain the billions of lives Christ has changed? How do you explain away the historical Jesus? How do you account for the rapid spread of Christianity by a bunch of fisherman if the resurrection is false? Why would the Bible include things like the doctrine of Hell, our inability to be good people on our own, testimony from women (inadmissible in court), the admission that some disciples doubted, the scene of Jesus asking God to not have Him go to the cross, Jesus crying out that God had forsaken Him, if it were man-made? Wouldn’t they have wanted to make Jesus and faith in Him more appealing? Without a God or immortality, how is mankind ultimately different from a swarm of mosquitoes or a barnyard of pigs? Why does anything exist? How do you explain the fine-tuning of the Universe? Did the lifeless create life? Did the impersonal create the personal? How do you explain the significance of art, sacrifice, compassion, feelings of love, or affectionate caring relationships without a God who gives them meaning? Did all of the order of the Universe come from disorder? How can absolute standards of morality exist within a world of chemical reactions?
There is so much evidence for the existence of God, for the historicity of Jesus, and for the authenticity and supernatural nature of the Bible. There really is. But don’t take my word for it. Please, look for yourself. I guarantee you will be surprised by what you find.
I had a wildly atheist buddy who read “What’s so great about Christianity” by Dinesh D’Souza and was just astounded by the quality of the arguments. He had expected hand-waving and weak-sauce, unsupportable claims by some religious fundamentalist. What he found shocked him out of atheism into agnosticism. And he wasn’t even seeking! He only read that book because I agreed to read a neo-atheist’s book.
Everything God has done – from creating the world to giving each of us the breath we just took - He did it all so that we would seek Him, and perhaps reach out and find Him, though He is not actually far from any of us.
Consider Christ this summer. Talk to a Christian or read one of the books I mentioned. Happy. Birthday. Jerry.
Thanks for reading.