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Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekly Snippet: Trying to Disprove Christianity?

My last post managed to draw one visitor who was looking for ways to disprove Christianity, but I must say that doesn't trouble me much.  I confidently believe there is an answer from the Bible for every question of that sort.  I speak from personal experience.

I can't count the number of times professors and others have cast doubt on belief and made me question things I'd always taken for granted about the Bible.  One great weapon I once wielded against this sort of quasi-logic was C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, which was originally presented as a series of radio talks broadcast during the London Bombings of World War II.  That must have been something to hear, in those circumstances!  I really should read that again soon.

There seems to be three main lines of attack against Christianity, and I've encountered them all in a variety of places, from churches to news shows and from public universities to internet websites.
  1. A subtle twisting of facts as they are written in the Bible, such as pulling verses out of context, or pairing them with verses that are unrelated, to create unsupportable positions.  The goal is to create a doctrine, or line of reasoning, that appears to be backed by Scripture.  The next step is to knock down this strange logic and make it appear as if Scripture is unsupportable and self-contradictory.
  2. Omitting facts that are inconvenient for the theories and teachings being presented.  For instance, last time I spoke about the theory that Christ fainted rather than died, and pointed out that the stab wound on the cross would make that theory unsupportable.  A similar argument that Jesus was a good, accepting guy cannot stand against His strident and decidedly intolerant statements against sin and polytheism in the culture He lived in.
  3. A direct attack on the provability or accuracy of the Bible, including a dismissal of prophecy, miracles, and supernatural events, and attempts to undermine the authority of the Scriptures themselves.  This appears to be the most successful, because in the same stroke, it attacks the logic and good sense of opponents and also appears impossible to disprove.  However, it is extremely risky, because it can be dismantled in the same kind of direct approach, using secular historical records, natural science, archaeology, and anthropology.  For instance, scholars long used the lack of an Israeli state as "proof" that the End Times prophecies could never happen, but 1948 changed all that.  Others tried to undermine the authority of Scripture by suggesting it has changed over time, but the Dead Sea Scrolls disproved that.
I believe that God defends Himself, and defends the truth about Himself. We don't need advanced degrees in logic and reasoning to address attacks on our faith, because God already did the work--we just need to benefit personally from the work He's already done.

When presented with these three types of attacks, the best approach is the direct one.  Don't try to put it out of your mind, because it will gnaw on you.  Do your research.  Question what the Bible actually says on the topic, and take no one's word for it until you have read it yourself.  This defeats the first and second types of attacks.  When faced with the third (which is often accompanied by belligerence and bluffs), seek the counsel of several good sources, who have experience in addressing these issues.  They will guide you to proofs, both internal and external to the Bible, that belligerence can't overcome.  That's where Mere Christianity and other similar books come in.  Don't rest until the matter has been completely put to rest.

Above all, we should treat our opponents with grace and understanding, addressing their questions but not returning in kind.  They may be trying to tear us down, but that is only because lies have torn them down.  As Paul instructed Timothy,
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, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 23-26 NIV)
I know how these attacks can erode faith to the breaking point, but I believe that spending time studying the Word will fix these painful doubts.  It brings us back to the reasons why we first believed, and reminds us of points we had forgotten in the midst of the attack.  It grounds us in the truth.  That's why it's valuable to look into these things.

Until next time, this is my reminder to you to stay savvy and stay up on your reading!  It's a lifesaver when you are under attack.