Tackling 5 tough questions about ChristianityWritten by Alex McFarland
Psalm 118:8 tells us “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (ESV). Still, at some point, we will have questions about our Christian faith. Or we may need to respond to someone challenging our beliefs. So, do you know how to answer tough questions about Christianity? Here are five challenging questions and how to respond to them with biblical answers . . .
Question #1: Why does God allow evil?
The reality of evil in our world presents one of Christianity’s most common objections. The question is this: If God is good, wise and all-powerful, then why does he allow evil in this world? Here are a few things to take into account:
- All evil present in this world is traceable to Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. Sin and evil are virtually the same thing. That means every human is part of the evil that takes place in this fallen world.
- However, God has a plan to rid the world of sin and evil. That plan involves Jesus’ death on the cross. Even though we sin, Jesus paid the price for it so we could be forgiven and reconciled with God. Though we still make mistakes, through Christ we are forgiven and are given the power to overcome sin and evil.
- God is patient and loving. Although some people use the time that he gives for evil, it also means that more people come to believe in Jesus. Eventually, Jesus will return to create a new heaven and earth where sin and evil will have no place.
Throughout Scripture, especially in the New Testament, we are promised God’s victory over sin and evil. Christ’s empty tomb is proof that sin and death have been fully conquered, and one day evil will be eternally removed.
Question #2: Why is Jesus the only way to heaven?
Why is Jesus the only way to heaven? Why can't other religions be true too? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Jesus said that “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). Christians shouldn’t be embarrassed about Jesus’ claim. The New Testament teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven. The Gospels and Paul’s letters confirm this truth.
- Some people embrace religious pluralism, which says there is truth in all religions. But religious pluralism is not biblical. And it doesn’t make much sense – how can all religions be true when they contradict each other?
- Although Jesus is the only way to heaven, no one is excluded from salvation. Anyone of any race, age, religion, culture or gender can repent and believe.
This question can overshadow some fantastic news: there is a way to heaven! God desires that all should be saved and he sent Jesus to die for all. The fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven is the Good News. This news should spark celebration, not apologies.
Question #3: Can I lose my salvation?
Will the Holy Spirit leave me if I keep sinning? Can I act so badly that God will stop loving me? Remember these thoughts:
- Our salvation is based solely on Christ’s work on the cross, not on our deeds. God forgives and unconditionally loves all of his children of faith.
- Be encouraged! As Paul states in Romans 8:35-39, nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus.
Like a parent, God is a loving Father who still loves us even when we sin. He wants us to return to him and make things right, but no matter what we do, he will never stop loving us even though our sinful choices often have painful consequences. He promises forgiveness when we confess our sins to him.
Question #4: Why are Christians so judgmental?
Why are Christians so judgmental? Is it right for Christians to judge sinfulness? Aren’t we called to be loving instead of judging? Here are some things to consider:
- Making a judgment isn’t necessarily wrong. What is wrong is having an attitude of superiority over others based on our judgments.
- The Bible tells us not to make hypocritical judgments – pointing out someone else’s sin when we are wrong in the same area.
- Even though we can recognize sin in others’ lives, we should always respond with compassion. Jesus has compassion on people, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them. We should follow Jesus’ example.
Everyone makes judgments. However, Christians should have compassion on others and not be judgmental or have an attitude of superiority. The Holy Spirit does the job of conviction; our job is to share the Good News.
Question #5: Is the Bible reliable?
Is it true that the Bible contradicts itself? Are there errors in the Bible? How can I know that a really old book can be trusted?
- There are a number of reasons to believe the Bible is accurate and trustworthy.
- There are many people who try to disparage the Bible. But their arguments and so-called evidence of contradictions are nothing new.
- Using study tools, the apparent contradictions in the biblical texts can be reconciled. When interpreting Scripture, scholars consider the intended audience, the context, the purpose of the text, and whether the text is contradictory or complementary.
It can be difficult to parse through a long list of passages in the Bible with limited context. However, you can be assured that with careful study, the Bible will prove itself to be reliable.
Activities to illustrate the Christian faith
Now that you know how to answer some of the tough questions about Christianity, you can use three fun family activities to illustrate biblical truths.
The sugar test
Items needed: a cup of sugar, tweezers, salt
This activity can be done with a cup of white sugar and one grain of salt. First, pour the sugar into a bowl and taste it. Next, take a pair of tweezers, pick up a grain of salt, and drop it into the sugar. Then, mix in the grain of salt. Taste the sugar again. It should taste the same, since one grain of salt doesn’t affect the taste experience, but you have seen that the bowl does not contain pure sugar anymore. This is a great way to understand and explain that God knows where that grain of salt is even if we can’t detect it, and until that grain is removed, the whole bowl is impure.
Lessons from a goldfish
Imagine that you are a goldfish. Your world is a bowlful of water, colourful rocks, a small pastel-coloured ceramic castle, and food flakes that are delivered by a large shape. You know that the large shape that delivers this food is reliable.
Here’s what the goldfish knows: The shape is large and lives outside the bowl. The shape is giving it the food flakes. The shape probably won’t hurt the goldfish and might even care for it. But that’s really it.
Here’s what the goldfish doesn’t know: The shape is a human male. He breathes air, not water. He works at a grocery store, loves banana-flavoured ice cream, and has always wanted to be a ventriloquist. There’s a lot of knowledge about “the shape” that the fish can’t even begin to comprehend. As humans, we have a limited view of the eternal God. We are like the goldfish. What we know about our divine caretaker is accurate and true, but there’s a vast amount we don’t know about him that we can’t comprehend this side of heaven.
Growing a strong faith
Items needed: a gardening pot, planting soil, package of flower or vegetable seeds
This activity teaches the importance of patience in faith. After you’ve planted the seeds according to the directions on the package, water the soil and then check it daily. During this process, even though the seeds can’t be seen underneath the soil, you know they’re there, right? Remind yourself that your love and obedience to the Lord are like that. It may not be visible to other people, but in time they will bear fruit.
As the first shoots of the plants appear, think about how vulnerable the little plants are and how important it is to protect them from the elements and bugs or other things that might hurt them. Remind yourself that, like these tiny plants, your love for God needs to be nurtured and cared for as well, so that it will grow stronger each day.
Alex McFarland was the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and the Veritas Graduate School of Apologetics at the time of publication.
© 2020, 2021 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Adapted from The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity by Alex McFarland, a Focus on the Family resource published by Tyndale House Publishers. © 2013 Alex McFarland.
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