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                   Monday, August 24, 2009 - 3:29AM

Answering challenges about Christ and the Bible

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Wow, Facebook. I haven't seen challenges to Christianity in quite this way before - from people I know, from friends, from those I respect. I've seen plenty of anti-Christian sentiment over many years, but seeing it so 'close to home' is a little different. So I thought I'd take a minute to talk about it.

Just a preface for those that don't know. I became a Christian in December of 1993, so that will make 16 years for me in a few months. Although I made my initial decision for Christ rather quickly and without much logical thought, my ongoing decision to keep following Him has been a much more focused intellectual excercise. This is because following Christ has an array of fairly significant costs associated with it, and so it's not something that you do 'for the fun of it' or to have a 'crutch to lean on'. If there's a chance that Christ, His teachings and/or the Bible is a sham, I'm not a type who's going to 'close my mind' and waste my life on it. I say that to attempt to lay a foundation for why I believe, that is, not a fleeting 'head in the sand', devoid of rational thought, cerebrally primitive line of thinking. I have found Christ to be reality, which is why I continue on despite the costs.

Being a serious Christian makes me a frequent target for those with challenges and objections to the Bible, the existence of God, and the teachings/assertions of Christ, who He was, and what He did.

You might think that those challenges irritate me. You might think they create doubt, fear and uncertainty. Rather, I have actually come to welcome the challenges. I never sweep doubts and questions under the rug, I deal with them all. Many I have found good answers to, some I have not figured out yet. But all of this always ends up reinforcing what I believe rather than tearing it down. Faith in Christ is the most logical path one can take in this life, and God can stand up to the challenges. So I'm not afraid of the challenges either.

Now, I have not been without doubts in my 16 years as a Christian. But over the years, I've seen the reality of God enough that I don't doubt the 'basics' any longer - that is, that the Bible is God's word, Christ is the Saviour (fully God and fully man), and so on. Like I said, I don't have all the answers, and there are many things that I may never figure out. But guess what - you're not going to become an expert on the God who created the universe. It's an unrealistic expectation to figure out all the questions and issues as a prerequesite to faith.

So. That leads me to the next item - how to answer the challenges.

Two relevant verses come to play here. One is 1 Peter 3:15 that says Christians should "always be ready to give an answer" to those who ask about our faith. But there is also the cautionary Matthew 7:6 that says not to "cast your pearls before swine", since they will only "trample them, then turn and rip you to pieces". There are many challengers to Christianity who aren't concerned about having a rational conversation. They've made up their mind, and are only tossing the challenges out to bait and taunt believers. It's something I call "flexing one's atheism", akin to a bodybuilder showing off their muscles. Every once in a while I get caught up in one of these discussions, only because I give the challenger the benefit of the doubt that they actually are interested in hearing and considering an answer. More often than not, they really don't want an answer. It's a Matthew 7:6 situation where their friends jump on board, turning any thoughtful discussion into a Christian-bashing fest that I have no hope of making any difference in. Not because I can't answer the questions (I can, or at least I'll try), but because I'm not effective at typing constant replies to 20 different challengers every 5 minutes.

So - this is an open statement to my friends, my acquaintances, colleagues, or anyone - on Facebook, on this site, etc. I'm going to set some boundaries and 'rules'. If you try to challenge Christ/the Bible/Christians publicly (like on a message board, on Facebook, or on my blog comments section), I will not carry on a discussion there. I will not jump into the discussion or try to answer you. I say that for this reason:

Please don't interpret my silence as meaning you've stumped me or that you've put out a question that I'm afraid to answer.

A public challenge like that is a futile Matthew 6:7 that I want no part of. I'm also not interested in devoting my time and resources to a discussion if you've already made up your mind and are not open to anything I have to say. That also means please don't send me some pre-typed list of questions from someone else (yes, I get those too). If you're up to a serious discussion that you think I might be able to make a difference in, then I'd be happy to try and help.

I will be happy to carry on a discussion with you via private email only. Not in the blog comments, not on Facebook, not on message boards. It's not that I'm afraid of other people interjecting more questions, it's that I'm just one guy here! Cut me some slack. I can't debate 50 raging anti-Christians simultaneously who are only interested in trolling the discussion.

So, if you're a 1 Peter 3:15, I welcome your questions. I'm probably not going to be able to answer every question you pose, but I will do my best. I'm no Biblical scholar, but I'm simply a person who has found Christ to be real. If you're only interested in a Matthew 7:6, then well, I think you get the idea.

If you've never heard the message of Christ, here is a great link.

And as always, for my Christian friends, please keep me and this whole thing in your prayers. Real Ephesians 6:12 going on here.

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