|Don's Home Religion|
See also Why Study Religion
Most people agree that Jesus Christ was a great prophet and religious leader, but Christians think he was more than that. What makes him different from Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius or other leaders?
H. G. Wells, the noted historian, was asked which person had left the most permanent impression on history. He replied that if one judged a person's greatness by historical standards, "By this test, Jesus stands first."
Arguments for Christianity:
Most people, even of other religions, believe the Bible is at least inspired by God, if not the literal "Word of God".
Although there are inconsistencies in some details in the bible
(Many Christians refute this saying it is just our lack of understanding),
it is generally very consistent considering more than 40 authors wrote it over more than a thousand years.
"One of the strongest objective evidences of Biblical inspiration is the phenomenon of fulfilled prophecy. The bible is essentially unique among the religious books of mankind in this respect. Some of them contain a few vague forecasts, but nothing comparable to the vast number of specific prophecies found in the Bible. The same is true of modern "prophets", so-called. Such seers as Nostradamus, Jean Dixon, and others have made many predictions, but often they are nebulous and capable of various meanings. A few of their prophecies seem to have been fulfilled in a general way, but most of them have completely failed."In Every Prophecy of the Bible, Dr. John F. Walvoord examined one thousand prophecies and concluded that half have already been fulfilled. Many of the unfulfilled prophecies are those describing the events leading up to and the second coming in Revelations.
Fulfilled prophecies include:
Ancient Prophecies: E.g. Destruction of Nineveh [Nahum 3:19], Babylonian rise to [Jeremiah 25:11-12] and fall from [Isaiah 13:19] power, The events of Alexander the Great's siege against the island fortress of Tyre [Ezekiel 26:3] and Edom [Jeremiah 49:16], the coming of Alexander the Great and a detail description of the interactions between the Ptolemies and the Selucids from the death of Alexander the Great to the rise of the Roman Empire [Daniel 11:2-4].
Messianic prophecies: Prophecies (60 major prophecies and 270+ ramifications) from birth to betrayal and rejection about a Messiah are fulfilled by Jesus.
Prophecies about the Nation of Israel: Jacob's vision of Israel's future [Genesis 28:10-15], Exile, Babylon would rule Judah for 70 years [Jeremiah 25:11-12], Rome's destruction of Israel [Deuteronomy 28:49-52], destruction of the Temple [Daniel 9:26] and Jerusalem [Luke 21:24] in 70 AD, Jews would be scattered worldwide [Deuteronomy 28:64], Persecution [Zechariah 8:13], Rebirth [Isaiah 66:7-8], Re-establishment as a united nation [Ezekiel 37:21-22].
Note: Most books on biblical prophecies deal with the second coming and others in the Book of Revelation.
Science and the Bible:
In the case regarding the heliocentric solar system, the church had based it's positions on Greek and Roman philosophy and science and not the bible. The only thing in the Bible about it is in [Joshua 10:12-13]: "So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,"
Albert Einstein said,
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
"God of the Gaps" arguments, associate things not explained by science as one of Gods miracles. Most theologians find these arguments demeaning to science and religion. As gaps are filled by science, God becomes smaller.
In a March 4, 2007 NY Times Magazine article "Darwins God", Robin Mertantz Hening says "Research about the evolution of religion Suggests otherwise. No matter how much science can explain, it seems, the real gap that God fills is an emptiness that our big-brained mental architecture interprets as a yearning for the supernatural. The drive to satisfy that yearning, according to both adaptationists and byproduct theorists, might be an inevitable and eternal part of what Atran calls the tragedy of human cognition."
ProofTexting or proof-texting is frequently used to show the Bible makes some claim about science or social theory. It is the practice of using isolated quotations establish a proposition. Using discrete quotations is generally seen as decontextualized.
A lot of conservative Christian literature makes out Scientists to be against religion, but a survey of scientists shows believers outnumber atheists by 4 to 1.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from 1993-2008 and director of the NIH starting in 2009, is also a evangelical Christian. And makes strong arguments for reconciling science and religion.
At God: Fact or Fiction? - Veritas Forum - YouTube - 1 1/2 hrs., John Lennox, Mathematics professor at Oxford, makes the case for God and Science.
See: Scientists of Faith.
Recent archeological (archaeology) discoveries have confirmed some biblical events. However, there is still disagrement about history before the 9th century. See Archaeology in Inerrancy.
The bible refers to a spherical earth when common understanding still thought it was flat. A literal translation of Job 26:10 is "He described a circle upon the face of the waters, until the day and night come to an end." A spherical earth is also described in Isaiah 40:21-22 - "the circle of the earth."
Discoveries like "the big bang" are consistent with creation.
In Isaiah 42:5 it says: "This is what the Lord says - He who created the heavens and stretched them out."
Although many conservative Christians "Creationists" believe in the literal 7 x 24 hour day scenario, most Christians believe God took a long time to create life ("For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday ..." [Psalms 90:4], [2 Peter 3:8]), so the bible is consistent with an evolutionary process.
See also The Bible as History in the inerrancy page
Web pages - Reasons To Believe - scientific support for your faith or answers to questions about God and science at www.reasons.org,
Science in the Bible at www.quiknet.com/~dfrench/evidence/,
Uniqueness of Jesus:
Scholar and author C. S. Lewis states:
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic ... or else he would be the Devil from Hell."
What we know of him is based on testimonies of the apostles; eleven of whom died martyrs' deaths on the basis of the resurrection of Christ and their belief in him as the Son of God. Why would they die for a lie?
Some claim that much of the story is myth, but the first 3 Gospels which chronicle Christ's life were written within 55-70 years of his death from first and second hand accounts. It usually takes myths much longer to develop.
Jesus fulfills prophecies (60 major prophecies and 270+ ramifications) made at least 400 years before his birth (Some say 456 prophecies). I don't think the number is important (many of them are stretches and can be argued), it's the very specific ones which are hard to dispute;
They include his birthplace, Bethlehem, [Micah 5:2]; His family line (house of David [2 Sam. 7:12], tribe of Judah [Genesis 49:10], Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Shem); Rejection by his own people [Isaiah 40:3],
Day Christ would enter Jerusalem [Daniel 9:24-26].
Some people quote Psalms written by David which included, Betrayal by a friend [Psalms 41:9]; Suffering similar to the crucifixion [Psalms 22:16-18] as prophesies, but they seem to be David talking about himself not a messiah.
In Luke 21:33, Jesus said that regardless of what happens to the world, His words would never be forgotten.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of most Christian's faith.
Theories advanced to explain the resurrection from natural causes are weak. They must answer two things (1) The empty tomb, (2) The appearance of Christ to multiple people and groups following the resurrection.
The Wrong Tomb:
The body stolen:
Skeptics who became believers:
One of the most influential testimonies to Christianity was when Saul of Tarsus, perhaps Christianity's most rabid antagonist [Acts 8:3, 26:9], became the Apostle Paul. Saul was a Hebrew zealot, Pharisee, roman citizen and well educated in Hebrew as well as Greek history and philosophy. His encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus [Acts 22:6] transformed him from an intolerant, bitter, persecuting religious bigot to a patient, kind, enduring and self-sacrificing servant who authored 7 (possibly more) books of the bible.
Evidence of Christ's power today:
In my personal observation, after having been actively involved in a Church and mens bible study for about 12 years is:
The people who had radical transformations mostly from occasional christians or atheists to born again believers fit into some common categories:
Stories of divine influence in our lives abound. E.g. Three businessmen in a World Trade Center bible study group said they were "ready to go to Heaven" shortly before 9/11/01. Three men in the group died on 9/11; the same three.
On April 5th, 2003 39-year-old reporter, David Bloom, sent an e-mail to his wife from Iraq where he was reporting on the war. It said,
"When the moment comes in my life when you are talking about my last days, I am determined that you and others will say 'he was devoted to his wife and children, he was admired, he gave every ounce of his being for those whom he cared most about... not himself, but God and his family.'"On April 6th he collapsed and died of a pulmonary embolism.
Of course, making your life "better" is not the reason you should seek a stronger relationship with Christ. God does not always answer our prayers in the time or way we hoped. He will give you what you need not necessarily what you want.
The afterlife is one of the main topics (I list it under Salvation on the topics page).
I know of two personal first hand experiences from mature down to earth friends which can only be explained by spiritual, Extrasensory perception (ESP) or transcendental means.
None of these are necessarily evidence for Christianity, but for some realm science can't explain.
There are numerous accounts of near-death experiences which cannot be explained by current science. The most recent one popularized in the book, "Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back", Lynn Vincent, 2010,
which is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven.
He described deceased relatives he didn't know or had never seen a picture of, and knowledge of a miscarriage he had never been told about.
See Is "Heaven Is for Real" for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment | theBereanCall.org.
A variety of Christian writers have said that "doubt is a necessary part of faith because faith does not mean 100% certainty." Doubt is part of faith not the opposite of it, unbelief is the opposite.
Paul Tillich, German-American theologian, said: "Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith."
John Calvin said,
Rabi Brad Hirschfield said,
See Faith vs Reason here for more on doubt.
Many reject Christianity because of the hypocrisy of many Christians.
Many use the phrase "The church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners."
Christians should be judged for who they strive to be now who they are.
Note: Bible links here are to the New International version at BibleGateway.com other online versions are listed on the Bible page.
My faith statement
Questions, Objections, Opposing views and apparent contradictions
Inerrancy and Authority
Faith vs Reason Christianity is not going away Washington Post
Return to Religion.