Ask Your Preacher
All the major faiths of the world preach that only through following their teachings and believing in their god will one reach heaven. This means everyone else goes to hell. To a christian, all the muslims are hell-bound. To a muslim, all the christians are infidels and will never reach God. I find it hard to believe that a loving God would set up half the world for failure. Each faith is strict about the requirements to spend eternity with God. How do we come to terms with this concept that ours is the only way?
Dear Too Exclusive,
One of the key components to any religion is that we accept that particular religion’s god as he is. It isn’t fair to simultaneously try and find which god is real (Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, etc.) and also have a pre-conceived notion about how we want God to behave. If the Muslim’s are right, then Allah exists, and it doesn’t matter whether Allah is loving or not – Allah is what Allah is. If the Buddhists are correct, it doesn’t matter whether we like reincarnation or not – reincarnation exists. The same is true with Jehovah, the God of the Bible. God is who God is, without regard to our opinion of how we feel He ought to be. We may feel that He has “set up” a large portion of society for failure, but if the God of the Bible is real (and we feel confident He is!), we must take Him at His Word that all have evidence of His existence and are without excuse if they don’t follow Him (Rom 1:20).
The key to finding which god is the true God is to look at the evidence – primarily the key documents for each religion. When you compare the Koran, the Dharma, the Veda, and other books of faith to the Bible… there is no comparison. The Bible is accurate scientifically, prophetically, historically, and contextually consistent; it never contradicts itself and contains truths that only God would know and yet can be proven true by practice. We highly recommend you read our article “Who Wrote The Bible?” for further explanation of the proof that the Bible is from God. When analyzing religion in the search for truth, follow the evidence, and it will always lead you to the Bible.
I work with a co-worker who claims to be an atheist. There are a myriad of apologetic books that speak to these types of people and their claims. However, I would like to seek your insights on how to best reason with this person. In the process of talking with him, he has actually asked me to share Scriptures of encouragement that he could share with his girlfriend. I have bought him his first Bible, Bible Dictionary, and a pamphlet on how to study the Bible, which he was moved by and gladly received. I also offered to study with him, but he has not yet accepted my offer. Still, he needs to be convinced that God is real and that we did not get here by accident. Is there a simple format or practical approach I can use?
Ironically, one of the best places to start with an atheist is to discuss their faith. The relationship you mentioned sounds like it is a “talk when we can” sort of situation, and so it can be hard to cover anything in a systematic, step-by-step way. Lord willing, you will eventually be able to have a sit-down class with this individual, but until then, you are really just trying to get him thinking about how important this issue is.
In the past, we have talked with our atheist friends about their faith, and it can really jar their eyes open. Most atheists believe they don’t have faith, but this simply isn’t true. An atheist cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God any more than you or I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is. At some point, both the atheist and the theist have faith. Faith is an inevitable element of life. Anytime you trust something you can’t see, it is an act of faith (Heb 11:1). When we take an aspirin, we have faith that it isn’t laced with arsenic. When we drive, we have faith that the traffic light is telling the other lanes to stop when it tells us to go. We visit restaurants because we have faith in the recommendation our friend gave us, and we buy houses based on our faith in the home inspector’s report. Everyone lives by faith – this is an important aspect of life. If your atheist friend had no faith, he couldn’t function in life.
This is a great place to start because when an atheist realizes that they already live by faith, you can begin to discuss the fact that faith is based off of evidence. We believe in God because we have been given enough evidence that we can reasonably believe in His existence. Read “Is God Real?” for a basic list of evidences. When an atheist begins to view their life as a life of faith, it changes the discussion from “science vs. religion” to “which faith do I choose?”. In our humble opinion, this is a good, practical place to start.
My question pertains to one omitted book of the Bible, in particular, the book of Enoch. I have learned that certain religions have omitted certain books, mainly the Gnostic gospels. I have found adequate reasons for these New Testament scriptures to be omitted in certain cultures, but what about the book of Enoch? I have recently purchased a book containing the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it includes the book of Enoch! I was SOOO excited because I had previously purchased a single copy of this book, but couldn't find any evidence of it containing any truth. The Dead Sea Scrolls and my purchased book of Enoch are in correlation. Also, in the book of Jude 1:6, there are references made to the fallen angels which are made known in the book of Enoch! What is this mystery all about? Did they omit it because people were somehow calling upon fallen angels (or their offspring) by name (demonic worship)? Is this book valid?
Dear Connecting Dots,
There are many writings that were included with the Dead Sea Scrolls that have non-biblical origins. There are non-biblical writings that include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and wisdom writings. Just because the book of Enoch was included in the Dead Sea Scrolls doesn't mean that it ought to be included in the Bible.
The question of what books to include in the Bible and what books to exclude as false is a major issue – and it is an issue that the early christians had to face. Twenty-seven books are included in the New Testament canon (the word ‘canon’, when applied to Scripture, means ‘the officially accepted list of books’), and each one of these books is documented by early christians as being a divinely-inspired piece of literature. In other words, the early christians believed that God wrote it.
The key to understanding why some books are included in the Bible and other books (even books from the same time period) are excluded is to remember that the Bible claims to be God’s Book (2 Pet 1:19-21). The early christians (or Jews in the case of the Old Testament) lived during the time when these books were being written, and they were fully aware of who was doing the writing. Today, we can’t tell which religious documents were written by apostles and which documents were written by heretics… but the early christians certainly could! If someone claimed that a letter was written by the apostle Paul, all they had to do to verify the authenticity of the letter was to ask Paul for themselves. The early christians were in the best position to differentiate between authentic apostolic writings and manmade documents. This is exactly why the early church quickly adopted the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, and they have been almost universally accepted as the only New Testament books ever since. Numerous historical documents verify that the New Testament canon that we use today was accepted, read, collected, distributed, and used by the early christians from very early on. People who seek to say that they have “found” some new Bible books that have been missing from the canon have to prove that their books were accepted by christians (or Jews if discussing Old Testament canon) from the beginning – no one has been able to do that.
Is God real?
Your question is one of the fundamental questions of life: “Does God Exist?” It is important that everyone asks this question at some point in their life; it is a basic question that is worthy of an honest answer.
We will try to give you some key evidence that there is a Creator, but we will also point you in the direction of some resources that may help you in your quest for answers. So here we go:
- Look at a watch and ask yourself the question, “Is this designed?” Of course, a watch is designed – just like a house, a car, a camera, and other modern technological marvels. You know they are designed because they are complex, they have purpose, and they are organized in a meaningful way. Now look at your eye, your hand, even a single follicle of hair. Are they designed? They are infinitely more complex than a watch. They have very distinct purposes, and they are all organized in a meaningful way. You were designed by God; you have a Designer. If you believe in watchmakers, you can believe in God.
- The most basic laws of science tell us that nothing ever comes from nothing (1st Law of Thermodynamics). Einstein made it clear that nothing can be destroyed; energy can turn into matter and matter into energy, but everything that is here has always been here. That begs the question, “Where did it all come from?” Scientists all agree that everything we see had to come from somewhere, but the only logical answer to that question is ‘God’. God, a supernatural deity not bound by the laws of physics, created all that we see and enjoy in this universe.
- God’s Word is also proof that God is. The Bible is a book that only God could write. It has prophecies that are fulfilled hundreds of years after they are spoken. It has remained unchanged by tradition or persecution for thousands of years. It makes statements about how our world works hundreds of years before scientists realized the concepts for themselves. The Bible is a book composed by over forty different writers over thousands of years, and yet it has no contradictions within it. The Bible could not have been written by anyone but Deity.
These are just three reasons to believe in God; there are many more that space prevents us from mentioning. We also recommend you go back and read through the posts in our EVIDENCES category. You will see that you aren’t the only one who has questions about God, and you will also see that there are answers to every question. We also recommend reading I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Geisler & Turek and Has God Spoken? by A.O. Schnabel. Both books are well worth the read.
It's a fact that Jesus did exist, but other than the Bible, how can anyone prove that He really is the Son Of God and not the son of a Roman soldier named Pantera, and how can anyone prove that He really did have divine powers such as healing the sick… and not doing magic activities or any other occult acts?
Dear Corroborative Evidence,
The differences are in the details – the story of Jesus’ life has lots of them. History has lots of myths and fables of people performing otherworldly deeds, but when someone tells a myth, it never has specific details, and it never can be corroborated. Jesus’ life is exactly the opposite.
- We know exactly when He was born and in what city (Lk 2:1-4).
- We know His exact name and family lineage (Matt 1:1-17).
- We know how He died, where He died (Jhn 19:17), and where He was buried (Mk 15:43).
- There were eyewitnesses to the empty tomb (Mk 16:3-5).
- There were eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus (1 Cor 15:4-8).
Jesus was attested to by His followers and secular writers like Josephus and Tacitus. There is a clear and accurate historical record of Jesus’ life that was written within a generation of His lifetime and was undisputed by those most capable of presenting evidence against His resurrection. Early Christianity flourished because of Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and the ready and available evidence to corroborate the story. It is important to remember that Jesus’ followers died for their belief that He was raised from the dead and that the message of Jesus’ resurrection spread in the very same city where He was crucified. If they hadn’t really seen an empty tomb and a risen Jesus, the apostles would never have given their lives for the cause of Christ, and Christianity’s enemies would have quickly produced His dead body to refute the story of a risen Jesus. Unlike myths and fairy tales, Jesus’ life is detailed, documented, and corroborated by the historians and contemporaries of His day. For a more in-depth study on extra-biblical evidence for Jesus, we recommend reading The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel.