Monday, September 7, 2015

Is Christianity Fake? (Defeating Doubts)

            Doubt kills. Without a doubt, doubt has massacred individuals, marriages, families and their environment.  

            The title question is a religious doubt. There are personal doubts as well. Without entering into the exhaustive science of doubt, let’s endeavor to understand the cause and cure of this complex killer.  

            Author and social critic Os Guiness in his work God in the Dark defines doubt as a divided heart. Os defines belief and unbelief as being “in one mind.” The believer is in one mind about trusting something or someone as true; the unbeliever is in one mind to reject something or someone. So both the believer and the unbeliever are in one mind about their belief.

            The doubter is not in one mind. The doubter believes and disbelieves at once and so is in “two minds.” Hence the doubter’s heart is divided. Os Guiness adds, “at its most basic, doubt is a matter of truth, trust and trustworthiness.”1

            The doubter doubts because he does not doubt his doubt. The doubter doubts because he believes his doubt. So a misguided belief is at the heart of the doubt.

            Why is there a doubt or a misguided belief in doubt? Os Guiness, through his appropriately worded subtitles in God in the Dark highlights the following as reasons for doubt:

            1. Ingratitude

            2. Faulty view of God

            3. Weak foundations

            4. Lack of Commitment

            5. Lack of Growth

            6. Unruly Emotions

            7. Hidden Conflicts

            8. Impatience

            9. Inquisitiveness

            So if we doubt the veracity of our Christian faith or if we doubt anything or anyone, it could well be due to some or all of the reasons stated above.

            How do we kill our doubts?

            Os Guiness reminds us of our own experience. We may, at some point in time, have been frustrated while striving to solve a jigsaw puzzle. While being frustrated, we may have been certain that the pieces do not fit the picture on the box i.e. we would have sincerely doubted the jigsaw puzzle. But upon rearranging the wrong pieces into the right places, we would have realized that the fault was with us and not with the picture.

            The fault is with the doubter. Blame ourselves; this is the most appropriate starting point to cure us of our doubts.

            As a case in point, let’s consider a religious doubt, “What if Christianity is false?”

            New Testament scholar Mike Licona offers four action points to defeat our religious doubts. 2

            1. Doubting is normal: The Bible is replete with instances of doubters. Abraham doubted God’s promise. The psalmist doubted God. John the Baptist and Thomas doubted Jesus. None of them were condemned for their doubts, although some doubts were rebuked as in the case of Job and Thomas.

            Sincere doubters who are open to reasonable answers grow during the process of their doubts. Job, Abraham and Paul grew in their faith through their doubts, “Religious doubt is very common and affects almost everyone at some time. It is not necessarily sin, nor must it be the opposite of faith. It can even produce some good results. But it can also lead to serious situations that need to be treated,” says Dr. Gary Habermas, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University.3

            2. Good Evidence Supports the Truth of Christianity: Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the bedrock of Christianity. Apostle Paul asserted the futility of our faith if Christ had not been raised, “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15: 14, NIV).

            Strong evidence exists for Christ’s resurrection, “Without question, the chief verification of Christian theism comes from the resurrection of Jesus. This extraordinary event can be shown to be historical even when only a bare minimum of historical facts is used, each of which is both admitted by unbelieving critical scholars today, as well as being strongly attested by the known data…In the New Testament, both Jesus (Matt. 12:39-40; 16:4) and His apostles (Acts 2:22-24; 17:31) pointed to the resurrection as the chief sign that He was God’s messenger.”4

            3. Absolute Certainty is an Unreasonable Expectation: Be it religious doubt or personal, expecting absolute certainty is an unreasonable expectation. We could be absolutely certain of certain things in life but not everything.

            I am absolutely certain that I exist. You could be absolutely certain that you exist. Provided we meet, I could be certain of your existence and you could be certain of mine. This certainty is predicated on sight i.e. we see ourselves and others in action. 

            But in matters pertaining to religion, we cannot travel back in time to affirm the existence of Abraham or Jesus Christ. We should be content with reasonable explanations of that which cannot be seen. Therefore reasonable certainty is sufficient for a contented life.

            To live with reasonable certainty is neither abhorrent nor aberrant. We are quite comfortable to live in reasonable certainty.

            It is with reasonable certainty we believe in man’s excursions to Moon and Mars. It is with reasonable certainty we believe that 9/11 is an outcome of Islamic terrorism. It with reasonable certainty we believe in medical reports. We can go on and on. 

            Similarly, reasonable certainty is sufficient to keep us in Christ.

            4. Faith is a Commitment: Faith is not the absence of doubts. Faith is a commitment to the Lord Jesus, since we know HIM to be real. Despite our doubts, we should continue to believe in Christ.

            But how is it possible to continue to believe in Christ if we doubt Christianity?

            After having known Christ, where do we go to? Is there a better alternate to Christ and Christianity?

            Consider these verses, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6: 66-69, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            The key to Peter’s response was his belief in Christ and his knowledge that Christ alone offers eternal life to those who believe in HIM.

            No! There is no better alternate to Christ and Christianity.

            Gary Habermas thus describes the uniqueness of Christianity, “Surprisingly, Jesus has no real challengers among the founders of the major religious faiths. None of the others even claimed to be God, let alone teaching that they were a unique, one-of-a-kind, divine manifestation of the Almighty. Buddha was very possibly an atheist! Confucius and Lao Tzu were teachers of ethics, not theologians. Abraham, Moses, and David never came close to teaching that they were deity. Neither did Mohammed, who is believed by the Muslim faithful to be Allah’s chief prophet, but under no condition to be compared to deity.”5

            Christians are in the best possible place that can ever be. There is none better and no place better than the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Finally, defeat your doubts by fervently seeking Christ. Outside of the triune God, there is no other means to defeat your doubts.

            You could follow the principles described in Philippians 4: 6-9:

            1. Pray (speak and listen to God)

            2. Give thanks and praise God

            3. Exchange anxious thoughts and doubts with God’s Word

            “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy —  to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 1: 24-25, NIV).


1 God in the Dark, p14.


3, chapter 1

4 Ibid, chapter 5

5 Ibid.

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