Many, if not most, non-Christians assume that Christianity is a "blind faith"... that Christians ignore reality and have unquestioning loyalty to an absolute belief system without proof or evidence. In fact, that they believe contrary to all evidence and facts.
Much to the contrary, the Christian faith is a commitment based on evidence. The Judeo-Christian faith consistently stresses the importance of truth, and makes appeal to evidence to support it's truth claims. In fact, it is actually quite remarkable as to how many times, God, Jesus, and the prophets of both the Old and New Testaments, appealed to facts to support what they said and taught. This evidence includes the Bible’s humanly impossible authorship, it's candor about the faults and failings of it's main characters, fulfilled prophecy, and it's archaeological and scientific accuracy... none of which are seen in the books of other religions.
However, the Christian position only asks that the same criteria used to judge the truth of other ancient documents, that told us about historical people and events, be applied to the Bible. Bias aside, the question that must be honestly answered is whether or not the New Testament records fulfill the historian's requirements of internal, external and transmissional reliability. In other words, when were the Gospel accounts written, were they authored by the people whose name they bear, did the authors intend to record history, or did they have a hidden agenda? Finally, can we be reasonably certain that the text we have to today is what was originally written.
And why is this important? Simply because far from being outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, the Kingdom of God Jesus was sent to earth to proclaim (No, His main message wasn’t about ‘love’) is exactly the utopian world most men and women can only dream of. However, there is also a warning. The Bible very clearly tells us that we all have a choice to make in this life - the most important decision we will ever make. And, if the Bible is indeed the word of God, as it claims to be, and Jesus is the Son of God as He said He was, the consequences for the individual who chooses to ignore, or counter the evidence with clever arguments, will be fatal.
Please note: This article is a long one... a very long one. Sixteen chapters to be precise. This simply because the tremendous importance of this topic demands as much detail as possible. However, on the positive side, each of the chapters although intrinsically linked with all the others, can be read individually. However, since they are in logical progression, reading them in order probably makes the most sense.
Part 1: "Spiritual" But Not Religious
Close to 40% of all Americans identify themselves by the very trendy phrase "spiritual but not religious". In fact, the comfort level of ambiguity in faith seems to be almost enviably high. Free of any and all set dogmas, regulations and obligations of religion, spiritual but not religious people are free to indulge in whatever causes them to feel good and attain inner peace, be it yoga, meditation, or contemplating a sunset. They are free to (and usually do) cherry pick bits and pieces of various religious philosophies which appeal to them, appear to be advantageous, and which fit into their world view. However, a sense of emotional and physical well being does not necessarily mean that the spiritual path you may be on is, in the long run, wise, much less that it leads to Deity. Feelings can, and often are, caused by all manner of things. In fact, one of the most common, and least understood, reasons behind some of our 'spiritual' feelings can very well be attributed to brain wave frequencies (the brain's spontaneous electrical activity). HERE
Part 2: Religious Pluralism
It is tragically true that few of those who believe 'all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God" seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust. This simply because many, if not most, people seem to believe that religion is a matter of what you believe, and 'faith' has nothing to do with reality. Whether we realize it or not, we literally make dozens of decisions every day, based on evidence, not feelings. In fact, we would find ourselves in deep trouble on quite a regular basis, if important decisions were based on how we emotionally relate to something, instead of collecting known facts/weighing all the evidence. Whether you have thought about it or not, whether you are willing to face it or not, the simple fact is... if two religions make truth-claims which contradict each other, they cannot both be right. As one example among many, when one religion says there is no God, another claims there is only one God, and others say there are many gods ... someone is wrong. How can a religion be trusted to show you the path to God if they don't even have this basic fact straight? HERE
Part 3: Faith and The Bible
If "feelings" are the sole arbitrator of spiritual truth, a lot of people may be in very big trouble. Just because something makes you feel good, doesn't mean it is good for you. A sense of emotional and physical well being does not necessarily mean that the spiritual path you may be on is, in the long run, wise, much less that it leads to Deity. While, I suppose, much depends on what a person's idea of "deity" is, where is the evidence that tells us these experiences are from God, or even have anything to do with Him. It is but common sense to apply logical and objective reasoning to your spiritual life which most people seem disinclined to do... apparently preferring to believe that their 'spiritual experiences' validate the religion, or spiritual path, they follow. However, what most people do not seem to realize is that Christianity is perhaps the only religion that does not demand 'blind faith' from its followers. HERE
Part 4: God And His Bible
What is truly interesting is that most people seem to be prejudiced against the Bible, but well disposed towards other 'scriptures'. In fact, if you quote the Bible, it is quite likely that you will hear something like "everyone knows the Bible is full of errors and contradictions". However if you were to appeal to... say... the writings of Buddha, you would probably be viewed as a wise, or even enlightened, person. This is a rather illogical situation, because there is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books' like the Qur’an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the writings of Confucius, or the Book of Mormon. This evidence includes its humanly impossible authorship, its candor about the faults and failings of it's main characters, its fulfilled prophecy, and i's archaeological and scientific
accuracy... none of which are seen in the books of other religions. HERE
Part 5: Differences and Discrepancies in the Old Testament
Skeptics are often unfamiliar with the languages used in the Scriptures, particularly how certain Hebrew and Greek words and phrases were used. Few are familiar with the cultural influences of the time. They do not always seem to recognize the variety of literary genres used, nor that the historical portions of the Bible were never meant to be precise chronological records. But, perhaps most of all, skeptics seem to have an abysmal lack of knowledge about Christianity itself. Additionally, critics often forget that the books of the Old Testament are some of the oldest in our possession, hand copied countless times over many centuries, which makes it impossible to expect that human error never crept in, especially when it came to numerals. What is important to remember is that none of the variations alter a single teaching or doctrine of the Bible... most being very minor. HERE
Part 6: Comparing Jesus With Other Religious Leaders... Why Jesus Is Without Equal
The claim to authority made by the founders of most religions, is generally based on visions they claim to have had, and/or their own experiences or wisdom. However, anyone can claim to be divine, be divinely inspired, or have mystical visions or experiences. Additionally, a charismatic or powerful personality, wisdom, humility, compassion, written or spoken eloquence, or even righteousness, is no proof of Divine inspiration. It seems within the bounds of common sense that if God were to send a messenger/savior to mankind, He would have at least given us some way to distinguish the true messenger from the false (and potentially dangerous) one. And, so He did. In fact God’s method was pretty foolproof... He simply told us about the Messiah beforehand. In fact, although many details of the Messiah's birth, life and death were recorded centuries before Christ’s birth, Daniel specified EXACTLY when He would appear. HERE
Part 7: The Reliability of The New Testament
If we applied whatever criteria liberal scholars use to dismiss the Gospels, to the evidence for other ancient historical people and events, we would be forced to dismiss as myth every single thing we think we think we know about the ancient past, simply because everything we assume to be factual history is based (just as the Gospels are) on historians. So what is the excuse for many scholar's policy that what's sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander? And, bias aside, do the New Testament records fulfill the historian's requirements of internal, external and transmissional reliability. In other words, when were the Gospel accounts written, were they authored by the people whose name they bear, did they intend to record history, or did they have a hidden agenda? Finally, can we be reasonably certain that the text we have to today is what was originally written. HERE
Part 8: Differences and Discrepancies in the New Testament
Many of the 'mistakes' discovered in the Scriptures actually arise from not having a clear understanding of what a real contradiction is. People are not contradicting one another when they give us different or additional information. Problems also stem from understanding too little about the Bible, including not giving the passage, or passages, enough thought, ignoring the immediate textual context, or the original language, assuming a 'contradiction' even if different persons or things are being referred to, or when the recorded events took place at different times. Also forgetting that copyist mistakes can and do occur. This is not to say that every difficulty in the Bible can be resolved, but enough of them have been (some extremely easily) to realize that there are probable answers to the remaining few. HERE
Part 8b: Alleged Discrepancies in The Gospel Accounts of the Resurrection
Critics claim that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John's accounts of the resurrection differ substantially from each other and that these discrepancies or contradictions can neither be harmonized nor explained. This is then offered up as 'evidence' that the Gospels are completely unreliable as eyewitness testimony and can therefore be summarily dismissed. However, is the charge true that there irreconcilable contradictions in the Gospel accounts? It should not be surprising that the so-called contradictions in the resurrection accounts are trotted out without a single reference to the possible solutions that can very plausibly and naturally explain them. In fact, the claim of contradictions galore only works for those accustomed to having their food pre-chewed for them and are thus disinclined do to any serious thinking for themselves. They make little effort to try and make any sense of the four accounts choosing instead to allow a surface reading dictate their beliefs. It will be a very expensive mistake. HERE
Part 9: The Bible... Then And Now.
Not only do the number of manuscript copies of the New Testament far surpass the number of copies of any other ancient document, but the New Testaments 6,000 full, or partial, Greek manuscripts, the roughly 8,000 Latin translations, the copies and fragments in various other languages, and the copious quotes by early church writers, make the New Testament the best authenticated ancient document... miles ahead of any of the others. Additionally, the length of time between the original Biblical document and the earliest copies is the shortest, by far, of any ancient writing. HERE
Part 10: Historical Corroboration...
Were Any Of The Gospel Accounts Substantiated By Non-Christian Sources?
Secular writings do confirm that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberias. That His crucifixion briefly checked the spread of Christianity, which broke out again. That an "immense multitude" believed in Jesus by the time of Nero, and were arrested for their faith by the emperor. They also confirm that a man called James, the brother of Jesus, was condemned by the Sanhedrin, and stoned. While none of this proves Jesus is the Son of God, it certainly lends credibility to the Gospel accounts. HERE
Part 11: Does Archaeology Confirm, or Undermine, The New Testament Accounts?
In spite of the fact that the four Gospels are ancient documents that claim to be eye witness testimony, much of what those men wrote was dismissed as the product of fervent and vivid imagination. Yet, archaeology has corroborated many minute details found in the New Testament. About those details that haven't been substantiated, I only have this to say... Isn't it amazing how we, in our infinite wisdom, think that something in the ancient past cannot possibly be true simply because we haven't found any tangible evidence for it? HERE
Part 12: Is The Evidence Insufficient or Too Obscure?
The Bible very clearly tells us that we all have a choice to make in this life - the most important choice we will ever make. And, if the Bible is indeed the word of God, the consequences for the individual who chooses to ignore, or counter the evidence with clever arguments, are fatal. In view of which, If Christianity even has a one in a hundred chance of being true, perhaps we should not be demanding greater evidence, but wake up to the fact that a far more sensible way to look at it is this.... the more severe the consequences, the less we should take risks. HERE
Part 13: The Message of The Bible
All too many people picking out a random phrase or two, think 'love' was Jesus' core message. Unfortunately, they are terribly wrong... In fact, Jesus never stopped talking about the "kingdom of God", which phrase is used over 50 times in the four Gospels alone. He even said that the proclamation of the Kingdom was the reason He was sent to earth (Luke 4:43). But what and where is this kingdom? Here is what is really paradoxical ... the Bible's description of this kingdom of God, also called heaven is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there', but matches, in every respect, the world most men and women would choose to live in. a place of peace and safety, where there is no crime, hunger and disease, war and above all... no death. Far from being outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, Christianity promises exactly the utopian world most men and women can only dream of. Unless, of course, your idea of paradise is "an ineffable transcendental state" (whatever that means). HERE
Part 14: The Warning of The Bible
The message of the Bible is, initially, unbelievably good... we can all live in a perfect world here on earth, in bodies that will neither age nor deteriorate. In fact, the heart of Jesus' preaching was the good news that the kingdom of God was on its way, and that we could be part of it. It then throws a spanner in the works by saying that sinful people cannot get there. After which it hits rock bottom when it tells us that no matter how well we live, we cannot live up to God's standard of holiness (no sin period), and we are all sinners who are under the death penalty... God's decreed punishment for any sin. Luckily God's mercy and love changes this hopeless situation. HERE
What Is Christianity?
Part 15: Who Is and Isn't a Christian
Christianity is rooted in, and inseparable from, the Scriptures. Everything a Christian knows about God, everything he believes and practices, is based not on human knowledge, insight, or experience, but rests solely on God's word to man, recorded in the Scriptures. Therefore, any group that appears to be Christian, but significantly, and consistently, deviates from what the Scriptures teach concerning the key doctrines of the Christian faith, cannot possibly be genuinely Christian. HERE
Part 16: Myths And Misconceptions About Christianity
It is truly amazing how many people reject Christianity on grounds that have absolutely no basis in reality, such as Christians suppressed the 'lost books of the Bible', all Christians are opposed to critical thinking and scientific investigation, Christianity is a crutch for the weak and stifles personal freedom... blah blah blah! All these misconceptions stem from knowing too little and, in all likelihood, assuming too much about the religion. HERE