(For anonymity’s sake, all personal identifiers have been deleted or changed from the following dialogue. The question was originally posed to a fairly well known full time evangelist from a ministry that conducts evangelical outreach and training for communities throughout the United States. It should be noted that the assistant, not to the head of the organization, answered the question. My response follows that of the administrator’s.)
Dear Mr. Smith,
I will be truthful and say that I paused in beginning this message, due to the fact I could not find the words to express my meaning. So this is where I’ll start:
I am a 15 year old girl who lives in the United States and the youngest of 3 children. My parents are divorced and my father remarried.
I was introduced to Christianity ever since I was born. Both my mother and father were “Christians”, although my mother no longer holds to the faith. My brother doesn’t attend church anymore, and my sister only goes for friends. I myself, go off and on. My issue however, is not one of attendance problems, but lies in the heart. Last year, I felt solid in my faith, but now I question it.
Since becoming a freshman and starting at high school, I recognize the religious influences. My school is a school of choice, meaning the students there focus on academics over athletics. This also leads to the fact that the atheist students appearing there are consistently more in depth to what they believe in. For real life, some people refer themselves as atheists, but in truth they are usually just agnostic, unless they give further details as to why. I no longer can say the same for the atheists I talk with during my school hours. My tongue is tied when discussing religion with them, for I cannot counter against what they say. They are well thought out points. This leads to my first realization: my knowledge of what I believed in for so long is too little.
From then on, questions began to converge upon me. “How much do I really know? Is what they say at church just inferences? Is what we are taught enough to convince ourselves of Gods existence? How about for the world?” This all trailed up to questioning the existence of me and of course, “the meaning of life,” a concept many philosophers have been pondering over for a millennia.
In the end, I am at a loss for reason. I still believe in Jesus Christ, but it has become empty. Imagine a vase. You have the vase; you possess it, but there is nothing inside. I search for the reasons and evidence to His existence. I wish for them. Perhaps this is because I understand the difference from believers and blind believers. I feel that one alone should not only have faith, but proof as well, because faith is not convincing enough for the world. Perhaps personally it works, but not for the atheists, agnostics, and whoever else is out there. My youth pastor once questioned why some of the kids who grew up in a Christian home would later leave church and the religion. For me, I think those kids leave because when they are little, they hear of bible stories (which are great), but not the worldly proof of the religion being real. This meaning that they would not have the evidence to convince themselves and the people in the world of Gods existence. These concepts are later discussed when the kids have already grown and developed their own opinions of the world. Therefore, those kids do not learn of the importance of having faith and living up to it. It becomes a minority for them, and they lose the fear of God and His power.
To me, I believe in God, because I would rather have faith in something that is “unreal”, then to take all life as meaningless. Ignorant and foolish this may seem to atheists, but what is the purpose of life if you won’t look past death? If life has no meaning, not one person would try to live through it. So why do we? Why do we suffer continuously in the world, working hard in society and looking for comfort to life?
This is the reason for my email. I’m looking for more and searching for what others say about God’s existence. Why do you believe it’s true? What do you say to atheists who question you, or what would you say?
I stumbled upon your website as I was searching for evangelists. Who better to ask then those who have a set mind of why they believe already.
Mr. Smith is on the road and asked if I could contact you and respond to your email that you sent him below.
I would like to say that I have all the answers, but I don’t. All I know is that believing in God is a heart thing and not a head thing. You cannot reason out God (he doesn’t make sense to the natural mind). That is what faith is all about, believing and trusting that His word is true and He is who He says He is. You have to get to know Him on a deep and personal level for yourself. The way you do this is through prayer, reading the Bible and worshiping. People who grow up in a Christian church and hear all the stories and then walk away or question if He is real, has never truly known Him for themselves. They know about the Jesus that mama and daddy (or whoever) spoke of, but haven’t entered into a personal relationship with Him for themselves! I can say this, because I was once that person. I grew up in a Christian home and when I went out on my own, I turned away from God and questioned His existence, because of difficult things that happened to me in my life. I couldn’t believe if there was a God that He would’ve allowed those things to happen to me, so I set out to disprove my parents by trying to find fault in the Word of God, but what I found was love, forgiveness and hope in a God who is real. Honestly Seeking, I think you have to decide for your own self if you believe there is a God and not worry about anyone else. If they ridicule you for your believe or try to argue the points with you, you can do what I do: I say: You know, I could possibly be wrong and if I am what have I lost? I lost a lifetime of hoping in something that doesn’t exist. But, what if you are wrong? What have you lost? You have lost all eternity.
I found some articles that are good reads that will help you understand God’s existence even better, but I recommend you get out your Bible and get to reading. Talk to God through prayer and even as you are reading His Word, ask Him to show you. He will not disappoint you!
If we can help you anymore, please feel free to contact us at the number below or by email! We love you and will be praying that God makes Himself clearly known to you and helps you rest assured in that!
The Apologist’s Response
Hi Honestly Seeking.
First of all I want to say WOW! I am so excited to be writing this message to you right now. Yes, it’s 1:40 in the morning and I’m a little tired with a hundred different things going on in my life, but none of them is more important than sharing the Good News – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I just read your email to Mr. Smith – as you know your aunt passed the communication on to me after you told her you did not find the answer to be sufficient for your needs. Who am I? I would like to say I am your contemporary, but in actuality I am a man in his forties. A little more detail: I have a Masters degree from Arizona State University, B.A. from The University of Arkansas , currently finishing up my first novel (a fantasy), a children’s book to be published next month, I write music for a local band called Seven Years, mange several rental properties, and on and on…
Enough about me. Back to you and why your question(s) and letter excite me. First of all, thank you for having the guts and the patience to ask the tough questions. Not many people your age have the wherewithal to put the question as succinctly as you did in your letter, let alone to wait expectantly for an adequate answer. I think you want a genuine answer and you deserve it. If there really is a God, then there must be a satisfying answer for one who truly seeks it. I can’t say I have all of the answers, but I will be so bold as to say I have a lot of them. And if this letter does not satisfy enough of your questions, please – by all means, ask me more. I may not always answer immediately, but I will answer them eventually.
I think Jane Doe only addressed half of the equation. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a big world out there with lots of people who are gifted with different skills. It sounds as though she was given a strong gift of faith without the need to question a lot of things. Perhaps she has not had much doubt or either she does not allow herself to “go there.” Either way, I think she is correct that faith is important, but I think she is perhaps misinformed concerning her statement: ” All I know is that believing in God is a heart thing and not a head thing.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. God never asked nor expected us to have a blind faith. I suppose it’s OK if one does, but I don’t see how any true Christian could stay in a “blind” faith for long, when there is so much to learn about God. Evidence of who God is abounds.
The Holy Bible is the only so called “Holy” book that says to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. The Bible is in fact challenging you, Honestly Seeking, to test it and prove it wrong or right. No other religion could ever hold up to such a test, but the one true God has no problem with passing any and every test you could come up with. Furthermore, in contradiction to what Jane Doe stated above, the Bible commands believers to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’…'” Luke 10:27. Many Christians seem to forget about the “mind” and focus solely on the “heart”.
Okay, so I’ve hopefully clarified that your doubt and struggles are in fact a good thing and that your desire for proof is also a good thing. God created you, and He knew you had a mind that needed answers. Don’t worry, the answers are there. You may need to spend time and energy finding them, but like the Bible says “…if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29.
You’re starting a journey, Honestly Seeking. There are people around to help you on that journey. I hope I can be a part of that. Now back to evidence and proof. I consider myself an Apologist. Christian apologetics (from the Greek ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”) aims to present a scientific, historical, prophetic, and archeological basis for the Christian faith. Apologetics also seeks to defend the faith against objections, and expose the flaws of other religions. I have devoted much of my life to this process. I love it. God is amazing and the more I seek Him with all “my mind” the more I love Him. Yes, I started out having faith without much evidence to back it up, but because I love my Creator so much, I wanted to learn as much about Him as possible.
Here’s a nice acronym for the beginning apologist: MAPS, M-Manuscript evidence, A – Archeological evidence, P – Prophetic evidence, and S – Scientific evidence. I’m going to give you some very brief examples of some of the evidence of God. I could give you evidence on all of the topics listed above, but for the sake of time I’m going to concentrate on my favorite – Science.
I have learned a great deal form an astrophysicist by the name of Hugh Ross. He was an Atheist for most of his early life until some students challenged him to disprove the Bible. It peaked his interest and so he set out to study all the major religions of the world, not just the Bible. He reasoned that if there was a God that created everything, then that God would certainly know how Physics and science work. He read the Koran and it got science wrong. He read the Hindu Vedas and again, they got science wrong. Buddhism, Confucianism, and others..to the extent they discussed scientific matters, they got science wrong. He got to the Bible and read Genesis and was shocked to find that the Bible got science right. He then spent two years studying the Bible and eventually accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and has been a Christian ever since. He was first led by the evidence, and then his heart followed. The opposite of me, perhaps.
How did Genesis get science right? Let’s start with the beginning – literally. The scientific community as few as 60 years ago used to mock the Bible because the Bible stated that the universe had a beginning. “In the beginning…” Genesis 1:1. Science once espoused the universe was eternal. We now know that the big bang is how it all started and that the universe did indeed have a beginning. The big bang agrees with the Bible. If you have a beginning you logically must have a beginner. Genesis also got the correct order of the development of a planet. Something 99% of the population today could not get correct. The Bible got it right over 5,000 years ago. That surprised Hugh Ross.
There’s other types of evidence as well. Consider Simon Greenleaf, a man that founded Harvard Law School. Students challenged him to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was an atheist and also Jewish. But being a scholar, he set out to help his students by applying his volumes of books that he wrote on how to apply the rule of law in the court system. After much research and study, he came to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was an actual historical and miraculous event. He became a Christian. An atheist Jew that founded Harvard law School was led to Christ by the evidence presented in scripture! http://www.creationstudies.org/Education/simon_greenleaf.html
Honestly Seeking, I’m obviously just barely touching on the volumes of evidence that exist concerning the God of the Holy Bible. I could write a book and spend countless hours talking over many things with you in regards to our Creator. Hopefully I have whet your appetite to explore more. Don’t give up. I think, God has placed these questions and desires to know the truth in your heart. It sounds like you have the intelligence, ability, and openness to continue to explore.
I wish I had the time to share with you all the wonderful and beautiful things God has done for me in my life. He has been my only constant and He has never let me down. He has brought me incomprehensible joy. But quite frankly, I put in the work seeking Him out in prayer, Bible study, and countless hours learning form people that know more than me. My life has not been easy and I have had many injustices brought upon me and I’m sure I have also caused consternation to others along the way. But the more I read about, the more I study, the more I seek God, the fuller my life becomes. What else could have prompted me to write such a long response to someone I have never met? My love for the one who created me is that awesome and it is only surpassed by His love for me.
If you have any specific questions about anything, please let me know. (e.g., evolution, the age of the universe, the flood, why bad things happen to good people, women in the Bible, was the Bible written by men or by God, has the Bible changed over the years, hell, heaven, etc.etc…) I’ll do my best to share what I have learned. One thing I do know, there are answers. If you are open and really want truth, you will find it. “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Much peace and love in Christ,
Apologetics With Me
Hugh Ross’s website: http://www.reasons.org/