Category Archives: Apologetics

Quirky Questions to Make You Think

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I recently took a class through the RZIM Academy called What Does It Mean To Be Human? It was without doubt the best class I’ve ever taken anywhere, with the possible exception of Why Suffering, which was another class offered by the Academy.

Every class I’ve ever taken through the Academy has been exceedingly well done, but this last class was by far the best. I always learn a lot when I take these classes, but this time I learned a lot, and they made me think, probably more than in any other class.

One of the assignments we had to do was to come up with ten questions on what it means to be human. The variety of questions that people came up with was really cool.

I decided I’m going to post my questions here, and then try and come up with answers for each one.

So here goes…

  1. What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?
  2. What is it about being human that gives man the capacity for spirituality?
  3. What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know and understand truth?
  4. What is it about being human that gives man the craving for beauty, and the ability to pursue perfection in the arts?
  5. What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know his origins, to know where he came from, deeper than just the details about sex?
  6. What is it about being human that gives man the hunger for morality, and the consequent ability to establish governments, and make rules and laws?
  7. What is it about being human that gives man the curiosity to pursue knowledge in the sciences and other fields of inquiry?
  8. What is it about being human that gives man the capacity to love sacrificially, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, to hate absolutely?
  9. What is it about being human that gives man the yearning to find meaning in his life?
  10. What is it about being human that makes people crave to know their destiny? In other words, what happens to us when we die?

So those were my ten questions. I don’t know how good they are, but I like them. The purpose of the assignment was to come up with questions that would make people think about what it means to be human, and to make them think more deeply about the things of the Spirit, and of God.

I want to start by answering the first question in this post, and then answer the questions one or two at a time in successive posts.

So, here I go with Question #1:

What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?

I think the answer to that question lies more than anything in the idea, corroborated in Scripture, that human beings are created in the image of God. It says in the Book of Genesis,

And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ~ Genesis 1:26-27, ESV.

There are a lot of thoughts that run through my mind when I contemplate the idea that God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, would create me in His image. That boggles my mind. As amazing and marvelous and wonderful and mysterious as God is, He created me in His image, and after His likeness.

Then I find myself wondering, what does it mean to be created in the image of someone? Is it about being created like that person, and if it is, like that person in what way? Since this is in reference to God, it can’t have anything to do with physical appearance, because God is Spirit.

Then Kim sent me some helpful ideas. God created us to reflect Him, kind of like a mirror, and He is, at the simplest level, Light, Life, and Love, so we were created to reflect God’s Light, God’s Life, and God’s Love, because those are God’s defining characteristics.

Something else Kim reminded me of: if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Jesus Himself said that,

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show Him to you?” ~ John 14:8-9, NLT.

First, God is light, as it says in 1 John,

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. ~ 1 John 1:5, NASB.

Then, God is love, also in 1 John,

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8, NASB.

And also in 1 John,

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16, NKJV.

The idea that God is life is a little more difficult, because there isn’t a scripture that says plainly, God is life, as there are for the other two concepts. But inferences and deductions can be made, and conclusions can be drawn, so I’ll try and do exactly that.

Peter calls Jesus Christ the Author of Life in the Book of Acts. In order for someone to be the author of life, that person has to have life in himself, and Jesus Christ certainly had that, and still does in inexhaustible supply,

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! ~ Acts 3:15, NLT, NIV, ESV, and RSV.

And “Author of Life” is translated variously, “Prince of Life”, in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASV, YLT, WEB, and HNV; “Source of Life” in the CSB; and “Originator of Life” in the NET and the DBY.

All of which means that God is Life because He is the source and originator of life. Plus Jesus said about Himself,

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One. ~ John 10:29-30, ESV.

In addition, Jesus says to Martha, the sister of Lazarus who He raised from the dead, in John, Chapter 11,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies… ~ John 11:25, NASB.

So Jesus says He is the resurrection and the life (resurrection and life used as nouns). He’s saying that He has life, and that He is life.

I don’t know how close I’ve come to answering the question, but at least I’ve made a stab at it. I’m sure there’s more I could say, and I may come back and add more later on.

Where Else Would I Go?

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I’ve heard it said that Christianity in America is on dangerous ground these days, because we have so many media choices to choose from that fewer and fewer people will be sharing the same metanarrative. But that’s not only true for Christianity. It’s true for every worldview.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, a metanarrative is “an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences.” Media can shape the kind of metanarrative we hold, and the fewer media choices there are, the more likely we are to share metanarratives with those around us. That’s the way things were before the information age arrived.

Now, however, everything is different, because we have the internet.

Now everyone can access information on all the various social, political, and economic systems, not to mention the whole range of religious worldviews, plus we can customize our media consumption to suit our own individual needs and whims. And because we have such a wide variety of choices, and so many different religious and cultural metanarratives to choose from, each different metanarrative, such as Christianity, is less persuasive and influential than ever before.

With all these choices, people are more likely to isolate and construct their own micronarrative, rather than engage in shared narratives with others.

My answer to all this is found in John’s Gospel, Chapter Six,

After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” ~ John 6:66-68, ESV.

In other words, regardless of how many micronarratives or metanarratives are out there, there’s only one narrative that’s going to save my soul and get me into Heaven, and that’s the Story of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, and resurrection on the third day.

So no matter how many choices they present me with, my answer will always be, “Where else would I go? Only Jesus has the words of eternal life.”

God’s Definition of Good

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What is God’s definition of good?

Someone asked that question on the radio recently, and it really made me think, mostly because I’m just about positive God’s definition is different than man’s.

The Bible says,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV.

What that tells me is that God sees things differently than we do. In addition, God is completely good, and we are the antithesis of good. The Bible says our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). All of which makes sense, because we’re separated from God as a result of our sin ~ and as a result of Adam and Eve’s original sin ~ thus necessitating the need for a savior. Which is why Jesus Christ came and died on the cross ~ to atone once for all for our rebellion, and pay the ransom to remove the wall of separation between us and God.

Humans may have good parts; we may do good deeds. But bottom line, we are an evil lot, and without Jesus Christ’s saving work on the cross we would have no hope of anything other than eternity in Hell.

So God, and of course Christ, are wholly other than humanity, completely separate.

With all of that said, good from God’s point of view might be seen as that which is morally pure, just, and right, and also truthful ~ in the way that Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ~ NKJV). I capitalized Truth because it’s not the kind of truth you see in today’s culture, with moral relativism and relative truth. It’s the absolute Truth that’s found in God’s Word, and that’s embodied in Jesus Christ.

I think the concept of good is also seen in everything that’s beautiful. The Bible says,

Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. ~ Psalm 96:8, NKJV.

Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. ~ Psalm 29:2, NKJV.

Not only are God and His holiness beautiful, but His creation is beautiful as well, and the world He created is chock-full of examples. In fact, His Word says that evidence of His existence can be clearly seen in His creation. It says in the book of Romans,

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made they can clearly see His invisible qualities ~ His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. ~ Romans 1:20, NLT.

I also think God sees suffering as good, even beautiful, as paradoxical as that may sound. Jesus’ work of salvation on the cross was the best possible good that any person could have done for humanity throughout all of eternity, and yet the agony He suffered ~ physically, emotionally, and spiritually ~ was probably as much suffering as any person has ever had to go through.

He bore the sin of the whole world in His body, and worst of all, He had to endure God’s abandonment, because God cannot look on sin, so while Jesus hung on the cross God had to turn His back on Jesus. That must have been the most agonizingly painful suffering of all for Him, and He showed it with His words,

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means,” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ~ Mark 15:34, ESV.

When Jesus uttered that anguished cry He was actually quoting Psalm 22:1,

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? ~ Psalm 22:1, NIV.

Another detail of Christi’s suffering that I remembered as I was writing this post is that He actually benefitted from it as well, as everyone else did, something that I’ve never understood very well. It says in Hebrews,

While Jesus was here on earth, He offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the One who could rescue Him from death. And God heard His prayers because of His deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. ~ Hebrews 5:7-8, NLT.

That idea has always puzzled me. Why would Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have to learn to be obedient before He could go to the cross? Maybe it was because He was human as well as divine, and the human part had to learn obedience. That makes sense to me. That I can understand.

Curiouser and more wonderful too!

His humanity taught His divinity what it meant to suffer, and how hard it was for humans to be obedient in the process.

Maybe that’s why He makes such a good High Priest!

I like to think so…

Jesus Is the Only Way to God Because He Is God.

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Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ~ John 14:6, NKJV.

I’ve heard many people object that Christians have no right to say that Jesus is the only way to God. I’ve also heard people say that Jesus never said He was God (not true, He said it many times in a number of different contexts). Seems to me, if people would recognize that He said He was God, then they would realize that, of course He was the only way to God, because He was God. He was the only way to reach Himself.

In addition, Jesus was the only figure representing a religion who called Himself God. Mohammed said he was Allah/God’s messenger, Buddhism has no gods, and Hinduism has 33 million gods.

“I and My Father are one.” ~ John 10:30, NKJV.

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say ‘Show us the Father’?” ~ John 14:8-9, ESV.

It would be true that Jesus couldn’t say that He’s the only way to access God if He weren’t God but He is. He said He was God on many different occasions, as illustrated by the two instances above.

Additionally, when He was on the cross, one of the last things Jesus said was, “It is finished.” ~ John 19:30, NKJV. Then He died, after which the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom. This was no mean feat, because the veil was reported to be sixty feet high and fifteen feet wide, and four inches thick. (some sources say it was thirty feet high and fifteen feet wide). Plus it was torn from top to bottom, sixty feet in the air, something no human being could have accomplished.

The veil was significant because it separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the temple, and originally in the tabernacle, and God was thought to have resided in the Most Holy Place. So if the veil separating the two was gone, then the wall closing off humanity from relationship with God was now removed, giving man access to God for the very first time since Adam’s sin way back in the beginning.

The upshot of all this is that if Jesus said He’s the way to reach God, and He speaks only the truth, then He must be the way to reach God because He was the only human to ever walk the earth who lived a perfect, sinless life. So He’s the only one who could be a bridge between us and a Holy God.

And He is exactly that!

Beauty Shouts of God’s Existence…

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Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.Psalm 29:2, NKJV.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.Psalm 19:1, NKJV.

I’ve been fascinated by all aspects of beauty for a long time, especially with regard to Christian apologetics and the existence of God.

God’s creation is awash with examples of beauty that He’s created to give us reasons to worship Him, from the microscopic to the hugely macroscopic in outer space. There’s even a nebula that’s shaped like a horsehead! How cool is that?

Horsehead

And then there are diatoms. Diatoms are tiny, microscopic, one-celled organisms that have a glass (silica) shell, and there are about 250,000 different species, each with a different shell. They’re kind of like snowflakes, because no two are alike, and they’re all amazingly beautiful. Here are some examples:

Different Kinds of Diatoms

And there are things like the beautiful symmetry of the hemoglobin molecule, and the almost identical symmetry of the chlorophyll molecule, and considering the roles those two molecules play in the biochemistry of plants and animals, it just shows how wonderful and amazing God is.

The hemoglobin molecule:

Heme b of the Hemoglobin Molecule

The chlorophyll molecule:

Chlorophyll_f.svg

And then there are fractals, and the many fractal designs that can be found in nature.

An aloe plant:

Aloe Spiral Fractal

Mathematics is another example, with the Fibonacci sequence being a good illustration of the beauty to be found therein. The Fibonacci sequence is a series of integers characterized by the fact that every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, . . . A gorgeous example in nature of the Fibonacci sequence is the chambered Nautilus:

Nautilus With Connections Between Chambers

And aside from all the other examples that can be found in nature, God created human beings with the ability to perceive and appreciate beauty, as well as create beautiful things. He constructed our bodies with five senses, each of which can perceive a different kind of beauty.

Our ears can hear beautiful music, as well as a baby’s first words. Our taste buds can taste the most amazing desserts. Our noses can smell the scent of the sweetest flower, and the most fragrant perfume. Our hands can feel the softness of a baby’s skin. And with our eyes we can see the richness of color in a beautiful Van Gogh painting, or a vivid Hawaiian sunset.

All of that is to say that God has given us clear evidence of His existence through His creation, and, I believe, specifically through the beauty in His creation. It says as much in the book of Romans:

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.Romans 1:20, NLT.