I just have a question that im wrestling to answer. This is the point that I am wrestling with, people of other faiths might give some of the same reasons for their faith" our experience’s are very similar to people of other faiths, so how can we present Christianity in a way that triumphs over other world views an answer to his would really help me in my Apologetic journey.
@Dannyd That is a great question. Since we are here at RZIM Connect - I will start with an answer from Ravi regarding the four questions a worldview or religion must answer - origin, meaning, morality and destiny. We can compare different religions or worldviews by assessing the cohesiveness of the view when all four of these questions are considered. After the answer from Ravi, I will give a few other ways of assessing a worldview.
An Answer from Ravi
“A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. In turn, these answers must be correspondingly true on particular questions and, as a whole, all answers put together must be coherent.” Ravi Zacharias
James Sire’s Way of Assessing a Worldview
"A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundations on which we live and more and have our being.” James Sire
Sire’s 7 Questions for Assessing a Worldview
- What is ultimate reality?
- What is the universe?
- What is a human?
- What happens at death?
- How do we know things?
- What is morality?
- What is the meaning of history?
Focus on the Family Article
- Is there a god and what is he like?
- What is the nature and origin of the universe?
- What is the nature and origin of man?
- What happens to man after death?
- Where does knowledge come from?
- What is the basis of ethics and morality?
- What is the meaning of human history?
Tim Keller’s Approach at Google
In his talk at Google, Tim Keller says a worldview must provide the following - meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope. Then he argues for Christianity as the worldview that satisfies these needs.
A Closing Comment
One thing we must remember about Christianity is that it makes two tremendous claims:
1 - Jesus, a historical person, rose from the dead
2 - We can know God and relate to Him through the Holy Spirit
We can assess whether or not there is a rational basis for Jesus’ resurrection and we an seek God through prayer and studying His Word. My Grandpa was a preacher and he always used to say that God has a phone number - Jeremiah 33:3:
Jeremiah 33:3 - ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
God promises to respond to those who truly seek Him with all their heart - He is knowable and living. And from the beginning of the Bible to the end, He is calling people to come to Him and fight water that satisfies into eternity, life that never ends and joy eternal!
Jeremiah 29:13 - You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Isaiah 55:1 - Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Revelation 22:17 - The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Psalms 34:8 - Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
God set the nations in their place that by all means some of us might reach out and find Him !
Acts 17:26-27 - From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Is Christian faith illogical?
This is kind of the ultimate question in a sense, because you are really asking what make Christianity more likely true than other religions. It looks like @SeanO has already provided you with a lot of material to digest. I would say, very quickly, though, that when it comes to Apologetics and the use of arguments and evidence, it is not as if those things alone can bring someone to Christ. In philosophical terms, they are perhaps necessary, but not sufficient for belief in Christianity, at least the kind of belief that saves. Just keep that in mind, that even if Christianity is the most reasonable world view out there, we cannot demonstrate its perfections with arguments and evidence alone. Ultimately it is the special act of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the individual that attracts them to the person and work of Jesus. So, I don’t know if “we” can present Christianity in “a way” that “triumphs” over “other world views.” I think we can present Christianity reasonably, and perhaps even powerfully, but the rest is in the hands of almighty God and in the will of the unbeliever. When I first became I believer and started listening to Ravi, for example (or John Piper sermons), I mistakenly thought that if only people heard men like these preach, everyone would believe automatically. Ah, if only that were the case. Even with the greatest of preaching, and the most articulate presentation, the human heart will resist God’s call. But, let’s not allow that to dishearten us, or to use good arguments. Because, some people will hear the call of Christ through the evidence we present to them, and the good arguments we give.
What a great, ground-level question, man! Truly. I love it because, for me, it speaks to the root of our (Christians) truth claim: “Why Jesus and not [fill in the blank]?” @SeanO gave great insight and I totally agree with the point @anthony.costello made regarding the balance of great, convincing arguments and awesome power of the Holy Spirit drawing the unbeliever in. With all that said, I’ll humbly add my lil bit to the pot:
Before I was a Christian – and honestly, to a lesser degree, earlier in my walk with Christ – I understood Christianity to be not much more than a system or practice of living that helped you be a better person…to the degree of what you thought qualified as being a better person. I had unintentionally…ignorantly reduced Christianity and by association, all religions, as basically systems of improving one’s behavior and “getting your life straight”. Essentially, it was moralism or moral improvement. However, the thing about holding that position (which is what many people - including many professing Christians - believe) is that:
If the point of religion or spirituality were simply to make you a better, nicer person than any religion would do. If the ultimate endgame of religion is moral improvement, then it would make sense to just pick the religion that best suits you.
It’d be like going down a strip mall full of fast food joints and restaurants. They’re all there to fill a hunger craving. Just pick one. Similarly, religion is viewed that way: they’re all there to help me become a better person – so, just pick one.
It was during my college years and layer cemented shortly thereafter that the ‘ding’ happened and the Light came on regarding the uniqueness of Jesus. Every religion that I’d researched and been ooen to exploring inevitably had some opinion about the man, Jesus – and about 99.99% of the time, it was an overwhelmingly positive review.That began to provoke thoughts about ‘what makes Jesus so special?’ 'What makes Him so unique among the pantheon of religious heads, ie Muhammad. Krishna. Gautama Buddha?' The uniqueness of Christ (as well as the ‘simple, logical elegance’ of the Gospel message) were the apologetic for me that really trumped all others.
“The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue but the strongest incentive in its practise and has exerted so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the dispositions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.” ~ quoted by Bible scholar FF Bruce from the work of Irish historian William Edward Hartpole Lecky (skeptic/atheist) A History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne
#1 - Jesus gives the most accurate description of our hearts. (Jeremiah 17:9)
> “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” ~ Jeremiah 17:9
He doesn’t tell us that we’re immoral or that we need more education or if we’d only adhere to this dogma or by the Four Noble Truths or The Eightfold Paths or by certain hours of inner reflection and meditative disciplines – then we will get “there”.
“He tells us that your problem and mine cannot be solved via ethical or moral means. We will never be able to solve the real malady of our souls. Nothing in ourselves can ever attain the solution to that.” ~ Ravi Zacharias
Did you get that?! THAT was groundbreaking to me! That was the game changer. Ravi Zacharias had highlighted the point that according to Jesus of Nazareth, humanity’s immorality issue wasn’t the problem to be solved. It was a symptom – an evidence pointing to a deeper, larger issue…an issue stemming from the condition of our hearts. To be clear, by “hearts” I certainly don’t mean the muscle pumping in our chests. I mean the seat of our motives, will, etc. Therefore, because it is an internal heart issue and not an external morality issue, we can’t be righteous or in right standing with God by doing “good things”. We can’t meditate it away. We can’t give to the poor, enough. We can’t read our holy books and visit our mosques, temples or churches, enough. Again, since the overarching problem is internal and not external, we can’t work it away with good, moral behavior. That in a nutshell is what’s intrinsically different from most every other religion in the world save Christianity. Every major religion gives you a moral code. Only the Christian faith via Jesus and His Gospel tells you that your morality isn’t enough. The Gospel isn’t, like, a summons to work harder to reach God. The Gospel the grand story of humanities redemption; how God worked all things together for good to reach and save you and I.
I love this quote by Malcolm Muggeridge:
“The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”
Essentially he’s asserting is that if we were to open a newspaper; turn on a news channel or website; look around; look out into the world and see all the lying, hatred, destruction, selfishness, self-centeredness, etc - then our own depravity would be self-evident. Or take it a step back and even closer to home – if we were to be truly honest with ourselves and look within our own hearts – we’d undoubtedly see it. Again, Jesus tells us what our hearts are like. And He tells us that that sin or “missing the mark” or “deviating from purpose” is what ultimately separates us from God.
#2 - Jesus prescribes a very unique cure for our problem, our ailment, our issue.
in Buddhism, you save yourself by ceasing all desire
in Confucianism, you save yourself through education, reflection, self-cultivation and moral living.
in Hinduism, you save yourself by detaching from your separated ego and living in unity with the Divine (dharma)
in Islam, you save yourself by living a life of good deeds.
in Orthodox Judaism, you save yourself through repentance, prayer and working hard to obey God’s laws and being a good person.
in the New Age (or Integrative Spirituality), you save yourself through seeing yourself as part of the Divine Oneness and seeking to live in harmony as part of the One.
in Daoism, you save yourself by aligning with the dao to have peace in you and harmony around you.
You pay. You pay. You pay. In all those worldviews, you pay in one form or another - either through the cyclical pattern of karma and reincarnation or at the end of your life when your good deeds are gonna be weighed against your bad deeds. There is no message of redemption in any of those worldviews. However, in Christ you don’t pay – primarily because you couldn’t pay enough. According to Jesus, the payment is perfection. (Matt.5:48)
> “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matt. 5:48 (Jesus)
We can barely live up to our own standards let alone God’s. But God through the work of Christ Jesus offers you and me redemption and forgiveness and a transformed heart by paying for our sins – meaning that He took the penalty of our sins upon Himself in the body of Jesus Christ and died with them. Jesus took our place and made a legal payment according to the Law. And inherent in that payment, we exchange our imperfection for His perfection.
And that is what is called the Gospel:
“The crucifixion of Jesus was the embodied expression of (our) rebellion against God. […]
He did not die as a martyr for a cause, as others have done; nor was He just nonviolent so that the enemy would surrender through public outcry, as still others have done.
He did not even die because He was willing to pay the price that someone else would live.
He came to lay down His life so that the very ones who killed Him, who represented ALL OF US, could be forgiven because of the price He paid in the hell of a world that does not recognize His voice.” ~ Ravi Zacharias
#3 - What Jesus says about Himself: that He is the Way, Truth and Life
Jesus made a very bold claim insomuch as He declares Himself inherent Life and Truth. He also said NOT that He’d lead to a way – like most other religious founders/leaders – but that He IS The Way. Buddha, for example, said toward the end of his life, “I am still searching for the truth.” But here was Jesus who appeared and said, I am the embodiment of all truth. All truth is centered in Me! As CS Lewis wagered: He’s either a liar, lunatic or Lord!
Honestly, I’m sure you’re privy to pretty much all that I’ve written. I’m “preaching to the choir”, as it were. However, in my experiences, I’ve found that one of the best apologetics in presenting “Christianity in a way that triumphs over other worldviews” is the Gospel, itself!
In closing (that sounds like I was giving a dissertation or something lol), I like and agree wholeheartedly with what Spurgeon says here. He applies it to the Gospel AND Jesus Christ. This pretty much sums up a lot of what I was attempting to communicate:
> "A great many learned men are defending the gospel; no doubt it is a very proper and right thing to do, yet I always notice that, when there are most books of that kind, it is because the gospel itself is not being preached.
> Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in the cage, and here come all the soldiers of the army to fight for him. Well, I should suggest to them […] that they should kindly stand back, and open the door, and let the lion out! I believe that would be the best way of defending him, for he would take care of himself; and the best “apology” for the gospel is to let the gospel out. Nevermind about defending Deuteronomy or the whole of the Pentateuch; preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Let the Lion out, and see who will dare to approach Him." ~ Charles Spurgeon
Wow I am amazed at your response thank you so much! It has answered a lot of questions for me.
There is just 1 more question that I have if you can answer that would be great!
Before christ how were people saved?
I understand that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. That was the promise that God gave him specifically, but what about the “layman” back then the average man.
I get that one a lot @Dannyd. A couple points on that one. Jesus died for all mankind and covered all sin in His blood. I don’t think that means He died for all present and future sin, but not past sin. His sacrifice is sufficient to cover the sins of the past too, and God who is outside of time and the ultimate Judge knows those who follow His will. This gets into the Law a little bit, as there are those who have said that those who followed the Ten Commandments in the old covenant went to Heaven. But a) that’s a standard that no man can keep, and b) Abraham predates the Ten Commandments and yet was saved. This means that mankind had the capacity to know right and wrong even without the Law. God wiped out the entire planet, save 8 souls, expressly because mankind chose not to follow the will of the Lord, but in Noah was found righteousness. Ergo, he knew how to follow the will of God without the Law.
So getting back to your original question, people were saved pre-Christ through Christ.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
– Hebrews 10:1-4 (emphasis mine)
The only sacrifice that could possibly work, both pre-Christ and post-Christ, is Christ’s.
@Dannyd, thanks for starting this great thread that is helping me a lot. I appreciate all the thorough responses. Your last question above is something I have asked too. I thought gospel has been mainly preached only post- Christ but the old testament also has many examples of missionary work for " Yahweh"…Jonah in Ninevah, Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, Abednago to King Nebuchadnezzar, Esther to King Ahaseurus, maid from Syria to Naaman. Here’an article about OT and missions that may be helpful.
God always had a focus on laymen of all nations. I have been explained that people either looked forward, experienced Christ in the present or looked backward to Christ as God revealed Himself through the perfect incarnation and sacrifice of Christ.
@Dannyd Regarding how people were saved prior to Christ, a post I made in response to another topic might be helpful.
Hey there, Danny!! I’m so pleased that your first question was answered sufficiently!!! So much so that it lead to another! I’ve been reading the posts and all the insight given has been pretty spot on. So what I’m about to submit runs the risk of echoing much of what was already said. Here goes…
So, to your question of how were people saved before Christ, I’d simply say that they were saved in the same way we are: through faith. Anyone - whether layman, clergy, pre-incarnate Christ and after the crucifixion were saved by trusting God according to the revelatory knowledge at that time. The people of the Old Testament times looked forward to the coming Messiah. They, along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, and any other person living in times of antiquity trusted God according to the knowledge that they had. They were looking forward to the promised Messiah – at what God would accomplish through Jesus.
> David was looking into the future and spoke [prophetically] of the resurrection of the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), that He was not abandoned [in death] to Hades (the realm of the dead), nor did His body undergo decay. ~ ACTS 2:31 AMP
Whereas people who were/are alive after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, are looking back; remembering what Jesus has already done and accomplished.
> Remember Jesus Christ [the ever-living Lord and Messiah who has] risen from the dead, [as the prophesied King] descended from David [king of Israel], according to my gospel [the good news that I preach], ~ 2 TIMOTHY 2:8 AMP
I hope that’s a welcomed addition to the robust and thoughtful answers you’ve already received.