Today I’d like for us to talk about a very basic question—why should I believe Christianity? After all, there are a lot of other religions out there, and there a lot of what I would call “philosophies of life” that are not really religions but take the place of religion, so why should you believe Christianity instead of one of those? Now obviously, in this podcast, we’re questioning and rejecting many of the beliefs you often hear coming from Christianity, beliefs that were developed by organized Christianity, and we’re coming up with different, more reasonable beliefs. But we’re not rejecting Christianity; we’re just rejecting some of the things organized Christianity has come up with. Today I’d like for us to consider why we should pay Christianity any attention at all. How can you take Christianity seriously? After all, it’s just one among many.
Let’s first think about the Bible. The Bible is where Christian beliefs come from. The Bible is what the religion of Christianity is based on. Some might object here and say that Christianity is really based on God, on Jesus, and that’s of course true, but in the final analysis, we base our beliefs about God, our beliefs about Jesus, on the Bible because the Bible is how we know about Jesus. Jesus is the center of Christianity; Jesus is what Christian beliefs are based on. But the Bible is important because it is the way we know about Jesus.
There is no one alive today who was alive 2000 years ago when Jesus was on earth. There are no news accounts of Jesus or what happened to Him that have survived. There is nothing in the historical record about Jesus when He was alive on earth. The only way we have to know about Jesus is the Bible. That’s why the Bible is so important in Christianity. It’s the only record we have of Jesus, what He said and did, and what happened to Him.
The Bible is known as “scripture” in Christianity. “Scripture” just means writings which are central or foundational to a religion. The reason the Bible is seen as scripture in Christianity—central and foundational to Christianity—is that it is the record we have of Jesus.
But there’s a problem associated with taking our beliefs from the Bible, a problem that’s becoming more and more apparent in the time in which we live.
So let’s think about something. There are many different religions in the world, and they have very different beliefs. But all the major religions of the world share some things in common. One of the things they share in common is that none of them believe they originated with human beings. No major religion believes that human beings sat down and thought it up. No major religion believes it was made up by human beings. All the major religions are based on sacred texts that are believed to have originated with the divine. Those sacred texts are the scriptures of that religion.
Islam, for example, is based on the Koran, which Muslims believe was dictated to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. The Koran is the scripture of Islam. Hinduism is based on writings called Vedas, which are believed to have originated with the divine. The Vedas are the scripture of Hinduism. Buddhism has the Sutras, writings believed to have originated with the Buddha, who attained divine status. The Sutras are the scripture of Buddhism. Judaism has the Torah, which many Jews believe was dictated by God. The Torah is the scripture of Judaism.
No major religion says that people made it up. No major religion says that people thought up its scripture—the writings that religion is based on. Every major religion believes that its scripture consists of sacred writings given to people by some kind of divine beings.
This is very important to understand because it tells us something about religion—religion is not seen as originating with human beings. None of the major religions of the world sees itself as the result of human beings striving for the divine, striving to understand and find God. Each of the major religions sees itself as the result of the divine reaching out to human beings. The divine in some way reaches out and communicates with human beings.
All the major religions of the world say that one of the major ways the divine has done that is through giving human beings scriptures, writings that form the basis of the beliefs of that religion.
And so, throughout the world, among all the major religions, we find the same idea: Religion is not a creation of human beings; rather, religion is the result of the divine reaching out to us, and the major way the divine reaches out to us, the way that lasts through the ages, is through scripture—writings that form the basis of the religion.
The Christians scriptures are called “The Bible.” Christians believe that the Bible originated with God. The way Christians believe the Bible originated with God is that God “inspired” the Bible. Exactly how God inspired the Bible is a matter of disagreement among Christians. Some believe God dictated the Bible word-for-word to the biblical writers; others believe God in some way put ideas in their head; others don’t believe God inspired the writing of the Bible at all but inspires it to each individual as it is read. But whatever, Christians in some way believe God was at work in the writing of the Bible and uses the Bible to communicate with us today.
That’s why the Bible is sometimes called “The Word of God.” Words are what we use to communicate, and calling the Bible “The Word of God” simply means that, in one way or another, God uses the Bible to communicate with us, to tell us something.
Maybe you’ve seen the problem with what we’ve talked about so far. We’ve got all these different religions in the world. There’s Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and many others. They’re all very different from each other, and they all say very different things about God or the divine, but each one says that it originated directly with the divine. Each one says that its sacred writings, its scriptures, come directly from the divine. But yet they’re all different and say different things.
Christians are here, and they’re saying, “These are the correct beliefs about God. How do we know? Because our beliefs come from the Bible, which comes directly from God.”
Muslims are over here, and they’re saying, “These are the correct beliefs about God. How do we know? Because our beliefs come from the Koran, which comes directly from God.”
Hindus are over here, and they’re saying, “These are the correct beliefs about the divine. How do we know? Because our beliefs come from the Vedas, which come directly from the divine.”
Buddhists are over here, and they’re saying, “These are the correct beliefs about the divine. How do we know? Because our beliefs come from the Sutras, which originate with the divine.”
See the problem? We’ve got all these different religions, saying all kinds of different things about God or the Gods, and each one of them claims that what it says is right because its beliefs are based on writings that originate with the divine.
It’s like you’ve got five people standing on a street corner, a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, and a Jew. Each is waving a book in his hand saying, “These are the correct beliefs, because this book comes straight from God.” But they’re all different.
In the face of that, we Christians ask people to take the Bible as The Authority. We point to the Bible and say that our beliefs are correct because they are supported by the Bible, and we ask people to believe our beliefs because they are supported by the Bible.
But it’s not only a problem for us as Christians asking non-Christians to believe the Bible. Christians themselves sometimes get in that position. Christians themselves sometimes don’t see why they should take the Bible as the authority, and frankly, some in Christianity today have decided that they cannot take the Bible as the authority.
Why should people see the Bible as more authoritative than the other religious texts from other religions? Sure, we say the Bible comes from God, but people from the other religions also say their sacred texts come from God.
This is one of the major issues facing Christianity today. We present certain beliefs, say this and that is true about God, and to back that up, we use the Bible. But why should anyone see the Bible as The Authority?
The conversation sometimes goes like this: People ask, “Why do you think the Bible is true?” And we say, “Because it comes from God.” And then people say, “Well, what about these other religious scriptures people from other religions say came from God?” And we say, “Those really didn’t come from God; those people just think they did.” And they say, “How do you know yours really came from God?” And then we say, “Well, they did.” And they ask again, “How do you know?” And we say again, “Well, they did.”
You see the problem?
We have no external evidence to point to which proves that the Bible did in fact originate with God, which means we have no external evidence to point to that proves what the Bible says is true, that Christianity is the “true religion.”
So, what should we say when confronted with the question, “How do you know that the Bible really did come from God, that what the Bible says about God is true?”?
The answer is this: You just choose to believe it.
You choose to believe that the Bible did in fact originate with God and that what the Bible says about God is true. It’s a choice you make. In the face of all these other religions also saying their writings come from God, you make the choice to believe that the Christian Bible is the one that came from God. In the face of all these other religions saying all sorts of different things about God, you choose to believe that what Christianity says about God is really the way things are.
It’s a choice you make. Pure and simple a choice. There is no proof. You simply make the choice to believe it.
Earlier this year, Billy Graham died. I never watched Billy Graham much, but I can remember years ago, back when Billy Graham was on TV, I would occasionally see some of it. At the end of his service, he would ask people to come forward and accept Jesus, and there was always a crowd of people who came forward, a huge crowd. In fact, that’s what Billy Graham’s whole service led up to, that was the point of it all—these throngs of people coming forward at the end.
Now, we may or may not agree with Billy Graham’s version of Christianity, but there is one thing Billy Graham brought out that so many miss—belief is a choice you make.
You decide whether to believe Christianity or not. It is in fact a choice you make. If you want to, you can make the choice to believe Christianity.
But how can we just make the choice to believe something. That’s not usually the way we think belief works. We tend to think that what we believe is what has been proven to us. Why do I believe the world is round? Because I’ve seen pictures of the earth taken from outer space, and they show that the earth is indeed round. Why do I believe two plus two equals four? Because I can take two pennies, add two more, and then count them, and I’ll get four. Why do I believe the burner on a stove is hot? Because I can touch it and feel that it’s hot.
I remember years and years ago. I don’t remember how old I was, but it was sometime before I started school. I was pretty small. My grandmother had cooked something, and she had set me up on the bar near the stove. She said, “Don’t touch the stove; it’s hot.” Well, you can guess what I did. I laid my hand down on a burner. You better believe I never touched a hot stove burner again. I believed it was hot.
That’s how we normally think of belief. We believe what has been proven to us is true.
But not always. Many things in life, serious things, we make the choice to believe. I know people who take all sorts of different pills for this or that medical condition without seeing one bit of proof that the pills are effective. When the doctor says, “You need to take these pills,” they just make the choice to believe the pills will help and take them. I know people who believe that this or that political philosophy or this or that economic philosophy works best not because they’ve seen proof it works best but simply because they have chosen to believe it works best.
Sometimes our beliefs are based on things that have been proven true, but sometimes, in things that are very serious, we simply make a choice as to what we believe.
Religion has to be one of those things. Religion is beyond proof, in the way we normally think of proof. Religion transcends proof, in the way we normally think of proof.
Religion, our beliefs about God, is a choice we make. Christianity can never be proven. What Christianity says about God can never be proven. It is something we simply make the choice to accept.
You can choose to reject Christianity. You can see life as meaningless, you can see evil rule the world and realize there’s nothing you can do about it, you can see so many bad things going on and feel trapped in a system that’s ultimately meaningless and worthless, you can see life as just 70 or 80 years of struggle and then it’s all over. You can live your life with that attitude. But what kind of life is that? It’s not really life at all; it’s death; living a meaningless existence, just waiting to die, for it to all be over. No point to anything. No meaning to anything. Nothing beyond the mundane.
But, if you want to, you can make the choice to believe Christianity. You can see things as moving toward a goal; you can see that although evil rules the world, there’s something’s fighting against it that will one day overcome it; you can see so many bad things going on but know none of that will have the last word; you can see life as 70 or 80 years of struggling after which you will wake up to eternal life far beyond anything you could ever imagine. That’s real life.
As God told the Hebrews in the book of Deuteronomy, “See, I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse; now choose life.”
Belief is a choice you make. Christianity cannot be proven. You make the choice to accept it.