Reconnect Episode 8: Three Things Christians Say to Hurt Their Credibility

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George and Andy, discuss a series of articles from Credo House entitled: 21 Things Christians Say to Hurt Their Credibility.  In this episode they have time to discuss three of these statements:

1. “You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible.”

2.  “Good question.  I’ll find the answer and get back to you.”

3.  “One white lie will send you to hell for all eternity.”

We want to be credible witnesses of Christ.

We want to be credible witnesses of Christ.

Andy and George agree that some of these statements really do hurt the credibility of our Christian witness and should be avoided, but they come to disagree with at least one of these articles, because they think the statement is in fact Scriptural, thus should be spoken, but maybe there is a better way of presenting the truth to a nonbeliever.

Other questions and topics emerge as they discuss these articles, such as: how do we know the Bible is the Word of God, how should we respond to questions we don’t know the answers, is it possible for Christians to have all the answers to life’s questions, what exactly is revealed to us in Scripture and why, how should we approach preparing answers to difficult questions raised against or about the Christian faith, why should churches teach apologetics, and the very controversial topic of varying degrees of punishment in hell!

If you want to chime in on any of these topics or give a short review of any episode of Reconnect, record a short 30 second to one minute long audio clip, stating your name and the episode number you are addressing, and send it to Andy at andy@contradictmovement.org as an mp3 file.  If you have any questions you want addressed on the show, send them there via email as well.  Thanks.  Reconnect us, Oh Lord. 

How do religions contradict each other?

If someone says that all religions have the same teachings, and same basic principles, and you share that this is not the case; religions contradict each other in ways that are irreconcilable to anyone who is an orthodox adherent to their religion of choice.  To be able to back up your assertion, simply have memorized a few doctrinal categories and several of the world’s religions’ positions for each of those categories.  Spitting out a few examples of what different religions teach, say, in the categories of who God is, what the source and focus of revelation is, and what lies after this life, should be enough to demonstrate some very stark contrasts in beliefs.  Clearly, all religions don’t teach the same views on life, God, and the destiny of mankind, but can you quickly demonstrate it?

The following image is a photo I took of a student’s test that asked this basic question.  Check out how he answered the question (click the image to enlarge):

Religious Contradictions

Hell is too extreme a punishment! Hell is unjust punishment!

You and I aren’t in prison right now.  We haven’t robbed a bank, forged important documents, dealt drugs, or killed anyone.  Well, I know I haven’t.  I’m assuming you haven’t either.  People who commit such crimes, go to jail, but often times, they get out for good behavior!  It seems that eternal punishment doesn’t fit the crime for people like you and me who really haven’t done anything seriously wrong.  I also know that a lot of people, who are not Christians, still serve the poor and the needy, physically and financially.  By our standards of law and order, only the worst of the worst would deserve hell, and even then we wouldn’t wish such a punishment upon our enemies.
We must admit that we all have lied, cheated, stolen, lusted, hated, coveted, disobeyed authority, and the like.  To the degree that most of us have committed such acts, we don’t deserve time in prison or exorbitant fines.  I believe we all agree that punishments should fit the crime, and the problem I think you are raising with this question is that for the degrees at which we have sinned against God, most of us, if not anyone of us, deserve eternal punishment in hell! Let me explain, however, how hell does fit the crime.  If a person commits murder with a gunshot to the head, how long did the murder take?  A second, but the punishment is life.  This is an equal exchange, a life was taken, a life must be taken in return.  If a person runs illegal dog fighting and has dogs killed, his jail sentence won’t be the same as a person who murdered another human being.  Why?  The life value of a dog is not as great as that of a human.  In the case of God and hell, the crimes are being committed against God, and the crimes occur over the course of an entire life.  The laws being broken of course are God’s laws and we must be measured by his standards, of which all of us have fallen short.  To his standard, hating someone in your heart is on par with actually murdering.  In your heart, you have murdered that person.  By rejecting God through hatred and open rebellion to his Word, existence, and provision, you have murdered God.  God is eternal.  The punishment likewise, for the crime that occurred constantly over the course of your lifetime, warrants an eternal sentence.

Even though none of us are good in God’s sight, God is good and gracious.  He provided a substitute for us.  Imagine if someone you loved was on death row, awaiting execution, and you are innocent of crimes and the judge allowed you to take the place of your loved one and be put to death in his or her place.  Most of us wouldn’t make the exchange, but if the judge saw that the substitution still met the requirements of the law, a life for a life, the exchange could occur.  God being the lawgiver and judge has made a way for such an extraordinary provision of both justice and grace, and he provided the substitute by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world.  Philippians 2:6-8 says, Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”  Jesus was innocent and took the place of all of us sinners, setting us free from the penalty of eternal death.

Why would a loving God send people to Hell?

Why would an all-loving God send people to hell?

Validation:

I think it’s important to validate someone’s question before jumping right into answering it.

This is a difficult question for us to comprehend.  We can’t imagine allowing our worst enemies to suffer eternally, much less subjecting them to such inescapable torment.  I think that this question and the problem of evil are the two most common rejections of Christianity offered in our day and age.  I think they are the root of our other objections too.

Answer:

Option 1 – Hell is God’s Monument to Human Freedom Answer – It’s clear in Scripture that God does not desire for anyone to perish forever, but for everyone to come to repentance and salvation.  Again God does not desire for any of us to suffer perpetual death!  Hell is God giving individuals what they both desire and deserve, eternal separation from him.  John 3:19-20 says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”  The Light is Jesus Christ and men love darkness instead of light.  Those who reject Christ do not want to know God and have a relationship with him.  In hell, God is giving them the desire of their hearts, to be forever separated from his grace, riches, and provision, forever awake and dying in the darkness of eternity.

Option 2 – Hell Wasn’t Intended for Humans Answer – We must remember that God doesn’t desire for humans to suffer in hell for eternity.  Hell wasn’t intended for humans, but rather the demons.  In Matthew 25:41 Jesus states that hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels.”  But because of man’s own wickedness, we too deserve hell.  The people who are destined to hell do not want anything that is of God in this life.  What is to say that they all of a sudden will flip a switch in heaven?  Heaven is a place of perfection for it is the place that God’s glory dwells.  Nothing evil can exist in his presence.  If people don’t want to be washed clean and to be forgiven by the work of Jesus Christ, God is left without a choice but to cast them out of his presence.

Option 3 – Who Are We? Answer – Based on our human understanding of love and hate, crime and punishment, we reject the notion that a loving God could possibly punish someone for eternity for matters that we feel are trivial. This is arrogance on our part.  As God reminded Job, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay?  Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:11).  Have we not stopped to consider that God’s ways are not our ways, and that in fact his ways are greater and better than ours?  Is it not possible, that in this situation, hell is the only possible consequence for sin that a good, loving, and just God can deliver?

Option 4 – Share the Gospel Answer – Read “Back to the Gospel” within this question.

Scripture:

2 Peter 3:8-9 – “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

1 Timothy 2:1-6 – “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

Isaiah 55:9 – “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Back to the Gospel:

Whenever answering an objection to the Christianity, the goal should always be to turn the conversation back to the Gospel, for it is the power of salvation for all who believe.  (Romans 1:16)

The terrors of hell are real and we act as if a loving God who chooses to send people there must not exist.  We have no grounds upon which to make this accusation, because God himself has suffered the penalty of hell in the person of Jesus Christ.  What greater love is there than for God to give his only, eternally, begotten Son to die as a substitute for us, who though he was sinless bore our sin and took the penalty of our guilt upon himself?  We can’t claim that God is not loving for sentencing people to hell, when God allowed his own, innocent Son to suffer hell, so we don’t have to!  God didn’t have to send his Son to die for us, but he did, out of love for the world.