Key Points of Chapter 20 of Without a Doubt Part 1

I apologize for any spacing, numbering, and alignment errors that occurred from copying from Word into WordPress for this blog post, but here is the first part of an outline of Kenneth Samples’ book, Without a Doubt:

Key Points from Chapter 7 Part 1: Historical Reliability of The Gospels

The Christian faith depends on the historical nature and accuracy of the unique claims, character, and credentials of Jesus Christ! – Page 91

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-18. Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Christ.

Support for the Historical Reliability of the Gospels

  1. 1.       The New Testament documents are the best attested documents of antiquity in terms of total number of manuscripts. 

 

  • Check out this website: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/bib-docu.html
  • 5,000 individual Greek Manuscripts
  • 8,000 copies of the Latin vulgate
  • Without these there are still thousands of manuscripts from commentaries and sermons that can be used to piece together the entire New Testament and these are from the early church fathers in the second to fifth centuries. – Page 92
  • Textual criticism exists because of the Bible.

 

  1. 2.       The interval of time between the date of the original authorship and the date of the earliest New Testament manuscript copies is extremely short.
  2. 3.       The historic statements made about Jesus by ancient non-Christian authors for the most part matches well with the Gospel record.
  • He was a provocative teacher, a wise and virtuous man from the region of Judea.
  • He reportedly performed miracles and made prophetic claims.
  • The Jewish leaders condemned him for acts of sorcery and apostasy.
  • He was crucified by Pontius Pilate at the time of the Jewish Passover, and during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.
  • Jesus’ followers reported that he had risen from the dead.
  • The Christian faith spread to Rome were the Christians were persecuted and tried for crimes.
  • First-century Christians worshiped Jesus Christ as God and celebrated the Eucharist in their services.
  • Even though these Romans ridiculed the Christians as being morally weak, they were often times known for their courage and virtue.
  1. 4.       The authors of the four Gospels were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life themselves, or were closely associated with the eyewitnesses. 

John 19:1-4
1 John 1:1-2
Luke 1:1-4
Galatians 1:11-12
2 Peter 1:16

  1. 5.       The Gospel writers intended to convey factual and historical information and the writings of their historical content have been confirmed to a significant degree.
  2. 6.       The apostles’ testimony becomes more credible when it is considered that they had nothing to gain from it and everything to lose. 
  • They received no monetary reward or power from their message.
  • They received only beatings, imprisonment, and death.
  • Adversaries could have exposed their message as a lie, but they couldn’t.
  • We can trust their message because they had no motif to lie or deceive.
  • If they did lie and deceive they violated everything Jesus taught about honesty and truth.

Did the Resurrection Really Happen?

Did the Resurrection Really Happen?

Non-believers are probably used to Christians who respond in aggressive offense or angry defense when the legitimacy of the truths of the Bible and the Christian faith are questioned.   Judgment and hypocrisy might be all too familiar to them also.  I bet they haven’t experienced too many Christians who have openly revealed the vital point of the Christian faith with the encouragement for an open investigation.  How would a non-believer respond to such open honesty?  Would the invitation for investigation begin?  If it doesn’t, the person probably isn’t legitimately seeking truth , but such an encounter with a Christian who says, “here’s the heart of Christianity laid bare, if it’s not true, Christianity is dead; take your best stab against it!” might just be the proper field-work to gloss over some of the many Christian offenses the person has previously endured and prepare the way for a future, fertile encounter with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s important to remember that the end goal in this process isn’t just adding more adherents to the Christian religion.  The endeavor of sharing and defending the Christian faith is to spread the good news revealed in the Bible that God in the person of Jesus Christ has defeated death bringing what is the only way of salvation for mankind.  To defend Christian faith isn’t an intellectual sparring match in which the victor comes away saying, “There I proved that person wrong, even if they won’t admit it!”  This task instead is taken out of faith that the condemnation that comes from sin and the life in Jesus Christ revealed in the Scriptures is real.  Therefore sharing the Christian faith must be carried out in humility and timidity, showing love for the hearers of the Bible’s message, taking the time to patiently and kindly explain what sound evidence and reason there is to trust Jesus.  The hope isn’t for intellectual superiority, it is in prayer that through the proclaimed Gospel, Hell will lose a soul and the Kingdom of God will gain a saint.

The Vital Teaching of Christianity -that if it is not True Means Death to the Faith!

The Apostle Paul shows the jugular of the Christian faith in his first letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:13-19: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Since Christ and his work is the center of Scripture, and the faith stands or falls on Christ’s death and resurrection, this aspect of the Christian faith should always be stressed when sharing the faith or answering the difficult questions presented against Scripture.

For example, someone recently started to ask me questions about believing everything in the Bible to be true, such as Noah building an ark to carry all the animals on earth or if someone could  really survive in the belly of a big fish for three days.  I said yes I believe these to be possible, and I said that fitting two of every kind of animal on one big boat could be explained and that it wouldn’t necessarily have to be supernatural to do so, but that none of those questions are the questions I would ask if I was going to test the truth-claims of the Christian faith.  I shared that I would always start with Jesus since he’s the center piece of the Christian faith, and that if there is good evidence that he did in fact rise from the grave, then I can trust Jesus’ claim to be divine and the acceptance of God would then make all the other questions readily explainable, since a God who can raise from death and create all things, surely could fill a boat with animals and have a fish prepared to transport a prophet.

What is the evidence for the resurrection?

There are three key strands of evidence which point to the resurrection.

  1. The Empty Tomb
  2. The Eyewitnesses of the Resurrected Jesus
  3. The Transformation of the Apostles

The first strand of evidence is the empty tomb.  Jesus was crucified and buried and on Sunday morning, the tomb was empty.  The tomb was guarded, which would have made stealing the body highly unlikely.  The apostles had no reason to steal the body and in fact the male disciples were hiding in fear of being crucified too.  If the tomb was truly not empty, the Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees, and even the Romans, would have profited from producing body of Jesus Christ, but none of these groups did this when they certainly had the power and resources to find the body.  To disprove the resurrection, all a person would need to do is produce the bones of Christ.  No one has done so, even the people living at the time of the resurrection who could have easily produced this evidence.

Additional support for the resurrection is the eyewitness accounts of the resurrected Christ.  It’s important to note that no one witnessed the resurrection, since the guards were asleep, but that plenty of people witnessed the resurrected Christ on numerous occasions, walking, talking, cooking, eating, and drinking.  At one event he appeared to over five hundred people at once.

Building onto the eyewitness accounts is the transformation of the apostles.  At the time of Jesus’ death, the disciples are seen to have scattered in fear.  Peter tried to follow of Christ, but then denied him three times before the rooster crowed.  There are signs that they misunderstood Jesus’ role as the Messiah.  They thought he came to overthrow the Romans and setup the New Jerusalem.  With his death, their dreams were crushed; they were defeated.  What would have brought these scared, defeated men to become bold witnesses in the face of persecution of a proclamation that Christ rose from the dead?  Seeing the resurrected Christ in the flesh is what made this transformation possible.  They lived with such certainty that Christ rose from the dead and that they too would one day rise from the dead, that all of the apostles except one died a martyrs death.  Tradition states that Peter went so far as to say that he was not worthy to die in the manner of his Lord and asked to be crucified upside down.

Looking at the evidence of the empty tomb, the record of eyewitness accounts, and the transformation of the apostles all point to a resurrected Christ as being a very probable scenario to fit the evidence.

Could the empty tomb be the wrong tomb?

Some might claim that the tomb wasn’t empty, that everyone was looking at the wrong tomb.  This cannot be the case.  The Gospel accounts clearly tell who buried Christ: Joseph of Aramathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, and  Nicodemus, a Pharisee.  The Sanhedrin had a membership of only seventy leaders which would have made it easy to find Joseph, especially since it is given that he is from Aramathea.  Anyone who wanted to investigate the tomb in which he was buried and the manner in which he was buried could have went to Aramathea and found Joseph.  Likewise, Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader in the Jewish community, and could have been found easily for questioning too.  On top of telling us who buried Jesus, one Gospel account clearly states the exact location of Christ’s burial.  The correct tomb could have easily been found if the women and the disciples had the wrong tomb.  In light of this evidence we can trust that they had the correct tomb and that it was in fact empty.

What about grave robbers?

Jesus was crucified as being the King of the Jews.  Could people have robbed his tomb expecting him to be buried with riches?  No, it’s highly unlikely. The only item of value in the tomb, the burial shroud, was left behind.  Grave robbers would have no value in possessing a dead body.  Overcoming the guards would be unlikely as well, especially with nothing of value to gain.

Could the disciples have stolen the body and thus created a hoax of the resurrection?    The disciples were not expecting the Messiah to die, even though Jesus told them multiple times that he would.  The Jews as a whole had an understanding of a warring Messiah who would overthrow Rome and set up peace on earth.  Stealing the body of Christ doesn’t fit with the understanding of the Jewish Messiah.

In addition to this, the disciples would not have preached the resurrection of Christ to their death if they were the ones that stole the body.  They would not have died for a lie.  Some people might point out that Islamic suicide bombers die for a lie, but the difference is that the lie did not originate with the suicide bombers.  In the case of the disciples, if they had created a hoax by stealing the body of Christ, they would have known that they were dying for a lie.  In fact, nothing in their lives indicated that it would be false because they were not gaining earthly fame or money; they were despised, hated, and killed.

Jesus never died!

This is called the swoon theory.  The theory states that Christ did not die on the cross.  He was fainted and appeared to be dead.  The problem with this theory is that we know that Christ was crucified, even from sources outside of the Bible.  Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans was not a survivable ordeal.  Jesus was flogged before his crucifixion, and this alone killed some people due to the loss of blood.  Christ has nails driven through his wrists and feet, more blood loss, and the nails in the wrists would have crushed the median nerve which would feel similar to having the “funny bone” nerve  crushed.  The word excruciating comes from this event, meaning from the cross.  Death by crucifixion came from suffocation.  A Roman soldier stabbed Christ in the heart before taking him off the cross.  Why?  If Romans soldiers failed in their tasks of execution, the penalty for them would have been execution.  The Romans did not fail to properly carry out executions.  Jesus was certainly dead!

Even if Christ somehow made it off the cross alive, how would he have been able to remove the stone after his afflicted wounds at the hands of the Romans and having gone without water and food in the tomb?  Even if Christ somehow was able to remove the stone and overcome the guards, what physical state would he have been in when he revealed himself to the disciples?  He still would have been on the verge of death and likely to die at any moment.  This wouldn’t be the resurrection appearance the disciples would have needed to be transformed into the courageous witnesses they became.

This view also doesn’t account for the ascension.  If Christ did survive the crucifixion, did manage to roll away the stone, what happened to him after forty days from the resurrection if he did not ascend to heaven?  Where did he eventually die?  How could such a prominent figure disappear?  Clearly, this natural explanation for the empty tomb doesn’t seem probable and doesn’t match the evidence.

They must have been tripping!

I recently had this natural explanation given to me in an apologetic discussion.  I mentioned that when people hallucinate, they don’t generally see the same hallucination.  From his previous hallucinogenic drug experiences, he agreed with this point.  He also agreed that different people in different locations over a period of time don’t see the same hallucination.  This goes against what is historically depicted by the eyewitnesses in the Gospel accounts, in which he was seen by various people, multiple times, in different locations.  He was not only seen but touched and people interacted with him in conversation and everyone from these encounters came away with accounts that weren’t contradictory.  These encounters with the resurrected Jesus don’t match the description of a hallucinogenic experience amongst people.

In addition to these details, hallucinations are derived from ideas and images which already exist in a person’s mind.  This is crucial to the matter at hand, because the disciples had no comprehension of a dying Messiah that would come back to life.  Nothing in their consciousness or their unconsciousness would have led to a hallucination of a resurrected Christ, much less amongst so many people.

Conclusion

The empty tomb, the eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, and the transformation of the Gospels are best explained by the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In addition to these strands of evidence for the resurrection, external sources by Jewish and Roman historians complement, instead of contradict, the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

 

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.

Contradict Bumper Sticker Explanation

With every Contradict bumper sticker shipment, a double-sided page of explanation is also shipped.  The goal with Contradict Movement is to have as many Contradict stickers on cars, or laptops, as there are Co-exist stickers.  Beyond the sheer numbers, the goal is to also have the Contradict stickers represented by Christians who know and can share the information contained in the page of explanation.  This page of explanations is downloadable at http://www.contradictmovement.org for printing and sharing and Contradict stickers may be ordered at the site too.  Here is the basic explanation of Contradict, and please note that it supports religious freedom and calls for a certain type of tolerance and respect:

What does this Contradict sticker mean?

Tolerance and co-existence are both great! In fact, they are necessary.    If we are to live together in peace without hating each other, or worse physically harming each other, over differences in race, culture, sexual orientation, political views, and even religious beliefs, we all must have tolerance for one another.  However, we must recognize that every belief can’t be equally valid.   If two beliefs directly contradict each other, both of them cannot be true, no matter how tolerant we become.   This means it is false to say that every religion is true, or that every religion leads to God.  If people make such claims they are showing that they have not taken the time to study the world’s religions, because a brief reading of the sacred texts of only a handful of religions quickly reveals contradictions on fundamental levels.

Religious Contradictions

Reincarnation (Hinduism and Buddhism) contradicts the belief that this life is the only life before eternity (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).

Pantheism (Hinduism) contradicts the belief that there is only one transcendent God (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), and both of these beliefs contradict the belief that there is no God (Theravada Buddhism and Atheism).

Salvation from sin (Christianity) contradicts the belief that there is no sin to be saved from but simply pain that can be escaped through enlightenment (Buddhism).

Jesus is the incarnate, Son of God (Christianity), contradicts the teaching that he is just a prophet (Islam) or that he was a false prophet (Judaism).

Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world and rose from the grave contradicts the belief that Jesus ascended into heaven while never dying on a cross, or facing death of any kind (Islam).

All religions that suggest that the merits of an individual can free a person from humanities ultimate problem of death contradict Christianity’s teaching that “we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, which is a gift, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8).

In light of these contradictions, all religions can’t be true.  They could all potentially be false, but they can’t all be true.

How can one know which religion is true, if any?

To discern if a belief is true, it needs to be testable.  The scientific method can’t test most of the claims found in the world’s religions, but science is not our only means of verifying the legitimacy of truth claims.  In the case of judging religious truth claims, historical-forensic evidence needs to be utilized. No other religion than Christianity has at its center, a historical event that can be evaluated in such a manner to prove or disprove the religious truth claims.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ did not rise from the grave that his faith is futile and his testimony about Jesus would be a lie.  If someone could prove that Jesus did not rise from the grave, then the resurrection would be considered a false claim and the Christian faith should be rejected.  On the flip side, if Jesus rose from the grave, it confirms that Jesus’ claim to be “the way, the truth, and the life, the only way to Father” (John 14:6) is true!  If he did not rise from the grave, then Jesus was a liar and Christians ought to be pitied above all men.

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Is there evidence that Jesus rose from the grave?

The good news for Christians and all of humanity is that the New Testament is the best attested ancient manuscript in terms of the number of copies it has, the dates of the copies to their original writings, and the accuracy of the copies.  In addition to this, the original Gospels were written by eyewitnesses, or written by people who wrote using eyewitness testimony.  This also means the authors were writing too close to the death and resurrection of Jesus for myths to have crept into the accounts.  Other witnesses, both friend and foe, would have known if the Gospel writers were telling lies and they would have revealed the Gospels to be false.  However, we have no such competing accounts from contemporaries.  We do on the other hand have non-Christian authors writing in the first and second centuries who affirm the claims of the Gospels, and no one in the first century was ever able to produce the bones of Jesus to disprove the empty tomb one Sunday morning.  The Jewish and Roman leaders and authorities had the motif and the means to disprove the resurrection, but they could not.  The best they could do was to persecute Christians as an attempt to stop the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The apostolic circle in which the claim of Jesus’ resurrection originated never recanted their testimony in the face of martyrdom as they continued to proclaim the risen Christ all the way to their deaths.

Exclusive Claims and Teachings Concerning Salvation within the Bible

Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Acts 2:37-39 “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers what shall we do?”  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Jesus is the Savior of all people.  He is the Savior of the Buddhist, the Hindu, The Muslim, the Jew, the Satanist, the Atheist, the homosexual, the heterosexual, the republican, and the democrat – all people.  To all who have received him, to all who have called upon his name, he has given the right to be called children of God! (John 1:12)  Repent and be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. (Matt. 28:19 and Acts 2:38)

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There’s no way of knowing God!

Have you ever heard someone say, “There’s no way of knowing God”?

How did you reply?  Here are some possible replies that I hope you will find helpful

Validation:

With all the competing views of who God is, it is difficult to know which view of God is true.  If you mean that it’s hard to relationally know God, I’d agree with that too.  I mean, I know who the President of the United States is, but it’d be next to impossible for me to have relational knowledge with him.  I can’t just text him and meet up with for coffee as I could with any of my friends, and he’s just a human being, now imagine an all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal God, who happens to be everywhere at all times, oh, and he can’t be seen.  I agree; it would seem as if there is no way for us to actually know who he is.

Socratic Method:

“Does this mean you believe there is a God, he’s just not knowable? (if the answer is yes…) Why do you believe there is a God?  What makes you believe you can’t know God?  Do you think it’s possible that God has somehow revealed himself to us?”

“If there is a God and he created everything, why do you think he made us?  Do you think he’d want us to know him?  Do you think he would want to reveal himself to us if it was possible for us to know him?”

“If God were to reveal himself to us, how do you think he’d reveal himself to us?  The Bible teaches that Jesus was God incarnate, God in human flesh.  Who do you think Jesus is? How much do you know about Jesus?  Have you ever read the Gospels, the biographies written by eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ’s life, or written by people who wrote based on eyewitness testimony?”

Answer:

I think you are partially correct.  It’s impossible for us to know who God is on our own.  God is spirit and in our 4-dimensional existence of length, depth, width, and time, there is nothing we can do with our five senses of touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste to uncover or discover who God is.  However, that doesn’t mean God is incapable of revealing himself to us.  God is God and he can do anything he pleases, and he has shown himself to us indirectly and directly.  God has indirectly revealed himself to us through what he has created.  When we look around us and observe the universe, we see design, order, complexity, and beauty all of which point to a creator.  When we consider the first cause of the universe, an eternal, all-powerful God who exists outside of time is the best explanation for the genesis, the beginning, of the universe.  Nothing comes from nothing, and life does not come from non-life, as the atheistic model of Darwiniansm projects.  So simply from what he has created, God has made it plain that he exists.  But I would also say that God has directly revealed himself to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  In Jesus Christ, the fullness of God dwelled in human flesh and he proved his divinity through his life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Scripture:

Romans 1:18-20 – “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Colossians 2:9 – “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”

All Religions Teach the Same Thing.

Have you ever heard someone say, “All religions teach the same thing”?

I know I have.  Here is a response that I find helpful.  It comes in a few different segments.  First, it is good to validate the argument, you know, show that you understand where the person is coming from and that you can relate to why he or she might feel this way.  Don’t validate the argument, unless you will provide the appropriate rebuttal.  Here you can spoon feed the correct answer to the person, or you can ask a bunch of questions that lead the person the fault in professing that all religions have the same doctrines.  It’s good to know a few Scripture verses to support what you are saying from God’s Word and it’s always the goal to present the Gospel in any apologetic endeavor.

Symbol of the major religions of the world: Ju...
Symbol of the major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Validation:

I think many religions agree on certain points, such as there is life after death, or that there is some sort of higher power or entity in the universe, and most religions have similar moral laws, so I can see where people can come to this conclusion.  I think the real reason people come to this conclusion is because they don’t want to exclude anyone from having the best existence possible after this life.  We don’t want to say anyone is wrong and we want to avoid drawing lines of division which lead to segregation, elitism, and at times hate and violence.

Answer:

It might be possible to squeeze the world’s religions into teaching the same thing on secondary, or superficial, levels, but on the primary, or fundamental, doctrines, they contradict each other.  For instance, Christians believe that Jesus is God and the Savior of the world, where as Muslims believe that Jesus is just a prophet who should not be worshiped, and Jews, at least conservative Jews, would say that Jesus was a false prophet.  These are just the views of three religions concerning one person in history!  Clearly, they don’t all teach the same thing and they can’t all be true due to their contradictory teachings.

Socratic Method:

“How do they all teach the same thing?”

“On what doctrine do they all agree?”

“Do they all teach the same thing concerning the afterlife?”

“Do they all agree on what mankind’s ultimate problem is and how that problem can be overcome?”

“Do they all agree on who, or what, God is?  Do they all even believe in an eternal, transcendent God?”

“How do Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism teach the same thing?”

Scripture:

1 Timothy 4:1 – “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

Acts 4:12 – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Back to the Gospel:

Let’s look at what Christianity teaches concerning the way of salvation.  Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”  In Christianity, salvation is free for men.  God steps into redeem and rescue mankind through the work of Jesus Christ.  None of us can save ourselves by our own work, or merit, because we are all sinful people who do evil.  In all other religions, people must work to earn a good afterlife.  In Hinduism, a person must practice yoga and have good karma.  In Buddhism, a person must follow the eight-fold path.  In Islam, a person must excel in the five pillars of the Islamic faith.  In Judaism, Jews have rejected Jesus their Messiah and have chosen to justify themselves through observance of the Law.  All religions do not teach the same thing.  In Christianity, salvation is free.  In all other religions, salvation, if they call it salvation is not free and must be earned through personal works.