I have been teaching the last few weeks at our Sunday morning men’s group, and for the last two Sunday’s have posed some tough questions for them to consider.
Here are three questions they wrestled with that may leave a Christian flat-footed the first time they hear it.
If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you would be a Muslim. If you were born in India, you would probably be a Hindu. The only reason you’re a Christian is that you were born in America or that your parents raised you as a Christian.
You have made a ‘choice’ to be a Christian, not because your parents or grandparents were Christian. A family’ heritage’ is something that is handed down, usually something that adds honor or pride to a family or individual. A heritage is acquired because of one’s birth into a family or inheritance received, not because of a deed, action, choice, or behavior.
For example, my own family had a heritage of naming the firstborn boy John. We had several generations of John’s in my family, my older brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. I don’t know who started it or why, but I ended it. I much prefer Jedidiah over John, so we named our son Jedidiah John.
When someone tells you you are a Christian because you were born into a Christian family, or you are a Muslim because your parents were Muslim, or Hindu because you were born in India, commit the genetic fallacy.
I may have started out as a Christian because I was born into a Christian family, but that has nothing to do with the ‘truth’ of my religion. People (often professors in college) will be the first to make this claim to young believers. You’re a Christian because you were born in America. Many students will have never heard this before and do not have a thoughtful, reasoned response. It could be the first in a long line of objections that undermine their faith. We need to be Christians who are Christians because it is true, not because our parents were Christians.
Students need to have established their faith within themselves before they go to college or join the workforce, or at least begin the process. The truth of their belief has nothing to do with their being born into that religion. Hopefully, they have some reasons for their faith (reasons they can share with others), and they’re not just parroting their parent’s beliefs.
God states in Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder. But, then in Joshua and Judges, God allows and even commands people to murder and destroy cities, all the men, women, and children. Isn’t that a contradiction?
It is not about what people call murder, but what God calls murder. Murder is killing that is not morally justified.
Yes, God called for the destruction of cities and people groups, but there is an essential distinction between killing and murder. I will add that if you make it, you own it. God granted us our lives, and He has the prerogative to take them away.
For example, the Canaanites were not destroyed because of race, religion, or land. Neither were they killed to convert to Judaism. It was their sin. They were a violent people who practiced idolatry, group sex, rape, bestiality, and child sacrifice.
The earliest Canaanite laws prescribed the death penalty for incest, but a few centuries later, it was a mere economic penalty, liken it to a parking ticket.
We also have sources outside the Bible that confirm child sacrifice was taking place regularly within the Canaanite religion; no other ancient culture did this consistently.
If God is so loving and forgiving, why can’t he be more tolerant of our sin?
God is loving, God is forgiving, and God is merciful, but that is not necessarily the same as being tolerant. The word tolerant today has changed into being accepting of other views. That is, you have to agree with them, not just tolerate them.
Look up tolerance online, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and you will see the words “marked by forbearance or endurance.” In other words, you have to struggle with something that rubs you the wrong way, something you find disagreeable or even painful.
There is a reason God does not tolerate sin. His nature is holy and pure. There is no impurity within Him, and He cannot be in any kind of relationship with sin.
It is His combination of mercy and justice that gives us the answer we so desperately need. His mercy by itself cannot satisfy his perfect justice any more than His justice can be satisfied by His perfect mercy. Both demand a Godly response.
The sin has to be paid for, and His paying for it not only satisfies His justice but His mercy. God is VERY intolerant of sin, but His love for us, His mercy toward us, provides a way for us as imperfect vessels to dwell with a holy and perfect being.
Quick Replies To Tough Questions by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.knowingforsure.com/blog.