Earlier this year, I was at the Biola on the Road: Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World conference in my hometown of Tulsa, Ok. One of the speakers, Craig Hazen, spoke twice over the weekend. In his first lecture, What Are We Afraid Of?, he told this amusing story of how he got asked to speak at a college, and when he showed up, he found out that lecture was being presented as “Come Barbeque the Christian.” (Here’s a short video where he has given the same story, just not a video from the conference I was at.)
On the second day, he gave a lecture that was listed in the program as “Christianity and the Challenge of World Religions”, but it seemed to me to be more aptly named “5 Reasons Why a Thoughtful Person on a Religious Quest Should Start With Christianity.” (Here’s a link to where he has given the same lecture, just not a video from the conference I was at.)
This post is from the notes (indented) that I took at his lecture plus a few thoughts added in. (The Scripture references are his.) So with this introduction out of the way, let’s get to it.
5 Reasons Why a Thoughtful Person on a Religious Quest Should Start With Christianity
1. Christianity is testable
Our faith is an evidential faith.
Christianity, unlike all other religions, is rooted and grounded in history, one that is testable and verifiable.
You can offer evidence for it, and you can offer evidence against it.
You can’t do this for any other religion.
Some religions are just a philosophy. You can take the founder out of the equation and still have the religion. If you take Buddha out of Buddhism, you can still have Buddhism. If you take L. Ron Hubbard out of Scientology, you can still have Scientology.
Some religions sound like they are testable, but when you actually investigate them, it turns out they are not. (Mormons).
In the case of the Book of Mormon, it does indeed makes claims about history, but you can’t offer any evidence for it, and all the evidence offered is against it.
Islam also makes claims about history, specifically, in regards to the topic of this blog, that Jesus did not die on the cross. But this goes against all the evidence. Jesus dying on the cross is accepted by nearly every New Testament scholar, even atheist. It’s even attested to by hostile ancient non-biblical writers.
Christianity makes claims about history, It claims that Jesus existed, that he said and did the things claimed of him, and that he was crucified and rose the dead. As Donald Hagner, professor emeritus of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary puts it:
The incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as real events in time and space, I.e., as historical realities, are the indispensable foundations of the Christian faith.
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
1 Cor 15:13-14,17
It can be investigated in a finite amount of time.
A Buddhist monk says that it will take 10^60 lifetimes to reach enlightenment.
Upon careful investigation, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are found to be one of the best-attested facts of ancient history.
2. In Christianity, salvation is a free gift from God
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not the result of works, that no one should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
God is ready to lavish salvation on you.
You will not find a picture of the love and grace of God as seen in this parable in any religion on the planet today or in any religion in history.
3. With Christianity, you get an amazing worldview fit
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
The picture that Christianity teaches paints of the world actually matches the way the world really is!
How do eastern religions deal with this problem? You have to recognize that the problem of evil is illusory, and it will go away. What do you say to a holocaust survivor? Turn that frown upside down? There’s no amount of calling that an illusion that is going to help.
Christianity deals with the problem of evil head-on, and bear with it the best we can in the name of Jesus, who himself experienced suffering. And on judgment day, every issue of evil, pain, and suffering will be dealt with.
159 Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C. S. Lewis
4. You get to live a non-compartmentalized life.
The Law of Non-Contradiction: A cannot equal Not A.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
“Present your case,” says the Lord.
“Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.
Come make your case. Bring forth your persuasive arguments
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Jesus is called the logos: the word or the reason of God.
5. Christianity has had Jesus at the center since it’s very beginning.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Jesus is the universal religious figure. Every religion wants a piece of Jesus. They just try to reinterpret him to their religion.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.