Monday, 30 January 2012

"I did a google search and destroyed Christianity!"

I was talking to a man recently about salvation. When the subject was raised the man (Victor) took on a scholarly air and spoke in solemn tones and told me that, according to his research (more on that in a minute), Christianity didn't have much going for it, and neither did any other religion..

I asked him what he thought of Jesus Christ. Again, the brow furrowed, he took a deep breath, and spoke to me regretfully as if he was about to tell me a terrible secret that would shatter my faith and ruin my life. He said, "There's very little evidence that He ever existed."

"Oh, come on!" was my response. "Right!" said he, "Give me one writer outside of the Bible that even makes a reference to Him."

I told him that I could and would meet his challenge, but wanted to know why he discounted what was in the Bible. He didn't answer the question, but insisted I couldn't give a non-biblical reference to Christ. I told him again that I was going to give him some references, but I didn't want to give the impression that I was conceding that what was in the Bible was of no value. So I told him about Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger, then I mentioned the multitude of early Christian writings that mention Him.

"A bit vague, aren't they!" (It was an assertion not a question). I told him they weren't vague in the slightest - they spoke of His life, His crucifixion, His disciples' belief in His resurrection, and His family. But watch what happened next...

Victor said, "Well, where was He between the ages of 14 and 32?" [He meant between the ages of 12 and 30]. Victor then started to tell me that there was good evidence that He was in India! Now I really had to pull the reins here on Victor, and I pointed out to him that just a wee minute ago he was telling me there was very little evidence that He ever existed, but then he was telling me that there was good evidence that this non-existent person was in India! Did Victor admit his error, own up to his contradiction, retract his statement? Ummmm, no! We immediately we whooshed to another topic.

He asked me how the books that got into the New Testament got selected, I embarked on an answer and was cut off mid sentence with this statement, "The Trinity is a bit of a mish mash isn't it?" I looked at him with bewilderment and asked him, "Are we talking about the Trinity now? Because I thought we were talking about the New Testament canon." I told him I was happy to talk about either topic, but only one at a time!

He said he had done a google search on historic Christianity, and what Christians today believe is totally different to what Christians believed before the council of Nicaea. I was happy to tell him that he was absolutely, totally and demonstrably wrong, because we have New Testament manuscripts that pre-date the council of Nicaea, and we have an abundance of writings of ante-nicaean Christians, which show us that the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the atonement, the resurrection, and salvation by grace through faith, apart from works, are not later developments, but we're the distinctive, foundational doctrines of Christ and the apostles. I told him that a google search hardly qualified as in depth study, and the Internet gives a forum to find support for any view!

Victor said he just wanted to leave me with this thought, a God who says to people, 'If you're good enough you can come to heaven, and if you aren't so good you can rot in hell' is not a God of love. I had to inform him, that that wasn't the God of Scripture. The true God doesn't say if you're not so good you can rot in hell. He says that even though none of us are good enough we can all be cleansed and forgiven and have a place with Him eternally, because He sent His Son to pay sin's penalty at the cross. So if we turn to Christ in repentance, accepting His sacrifice as our only hope, then we go free, if we don't then we take the punishment ourselves.

Victor told me that he was a lost cause. I told him we all are, but those are the very people the Lord Jesus came to save (Luke 19 v 10).