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Apologetics – Lesson 1: Does it Really Matter What a Person Believes?

January 26, 2012

We start our journey into apologetics with a basic question: Does it make sense to believe in God? This leads us, logically, to two questions, which are encompassed by the first:

  • Does it really matter what a person believes?
  • Does God really exist?

In Lesson 1 we will approach the first of these two questions.

Does it matter?

If we are going to be honest with ourselves we have to admit that we do not live in a Christian society. While many of the values our country was founded under are derived from Christian principles, it is clear that our society does not conform to the Bible in all matters. It is also clear that we do not live in an atheistic society. Were this true we would not see the huge number of churches and other places of worship dotting the landscape. The simple truth is, we live in a pluralistic society. By that I mean that our society embraces many faiths and philosophical viewpoints at the same time. All too often when we bear witness to the Gospel of Christ we are confronted with the attitude of ambivalence. No one cares what you have to say because they think they can just go to the next church, mosque, shrine, or temple and find a religion that best suits they’re lifestyle. And they’re right.

Mankind has remade God in his own image so many times over the centuries that we really can find a religion that suits just about anyone’s personal taste. How can the gospel of Christ compete with this kind of marketplace? Here is a sample of what is out there:

  • PANTHEISM – Everything is God.
  • POLYTHEISM – Many gods.
  • NEW AGE – God is within all of us.
  • HINDUISM – A form of polytheism mixed with reincarnation.
  • BUDDHISM – The quest for “enlightenment.”
  • ISLAM – Allah is God and Mohammed is his prophet.
  • REINCARNATION – Try and try again…
  • ATHEISM – There is no god.
  • AGNOSTICISM – God cannot be known.
  • MORMONISM – God is an exalted man from another planet.
  • JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES – Jesus is Michael the archangel.
  • CHRISTIANITY – The Triune God of Scripture.

This is just a sample and the descriptions are brief but you can usually find this, and more, in every major US city.

We have also been given much advice by our society. The politically correct among us will assert that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. Philosophers will tell you that you cannot know objective truth and that your perceptions are what make something true. Truth is subjective. Scientists tell us that faith is for those who believe in myths and make believe. Science cannot prove that God exists therefore there is no God. Bus is any of this true?

The Law of Non-Contradiction

There is a fundamental rule in logic that nearly everyone agrees with. The Law of Non-Contradiction, simply stated, means that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same respect. Something cannot be true and false at the same time. My favorite way of illustrating this is the Father-Son analogy. I am a father and I am a son. I am not a father and a son at the same time in the same relationship. I am a son to my father but not a son to my son. Likewise I am a father to my son but not a son to my son. Make sense?

So how does this apply to faith? Glad you asked! When the atheist proclaims that there is no god, while at the same time the Muslim is proclaiming that there is no god but Allah, we know one thing with certainty. They cannot both be right! Somebody is wrong. It is possible that they could both be wrong but both of these statements cannot be correct.

There are important implications here for matters of faith. Everyone cannot be right in his or her beliefs and if God really exists it matters what you believe. If God exists he does not exist for some and not for others. We should endeavor to seek for the truth about God.

The Law of Common Sense

The law of common sense, as I call it, is not as popular today as it once was. As Mark Twain once said, “The problem with common sense is it’s not common.” Given the amount of craziness in the world I doubt he knew how right he was. Nevertheless there are some important points that we can draw on this just from our daily existence. It is only in the realm of faith that we are willing to allow for violations to the law of non-contradiction. In all other areas of our life we depend on objective truth. Here are some examples:

  • When you go to the doctor you want him to diagnose you based on facts not what he feels.
  • When your child is about to run in front of a truck you do not rely on his or her feelings to determine if it is safe.
  • You would never tell you stockbroker to invest your money based on feelings and what he believes to be true.

Despite all of this why, when it comes to the arena of faith are we told that truth does not matter? Is this consistent? I think not.

The bottom line here is that it is not loving and kind to tell someone that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. Someone can be very sincere but be sincerely wrong. You may have all the faith in the world that a bridge will support your weight but if termites have eaten through it then your faith is not based on truth. Real faith has content; it is not a blind leap in the dark. If God exists it is not how sincere you are that matters but how right you are in your faith. Is the content of your faith in line with the truth about God?

The Truth

I said at the beginning of this study that we would be learning how to answer objections to the Christian faith and not spending time and energy refuting all other faiths. I realize that what I have said thus far in no way proves that Christianity is true. If that were my goal then you would be right in saying that I failed miserably. Fortunately for me, that was not my goal. My goal was to refute the concept that all faiths lead to God or that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. I will let the reader be the judge of how well that was proven.

From here we will turn to the Bible. You see, the Bible boldly proclaims that there is a true and living God. Because the reality is, my friends, that God does exist and He exists as the God revealed in the Bible (Jeremiah 16:20; 10:10a.) The Bible does not make an attempt to prove God’s existence but tells us rather simply that He has revealed Himself to us in three ways:

  • God is revealed in Creation (Romans 1:18-20; Psalm 19)
  • God is revealed in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • God is revealed in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, 14; 3:16)

I realize that we have not spent any time at all up to this point proving that the Bible is true in what it says about God. Much of this will be addressed in the forthcoming lessons. The point here is if the Bible is right about God then all other faiths are wrong. We should never settle for worshipping a lie. Christianity is often critiqued in our culture for being exclusive. In that the critics are right. The Bible teaches that there is no God but the Triune God of Scripture. According to the law of non-contradiction there cannot be multiple faiths claiming exclusivity. We have the witness of creation shouting to us that there is a creator (more on that next lesson.) This God has revealed Himself to us and he has done so in the Bible.

We do not have to convince or persuade people that God exists. Christians are called to bear witness for the truth and the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15.) God has promised that His Holy Spirit will convict and convert as He did for us. Praise Him.

God bless.

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