This week’s challenge is about salvation by faith:
A standard part of “becoming a Christian” is “accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.” There are a few choice scriptures which Christians use when explaining how people are saved.
John 3:16 (NIV): “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.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV): “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
It’s the standard Christian dogma that people are saved simply by believing in Jesus and accepting His gift of forgiveness. However, Jesus Himself refutes this view in Matthew.
Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
So, Christians must either adopt a non-standard dogma, or admit that their belief system is wrong. This seeming contradiction within the Bible stands above others simply because it’s at the very core of the religion. Any intellectual within the religion must disbelieve the church’s teachings in order to preserve the church’s religion.
How would you explain this alleged contradiction? Give us your explanation in the comments below, and check back here on Thursday to hear Tim’s answer to this challenge.
In this week’s challenge, Christians are accused of teaching that “science and progress is wicked”:
As a Christian, you are taught to largely disregard science and progress as it comes from the minds of fallen and sinful men. Instead, the bible which is seen as “god’s word” is held up as the only truth. Thus, when scientific discoveries contradict biblical myths, the Christian is expected to ignore the scientific view in place of stories they themselves would consider mythical if espoused by other faiths. At the same time, Christians are quite happy to reap the benefits of scientific discovery when it suits them. It’s genuinely comical to see Christians using the internet, a product of science and technology, to try and undermine the importance of science. Christians also own computers, drive cars, visit the doctor, use mobile phones and then turn around and say that science and progress is wicked and that man’s wisdom is “foolish.”
How would you respond to this challenge? What is the Christian view of science? How does science fit into a Christian worldview? Why don’t Christians have a problem with technology? Do Christians “undermine the importance of science”? Tell us what you think in the comments below, then come back on Thursday to hear what Tim has to say.
Now at 26, I don’t go to church anymore. Because I don’t like the idea of people telling me what I should do, and how I should be doing them. I think many millennials feel the same way.
During my time in university, I’ve learned to be my own teacher when it comes to issues close to my heart. It’s about objectivity. This is why I did my own research on the subject of homosexuality. I stop letting one specific group of people dictate how I should view myself, and other gay people. I realise that what it means to be gay is really, my own business. How I want to live my life is my choice, not some other people’s.
I think this is probably a very common sentiment in our culture. There are really two aspects to this challenge: First, there’s the question of why this approach to life is unwise. Second, there’s the matter of how you would communicate that to someone who expressed this opinion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on both.
What is wisdom? How do we find it? How do we evaluate it? Where does it come from? Is there a standard? Is it a good standard? Can we trust it? All of these things and more play in the background of this challenge. Give us your thoughts in the comments below, and come back on Thursday to hear what Alan has to say about it.
Jesus wasn’t a very nice guy. American Christians talk a lot about so-called family values, but that concept doesn’t have much, if any, basis in the actual story of Christ. Jesus demanded that his disciples abandon their families and save all of their devotion for him and him alone – a rather narcissistic and not particularly family-centric expectation…seeming to be in direct contradiction to the commandment about honoring thy mother and father.
To be fair, I think churches often do put more emphasis on “family-centric expectations” than on the person of Jesus, so I can appreciate her confusion at trying to match up the Jesus of the Gospels with what she’s heard in churches. But on top of that, I think she may be importing an atheist’s view of Jesus into the Gospels, and surprise! The story doesn’t make sense with a human-only Jesus. That’s because the story isn’t about a human-only Jesus, and it can only possibly make sense as a story if we try to understand it on its own terms. (For more on the problem with atheists doing this, see here.)
All that having been said, how would you answer this challenge? Leave your comments below, and then come back here on Thursday to hear Brett’s response.
[H]ow arrogant I was, to think that my form of small-town Southern-Ontario Catholic Christianity was the only way that people could come to know God properly, when there are billions of people all over the world who reach out to all kinds of higher powers and forms of spiritual enlightenment all the time? And those people feel the same kind of assurance, peace, and goodness that I do? I can't have the nerve to say that these people were wrong because how they relate to their god is different than mine, when all I have to justify my belief is a book.
This is definitely an idea you will run into: Billions of people have spiritual lives, so how can we claim we’re right and they’re wrong just because they’re different? How would you counsel someone who expressed this view? Can we know spiritual truth? How would you go about finding it? Tell us what you would say in the comments below, and Alan will post a video with his response on Thursday.