Subject: Apologetics: Having the Faith to Seek Answers to Your Toughest Questions
Isaiah 1:18 “’Come now, let us reason together’, says the Lord.”
Dr. Michael Brown is a PhD Professor in Near Eastern Languages from NY University, with his own syndicated radio show entitled “Ask Dr. Brown”. He also has a special calling – speaking on university campuses around the world on the truth of Christianity and Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of mankind.
Dr. Brown’s conviction to follow Christ was not a result of his family upbringing, or an emotional response at a Youth Camp. He spent his teenage years as a drug addict and hell raiser! As many who claim the name of Jesus Christ can testify, his Christianity is founded in the radical transformation that Christ Himself made in his life, when he came to the end of his rope and sincerely asked Christ to save him from himself.
This is why I think it is important to read his response to the recent announcement from Hillsong lead singer Marty Sampson on why he renounced his Christian faith. Dr. Brown’s Christianity is grounded in his search for answers to his questions, while Sampson is the opposite, asking questions but not seeking out the answers. It is a picture of many young adults I meet – a ‘Crayon Christianity’ based on feelings without sound reasons. Below are excerpts of Dr. Brown’s response to Marty Sampson. It is worth taking to heart.
“I just read that Marty Sampson is leaving the faith. In his words, ‘I’m genuinely losing my faith and it doesn’t bother me.’ What I find most distressing is not him turning from his faith. People fall away all the time, and there are warnings in the New Testament about the dangers of apostasy. What is surprising is that Marty feels that ‘no one’ is talking about challenges to the Christian faith. ‘No one’ is discussing difficult intellectual issues. ‘No one’ is engaging the apparent contradictions or interpretative problems in the Bible.
I can only ask (with sadness rather than condemnation), ‘Marty, what Christian world have you been living in?’ He writes, ‘How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it.’ I have to ask, ‘What Christian world was he living in?’ First, there are wonderful books documenting incredible, contemporary miracles performed in the name of Jesus. Second, there for even more books dealing with the difficult questions of what to do when you don’t receive your miracle (my search for the words ‘the problem of suffering’ together with Christianity, which address a broader issue of faith, yielded almost 1 million results).
Marty writes, ‘Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it.’ Once again, I can’t believe I’m reading these words. Doesn’t almost every believer ask about apparent contradictions in the Bible? Don’t all of us, at one time or another, try to find answers to these questions? Again, not only are there countless books that address these questions, but almost every major study Bible will tackle these questions as well. And what happens when you search for ‘Bible contradictions’ with the word ‘apologetics’? You find thousands of websites offering different levels of answers to these apparent problems.
Marty writes, ‘How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.’ As this point I want to shout, OF COURSE WE TALK ABOUT IT! Of course we discuss the question of hell and future punishment. Of course we ask how a good God could condemn His creation. As for the notion that people go to hell ‘all coz they don’t believe,’ does Marty have no conception of human sin and rebellion? Do people perish simply because they didn’t recite some kind of magic formula?
He writes, ‘I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth.’ Well, I’m thrilled to hear he wants ‘genuine truth’ as opposed to simply taking things by faith. But I must ask once more, ‘What Christian world has he been living in?’ Is it just me and my colleagues and the people who follow my ministry who want ‘genuine truth’? Who are willing to ask the hard questions? Who encourage honest seeking? There are countless millions who want more than just a simplistic, ‘shut off your brain’ kind of faith.’
What I fear is that Marty’s shocking lack of awareness of a massive array of solid apologetics material is not his alone. There are probably plenty of other believers who find no outlet for their questions and concerns, leading to apostasy (or, deep, secret doubt) rather than an intellectually sound, vibrant faith. My prayer is that Marty Sampson and all others with questions will put those questions on the table.”
Our ministry here at ‘Faith, Substance and Evidence’ is committed to live by the same motto as Dr. Brown: “Don’t be afraid to ask honest questions and follow the truth where it leads. Just don’t do it superficially, and be sure to seek God first and foremost.”
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.