Our hearts go out to the families of those killed and those injured in recent shootings. In November 2022, there were six mass killing incidents in the United States. Violence seems to be increasing against people attending LGBTQ clubs, venues, and drag events. Some blame this violence on Christians, claiming that biblical teachings against homosexuality and alternative lifestyles cause senseless violence. The truth is that the teachings of Jesus Christ adamantly oppose violence against anyone. It is a biblical mandate that Christians oppose sin, but it is also Christ’s command that we love the sinner. LGBTQ hate crimes have no place in Christianity. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), Jesus explained how Christians should deal with opposition. In Matthew 5:38, Jesus reminds His listeners that people in the past had said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In the violent world of primitive people, that way of thinking was common. Unfortunately, that principle is followed by many people today. By contrast, Jesus said, “But I say to you, don’t resist the man who wants to hurt you…” (verse 39). In verses 43-44, He expands that command by saying, “It used to be said to be kind to your friend and hate your enemy. But what I tell you is love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”
Skeptics will respond to this by referring to Romans 1:18–2:16, which identifies those who reject God’s plan for human morality. Romans 1:24 tells us, “God abandoned them to impurity, letting them follow the cravings of their hearts, so they degrade their own bodies with one another.” Later verses describe all kinds of aberrant behavior by those who deliberately choose lifestyles of violence and opposition to God.
The first point we need to make about these verses is that they do not describe most LGBTQ practitioners in America today. The more important point is that if you keep reading further in Romans 2, you find it telling Christians to leave the situation to God. It is not the job of Christians to be the judge, jury, and executioner. Leave the judging to God. LGBTQ hate crimes have no place in Christianity
The reason God opposes LGBTQ behavior is that it is a destructive lifestyle. We don’t know all the causes of homosexual behavior, but they are clearly not the same for everyone. Statistics show that such behavior leads to negative numbers for stability, disease, and life expectancy. However, those affect the individual and are not a direct threat to others. I have gay friends who are the kindest and most creative people I know, and Jesus tells His followers to love all people.
Nevertheless, Jesus must weep with us at the horrible violence that has been part of American life in recent years. It makes no sense to direct violence toward people who have done nothing that would suggest they are a threat to anyone except possibly themselves. LGBTQ hate crimes have no place in Christianity.
According to the Boston Globe, 80% of college students are living in fear. The article says that activists and administrators have created an “Us vs. Them” mentality. This applies to race, pronoun usage, and political views creating “intense, persistent and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations.” For example, the article says that even “picnic” is now deemed racist and can get a student branded a bigot or transphobe.
In the history of America, one of the rights we all have is the right to express an opinion. An adage says, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” But, unfortunately, that is no longer applicable to life in America.
People could say that in the past because most Americans believed in the Christian concept of God and that all people are created in God’s image. The biblical concept of love was “agapao,” which governed how people thought of even those with whom they disagreed. That word means “to consider of great value,” and Christ introduced the concept in His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew chapters 5-7). Christ and the apostles taught that every human is infinitely and equally valuable (Galatians 3:28).
People today are living in fear because they have adopted “survival of the fittest” as their guide for dealing with one another. That means I can denigrate those I deem less fit and treat them as less valuable. All abuse of others is rooted in this belief system. Carried to extremes, it even applies to political differences. Recently a female member of congress suggested killing a political opponent to advance her concept of democracy. No wonder people are living in fear.
The Christian belief system eliminates living in fear. John writing his excellent dissertation on love in 1 John 4:7-21 says it beautifully: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If a man says I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen can not love God whom he has not seen” (verses 18-20).
People today often refuse to use evidence to make decisions on everything from personal relationships to politics. One of the unique things we find in the Bible is that Jesus Christ challenges people to think.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus uses the phrase “What do you think” five times (17:25, 18:12, 21:28, 22:17, 22:42). Jesus never called his listeners to blind acceptance or thoughtless adherence to authority. In biblical Christianity, faith is not an emotionally-based response. Despite that fact, modern Christian denominations have relied on blind acceptance and emotion instead of thoughtful reasoning.
A good part of this failure is just plain intellectual laziness. People emotionally follow the charismatic leadership of individuals because it is easier than thoughtfully examining the evidence. The result is that we have cults and abusive religious systems. Unlike other world religions, the Bible and Jesus challenge us to examine the evidence and act on it.
Jesus used miracles to convince people ofHis divine nature. The prophecies about Christ predicted that He would not attract followers by his physical appearance. Consider Isaiah 53:1-6 which is undeniably a messianic prophecy. That passage says, “He had no form or comeliness … there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … we esteemed Him not.”
Jesus Christ challenges people to think, but as long as people refuse to use their minds and examine the evidence, skepticism and chaos will result. Throughout the Bible, we find encouragement to look at the evidence and know that God is real and that His Word should guide our lives. Read Psalms 19:1, Psalms 53, Psalms 139:14, Proverbs 8, Matthew 6:26-30, Acts 17:22-31, and Romans 1:18-20. Waiting for God to “zap” you with faith is an exercise in futility. Instead, God rewards those who seek to understand and never calls us to blind acceptance.
The “Does God Exist?” program never relies on the opinion or credentials of any human. Instead, we call on all people to come to faith by using their intelligence and what they can see in the world around them. Examine the evidence!
Our materials are free or at cost and provide a way to organize the evidence so that each person who is willing can “know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:20). That means looking at the physical world and the spiritual world and dealing with the evidence that is all around us. Still, in today’s world, Jesus Christ challenges people to think.
“Religion” is a bad word in the world today. Many religions are violent, abusive, dishonest, and the source of war, waste, and murder. When I gave my lectures on science and faith in England, Ireland, and Scotland, I found that people were very interested in what I was presenting, but if I used the words “church” or “religion,” they were repulsed. In many countries today, telling someone you are a Christian invites a very negative response. Why do people have a negative attitude toward Christianity, and what can we do about it?
People have seen destructive actions by people who claim to be Christians. If you take a history course, you will learn about the Crusades, religious wars, slavery, racial hatred, and racial abuse, from the Tulsa tragedy to lynchings in the south. In modern times, we have seen people robbed of their money, their property, and their virginity by people who claimed to be Christians. There is no defense for that behavior. It is wrong and flies in the face of what Jesus Christ taught and lived. Furthermore, those actions create a negative attitude toward Christianity.
Surveys in the last ten years have shown that more and more people are rejecting “religion.” Religion is usually defined as human attempts to reach God. According to recent surveys, when asked if they believe the Bible is God’s Word, 20% of Americans say “no.” A substantial percentage of Americans cannot tell you anything about the Bible except what they have heard critics say. They also admit that they doubt God’s existence and reject the Bible’s moral teachings. The answer to this situation is education about Christ and His teachings.
If we are to change the trend away from God and the negative attitude toward Christianity, we must start at the very bottom. We must assume the world around us knows nothing about God, Christ, or the Bible. Unfortunately, that is the situation for many people today, and starting with the basics is necessary. Here are some basic places to begin:
1) How do we know there is a God? What is the evidence? 2) What is God, and how do we know that the spiritual world exists? Naturalism teaches that the material world is all there is. 3) What are the properties of God, and how are they relevant to humans? 4) What is a human, and why are humans special? What uniquely sets us apart? 5) Why do the teachings of Christ make sense, where do we find them, and are they reliable?
We address all of those questions on our websites and in our free materials. However, as long as preachers and religious leaders spend their time, money, and energy attacking each other and promoting emotionalism and entertainment, a negative attitude toward Christianity will continue. We must share our faith in love.
How have you arrived at the belief system that governs your life? God created two books we are called to use as the basis for our lives, morals, and religious practice. Since these two books have one author, they must be complimentary and cannot conflict. It is strange that many people read one book and refuse to look at the other. That is true of both atheists and religionists.
One of the books is the Bible, and it calls us to use it as a guide for life. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states it very clearly: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for training, for guiding and for moral discipline so that the man of God may be complete and adequately equipped for all good work.” Atheists reject this book because it involves denying one of a few physical pleasures and gives a purpose in living other than survival. Living selfishly has its rewards, and that is attractive.
God created two books, and the second book is the creation itself. The Bible is full of admonitions to use the things God has created as a means of knowing truth and learning how to live a productive and rewarding life. The Old Testament calls us to use what we see in the world around us as a guide to life. The entire book of Job carries that message. Numerous Psalms call us to see God’s wisdom and design and shape our beliefs in them. (See Psalms 8:3-9; 19:1; 53:1-4; 139:14-16.) Proverbs is full of admonitions to learn from the creation. (See Proverbs 6:6; 8:1-7 and 22-36.)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the created world as the basis of much of His teaching. (See Matthew 6:26-30; 7:16-20.) Romans 1:18 – 23 says of humans, “That which can be known of God lies plain before their eyes for God himself has made it clear to them. For those things of God which the eye can not see, ever since the creation of the world, are clearly perceived through the things that are made, and are clear to the eye of reason, even his eternal power and divine character so that men have no excuse.”
So God created two books, and it is clear why atheists do not wish to read and apply the Bible to guide their moral and spiritual lives. It is hard to understand why people who claim to believe in God refuse to look at the creation as a source of instruction and guidance. Some are too lazy to read the Bible and study its message, and others are too lazy to read the creation and learn its message. We need to read and study both books so that we can do what 1 Peter 3:15 tells us: “Revere Christ as Lord in your hearts and always be ready with your defense whenever you are called to account for the hope that is in you, yet argue gently and cautiously with meekness and respect.”
I have learned in my long life that every experience, good or bad, can teach you a lesson if you allow it to. I think this is why Paul gave Timothy qualifications for congregational leadership that a young man simply couldn’t have had time to experience. They included having children in subjection, not being a novice, and having a good reputation in the community (1 Timothy 3:4-7). I know that the death of my two younger brothers, my wife, and my son in a short period of time taught me a lot about life. It taught me how to keep things in perspective and help those facing the death of a loved one.
Now I have been taught about another struggle that humans have–blindness. In the Bible, we see the loss of sight as a major affliction that altered the lives of biblical characters. In some cases, like Samson, enemies used blindness to retaliate and punish (Judges 16:21). In John 9, Jesus restored a blind man’s sight to teach and confound His critics. Several miracles of Christ were centered around restoring sight to someone who was blind.
I recently got a taste of what it would be like to lose my sight. I awoke on August 25th, unable to see out of my right eye and with only limited vision in my left eye. No amount of rubbing or washing affected my loss of sight. It is hard to describe the panic I felt, and you can imagine what my prayer life was focused on at that point. With what little sight I had left, I painfully struggled to grade the day’s correspondence courses and managed with great difficulty to prepare two classes and one sermon I was scheduled to give in four days. In addition, trying to read a large number of emails was difficult, and I kept asking myself, “What will I do if this gets worse?”
I now understand Paul’s reaction as he suddenly was struck blind and had to be led by the hand. I can imagine how for three days, he tried to make sense of what had happened to him. I didn’t want to eat, which Paul also experienced, as dread, anger, and confusion swallowed up my appetite. But, like Paul, I was led to a restoration of my sight. Like Paul, it has changed my view of life and my mission on Earth. Once again, it has shown me how to keep things in perspective.
My medical diagnosis is that I have a very rare kind of cataract that can grow in a matter of days. Thankfully, surgery can correct it. However, living with virtually no vision for several days has taught me a great deal. I now understand why my son Tim who was blind from congenital cataracts, mentally challenged, and rendered physically challenged by COVID, could only talk about soon being able to see. He would soon see his mother, who had passed away years before. He understood that he was about to die, but that paled in the face of regaining his sight.
I better understand why my dear friend Glynn Langston, who has been blind from birth, struggles with my very visual presentations. He tells me that my verbal descriptions don’t help much. I can understand why Samson after his enemies blinded him, had the courage to tear down their building ending his own life.
What has happened in your life that may have been a tragedy to you but can open a door of empathy and give you a unique opportunity to serve others? What has helped you learn how to keep things in perspective? God is constantly molding our character, and life’s experiences are the tools He often uses.
Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Phillip Yancey quoted a writer named Monika Hellwig in an article on the beatitudes. She listed the “advantages” of being poor, and Yancey suggested we take it one step further by applying those same statements to the rich. In our age of materialism, these are some ideas worth considering:
HELLWIG: The poor know they are in need of redemption. YANCEY: The rich do not know they are in urgent need of redemption. HELLWIG: The poor know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with one another. YANCEY: The rich rest their security not on people, but on things. HELLWIG: The poor have no exaggerated sense of their own importance and no exaggerated need of privacy. YANCEY: The rich feel they are of great importance and strive to protect themselves from anything they think might threaten it. HELLWIG: The poor expect little from competition and much from cooperation. YANCEY: To the rich, it is a dog-eat-dog world – look after number 1. HELLWIG: The poor can distinguish between necessities and luxuries. YANCEY: To the rich, everything is a necessity. HELLWIG: The poor can wait because they have acquired a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence, YANCEY: The rich want it now. HELLWIG: The fears of the poor are more realistic and less exaggerated because they already know that one can survive great suffering and want. YANCEY: The rich go to pieces when hardship does come their way. HELLWIG: When the poor have the gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not a threat or a scolding. YANCEY: The rich hear the gospel as a threat and an attempt to put them on a guilt trip. HELLWIG: The poor can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything. YANCEY: The rich feel that they have everything to lose and nothing to gain.
In Matthew 19:23-24, we find Jesus saying, “It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and again I say to you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” When his disciples questioned this statement, Jesus went on to say, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible (verses 2-26).”
We can debate the whole question of who is rich and who is poor, but in comparison with most people on this planet, everyone in America is rich. Reading the things Hellwig listed, you probably realize that you struggle with some of them. Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are the poor.” He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Jesus is not concerned with our gross income but our attitude toward what God has blessed us with and how we use it.
Here we go again! Another virus is spreading and has begun to infect large numbers of people, and the LGBTQ community has borne the brunt of those infections. That data has led to hatred and polarization. This reminds us of the situation with AIDS in 1984 when over 7,700 people became infected with AIDS, and over 3,500 died. There was a great deal of finger pointing and some violence, as vividly displayed in the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain.”
On May 7, 2022, British health officials discovered the monkeypox virus and announced it occurred primarily in LGBTQ men. In July of 2022, infections have been found in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. At this time, infections approach 1500, with California and Illinois having more than 100 cases and New York with more than 400. The virus spreads from person to person through direct contact with rash lesions or body fluids. Men having sex with men provide an easy pathway for the virus, so as another virus is spreading, some blame the LGBTQ community.
Those who delight in attacking Christianity have claimed that Christians are fueling hatred against the LGBTQ community, but that claim is simply incorrect. It is true that the Bible teaches us not to engage in sex outside of marriage, but it also tells us not to use alcohol or other substances harmful to the body. Christians are concerned about people doing things that hurt themselves or others. For Christians, the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:15-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Therefore, we urge everyone not to engage in destructive lifestyles, including the use of all recreational drugs and the practice of aberrant sexual activity.
We also oppose any violence against others. Anyone who abuses, brings harm to, or verbally condemns others is not following Christ’s teaching. Instead, he told us to love our enemies, go the second mile, and turn the other cheek. (See Matthew 5:38-48.)The teachings of Christ are unambiguous, but not everyone who claims to be a Christian follows them.
Another virus is spreading as people engage in the activities of the LGBTQ community, putting themselves and others at risk. There is no question about the wisdom of the Bible’s teaching about sexual conduct. But unfortunately, every alternative to God’s way has caused injury to the participants and others, and monkeypox is just one more evidence of that truth.
The message of Christ threatens many people, including some scholars and parts of the general public. To counter this threat, skeptics have written many books trying to deny that Jesus was anything more than a strange aberration of history. Some of these books are written by authors who claim to be experts, and many of the writings have been promoted in the tabloids or on television as revealing some new discovery about Jesus from sources outside of the biblical gospels known as the apocryphal gospels.
We have seen claims that Jesus was a peasant cynic philosopher, a leader of a hallucinogenic cult, or married to Mary Magdalene. The authors base those claims on the so-called apocryphal gospels such as the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Hebrews, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Philip. It is essential to understand that none of these apocryphal gospels have any validity compared to the biblical gospels we have in the New Testament.
The apocryphal gospels appeared in the second half of the second century, influenced by pagan gnostic philosophy competing with the true gospel. By comparison, consider how much has changed in the past 200 years in secular writing about people’s views of race, homosexuality, the rights of women, and beliefs about democracy? Even in the past two decades, there has been a massive change.
In contrast to those late manuscripts, the biblical gospel writers lived during the lifetime of Christ and in the formative years of the Church. Archaeology has verified the characters and many of the events described in the gospels. Things described in the gospels fit the known historical facts that can be verified from various other sources.
Perhaps the clearest demonstration that the biblical gospels are reliable while the apocryphal books are not is the writers’ motives. Modern books are written and marketed in a way that brings financial gain to the authors. Cult writings, books on UFOs like the Roswell incident, claims about Nostradamus, and claims of alien visitation to Earth have all been money-makers for their authors. The biblical gospel writers not only didn’t make money or fame from what they wrote, but they even risked losing their lives.
You can trust the biblical gospels and believe they are accurate and contain the Word of God. Any attempt to discredit them fails in the face of the evidence and the weakness of claimed alternatives to the message they contain.
Note: We have a video series on this subject called “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” with John Cooper. You can purchase the series on DVDs with a study guide at this LINK or watch them for free on doesgodexist.tv An excellent reference on this subject is On Guard by William Lane Craig, David C Cook Publisher Chapter eight. ISBN 978-1-4347-6488-1.
Many things are unique to the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Among those is the fact that He never endorsed force or war and established no power structure for humans to follow. Also, the fact that Christ confirmed His message by miracles is another unique feature of the teachings and life of Christ. Unfortunately, some people look for miracles today to solve life’s problems, but they misunderstand the purpose and nature of Christ’s miracles and those of the apostles.
The miracles of the apostles were meant to establish who spoke for God and who was a fraud. Neither Christ nor His followers sought to remove the reality of life and death. If becoming a Christian would solve all of life’s problems, people would come to Christ solely to solve physical or emotional pains. New Testament Greek used two words to indicate the nature of a miracle. One was “dunamis” used to show power (Mark 9:39, Acts 2:22). The other was “semeion” dealing with a sign (John 2:11, 2:23, 3:2, 4:54, 6:2, etc.) Christ confirmed His message by miracles.
The Bible records miracles of Christ that show His power over the problems humans face. Studying these miracles demonstrates the absolute ability of Christ to meet all the needs of humans. Look at this list:
Power over things in the natural world: Matthew 8:23-27 Power over disease: Matthew 8:1-1, Luke 17:11-19 Power over spiritual forces: Mark 1:23-26 Matthew 9:32-33 and 12:22-29 Power over human disabilities: John 5:1-16, Matthew 9:1-7, John 9 Power over mental issues: Matthew 8:28-34 Power over death: Luke 7:11-17 and 8:40-56, John 11:1-46
Notice that Jesus didn’t randomly remove all of these things from human existence. Each miracle had a purpose, and it was not to eliminate all human problems on the planet. In today’s world, all of these problems still exist because people still have illnesses and die. However, Christ has provided a way for everyone to deal with the maladies in this life and ultimately be free of them. Christ confirmed His message by miracles. The Bible spells out the war between good and evil and the purpose for our existence. God helps us in this life in many ways, but the perfection of heaven is not yet available to us while we live in the flesh.