As a college instructor and a Christian apologist, I have been asked thousands of questions in my 35 years of teaching and doing apologetics professionally. In fact, back in the early 1990s I worked at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and was one of the cohosts of the Bible Answer Man radio program, which has a question and answer format.
Today I answer questions online and on social media. I appreciate receiving a variety of questions from people of all backgrounds and stages of life. What follows are ten selected questions I was asked online over the last couple of years. My answers are intentionally concise, which reflects how I respond online. Much more could be said on each of these topics, so please see the resource section for further information. I hope these brief answers will help you in your engagements with people who ask similar questions.
Question #1 If God exists, why doesn’t the universe unambiguously point to any kind of Creator God?
I think it is fair to say that a large majority of people throughout history have believed in God and that many of them thought God’s existence was just a matter of common sense (in other words, they thought life unambiguously pointed to God).
Concerning the origin of the cosmos, of fine-tuning, and of consciousness, I think atheistic naturalism’s explanatory power is quite limited. But Christian theism seems to provide the best explanation for these profound mysteries.
Question #2 How does Jesus’s incarnation relate to his atonement on the cross?
Jesus Christ could only do what he did soteriologically (in terms of salvation) because he was who he was ontologically (in terms of being). Representing both God and man in his two natures as the God-man, Jesus could reconcile God and man. Thus, the incarnation grounds the atonement.
Question #3 Is RTB’s statement of faith based on a Reformed theology similar to what John Calvin advocated?
RTB’s statement of faith, which I helped write, reflects a Protestant evangelical viewpoint. Theologically conservative Christians who are Baptist, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Anglican, or nondenominational could affirm and have affirmed the statement. Many denominations within Christendom are represented among RTB’s staff scholars and scholar community.
Question #4 Isn’t Protestantism’s major flaw that it leads to constant splintering and dividing? What do we do about it?
Protestantism as a branch of Christendom has its challenges like all other ecclesiastical bodies do. But the common ground on doctrine, values, and worldview shared by the three branches of Christendom (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant) is robust. I encourage all Christians to contend for truth, promote unity, and always strive to practice charity among their fellow believers.
Question #5 Aren’t all religions the same, just calling the same god by different names?
All religions are not the same. Consider their disagreement about the existence of God or gods as just one of many examples demonstrating that fact:
- Islam affirms one God.
- Popular Hinduism affirms 330 million gods.
- Philosophical Hinduism affirms all as god.
- Original Buddhism affirms no god.
So the world’s religions collectively can’t agree on whether there is a god or how many there are.
Question #6 How can Jesus be God when the Gospels say he was born, was tempted, and died? None of these limitations are true of God.
The historic Christian doctrine of the incarnation teaches that Jesus was both God and man (a single person with both a divine and human nature). Thus, Jesus encountered limitations and challenges through his human nature, not his divine nature.
Question #7 Which branch of Christendom is the right one?
I don’t think any specific branch or tradition within Christendom has a lock on all Christian truth. They all share the truths revealed in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. Therefore, I try to learn and discern from Christendom’s wealth of theological resources. Personally, I attend a Reformed Anglican church.
Question #8 What forms of logical reasoning do scientists employ in their work?
Scientists use deductive, inductive, and abductive forms of reasoning. Abductive reasoning (inference to the best explanation) is often used in hypothesis formation. But the enterprise of science (that is, the scientific method) is an inductive process involving observation and testing (empiricism) and generally weighing probabilities.
There is a difference between the method of science (induction) and the forms of reasoning or arguments used in applying the data (deductive, inductive, abductive).
Question #9 Could beauty be explained as an evolutionary survival advantage?
Beauty seems a major compulsion for humankind. Any possible survival advantages seem inconsistent with the amount of beauty in the world and humankind’s profound obsession with it.
Even if beauty has some survival advantages, beauty as a whole is still best explained in a world with God rather than in a world without him.
Question #10 Shouldn’t Christians worship on the Sabbath (Saturday) instead of Sunday?
Virtually all of Christendom (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) observes the Lord’s Day on Sunday—the day commemorating Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection that took place on the first day of the week. The majority of New Testament scholars see Sunday as a day of worship—again, honoring Christ’s resurrection. Thus, the Sunday Lord’s Day distinguishes historic Christian observance from traditional Judaism. Some people keep the Sabbath out of conscience, but Sabbatarianism is an outlier position in historic Christian theology.
I hope these questions and my brief answers will motivate you to think carefully about the historic Christian faith.
Reflections: Your Turn
Which question are you most interested in?
Here are five books I’ve written to address various questions about the Christian faith:
- Christianity Cross-Examined (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2021). In this book I answer twelve questions about historic Christianity’s truth, relevance, and goodness.
- Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004). In this book I answer twenty common questions and objections about God, Christ, and Christianity.
- A World of Difference (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007). In this book I address issues pertaining to the Christian worldview and its relationship to other competing worldviews.
- Classic Christian Thinkers: An Introduction (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2019). In this book I address topics relating to church history and historical theology.
- God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2017). In this book I address issues relating to Jesus and Christianity in comparison with the world’s religions and their leaders.