Defending Our Faith
by Greg Harris
This is the third in a series of four posts about engaging in gospel conversations with people around us. The last post explored how to articulate the gospel. This post is an adaptation of a section in the Gospel Conversations booklet.
The second element of a gospel conversation, as articulated by Randy Newman’s book Questioning Evangelism, is a willingness to defend the reasonableness of Christianity. This is known as apologetics and it is rooted in what the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:13-16.
Defending our faith is important in our gospel conversations because many people we engage with will see the world in a very different way than we do. When we gently give reasons for what we believe and how we think, we are providing a defense that helps our conversation partner understand why we believe what we do. The two most significant themes that will arise in most of our gospel conversations are: (1) There can’t be just one true religion; and (2) Why is there evil?
1. THERE CAN’T BE JUST ONE TRUE RELIGION
Canadian culture is intrinsically pluralistic. It is very common for people in Canada to be respectful of, and sympathetic to, your religious beliefs. However, what the majority of Canadians will not accept is the belief that there is one true religion. There are three claims that will often be made by people surrounding the belief that there cannot be just one true religion: (1) All religions teach the same thing, (2) all religions see a part of the spiritual truth but not the whole, and (3) it is arrogant to insist one understanding of religion is right and all others are wrong. For the sake of time, we will only explore one of these.
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DO ALL RELIGIONS TEACH THE SAME THING?
Many people will claim that all major religions are equally valid because they basically teach the same thing. A closer examination and comparison of different religions shows that they, at their very core, teach fundamentally different doctrine. One quick example will hopefully suffice.
At the very core of Buddhism is an impersonal life force that overflowed so that the world, and people, appeared. The goal in life is to return, and become amalgamated, into this impersonal life force.
The very core of Christianity is that the God who was rejected by the very people he created entered into history as the man Jesus of Nazareth, so that he could willingly die to absorb all of the consequences and punishments due to humanity because of their sin. Jesus rose from the dead to prove that he is truly God, that all he taught was true, and that he has finished all that is necessary for humans to be reconciled to God and enjoy him forever. When humans choose to follow Jesus they are reconciled to God and wait in anticipation to enjoy eternal life with him.
The two fundamental narratives of Buddhism and Christianity could not be more different. One is essentially atheistic, the other is monotheistic. One brings ‘salvation’ through human effort; the other offers salvation to all who trust in Jesus…