Dealing With Doubt About God

Why do people doubt God? Some doubt God exists, others doubt he cares all that much about us, and some question his very goodness. If you have doubts about God, you’re in good company. Everyone from the disciples of Jesus to 20th century saints have had their doubts about God in one way or another.

In fact, if you’ve never had doubts, you probably haven’t thought all that much about your faith. Even more importantly, if you’ve never doubted God, you probably haven’t grown all that much as a Christian.

Fuller Theological Seminary conducted a study of young adults who left church after high school. The researchers came to this conclusion: “The more college students felt they had the opportunity to express their doubt while they were in high school, the higher [their] level of faith maturity and spiritual maturity” (www.fulleryouthinstitute.org/college-transition).

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A Thorough Guide to the Non-Canonical Gospels

Many years ago, when I first became interested in Christianity, I encountered a book at a local bookstore entitled, The Lost Books of the Bible. As a new investigator of the claims of the New Testament, I was immediately intrigued. “What?” I thought, “There are books about Jesus that were lost?” I couldn’t help but wonder what these books said about Jesus and why they were allegedly “lost” in the first place. I bought the book and bean to research the historical texts it described. I was disappointed to discover that the book should have been titled, The Well Known, Late Lies About Jesus That Were Ignored By Christians Who Knew Better. These texts were never part of the New Testament canon. They were written late in history and rejected by everyone who knew the truth about Jesus of Nazareth.

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Consider Jesus

You who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus…

Tucked into the Letter to the Hebrews are two words that provide the highest calling and most compelling mandate a Christian can have. These words comprise the central theme of Hebrews and perhaps the entire Bible. They also serve as a guide for living.

Consider Jesus.

We know Jesus, at least in the sense of knowing who he is: God’s only Son sent to earth to bring light and life and salvation to people living in darkness.

Consider Jesus.

But what do we do with Jesus? Once we have put our trust in Him and accepted Him, how do we live? Is there more to a relationship with the Son of God than trust and acceptance? We call ourselves Christians because of a relationship to Jesus, but have we truly considered Him? What does that even mean?

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What Happens to Our Souls When We Die?

There are many good reasons to believe we, as humans, are more than simply physical bodies. Humans are “soulish” creatures; we are living souls united to physical bodies. Even without the guidance of Scripture, there are good reasons to believe our lives will not end at the point of our physical death. The existence of an afterlife is reasonable, particularly given our dual nature as immaterial souls possessing physical bodies. But what precisely happens to each of us, as living souls, when our physical bodies cease to exist? What will we experience the moment we close our eyes for the last time in this temporal life? The Christian worldview offers an answer to this question, and it can be found by surveying the teaching of the New Testament:

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So This Is Christmas

One of the wonders of Christmas is its light. In the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas Day comes just a few days after the winter solstice, the “bleak midwinter,” the longest night of the year. We should be depressed by the darkness. Instead we revel in it because of the glorious light all around—on trees, on houses, in stores and public places. We light candles and stoke fireplaces so we can enjoy their warmth and light.

When it’s the darkest, light is a gift from the one who created it. As recorded in Scripture, these are the first words God spoke: “Let there be light.” By that simple yet all-powerful command enough light came to brighten and give life to our otherwise dark and empty planet.

Since that first day of creation, darkness has remained, not only in the world but also in the human heart. When the prophet Isaiah described the people as “walking in darkness,” he didn’t mean they were physically in the dark. They were spiritually bleak and without hope.

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Five Reasons You Can Trust the Story of Christmas Is True (Free Bible Insert)

Detectives create lists. As a cold-case detective, I’m no different. When investigating an event in the distant past (in my case, an unsolved murder), I collect evidence, make lists and do my best to reach the most reasonable inference. When I began to investigate Christianity at the age of thirty-five, I approached the gospels the same way I approached my cold-case files. Lists were an important part of the process. One New Testament claim was particularly interesting to me: the conception and birth of Jesus. When I first read through the gospels, the birth narratives seemed incredible and unreasonable. I’m not the only person to express such a concern. In an article posted in the Herald Scotland, Reverend Andrew Frater called the Nativity story a “fanciful, fairy tale” and called on Christians to “disentangle the truth from the tinsel”. Frater is a minister and a believer, and even he doesn’t believe in the virgin conception of Jesus. As an atheist, I was even more skeptical. I rejected supernatural claims altogether, and the first Biblical claim about Jesus was a supernatural one. But as I collected the evidence and formed my lists, I found there were many good reasons to trust the story of Christmas. I’ve assembled them here with links to longer treatments of each topic:

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Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions?

People trying to discover the truth about God would be wise to take a hard look at Jesus before looking anywhere else. While that may sound like a bold assertion in and of itself, it really isn't when you consider Jesus is the one religious leader who is most frequently mentioned by religious groups, whether or not they happen to be Christian. Every major religious movement considers Jesus to be an important religious figure. Every movement makes some effort to account for His existence and teaching. This ought to give seekers a reason to pause and consider the life of Jesus seriously.

Judaism

Historic Heresies Related to the Nature of Jesus

Over the centuries, believers have sometimes struggled to understand the nature of God and the great mystery of Jesus. The Bible describes Jesus as having the nature and power of God, and the Gospel of John tells us that He existed before the universe began (He was, in fact, the creator of the universe). At the same time, the Bible teaches Jesus was fully human and died on the cross. Efforts to reconcile the Divine and human nature of Jesus have resulted in a number of classic and historic misinterpretations:

Adoptionism (2nd Century)
This heresy denies the pre-existence of Christ and therefore denies His Deity. It taught Jesus was simply a man who was tested by God and after passing the test was given supernatural powers and adopted as a son (this occurred at His baptism). Jesus was then rewarded for all He did (and for His perfect character) with His own resurrection and adoption into the Godhead.

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Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Gospel of Nicodemus” or “The Acts of Pilate”?

The Gospel of Nicodemus is an ancient text purportedly written by the man who visited Jesus in the Gospel of John. But is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by Nicodemus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reported. The Gospel of Nicodemus was written too late in history to have been written by the Jewish man who visited Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the early Church. In spite of this, The Gospel of Nicodemus still references accurate details related to Jesus.  Although it is a legendary fabrication written by an author who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of his religious community, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from this late text:

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Is There Any Evidence for Jesus Outside the Bible?

The reliable Gospel eyewitness accounts aren’t the only ancient description of Jesus. There are also non-Christian descriptions of Jesus from the late 1st to 5th Century. What do the non-Biblical accounts say about Jesus and how are we to assess them? It’s been my experience that two people can examine the same event (or even the same historical character) and disagree about what they have seen. Many years ago President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and the entire event was captured on video tape. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses. The tapes were watched over and over again. Yet, in the midst of such a robust eyewitness record, people still argue to this day about what they saw and what actually happened. Was it a lone shooter or an elaborate conspiracy? Something very similar occurred when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists. Most of us either saw the attack live on television or watched the video for months afterward. But the event is still interpreted in a variety of ways. Was this the act of international terrorists or an elaborate governmental conspiracy? Two well documented historical events with a rich set of evidences. In spite of this, both events have been interpreted in a variety of ways. It shouldn’t surprise us then to find the historical records of Jesus Christ might also experience the same type of scrutiny and diverse interpretation. Did Jesus truly live, minister, died and rise from the grave as the Gospels record or was it an elaborate conspiracy? One thing we know about the Kennedy assassination and the World Trade Center attack: regardless of interpretation, there were eyewitnesses to the events, and the events did truly occur. In a similar manner, the ancient evidence related to Jesus reveals there were eyewitnesses and He did exist in history. Is there any evidence for Jesus outside the Bible? Yes, and the ancient non-Christian interpretations (and critical commentaries) of the Gospel accounts serve to strengthen the core claims of the New Testament.

Hostile Non-Biblical Pagan Accounts

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