A common theme among Christian writers is that God is the ultimate source of morality, often called “the moral argument”. Probably the pithiest expression of this idea is from Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, in which one of the characters argues that “if God does not exist, … everything is permitted.” Many readers quickly see where this is going and consider the reverse; if morality is not just a matter of personal taste, then God must exist. Of course this is only a superficial treatment; a more thorough presentation of the moral argument, along with responses to some common objections, is found in the first chapters of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. It’s available in a YouTube version here which I recommend highly.
However one puts it, claiming that morality comes from God is a good way to pick a fight. There is a widespread belief Continue reading “Can a person be good without God?”
Before considering whether Christians should be vegetarians, let’s look a closely related question. Was Jesus Christ a vegetarian? The answer to one question does not automatically provide the correct answer to the other – for example, one could ask whether Jesus worked as a carpenter, celebrated Jewish holidays, and claimed to be the Son of God (He did, but that doesn’t mean Christians should do the same) – but in thinking through moral questions it’s certainly a good place to start.
According to the Gospels, Jesus Continue reading “Should Christians be vegetarians?”
It is often reported that there are about 30,000 denominations within the Protestant branch of Christianity alone. This often leads to the suggestion is that if so many different churches each claims to be the correct one, perhaps none of them are. Sometimes this point is made by Roman Catholics as a kind of argument against Protestantism, the implication being that since they are both far older and numerically far larger than any Protestant institution, it is more likely that theirs is the true faith. However, I’ve also seen this line of thinking used in support of arguments against Christianity in general. Looking at the splits over the centuries into so many Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant groups, why should one believe Continue reading “Which church is the One True Church?”
Many of the social issues in our media and politics today – abortion and gay marriage for example -are topics on which Jesus never spoke directly, at least not in any case that was recorded in the Gospels. Christians can consult other books of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in order to try to draw the correct conclusions on these issues. However, without direct teaching from Jesus, there is always going to be sincere disagreement.
One social issue on which Jesus did speak directly, however, Continue reading “Is divorce acceptable under any circumstances?”
Time and again, we’re told that God wants us to believe in Him. Yet it must be admitted that God does not make Himself obvious to all of us. In response, it can be said that God is not a physical being and therefore does not exist at a particular location and is therefore not naturally visible to our eyes or audible to our ears. However, that is inconsistent with the claim that if God so chooses (for example, on this occasion), He is capable of revealing Himself visibly and audibly, as one would expect from an omnipotent being.
Furthermore, focusing on eyes and ears just Continue reading “Why doesn’t God just reveal Himself to everyone?”
To begin with, it’s worth summarizing my understanding of the Bible. In my view, it is not a single unified book, and not the inerrant Word of God. Instead, I consider the Bible to be primary source material which, together with conscience, can help us to understand and relate to God to the extent we are capable. I consider Jesus Christ to be Himself the Word of God (as alluded to in John 1), and the various books of the Bible are Continue reading “Does the Bible support slavery?”
Yes, there are contradictions in the Gospels. It is common for atheists to compile a list of contradictions and other difficulties, and for a Christian to respond. See here and here for a good example of the back-and-forth. Some Christians will try to defend each and every alleged contradiction as not being a contradiction at all, since they have committed themselves to the proposition that scripture is free from error (I have not). I think that a fair-minded reading of any of these debates will result in Continue reading “Are there contradictions in the Gospels?”
For me, this is one of the most mysterious issues in Christianity. Like many of the other posts on this blog, this one is not going to provide a precise answer, but rather some possibilities to consider.
Nevertheless, while I’m unclear as to the why and the how of it, I affirm that Jesus did indeed die for us. This is not a peripheral part of the Christian message. It does not at all appear to be something added on by the biblical writers or later Church leaders, nor is it something where Jesus has been misunderstood. Rather, it seems to be the abundantly clear teaching of the New Testament that Jesus gave up his life for our sake.
It is true that Jesus taught a lot about morality. But He didn’t present Himself as a moral innovator, but rather as one who illustrates (and calls us back to) timeless moral truths that we already knew inside our hearts. For example, Continue reading “Why did Jesus die for us?”
The whole idea of hell is a complicated one. It’s also very important, and I would encourage readers to work through the material in this post and read the scriptures to which I have added links.
There is first of all difficulty in defining what hell is. Conservative Protestants generally consider it to be a place, while Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican theologian typically define hell as a state of separation from God. The influential King James Version of the Bible translates three different biblical terms – Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus – as “hell”, masking shades of meaning in each term.
The basic premise, outlined by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, Continue reading “What kind of God would punish people in hell forever?”
I find that one’s answer to this important question predicts a lot of how the rest of one’s thinking takes shape.
One group says yes, the Bible is inerrant, right down to the last detail, including the literal six-day creation. This position is usually maintained either through exaggerated claims about archaeology and prophecy, or on the fear that compromise on that point leads down a slippery slope.
A second approach is to say Continue reading “Is the Bible completely without error?”