It's really MUCH simpler than it looks...


I recently received this letter from a dear, but frustrated soul...

Well it appears there is to much literature for and against the religions of the world to even be able to figure out the truth of the matter. If God exists and if Jesus was God incarnate there must be some other way to experince the fact of his or its existence then just reading or "feeling" it is real. I am not an intellectual and probably misspelled most everthing here. I am not a rich world traveler but I sure would like to know the truth as a simple man without relying on a language I can't read or determine the proper rendering of. It seems when someone wants to find the God of the universe they have to go back 2000+ years to get an idea of what is going on. Then you just get backed up against a wall of varying points of view about God, who he is, what he is, ect. I have spent all of my life wondering jsut what the truth is and all I seem to get from God is confussion and frustration so after 30 years of searching I think its time to quit looking and face the fact that if God exists he don't wa nt me to know it. If God is only for the brain children of this world then what are we dolts to do? I guess we all go to hell for being to inquesitive and are punished for eternity. If I need to be some high IQ type to understand what appears to be error in the bible then God doesn't give many men a chance for discerning the truth. If everthing is fixed then the fight is unfair and unjust. Anyway the whole thing is a mess and I personally have come to an end in trying to figure all this garbage out. Thanks for listening but what you think is God I just can't fathom, and don't ask me cause I sure don't know! Maybe someday when I get a brain like yours, glad someone is smart to bad God didn't make us all equall.

...................................................................................................

Dear X,

I think you OUGHT to give up!

It's not really that complicated--some people MAKE it that way...but Jesus never intended that...

Jesus said once:

"Let the little children come to me...they are the kind of folk I let into heaven"

and

"If you DON'T accept me with the simple trust and heart of a child, you don't make it!".

He put the cookies on the bottom shelf for us, friend.

He noticed the pattern that it was the 'wise' who didn't seem to be able to understand His message...

At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. (Mt 11.25)

Think about His message for just a moment...

He never intended for this to be frustrating or full of turmoil--His mission to earth was one of giving rest and peace, and healing lives and hearts, and filling lives with fullness and significance...He said elsewhere:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11.28-30)

and

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10.10)

and...

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20.28)

and...

For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. (John 12.48)

Granted, it was expensive for Him...He left His majestic situation in heaven and became a peasant and ignoble human, was rejected by His people, abandoned by His friends at His most difficult hour, and suffered a criminal's execution--at the hands of humanity and through the rejection of His Father--but it was as 'a ransom for many'...He came specifically to die...as a substitute for you and I, before the just demands of a moral universe and before the fair demands of a just God.

What can be disturbing for us humans about this story, is the scale of it. We often do not think much of the 'little evils' we do--even though most of us have done one or two 'bigger ones' somewhere along the way. We find it odd that these somehow required the death of God in history! We find it odd that the little 'rips in the moral fabric of the universe' that we make daily, somehow 'added up' to something so large as to demand such extreme measures as these--a transaction between a grieving God the Father and a willing but crushed God the Son. Yet we are sobered by the fact that we simply do not have reason to doubt it...God is in such better position to determine "what is really needed" to heal our lives, repair the universe, bring life into our lives, mute the consequences of our personal moral failures...He would know, and we simply would not be able to argue--we simply don't know as much as He does!

But He didn't stay dead! He came back to life, in a more advanced body, and told His followers to do "whatever it takes" to get this message to people like you and I. And they did.

The message is one of hope: that by facing this God and asking for Him to come into our lives to heal them, we start a new relationship with God--the source of life and change and strength. It really is good news...


But this all happens to an individual...it's YOUR life that Jesus is talking about...and it's YOU that have to make a decision about Him...

You see, the issue is this: you are not responsible for how OTHER people respond to this message of Jesus--those in other lands, other times, other circumstances--you are responsible for how honestly and openly YOU respond to the information YOU have...Even those closest to Jesus responded in different ways--treachery, unbelief, acceptance, joy, fear, etc. You could listen to arguments forever and ever, and you could never expect agreement from people about Jesus...so it comes down to your personal assessment of the trustworthiness of Jesus. You cannot "pass the buck" or depend on scholars to make this decision FOR you...the fact that you can find at least ONE scholar for every position means that you will always have to still 'pick between' scholars, just like you will have to pick between Jesus and others!

And it's not really that difficult...Jesus said that children could respond to Him...Children are not 'blind faith' types at all--they are VERY careful about who they trust. It's amazing to watch children in the markets--some adults they trust, and some they don't...they make "assessments of trustworthiness" instinctively...they don't ask for proof, or ask for evidences; they watch the person...Cognitive Development types tells us that this occurs between the ages of 3 and 4--we ought to be able to do this!

So it is with Jesus...just "watch Him"...watch Him as He speaks words of healing to broken lives, as He speaks words of judgment to oppressors and religious phonies, as He rejects crowds who want to make Him a national king, as He quietly goes His death and humiliation at the Cross, as He comforts and reassures His disciples after their trauma...

Toward the end of His earthly life Jesus said these strange words:

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14.8ff)
Notice how strange this is: Philip asks to see the Father and the Father basically answers through Jesus ("don't you know ME..")...to see Jesus is to see His Father...

But notice the last sentence: Jesus asks Philip to believe Him--His words about himself, on the basis of the very observed character and integrity of Christ--and if THAT'S NOT ENOUGH, then to believe the 'evidence of the miracles'!


He even helps us with our natural sense of distrust of others...

Jesus wants us to evaluate His message primarily by looking at His words, life, and death. If somehow, we cannot 'sense' His awesome truthfulness, trustworthiness, and openness with us, THEN we should be 'open-minded skeptics' and look at this 'extraordinary evidence'...we should be convinced by the miracles and then take a 'second look' at Jesus--and then, take Him more seriously...Notice that even this last concession from Jesus about 'evidence' is a witness to the beauty of His character...He didn't have to leave us miracles, but He did it for those of us who can't 'see Him clearly'...He cares enough and knows enough about our weaknesses and mistrust of others to 'leave us some evidence' to help us overcome that mistrust...

But mistrust is something He is very familiar with...We humans--by our little treacheries to each other--have taught one another the 'skill' of mistrusting others...and we transfer that mistrust to God. We doubt His goodness, we doubt His love, we doubt the depths of His Cross-producing commitment to us(!), we doubt the reality of His work in history, we doubt His work in the lives of others...We doubt His willingness to salvage our lives and hearts and minds and relationships...

But this didn't stop Him...He still went to the Cross for us...He still rose from the dead for us...He still gave the message of hope to His disciples to pass on to us.

So, look at Jesus--yourself. You will have to decide whether He seems trustworthy or not, friend.


You're gonna have to make SOME character assessments any way you look at it!

If you try to 'boil the ocean' and read all the different opinions about Jesus--you will STILL end up having to decide on the trustworthiness of THOSE people FIRST! It's inescapable--you will simply have to judge SOMEONE's trustworthiness! The various views about Jesus are written by people, too, and like all readers you will make 'assessments' of their credibility, motives, bias, etc.--you will do this almost without thinking. Don't let anyone--Christian, non-Christian, or anti-Christian--stop you from evaluating the words and message of Jesus. You may come away from your listening to Him with the same conclusion of the temple guards in John 7.46ff. They were sent to arrest Jesus and this is what happened:

Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why didn't you bring him in?" 46 "No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared.
Evaluate Jesus' words yourself...do they ring true? Do they challenge your pre-conceptions about God? Do they 'disturb' your sense of self-destiny? Do they have the appearance of coming from a Divine Impostor? Do they manifest the erratic and bizarre character of the Insane? Do they have the predictability of the Invented Legend?

Remember the history of all this. A group of 1st century Jews wrote down a historical record of a man named Jesus who claimed to be God on earth. They recorded important sayings and events of His life, and claimed that He had risen from the dead--to prove He was God's Son and that He had 'healed the breach' between God and humans. Their lives were so changed by this encounter with this strange person Jesus, yet they remained lucid and 'normal' people. They experienced personally the life and progress that this Jesus said He could give. They were told to spread this good news to the world, so that other people would "look at Jesus" and sense His divine character and mission...

These men worked hard to obey This One. They had nothing to gain politically, socially, or financially. Indeed, most of them were executed for trying to get this message from Jesus to you and I. They were not caught in any 'scandals' like modern figures, nor were they secretive with their lives. They were ordinary people whose lives had been changed by an extraordinary Person--Jesus of Nazareth.

We have every reason in the world to believe their accounts about Jesus. They didn't manipulate the message for personal gain, they recorded their most embarrassing and deplorable moments, they listed historical detail and specifics that are the identifying characteristic of truthful witnesses in court. They died for this story and their lives were changed by the Author of this story. They were the individuals closest to the words and deeds of Jesus--and hence, the best source of data about His life and words. They lived in a public setting where all of this could be argued and refuted if incorrect. Their lives are models of practical lives. They left multiple accounts, so we could see different sides of Jesus, and legal experts tell us these multiple testimonies vouch for the credibility of the accounts. They were ordinary folk--not scholars, not skeptics, not gullible people. They looked at Jesus and said "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life". They couldn't understand it all, anymore than we can. They choked on some of Jesus' sayings, and they recorded their misunderstandings. We have every reason in the world to believe their accounts about Jesus.

This message--about a God who salvages and heals lives--has come down to you, like it did to me. Some other person in history 'looked at' Jesus in this message, 'recognized' Him and took Him at His word--that He was the God-who-took-on-flesh and the God-who-suffered-death-in-our-place. This other person's life began changing then, and the truth of the story became more and more obvious to them every year. And, like the apostles who were changed by that One and had to share the good news with others like them, this other more recent person had shared the story with you or I...


But some people have more mistrust than others...

And as for all the 'big' writings on this Thinktank of mine--they actually only exist because somebody doubted the writings of these first followers of Jesus. They doubted their honesty and integrity (so I have to write articles demonstrating their integrity and truthfulness). They doubted their memory (so I have to write articles about the accuracy of the details of their accounts.) They doubted their understanding of Jesus (so I have to write articles about how their beliefs were shaped.). They doubted their sanity because they claimed that a man rose from the dead (so I have to write articles about how this is not that unreasonable for the God who had promised that to His covenant people the Jews all along.) And so on...

But these might have no relevance to you...If you look at the character of Jesus in their writings, you may be able to make an adequate judgment that their portrait of Christ, although strange--since He claimed and acted like a God-man!--is probably true; and maybe even BECAUSE of the strangeness. And if you, on the basis of this conviction, ask Christ to come into your life and to begin creating freedom and healing and purpose and peace, then you will understand perfectly that the picture of the apostles being deceived, deceivers, deranged, deluded, or fanatics is simply wrong--without having to read all the articles in the world about the subject.

"But all the skeptics tell me that there are PLENTY of reasons to mistrust the bible, these disciples, this Jesus, and even a God"...Yes, they do say that a lot, don't they...and they bring out alleged "contradictions" and things that "a God of love wouldn't do" and "historical mistakes" the writers made...

But there are believable answers to all these questions and issues...so many similar questions were raised in the past AND were answered long ago, and then forgotten...And if you have even one "mistake" that was shown to be actually "correct," then you have a solid reason to believe that the other "mistakes" will be shown in the future to be "correct"...In other words, you need only read ONE article in the Thinktank that solves a 'problem' (for example) to have adequate grounds to give the bible the "benefit of the doubt"...and with hundreds and hundreds of such bible 'mistakes' eventually shown by archeology/history to be correct, the weight of the evidence argues strongly that it will continue to be vindicated in the future...The bible has been vindicated so many times in history--you have a whole string of precedents upon which to base your confidence in it...

If you have reason to believe the Person of Jesus (because of His character and miracles) and if you have reason to believe the writings of the apostles (because of their character and accuracy), and if you have reasons to believe that the alleged skeptical problems will be solved (because they always do get answered in history), then you have reached the end of the process!--you have made a personal assessment that is comprehensive, practical, and that will validate itself more and more over time.


Giving others the "benefit of the doubt"...

In the parable of the Sower and the Seed, Jesus described the soil burst into life and fruitfulness upon receiving the seed: But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. A "good heart" He said...A heart that seeks to be open to others, that gives the other person the 'benefit of the doubt', that makes decisions about witnesses based upon their character and integrity--not gullible, but not mistrustful to the extreme either.

Keep it simple--as God intended...Like I said, you are going to make character assessments about the authors you read--the Christians, the skeptics, the apostles, church leaders, scholars, web-writers. You will assess their attitudes and openness and bias and character and love...Some will seem more honest to you, more credible, more genuine than others...and some will manifest bitterness or arrogance or harshness that will raise questions in your mind about them...

The good-hearted soul starts with "believing the best" about the other person. He seeks to trust the individual and hopes that his words are true and constructive. He needs a positive reason to begin doubting--not just some general skepticism towards people in general. He needs a strong pattern of clues (not just one) before he decides that the other person is a deceiver, deluded, or just simply misinformed. Sometimes we do have to make this conclusion, but it must be made reluctantly and after all efforts at "making sense of their story" have proved fruitless.

The skeptical heart (as opposed to the skeptical mind) is the opposite--it starts with mistrust of fellow human beings (except itself, for some strange reason) and requires positive reasons to begin trusting a fellow's testimony. This, of course, is the theory--in practice it accepts tons of data from teachers, fellow skeptics, etc., often without proof of any kind. The skeptical heart gives up too easily, when difficulties in a system emerge. It is quick to shout 'inconsistency' without being gracious enough to give the other person an opportunity to demonstrate consistency or give an answer. Positions are too often evaluated on the basis of superficial evaluations and snap judgments.

Why should we try to give others the "benefit of the doubt"? Why should we seek to start out by trusting someone? Why should we give them a hearing when they try to explain difficulties in their system? Simply because that is how we want others to treat us... The Golden Rule is treasured everywhere, and Jesus' version is the most aggressive in the world--"Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6.31) If we want others to give us the benefit of the doubt, we should do the same. If we want others to judge our positions fairly and generously, then we should do so--Jesus' words in Matt 7.2 are very sobering: For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you..

For example, listen to this writer from over three hundred years ago apply that:

Humphrey Ditton observes that the apostles were simple, common men, not cunning deceivers. They were men of unquestioned moral integrity and their proclamation of the resurrection was solemn and devout. They had absolutely nothing to gain in worldly terms in preaching this doctrine. Moreover, they had been raised in a religion that was vastly different from the one they preached. Especially foreign to them was the idea of the death and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah. This militates against their concocting this idea. The Jewish laws against deceit and false testimony were very severe, which fact would act as a deterrent to fraud. Finally, they were evidently sincere in what they proclaimed. In light of their character so described, asks Ditton bluntly, why not believe the testimony of these men? (RF:263)
Notice that the above is NOT a 'scholarly' argument--it is a practical one. It is the kind God expects us to make in evaluating truth every day of our lives. This is something well within our reach...



And then there's that 'seeking' thing...

God refuses to be treated like a lab rat.

He is a Person and not an Object. He reveals His reality and His thoughts to other persons, like we reveal our inner-selves to others we have relationships with. We make constructive relationships with good-hearted folk, and we abandon or avoid relationships with those who manifest treachery or abusive hearts. We, of course, will make 'initial approaches' to many people, revealing ourselves partially--since we should not pre-judge them according to the above criteria of 'benefit of the doubt'--but if the response we get back is negative, we don't pursue it any further...We often will stay "open" toward that person--in case they ever change--but we don't push the matter until they want to approach us good-naturedly.

God has a similar orientation. He has revealed Himself partially in many ways (the "initial approach")--His Son, the prophets, the beauty of nature, the complexity of the universe, the predictability of experience, the joy of family life and simple pleasures, moral notions, etc.--but if we respond negatively or impersonally to Him, He "withdraws" until we change our mind...but the offer is still there...so the apostle Paul said to some philosophers one day:

God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 `For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.' (Acts 17.27)
He is available--but we must want to find Him...He hides from those who would strap electrodes on Him, and try to dissect Him, and try to study Him, and to treat him like a thing--just like we would withdraw...His famous statement in Jeremiah 29.13: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. was reiterated by Jesus in Luke 11.9f: "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened..

If you REALLY want to know God--as a person, not a thing--and approach Him with an open and generous attitude, He will show His heart to you. He will probably use a variety of communication methods--the bible, true disciples of Jesus, intuition, experiences of awe, bizarre coincidence, stories from others, music and beauty--but He is God, and can reveal His heart and thoughts to you--without disclosing Himself to those who are NOT open or ready...


There is probably no reason for you to postpone this...

If you have been thinking about this for decades, then you have probably heard most of the "arguments" for God, and seen most of the "evidence" for God--as well as all the 'counter' arguments and evidences advanced by others. You may even have that inner awareness that God is VERY real (i.e. that sense that everyone has at one time or another in life, but which we can suppress into the subconscious if we try to hard enough--see Romans 1.25,28; 2 Peter 3.5; and 2 Thess 2.10) and is confronting you with His invitation to a relationship at this time in your life...Maybe now you are more open and honest than you have ever been...maybe the circumstances of life that teach us that we are not gods ourselves has awakened a great humility and perspective in your heart...maybe the frustration has driven you to stop all the frenzied analysis and simply look at Jesus...

Now, if you cannot make the decision based on the character of Christ alone (His preference, of course), then take advantage of the evidence He left for you...

Since you have no doubt looked at the data/arguments, let me just list the more common ones here:

  1. The resurrection of Christ
  2. The miracles of Christ (i.e. specific, in-context, purposeful)
  3. The very character and words of Christ
  4. The self-understanding of Christ
  5. The very super-human complexity of Christ's life and words
  6. The changed lives of the apostles
  7. The explosive growth of the early church, in a very hostile environment
  8. The conversion of skeptics/enemies (e.g. Thomas, Saul/Paul)
  9. The radically new, yet balanced ethics of the young church.
  10. The messianic prophecies (e.g. birthplace of Jesus, nature of death)
  11. The "regular" prophecies (e.g. specific predicted international events in OT prophets)
  12. The miraculous birth of Israel from Egypt
  13. The miraculous continued existence of Israel as a people though history
  14. The miracles in the OT (i.e. specific, in-context, purposeful)
  15. The advanced character of the Mosaic Law (both content and argumentation)
  16. The practical impossibility of alternative explanations for the above.
  17. The practical impossibility of consistent atheism: the meaning, purpose, value of life.
  18. Evidence for immortality of the soul
  19. The argument from change
  20. The argument from Efficient Causality
  21. The argument from Time and Contingency
  22. The argument from degrees of perfection
  23. The argument from error-detection-standard
  24. The argument from the definition of the Problem of Evil
  25. The Design argument
  26. The Kalam argument (e.g. whatever begins to exist has a cause)
  27. The argument from contingency
  28. The argument from the world as an interacting whole (e.g. "uni-verse")
  29. The argument from miracles (general form)
  30. The argument from the existence of consciousness
  31. The argument from truth (requiring an eternal mind)
  32. Argument from the origin of the idea of God
  33. Ontological argument (various forms)
  34. The Moral Argument
  35. The argument from conscience
  36. The argument from desire for the Ultimate and eternal
  37. The argument from aesthetic experience or beauty
  38. The argument from religious experience
  39. The common consent argument
  40. The argument from the character of human language
  41. The argument from predictability of natural law
  42. The presuppositional argument concerning knowledge
  43. The self-consistency of the system
  44. The predictive power of God's moral instructions in the Bible
  45. The survival of the scriptures in history
  46. Answered prayer and changed lives.

Now, each of these arguments is debated by some people. The skeptic is quick to point out weaknesses in each of these, and in some cases, other alternative explanations for the same observed data. But in each argument above, the Judeo-Christian position is either (1) the most plausible conclusion; or at least (2) a distinctly possible conclusion. The reason for the debate is that each argument has a certain level of ambiguity in how it is interpreted.

For example, consider the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Judeo-Christian worldview, this resurrection was predicted in the OT often, pre-announced by Jesus to the apostles often, misunderstood by them, was conclusively proved by a number of historical/psychological arguments, and was interpreted as Jesus having triumphed over the problems you and I face. We see the connections and the patterns--they are very obvious to most people. But, a bodily resurrection could also very easily be admitted by an truly consistent existentialist--for, in an totally absurd universe, ANYTHING could happen--including a random resurrection in Palestine! The bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead would carry NO significance in that worldview at all!

Another example might be messianic prophecy. It may be simple for someone to take on the individual prophecies one-by-one, with arguments like "there were tons of folk born in Bethlehem--why do we think that was Jesus?" and "there were tons of davidic descendents--why do we think that was Jesus?" and "there were tons of folks betrayed for 30 pieces of silver--why do we think that was Jesus?" and "there were tons of people crucified before the temple genealogies disappeared--why do we think that was Jesus?"...and so on, for some 30-50 rather detailed passages...And, in isolation, each prophecy does have a range of possible reference wider than Jesus...But when you put them all together!! A string of predictions that uniquely describe the one promised messiah--Jesus of Nazareth--stands out like the pattern in a symphony. The pattern of music in a symphony is so much greater that the simple sum of the notes(!), and the pattern of fulfillment around Jesus likewise is obvious...

So, we need to recognize that no one of these arguments would have adequate individual clarity or adequate individual force to 'convince' everyone of its conclusion...But the good news is, our choice in this matter does not require a level of conclusiveness (that eludes every field except math and logic--and even there sometimes)!...Instead we are confronted with a powerful and persuasive pattern that borders upon the mindboggling!

Even though no one of these arguments could alone carry the day, together they converge to point to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ as indeed God-in-human-flesh with incredible force. They make a "cumulative case" (from philosophy) and a "converging evidence case" (from legal science) for the system as a whole.

To understand this, let me introduce an extended illustration from a legal professional with 41 years of experience--most of it as a trial judge (Casteel, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, p. 34ff):

Unlike other religions, Christianity may be proved or disproved, because, unlike other religions, Christianity is based on reason and historical fact. As we saw in Chapter One, Christianity invites and welcomes honest examination. In fact, Jesus and His apostles took the initiative in presenting evidence to prove the claims of Christianity.

Since we are dealing with questions of fact, the highest standard of proof possible is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard required in a court of law. Lawyers seek to meet this standard by presenting converging lines of evidence, that is, by presenting as many different lines of evidence as possible, all of which point to the same fact.

How this works can be illustrated by considering the evidence in a typical burglary case. The victims are a rural couple who work in town. Upon return from work one evening, they find the back door of their home has been pried open. Missing are a 21 inch, Motorola television in a maple cabinet, and a General Electric micro-wave oven. The serial numbers are unknown. The pry mark on the door frame is 11/4 inches wide and contains red paint marks. A neighbor saw an older model, green pickup in the victims drive- way on the day of the burglary. Make and model are unknown, but he did notice a large dent in the left fender and rust on the hood.

The sheriff remembers that defendant owns an older model, green pickup, and going to defendant's home sees the pickup in defendant's driveway. There is a large dent in the left fender and there is rust on the hood. This is important evidence pointing to defendant, but is not enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many older model, green pickups, and it is reasonable to believe that others may have large dents in the left fender and rust on the hood.

In the bed of defendant's pickup the sheriff sees a red pry bar. Its blade is 1 1/4 inches wide. Here is a second line of evidence pointing to the defendant. By itself it is not very strong, but taken together with the first line of evidence, it is more significant. It is reason- able to believe that very few people in the area own older model green pickups with large dents in the left fender and rust on the hood, and also own red pry bars with l l/4 inch blades. Still this should not be enough to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

On defendant's back porch, the sheriff sees a 21 inch, Motorola television in a maple cabinet. The victims say it looks like their television. The defendant says some man whose name he does not know left it there for safe keeping. The sheriff finds a used furniture store in a neighboring town where defendant sold a General Electric micro-wave oven on the morning after the burglary. The victims say it looks like their oven. The defendant says the same unknown man gave it to him for keeping his television. He doesn't know when the man will be back.

Note the cumulative effect of these four lines of evidence. Taken together, they are sufficient to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The total is much more than the sum of the parts. In this study [of the truth of Christianity], look for converging lines of evidence pointing to the truth of all the issues listed above, and pointing ultimately to the truth of Christianity. You will find far more that four and thus a far greater cumulative weight of evidence. With an open mind, ask yourself if all these different lines of evidence, pointing inescapably to this great fact--Christianity is true-- are not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Notice that each clue, each piece of evidence COULD have had an ALTERNATE explanation--each had a certain amount of ambiguity--but the overlapping of the clues pointed to specific explanations of each. In other words, the clues, when taken together, all supported specific understandings of the other clues--the overall pattern 'selected' from the alternatives.

Whereas there could be philosophical or scholarly arguments about each INDIVIDUAL clue, a wise judge would see the pattern easily. You might see this easier if I diagram it. The area under each clue would be the alternative explanations for how that clue 'came to be' (e.g. someone gave the accused the TV), and the intersection of the four areas represents the 'guilty' explanation.


The same is true for the above list of arguments for the truth of Judeo-Christianity. Each argument may have some variability, but the convergence of these (far more than four clues!) makes the pattern so obvious to regular folk.

The other way of looking at this is the 'best theory' approach. The list of evidence and arguments above is so incredibily much easier to explain IF the Judeo-Christian 'theory' is true. All the arguments fit together, support one another, and qualify one another. The Christian worldview has the greatest explanatory power relative to those observed characteristics of history, experience, logic, and the universe.

My point here is NOT to advance any of these as specific arguments for you to consider, but rather to point out the whole mass of them--they form a pattern that points to the reality of God and the invasion of the God-man into history. And I certainly don't want to pretend that there are not unanswered questions and doubts we all face at one time or another...But the overall pattern and argument strength is more than enough to justify our confidence in God and His communication in history...And once you see this, the next step is to look back at the character of this God-man again, and see His concern and commitment to you personally. He left His fingerprints all over the universe and left His audit trails all throughout history. He has made the first overture to you...


It's your turn...

It's an individual choice...You can either run and try to hide, or accept the reality of His interest in establishing a personal relationship with you...you can either try to avoid the pattern of data above, by requesting 'more data' or quibbling over individual arguments, or you can look up and tell Him you DO want Him to become real and dynamic in your life...you can either keep God at an 'safe, analytical, philosophical distance', or you can respond to Him as a Living and Gracious Person, and not merely a 'conclusion at the end of a syllogism'...


God is not some nebulous force, nor a complex of concepts, nor some mere "ground of being"--to look into the face and heart of Jesus Christ is to see the concrete Person we call "God"...He has given us plenty of evidence of His reality, and even more evidence of His intense (yet non-invasive) love for us...and He will give you more and more and more, as you grow in a relationship with Him...He shares more of His ways and perspectives with us as we grow more open and loyal in our relationship with Him...if only we would respond as genuinely and as good-spirited as He does...

Just look carefully at Jesus--His claims about Himself, His description of His work on the Cross for you, His statement of deep interest in bringing life and health and joy and meaning and certitude into your life...Don't try to boil the ocean; just try to glimpse the heart of the One who promises Living Water--"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

hope this helps,

glenn, 3/15/97


The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)