Pain's emotional barrier to belief, however, remains formidable. Jesus understands suffering. He was scorned, beaten, and cruelly executed, carrying the guilt of our rebellion against God (Is. 53:10).
When I see God, items on my long list of questions for Him will include a painful and unwanted divorce, betrayal by trusted coworkers, and all sorts of disappointing human behavior and natural disasters. Yet in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection I have seen enough to trust him when he says he "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God" (Rom. 8:28).
2. What about all the contradictions in the Bible?
pAsk your questioner for specific examples. Often people have none, but rely on hearsay. If there is a specific example, consider these guidelines as you respond.
- Omission does not necessarily create contradiction. Luke, for example, writes of two angels at Jesus' tomb after the Resurrection (24:1-9). Matthew mentions "an angel" (28:1-8). Is this a contradiction? If Matthew stated that only one angel was present, the accounts would be dissonant. As it stands, they can be harmonized.
- Differing accounts aren't necessarily contradictory. Matthew and Luke, for example, differ in their accounts of Jesus' birth. Luke records Joseph and Mary starting in Nazareth, traveling to Bethlehem (Jesus' birthplace), and returning to Nazareth (Luke 1:26-2:40). Matthew starts with Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, relates the family's journey to Egypt to escape King Herod's rage, and recounts their travel to Nazareth after Herod's death (Matt. 1:18-2:23). The Gospels never claim to be exhaustive records. Biographers must be selective. The accounts seem complementary, not contradictory.
Space precludes more complex examples here. But time and again, supposed biblical problems fade in light of logic, history, and archaeology. The Bible's track record under scrutiny argues for its trustworthiness.
3. What about those who never hear of Jesus?
God's perfect love and justice far exceed our own. Whatever He decides will be loving and fair. A friend once told me that many asking this question seek a personal loophole, a way so they won't need to believe in Christ. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote, "If you are worried about the people outside [of Christianity], the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself." If Christianity is true, the most logical behavior for someone concerned about those without Christ's message would be to trust Christ and go tell them about Him.
4. How can Jesus be the only way to God?
When I was in high school, a recent alumnus visited, saying he had found Christ at Harvard. I respected his character and tact and listened intently. But I could not stomach Jesus' claim that "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
Two years later, my spiritual and intellectual journey had changed my view. The logic that drew me (reluctantly) to his position involves three questions:
- If God exists, could there be only one way to reach Him? To be open-minded, I had to admit this possibility.
- Why consider Jesus as a candidate for that possible one way? He claimed it. His plan of rescuing humans ("by grace … through faith … not … works," Eph. 2:8-9) was distinct from those requiring works, as many other religions do. These two kinds of systems were mutually exclusive. Both could be false or either could be true, but both could not be true.