Fighting the Skeptic Mind
There comes a time in the life of every believer when answers to previously settled questions need to be re-answered, answered better: fuller, deeper, and clearer. The answers that you had before, somehow, don’t seem to satisfy. Someone or something raised doubt and you suddenly fear that, if you stop believing, God will somehow disappear and He’ll simply stop existing.
We fear for His well-being, in all sincerity and even deeper stupidity, so we go on a manic and frantic search for answers. We’re embarrassed and ashamed. We’re embarrassed to admit such doubts to ourselves and to others and ashamed of ourselves for being in such a lowly place. We obviously don’t pray about it and we don’t want God to know that we have questions or doubts. Who knows, He might get insulted. And so, we decide to go at it alone.
The Seasons of Doubt
The doubting seasons for Christians are funny things. We “know” what we have believed, what we have experienced and seen in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. We remember “that dark night long ago” when we had our “road to Damascus” moment and all the moments after that were the only reasonable explanation was that “God intervened”. Even armed with all of this great cloud of personal witness we stumble and sputter along with intermittent moments of highs and lows but unable to find our “right mind”.
At some point, we begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The questions become clearer, the thoughts become quieter, and answers seem more attainable. We can almost feel the fresh air getting closer as though we had been holding our breath this whole time. In the end, the questions are no longer just frustrated unintelligible grunts of anger but, finally, fine-tuned, succinct, poignant questions. And so here are those questions:
- Did Jesus truly have the ability to perform miracles? I mean, any rational human is concerned about the veracity of this ludicrous-sounding claim. So, even though I believe I still prefer my friends to consider me “reasonable”, “rational”. I like those terms, they make me feel smart.
- Did Jesus truly die on the cross? Although it might not sound so far-fetched that anyone would have died on a cross in Caesars’ Rome (especially in Judea) the answer has an added level of importance, especially when seen in the light of question 3. Too many self-proclaimed scholars have a list of attributes for Jesus, not the least of which are charlatan, impostor, false prophet. Some (even other religions) claim that He never actually died on that cross.
- Did Jesus truly rise from the dead? Miracles and dying a horrible death is one thing, but walking out of a tomb sealed by a giant boulder is on a totally different level. A doctor healing a patient is one thing; but when a doctor is sick he/she goes to… the doctor. Besides, no self-respecting rationalist believes that Jesus raised Himself from the dead.
Heart of Doubt
You see, regardless of the hundreds of other questions that one can raise about belief and faith and God and so many other related questions, these three questions are at the heart and the crux, of the matter. For starters, if Jesus was not capable of miracles then His aspirations of equality with God the Father are the presumptions of a fool at best and the blasphemies of a false prophet at worst.
On the other hand, if Jesus truly had the ability to selective and arbitrarily control, of His own free will, His miracle-working powers then His claims deserve to be taken seriously. Secondly, if Jesus did not die on the cross – whether it was or wasn’t Him on the cross or He didn’t really die on the cross is irrelevant – then His claims and allusions of substitutionary atonement, along with the claims of fulfilling Scripture, are moot.
Lastly, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, the cornerstone of Christian theology, then, as Paul said, we are the most pitiful of all people. We are all still dead in our sins and the eternity that awaits us is a mind-numbingly terrifying one: either the oblivion of the nihilist or the soul-torturing hell of the theist.
It is in the pages to come that I would like to explore these three fundamental questions of faith. It is my hope that we can, once and for all, ascertain the historicity of the claims of Jesus and the claims about Jesus. Having evaluated the evidence as objectively as possible and examining the facts that are forthcoming, I am eager to discuss the consequences of the Truth.
Bondservant to Jesus Christ, Married to Michele, Dad to Madelyn, Claudia, and Joseph and educator by trade, apologist by calling and saved by Grace. Antonio loves to read, write, and discuss all-things-apologetics. He has many passions in life including reaching, teaching, and keeping men for Jesus Christ. Waiting on God’s big reveal: Antonio knows He has something beautiful in mind.