Every thinking reader of the Bible is bound to ask at some point in time, “Does this book actually condone slavery?”. To be sure, slavery is not the only issue the Bible causes us to question. The Old Testament is rife with palace intrigues, polygamy, divorce, violence and the like, and godly people are very often part of the problem. Although the New Testament is decidedly improved, it still seems to fall far short of that which twenty-first century human rights would expect. There are no women among the twelve disciples of Jesus and Christian masters do have slaves working for them.
C. S. Lewis was once asked if he followed Christ because it made him happy. He responded that he did not become a Christian because it made him happy, he always knew a bottle of Port could do that, but he followed Christ because he believed it was true! If Lewis was around today, he’d be immersed in the debates of our time, especially the issues of truth and relevance.
I’ve been trying to avoid using the word ‘faith’ recently. It just doesn’t get the message across. ‘Faith’ is a word that’s now misused and twisted. ‘Faith’ today is what you try to use when the reasons are stacking up against what you think you ought to believe.
All great questions of life have only one answer. Conflicting and contradictory answers cannot be valid. Jesus’ unique claim for himself while answering Thomas (Jn. 14:6) is a statement which is philosophically and logically reasonable. Even those who deny unique and exclusive approaches to truth would insist that their own approach is unique and exclusive! Otherwise, they would have nothing to say! Truth, by definition, is therefore exclusive and narrow. It has to exclude errors in order to qualify to be truth.
Has anyone ever told you that your faith is a ‘crutch?’ I remember getting into a cab outside a central London church. The cabbie took one look at my Bible and launched into his opinion of Christianity. He explained to me that belief in God is a crutch for weak, pathetic people who don’t have the strength to take responsibility for their own lives. When I answered, “Thank you very much”, with just a hint of irony, he blustered on with, “Well, I’m just saying it for your own good. A girl like you doesn’t need religion!”
As Christians, we often talk about experiencing God directly in our lives and we view this experience as evidence for the truth of the gospel. One of the most common questions we can be asked by sceptical friends is, “What about other people’s genuine experiences of God? Isn’t it really arrogant to say that your experience of God is real but theirs is not?”