mid-week apologetics booster (5-26-2016)

Good morning family of God,

Hope you’re doing well.  Here are a bunch of links I’ve collected this week.  Hope you can find something useful here:

  1. Are Apologetics and Faith Opposed to One Another? https://clearlens.org/2016/05/18/are-apologetics-and-faith-opposed-to-one-another/
  2. reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference 2016 Costa Mesa, CA – September 23-24, Dallas, TX – October 21-22: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03VcKxiOQpg
  3. 5 Misconceptions about the Bible: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/5-misconceptions-about-the-bible
  4. Cain’s Wife-Who Was She? https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/cain/cains-wife-who-was-she/
  5. 23 REASONS WHY SCHOLARS KNOW JESUS IS NOT A COPY OF PAGAN RELIGIONS: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/23-reasons-why-scholars-know-jesus-is-not-a-copy-of-pagan-religions/
  6. 55% OF DOCTORS HAVE SEEN MEDICAL MIRACLES & 74% BELIEVE IN MIRACLES: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/55-of-doctors-have-seen-medical-miracles-74-believe-in-miracles/
  7. Is Jesus unique? Ravi Zacharias on how to answer the ‘are all religions the same’ question: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ravi.zacharias.is.jesus.unique.answering.the.question.in.a.multi.faith.world/39189.htm
  8. AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL B. WALLACE ON THE NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/
  9. IS THE TEXT OF THE BIBLE WE HAVE TODAY DIFFERENT FROM THE ORIGINALS? https://winteryknight.com/2016/05/20/is-the-text-of-the-bible-we-have-today-different-from-the-originals-3/
  10. United Methodist Church Quits Pro-Abortion Coalition After Years of Promoting Abortion: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/20/united-methodist-church-quits-pro-abortion-coalition-after-years-of-promoting-abortion/
  11. A Call for Plodding Bloggers: http://www.challies.com/articles/a-call-for-plodding-bloggers
  12. POPE FRANCIS’ JIHAD ON CHRISTIANITY – Disturbing pronouncements on the faith from the Vicar of Christ: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/262921/pope-francis-jihad-christianity-raymond-ibrahim
  13. Do Morally Good People Go To Heaven? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b22oVUHg558
  14. Where did God come from? https://www.facebook.com/pastor.sunday.adelaja/videos/vb.40913763844/10153754784698845/?type=3
  15. 34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/24/34-of-pro-choice-women-who-see-this-viral-video-turn-against-abortion/
  16. Made in His Image: Life-Giving Blood: http://www.icr.org/article/4823
  17. The lost squadron – Deeply buried missing planes challenge ‘slow and gradual’ preconceptions: http://creation.com/the-lost-squadron
  18. Gender Ideology Harms Children-The American College of Pediatricians is urging educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality: http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children
  19. Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare: http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/another-climate-alarmist-admits-real-motive-behind-warming-scare/
  20. The 180 Movie: http://www.180movie.com/
  21. Three Good Reasons to Celebrate Your Christian Worldview: http://crossexamined.org/three-good-reasons-celebrate-christian-worldview/

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

2 Timothy 2: 1-13

mid-week apologetics booster (5-19-2016)

Good morning,

I hope this morning finds you well as you live out your Christian life – “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” (Eugene H. Peterson)….  Here are some interesting links to equip you to contend for the faith:

  1. The Case of the Missing Verse – John 5:4: http://mattdabbs.com/2008/03/20/the-case-of-the-missing-verse-john-54/
  2. Nine Ways Your Church Can Use Twitter on Sundays – ThomRainer.com: http://thomrainer.com/2016/05/nine-ways-your-church-can-use-twitter-on-sundays/
  3. Take a Quiz on Mormonism! (I got 100% 🙂 ): http://www.dearephesus.org/blog/2015/10/26/take-a-quiz-on-mormonism
  4. Epic Failure: My Biggest Evangelism Mistake: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/epic-failure-my-biggest-evangelism-mistake
  5. Are Christians Narrow-minded? 2 Minute Video Response: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/are-christians-narrow-minded-2-minute-video-response
  6. Conflating Questions – Cross Examined: http://crossexamined.org/conflating-questions/
  7. God does not lose books, there are no Lost Books of the Bible: http://www.str.org/articles/no-lost-books-of-the-bible#.Vz0YvMtlDqA
  8. What If the Copies Were Corrupted? http://timothypauljones.com/apologetics-what-if-the-copies-are-corrupted/
  9. What’s So Special about the Bible? http://timothypauljones.com/whats-so-special-about-the-bible/
  10. Nine New Testament Facts about Jesus Corroborated by Josephus and Tacitus | Apologetics Review: http://www.apologeticsreview.com/2014/12/17/nine-new-testament-facts-about-jesus-corroborated-by-josephus-and-tacitus/
  11. James White – The Inspiration, Canonization, and Transmission of Scripture: https://youtu.be/BqcwcxoxoUo
  12. Ehrman–Licona Dialogue on the Historical Reliability of the New Testament | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/ehrman-licona-dialogue-on-the-historical-reliability-of-the-new-testament/
  13. Do We Have to Prove Christianity Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/do-we-have-to-prove-christianity-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt/
  14. Did Nearly 200 Muslim Refugees in Germany Just Convert to Christianity? https://stream.org/nearly-200-muslim-refugees-germany-convert-christianity/
  15. Atheists float new attack on Noah’s Ark tourist attraction: http://mobile.wnd.com/2016/05/atheists-launch-another-attack-on-noahs-ark-tourist-attraction/
  16. A Call for National Civil Disobedience to Obama’s Public School Transgender Bathroom Mandate: https://stream.org/call-national-civil-disobedience-obama-public-school-transgender-bathroom-mandate/
  17. Church of Iran pastor arrested after being freed from death row: http://www.premier.org.uk/News/World/Church-of-Iran-pastor-arrested-after-being-freed-from-death-row
  18. Kirk Cameron – Balancing Apologetics and Evangelism – Kirk Cameron (“Growing Pains,” “Fireproof”) shares his personal testimony, as well as explains what a healthy marriage between apologetics and sharing the gospel looks like. The message includes answers to some of the more common questions and objections skeptics raise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJagd_vxuA4&feature=youtu.be
  19. The Unintended Victims of Bathroom Bills and Locker Room Policies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg-MAMvkplE
  20. How The Trans-Agenda Seeks To Redefine Everyone: http://thefederalist.com/2014/06/23/how-the-trans-agenda-seeks-to-redefine-everyone/
  21. Atheists bash hotel Bibles – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/a/11115
  22. New DNA Study Confirms Noah: https://www.icr.org/article/9325/
  23. Should Christians Mix Faith and Politics? – Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.: https://douglasgroothuis.com/2016/03/10/should-christians-mix-faith-and-politics/
  24. Presuppositions – Why They Matter – Christian Worldview: http://www.christianworldview.net/2016/01/presuppositions/
  25. Fun Bible Facts for Christian Teens: Get Centered with Psalms 118: http://christianteens.about.com/od/understandingyourbible/qt/Psalms118Facts.htm
  26. Why Did God Tell Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac? http://christianmomthoughts.com/why-did-god-tell-abraham-to-sacrifice-isaac/

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”  Luke 23:35-37

mid-week apologetics booster (5-12-2016)

Hi All,

Coming at you evening time this week 🙂  Here are some interesting things I’ve run into this week:

  1. The Trinity is Not A Problem, It’s A Solution: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/the-trinity-is-not-a-problem-its-a-solution/
  2. Is It OK to Question the Bible: http://impact360institute.org/videos/is-it-okay-to-question-the-bible
  3. J.P. Moreland Answers Three Important Questions: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/j-p-moreland-answers-three-important-questions
  4. Is God Real? The Argument for God’s Existence from the Appearance of Design in Biology: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-god-real-the-argument-for-gods-existence-from-the-appearance-of-design-in-biology/
  5. The Most Powerful Apologetic Tool in the World: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-most-powerful-apologetic-tool-in-the-world
  6. 4 Reasons Christians Shouldn’t Worry About Election Results: http://www.churchleaders.com/daily-buzz/278786-christians-worry-election-results-mark-allen-williams-voting.html
  7. 5 Myths about Teaching Apologetics to Students: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/5-myths-about-teaching-apologetics-to-students
  8. What happened at the Council of Nicea? http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2014/04/what-happened-at-the-council-of-nicea.html
  9. WHY DOES OPPOSITION TO APOLOGETICS COME FROM MOSTLY WITHIN THE CHURCH? https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/why-does-opposition-to-apologetics-come-from-mostly-within-the-church/
  10. Debunking Freud – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/debunking-freud
  11. An Open Letter to Megyn Kelly | The Stream: https://stream.org/open-letter-megyn-kelly/
  12. FOUR WAYS THE EARTH IS FINE-TUNED FOR LIFE, AND ONE MORE: https://winteryknight.com/2016/05/07/four-ways-the-earth-is-fine-tuned-for-life-and-one-more-2/
  13. Why Would God Create a Massive Universe? – Stand to Reason Blog: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/05/why-would-god-create-a-massive-universe.html
  14. Thought Snack: We Think God’s Unfair Because We Don’t Hate Sin – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/09/21/thought-snack-we-think-gods-unfair-because-we-dont-hate-sin/
  15. “IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY?” A LOOK AT RELIGIOUS PLURALISM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/is-jesus-the-only-way-a-look-at-religious-pluralism-2/
  16. First-Ever Muslim Miss USA Rima Fakih Converts to Christianity, Report Claims: http://m.christianpost.com/news/muslim-miss-usa-rima-fakih-converts-christianity-report-claims-163444/?m=1
  17. Is God Sexist? http://www.josh.org/is-god-sexist/
  18. Jesus: God’s Tangible Sign: http://rzim.org/just-thinking/jesus-gods-tangible-sign
  19. Point of Exclusion: http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/point-of-exclusion
  20. What is pantheism? http://www.gotquestions.org/pantheism.html
  21. The 7 Concepts of God pt.3 – What is “Pantheism”? — Intelligent Faith 315: http://intelligentfaith315.com/latestposts/2013/7/20/the-7-concepts-of-god-pt3-what-is-pantheism
  22. Pantheism and the New Age View on God – Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/perspectives/pantheism-and-the-new-age-view-on-god/
  23. Worse than a “Vale of Tears” – Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/article/worse-than-a-vale-of-tears/
  24. Bearing witness to the Creator – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/a/11378
  25. Dennis Prager talked about his book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, and responded to viewer comments and questions: http://www.c-span.org/video/?407593-9/open-phones-dennis-prager
  26. What are the Best Apologetics Resources for Students? http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/what-are-the-best-apologetics-resources-for-students
  27. Is our mind the same as the brain? https://coffeehousequestions.com/2016/04/25/is-our-mind-the-same-as-the-brain/
  28. The faith of Christopher Hitchens (A friend recently recommended I read this book and I’m currently about ½ through the audio book – it is really interesting and insightful): http://blog.drwile.com/?p=14703
  29. Making evangelism a habit – as did Jesus, Paul: http://mbcpathway.com/2016/05/10/making-evangelism-a-habit-as-did-jesus-paul/
  30. Do we need the originals of Scripture? http://mbcpathway.com/2016/05/09/do-we-need-the-originals-of-scripture/
  31. What If the Bible Is True? | Bible-Science Guy: https://biblescienceguy.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/what-if-the-bible-is-true/

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:1-7)

 

mid-week apologetics booster (5-5-2016)

Good morning friends,

Here is some material that will hopefully help you “make the case” for what you believe:

  1. If Religious Freedom Is So Important, Why Do So Few of Us Exercise it? http://crossexamined.org/if-religious-freedom-is-so-important-why-do-so-few-of-us-exercise-it/
  2. How other religions began vs. how Christianity began (1 minute video): https://www.facebook.com/27769441696/videos/10153373385331697/
  3. Jonathan Wells: Science and Theistic Evolution (26 minute video lecture against Biologos) – Can you believe in God and evolution at the same time? What is “theistic” evolution, and how consistent is it with traditional theism? What challenges does Darwin’s theory pose for Protestants, Catholics, and Jews? Is it “anti-science” to question Darwinian theory? Explore these questions and more in this conference at Biola University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hksGZcqJ5h4
  4. 15 Questions for Evolutionists: http://creation.com/15-questions
  5. Reaching Those Who Are Disinterested: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/reaching-those-who-are-disinterested/
  6. Consumer Christianity: Why You Should Buy In Immediately: http://www.redeemedroyalty.org/uncategorized/consumer-christianity-why-you-should-buy-in-immediately/
  7. 7 Things You Should Know About the Jehovah’s Witnesses: http://www.stephenjbedard.com/7-things-know-jehovahs-witnesses/
  8. Tactics – Mike Adams: http://m.townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/2016/04/29/tactics-n2154983
  9. Answering the Skeptic: Is the Bible a Myth? http://www.comereason.org/skeptic-bible.asp
  10. Why do Christians try to impose their values on others? http://www.gotquestions.org/Christians-impose-values.html
  11. Equipping Future Generations to Withstand Hostility: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/05/01/equipping-future-generations-to-withstand-hostility/
  12. 4 Pieces of Wisdom from a Street Level Apologist: http://crossexamined.org/4-pieces-of-wisdom-from-a-street-level-apologist/
  13. Is the Jesus Story Stupid? Is the Resurrection Totally Mythical? Skeptics like Bill Maher brush off the stories of Jesus and his resurrection as if they were completely unbelievable and silly. Frank Turek responds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h58RvduPnac
  14. Skateboarding and Darwinism: http://www.icr.org/article/9292
  15. Bad Arguments Against Christianity: Bible Contradictions: https://clearlens.org/2015/08/11/answering-the-bible-contradictions-objection/

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

Have a great week!

Questions about God from a friend

Here is the Question

So I have a question: God is considered all knowing, yet he leaves us with choices to follow him or not.  If he’s all knowing, what’s the point of choices?  He already knows the outcome which makes that entire base of logic useless.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for God to just be a supremely intelligent deity locked in a war rather than an all knowing one?  To clarify the locked in a war part, he means “Locked in a war vs. Satan.”  He would have seen Satan turn on him if he were all knowing, instead he either made a choice to allow it because he knew the outcome and sacrificed future souls due to that choice or he didn’t see it coming and he now maintains an alleged upper hand at the end if we are to believe the Bible.

I ask these questions because I think this whole thing is less about if God is real and more about who he really is and what we have about who he really is and what we have ab out him is fact and fiction.

Here is my answer

I’m glad you’re still thinking about such (eternally) important matters!  By the way, did you ever make it through that book I gave you (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist)?

You’ve asked some really good questions here and that shows me that you’re really working through the implications of this Christian worldview.  It is a much better place to be than “apathetic”.  Struggling with these issues is something that God welcomes.  He says “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18).  So, God is not unhappy with you for having such questions.  He wants you to seek Him and He wants to give you reasons to believe in Him.  Jesus did this with His resurrection – the Bible says “After His [Jesus] suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive…” (Acts 1:3), and He even made a post-resurrection appearance for a skeptic (John 20:24-29)!  So, thanks for asking.

Now, I’ll try to address your questions and give some thoughts I have…

Philosophically speaking, if God is the creator of the universe and everything in it, as you correctly point out, He is supremely intelligent.  I’m a software developer in my “day job” and in a limited way, I understand what it is like to create something.  I create software.  The software I create is kind of like “my universe” that I’ve created.  I completely control the rules in my universe.  The users of my software are like the people in my universe.  I have built into “my universe” the means for me to be “all-knowing”.  I set up “my universe”.  I’ve established the rules in “my universe”.  I can be aware of every user in “my universe” simultaneously without them knowing that I’m “watching them”.  Sometimes, I actually will pre-emptively contact users and ask them about the error that they just saw on their screen.  They’re surprised that I could know that almost immediately without them contacting support.  The monitoring I’ve built into my software allows me to have an almost eerie “omniscience”.   I’m really the “sovereign” within the universe I’ve built.  I can even do what average users may consider to be “miracles”, suspending the laws of my program, because I know how I’ve built it.  I have the power to manipulate the program and its behavior anyway I want.

So, with this analogy, I’m trying to make you see that if I as a finite software developer can create a program that gives me a near omniscient ability, why can’t God do this with His creation?  Maybe He’s built into His creation the ability to read our minds – even the Bible says as much.  It says “before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely O Lord” (Psalm 139:4).  Also Jesus tells us that “your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matt 6:8)  So, I’m trying to make you see that it is not logically incoherent to believe in an omniscient Creator.

Now to the question regarding why God decided to continue with His plan knowing in advance that Satan would rebel and that in the process, souls would be lost.  This is what I interpret you to be asking.  That’s a tough one.  You’re asking me to get inside the mind of God, which, unless He has specifically revealed “the why”, seems impossible to answer with certainty.  One thing I do know from the Bible is that God has what is referred to as middle knowledge.  This means that He not only knows the actual future, but He also knows all possible futures.  This is seen in passages such as this:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” (Luke 10:13)

This is Jesus speaking, claiming to know what would’ve happened in a particular hypothetical situation.  So, God can actualize a world in which people are put in situations where He knows that they will freely respond in certain ways.  Therefore He can be in control of things, while still allowing His creatures to make free will choices.  One thing that you have to realize is that God is not determining our free choices by having foreknowledge of them.  Remember, He is not “stuck” in time like we are.  He is outside of time and He “sees the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10).  I like to think of it like this.  Imagine a large parade stretching over several miles in the streets of some city.  Each of the participants in the parade can only see their immediate surroundings – maybe a block in either direction.  But a helicopter, hovering over the entire area of the parade can literally see the end from the beginning – the person in the helicopter can see all of the parade at one time.  In a much greater way, God can see all past, present and future at once.  He doesn’t lock the future event in place, thus preventing a free will choice in the future, rather He actually has foreknowledge of the free will choice by seeing it in the future at the time the free will choice is made.  It is very hard for us to think about since we are stuck in time, but if you can wrap your mind around it, it’s not logically inconsistent.

I don’t have any more time today to continue to write, but hopefully, I’ve given you some good things to think about.  Man, you really do ask deep questions!

There is a Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, who deals with issues like this – you may want to check out his Q&A article archive:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer

Finally, toward the end of your question, you seemed to be questioning biblical reliability (based on your comment about “fact or fiction”).  That book (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist), starting in chapter 9 talks about biblical reliability, especially of the New Testament.  Check it out if you haven’t already.

Keep seeking and you will find Him!

Why Do Christian Missionaries “Push Their Religion” on the Poor?

As I’ve had the opportunity to work and interact closely with those from other countries (and other faith systems), there is one objection / comment that I’ve repeatedly heard when the topic of Christianity comes up.  They readily admit that Christian missionaries (primarily from either the Anglican or Catholic church) have done a lot of good, feeding a lot of hungry people, clothing and housing a lot of homeless and downtrodden people.  However, they complain that these missionaries don’t just help people, but they have to “push their religion on them”.  These churches, they say, ought to just come in and do the good deeds without making it a requirement that they hear about their religion in the process.  This seems like a very difficult objection to respond to.

God’s word tells us in 1 Peter 3

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” (NKJV).

It seems like something similar to verse 16 is in play here.  They are trying to make Christians out to be “evildoers” because in the process of helping the poor, we want to share the Gospel with them.  As verse 15 says, we need to be ready to make a defense.  I must admit, I’ve not done too well on making a defense against this particular accusation.  But after hearing it recently again, I feel that it is time to take this on as a serious objection that must be answered.

It seems like those in other countries feel like Christians are coming in shoving our religion down their throats and using the food and shelter almost like a bribe so that these captive audiences will be forced to listen to the message if they want the food and shelter.  I’ve heard accompanying comments like, “They already have their own religion, so you shouldn’t try to force your religion on them”.  There are a few things I think we can respond with here.

First off, our Lord Jesus, who we follow, has commanded us clearly to do exactly this.  It is at the core of “practicing our religion”, even more than feeding and housing the poor.  Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples, which we call “the great commission”, were

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20a NIV).

In one of the other gospels, it adds

Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NIV).

Notice, that He didn’t tell us to feed all nations in these final instructions.  Yes, He did tell us in other places to feed, clothe and otherwise help the poor and needy (e.g. Matt. 25:31-46), but those admonitions were not included in His final instructions to His disciples.  In fact, Jesus acknowledged at another point that we would always have the poor with us (Matt. 26:11).  However, Jesus communicated a strong warning that

Whoever believes in him [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18 NIV).

Jesus is here warning, that the primary issue is not food, clothing or shelter, but the eternal state of these souls, outside of a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, what really strikes me about this objection is the presupposition implicit in it. On the face of it, this objection presupposes that Christianity is not true!  If Christianity, as presented in the Bible, is in fact true, then there really is no more important issue than making sure people hear the good news about how to have their sins forgiven and escape the sentence of quarantine, being cast away from the presence of the Lord (in hell).  This quote from C.S. Lewis summarizes the point well:

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

When the objector says, “They already have their own religion, so you shouldn’t try to force your religion on them”, they are implicitly saying that Christianity is not true and that the words of Jesus are not true.  For example, Jesus says:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

“There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day” (John 12:48 NIV)

“I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved” (John 10:9a NIV)

“The Son of Man [Jesus] has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (Mark 2:10 NIV)

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt. 28:18 NIV)

“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son [Jesus], that your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:1b-3 NIV)

Jesus is claiming to be the ultimately important thing in this life.  This is a central teaching of Christianity.  Anyone who wants to make the feeding and housing of poor the central issue, rather than the outrageous claims of Jesus, is actually pushing a religious view on you.  They are making an interpretation regarding what the most important thing is that a Christian can do.  They are attempting to give you a lesson on Christian living.  They are picking and choosing the parts of the Bible that they find most attractive and acceptable and avoiding the parts that they don’t like.

So, I think we need to gently push back on people who make this objection.  We need to get them to consider whether Christianity is true and as Lewis says, if it is true, it is of infinite importance, but if it is false, it is of no importance at all.  I doubt that most people who make this objection have ever earnestly and honestly evaluated the evidence to see whether Christianity really is true (beyond a reasonable doubt).  If we make a defense, as Peter says, maybe they’ll go on this journey with us and find out that it really is true beyond a reasonable doubt and worth seriously considering….