On Monday of this week, I had a follow-up conversation with a Hindu friend (read about prior conversation here), this time, bringing you along another Christian friend. We met for lunch at a busy fast food place. The conversation got right to the point.
I asked him about a prior statement he had made that religion is “man-made”. I said, “I can’t speak for the other religions, but what makes you think that Christianity, in particular, is ‘man-made’?” He said, “Well, everyone knows that Christianity didn’t start till 2000 years ago.” He said, “If God is so powerful, why can’t he stop all these other religions? Why couldn’t God make it obvious that he is God? Why couldn’t he (on every continent, simultaneously) make it absolutely clear that Jesus is God?” He talked about the priests molesting young boys and wondered why God couldn’t stop that. He also wanted to know why God couldn’t just make everyone believe in Jesus? I gave an example: “Let’s say your son wants a girlfriend. So you decide to find a girl and pay her a $1,000 to date your son and to act like she loves him.” I asked him, “Now would that be real love if the girl was paid $1,000 to date your son?” He said he didn’t know! Wow, I couldn’t believe he said that, because it’s quite obvious that it wouldn’t be real love and I told him that. So, I said, “God is in the same position. He wants people to freely love him, although he doesn’t need us to love him. He’s given man free will. A love that is forced is not true love. It’s not that he doesn’t have enough power to make people love him, it’s that he’s chosen to give people free will to respond in love, or to reject him. True love can only be freely given, it cannot be not forced. He doesn’t want robots (or puppets) who love him because they’re programmed to love him.”
He said, “If God lives in the temple or the church, the priest or pastor who is in the church should be closest to God, right? God can’t even control those people that are closest to him, the priests, who are doing evil things. He can’t even control who believes in him so it’s just a never-ending cycle!” I told him that the Bible actually says that God does not “live in temples built by human hands” (Acts 17:24b).
The Christian friend who was with me, shared with my Hindu friend the story of Jesus telling people about a tower that fell on some people and killed them. He said, “Jesus didn’t explain to them why the tower fell on them and kill them, but rather that they should repent otherwise they would likewise perish.” So it is instructive that Jesus did not give an answer about why these bad things happened, but rather warns people that they need to repent and get right with God.
My Hindu friend said that any religion that tries to scare people with hell (or has a concept of hell), is “man-made”. So I reminded him that he was eliminating Hinduism (since it has a concept of hell)! Also, in the same breath, he’s eliminating Islam, Judaism and Christianity as legitimate religions, since they all teach about a concept of hell. Additionally, I reminded my friend that just because evil people use religion to oppress people and scare people, does not mean that it is not true. I pointed out the contradiction in him complaining on the one hand about priests who are doing evil things and God not doing anything about it, and then also complaining about the concept of hell, which is the means that God uses to punish evil ultimately.
He seemed to have a concept that whatever a true believer prays for, he should receive. I reminded him that the 12 disciples, who wrote the New testament, did not often get what they asked for. In fact, 11 of the 12 were martyred for their faith — they were killed for proclaiming Jesus. So if it is a requirement that people get what they pray for to show that God is who he said he is, then the record of the disciples seems to go against that notion.
Also I talked to him about Christians needing to live their lives according to how the Bible tells us to live. In his view, the “true believers” are the ones who renounce family and material possessions and go to other continents to help people and serve the poor etc. They’re not worried about their retirement plans, money, health or or even dying — they are totally giving their lives to God. But I said, “That that goes against other things that the Bible commands us to do. For example, we are instructed to save money, we are instructed to leave an inheritance for our children’s children. We are told that ‘he who does not provide for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’ (1 Timothy 5:8). So, we need to live our lives according to what is written in the Bible.”
Then he complained about the Bible being this huge complicated book. He wonders why it has to be made so big and complicated because it could’ve been simple — something like a one-page document with just the important information about Jesus. I told him that most of the Bible is the record of the nation of Israel, through whom the Messiah would come. 39 books of the 66 books in the Bible are the Old Testament which record the history of the nation of Israel. Only 27 books are the New testament from the time of the birth of Jesus onward. in fact, only 4 books record the life and teachings of Jesus.
We also talked about the Bible verses other religions books. I explained that the Bible was written by 40 different authors from all walks of life (kings, shepherds, fisherman, etc.) over a period of 1500 years on 3 different continents in 3 different languages, yet it all has the same theme. Compare this with, say, Mormonism, whose holy book was written by a 14 year old boy who had a vision of Jesus and God the Father while in the woods, then was told about some “golden plates”, which he supposedly translated from ancient hieroglyphics by looking into a hat. Which is more believable to you? The eye-witness, corroborating testimony of 40 people or the “visions” of a 14 year old boy with no corroboration? He acknowledged that the Bible would be more believable, but then he quickly moved on to other objections.
To be honest with you, I don’t know if this friend of mine is truly seeking or not. At the end of the conversation, he said that we would need many hours to talk about this. I said, “Great! Then how about we meet every Monday?” He said, “Maybe we can…” In any case, he sounds like he is willing to do this again. My Christian brother assured him that according to Bible, if you seek God with all your heart, you will find him (Jeremiah 29:13) and that he has determined that we would live in places where we could find him and that he is not far from each of us (Acts 17:26-27). So, please be praying for my Hindu friend. I don’t want to give names for good reason, but nonetheless you can be praying for this situation and for his eyes to be opened.