There are some questions about the Christian faith that you’ve undoubtedly heard, wondered, and/or been asked. When the questions arose, it’s very likely that you either already had an answer, didn’t have an answer but felt confident you could find one, or were straight up stumped. All of us have been stumped at one time or another (or more frequently than that for some of us!) but it’s our response to being stumped that’s important. We either let our puzzlement fester into doubt or seek out an answer from respected sources. I hope you’ll always choose the latter!
A few questions come to mind as “stumpers” that required me to take time to study and find trusted scholarly input. More than one was asked of me by CHILDREN. You can make your own guesses about which those were, but the point of mentioning that is this: sometimes you’ll be asked a tough question by a skeptic, but if you’re around kids for half a minute, you’ll be asked a dozen.
So, here are 4 questions, in no particular order, that needn’t stump you next time you’re asked by a skeptic… or a first-grader.
1. Why does God let bad things happen to good people?
In short, he doesn’t. No one is “good.” No one really likes to hear that, but it’s a great starting point and posture of humility for understanding the terrible amount of sin we experience during our time on earth. We recently read a fantastic book that addresses this question at length and reviewed it here, and we’ve also written an article about whether “nice” people will go to heaven here. After reading those, if you’re still uncertain, perhaps Romans 3:10-12 will help clarify things.
10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Our children have asked this question in so many different ways… it’s really important to have a solid answer that you’re confident in, so make some time to wrestle through it.
2. Was Jesus praying to himself in the garden?
If you’ve ever interacted with a Jehovah’s Witness, this question may have been presented as an objection to the claim that Jesus and Jehovah (the Father) are one God. Was he talking to himself? If he was talking to God the Father, why did he speak out loud?
A misunderstanding of the nature of the Trinity (a rotten spot in the heart of Watchtower teachings) is the root of this question, and it has been answered many places, including here and during a debate here. Beyond this instance of Jesus’ interaction with God the Father, there are several other similar “challenge verses” to our Christian understanding of the Trinity.
I would highly recommend Fred Sanders’ book “The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything” as a resource that handles the Trinity with clarity while being both scholarly AND accessible. After reading Sanders’ book, your confidence in rebutting Trinitarian criticisms will increase.
3. Doesn’t science prove that God didn’t make the world 6,000 years ago in 6 days?
Prove, no, but I do think there is compelling evidence that the earth is much older than that. I didn’t know that there was a biblically based view that also honors scientific evidence until a few years ago, but I’m so thankful to now be able to answer questions with better informed confidence through an old-earth, intelligent design view. Hearing “old-earth” makes some folks’ skin crawl, I know, and we discussed that in a previous article here. However, if you’re open to a biblical perspective that also meshes well with commonly agreed upon age of earth and geological records, old earth may be just the thing you’ve been looking for. Check out the work of Reasons to Believe and this lecture by John Lennox.
Disclaimer: We don’t think that the age of the earth is a make-or-break salvation issue. In other words, some folks may be old earth, and some folks may be young earth, but if we’ve been saved by Jesus Christ, we’ll all be on the New Earth.
4. How can we trust the Bible if it was passed down like a game of telephone for the last 2,000 years?
We couldn’t, if it was. But it wasn’t. Unlike the Quran, or even the Book of Mormon, modern translations of the Bible are trustworthy because they have been translated directly from very early (and widely corroborated) texts. So, the Bible wasn’t passed as information is during the game of telephone from originating person to person to person in a line. Rather, if the transmittal of the Bible was a game, each person would turn to the originating person to directly ask for the information. “But can we trust the early texts?” one might wonder. Yes, we can, and here’s a brief video explaining why, as well as a printable graph here with an article reference that shows just how many texts are available to Bible translators.