In part one of Why Team Jesus? we were introduced to the art and science of giving reasons for our faith in Jesus, known as apologetics. We saw the importance of knowing what we believe and why we believe it. We then distinguished between the cause of our faith in Jesus and the reasons for our faith in Jesus. And we finished by looking at three perspectives on the discipline of giving reasons for our faith: Defending, Contending, and Commending. Part one was all about apologetical theory, but in part two we’re going to take some time to actually practice apologetics.
Reasons for faith in Christ
As we set out to give some reasons for faith in Jesus, I’m reminded of that modern translation of Ecclesiastes 12:12 “of the making of many blog posts, there is no end, and in reading them is weariness of the body." So, while I acknowledge that each of these reasons ought to be fleshed out in its own blog post (or even its own book), for the sake of your weary bodies, I will keep ‘em brief.
"I want to become an athlete of influence!"
For conceptual clarity, we can break our reasons down into three categories: normative reasons, situational reasons, and personal reasons. The normative reasons include our guiding principles, our basic presuppositions which inform our worldview. The situational reasons come from various situations in which we apply our norms and find reasons to believe. The personal reasons are, well, the most personal — those that satisfy our existential longings.
These categories may seem foreign, but we actually use them all the time. Consider beach volleyball: there are norms of beach volleyball, the rules; there are situations of beach volleyball, games where the rules are applied in time and space (on a beach); and there are persons who apply the rules and enjoy playing games of beach volleyball.
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This reason is a legitimate reason — it isn’t merely a trite children’s song. The fact that the Bible attests to Christ as Creator and Savior ought to be the main reason for your faith in Him. How else would we know the essential truths of Christianity? We should never be embarrassed by the Bible, and we definitely shouldn’t step off of the authority of the Bible as our foundation when it comes to giving reasons for our faith. The Bible describes itself as the Sword of the Spirit, so why would we drop our weapon when we need it most? The Bible is our norm; it’s not just an app on our home screen, it’s our whole operating system.
This book that informs our faith in Christ also informs our entire worldview, including our views on intrinsic human value, justification for human knowledge, an orderly universe in which science is possible, and the foundations for ethics. The Bible is powerful! This is a book of divine self-revelation which has Christ at its center, and it’s because this book is our norm that we believe in Jesus.
There are a lot of different directions we could go in giving situational reasons for faith in Christ. We could talk about the historicity of Jesus as He’s been attested to by ancient, non-Christian historians like Tacitus. We could try to lay out a brief comparison between Christianity and other religions. We could explore various critiques of Christianity and try to show why they’re unsuccessful. But I promised not to make you weary with an obnoxiously long blog post, so I will focus on just one situational reason which I find compelling for faith in Christ: Evil.
If God is so good, if He knows everything, and if He’s all powerful, then how can there be evil in the world? Wouldn’t an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God know about any potential evil and stop it before it happens? If that’s the case then how is there evil?
Historically, the problem of evil has been a major obstacle to belief in God, but it’s precisely because of this problem that I find Jesus to be so compelling.
At the cross of Christ, we see the worst evil ever committed — the only perfect human being to ever live, truly God and truly man, was completely innocent, wrongly accused and murdered in one of the most excruciating executions imaginable, crucifixion. And yet God used this evil, perpetrated by evil men, to bring about the greatest good imaginable: salvation for humanity.
If God is able to use the greatest evil to bring about the greatest good, then of course He could use the evil I experience in my life to bring about a greater good. It’s because of the cross of Christ that we can find hope even in the face of evil and be justified in trusting God’s plan.
Like the situational category, there are lots of personal reasons I could give for my faith in Christ, but I will hold myself to just one. Jesus uniquely satisfies the existential longing we experience as human beings, the longing for “the way.” We see this existential hunger play out again and again. We see it in the search for the Tao, the Dharma, enlightenment, wisdom, the Logos, the Good and the good life, the path to God, the proper way to live, and modern man’s search for meaning.
What we find in Christ is not an abstract principle for how to achieve enlightenment, righteousness, or a good or noble life. We find, instead, that the path was a person all along. As John the Evangelist explains in the first chapter of his gospel account, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the Divine Son, is the eternal light and the logos that enlightens the mind and gives order to the universe, who will overcome the darkness and corruption we see all around us. It’s through Him that we find a path back to, and a place in the family of God. In Christ we find the perfect-shaped peg for the God-sized hole in our hearts and lives.
It’s because of my relationship with Christ that I can have peace with God. It’s because of Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf that God can be both just, and the justifier of sinners like me. In Christ I find meaning and purpose, the fulfillment of the deep existential longing felt by all of us. In Christ, I have a big brother to emulate, a Savior to trust in, a priest to intercede for me, a King to follow, a prophet whose words are truth, and a God to worship.
Although God is the ultimate cause of our faith in Christ, He has not left us without reasons for the hope within us.