default_mobilelogo

The entire premise of this website (and my life!) is that seeing is believing.  That the evidence for Christian faith is so good, so overwhelming, that anyone who sincerely seeks the Truth, who is open-minded and takes the time to thoroughly examine it, will see and believe too.

But what about all those “sincere seekers” throughout the world who don’t see it this way?  Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, most of whom believe what they believe because of where they’ve been born. 

What about all those sincere seekers who are atheist or agnostic?

I have a friend who is a faithful Muslim.  He grew up Catholic.  He is taking classes at a Catholic college.  His family is Catholic.  Yet, he became Muslim.  We’ve had a number of deep discussions about our respective faiths.  He is sincere, intelligent, and open-minded. 

But he isn’t swayed by any of my arguments.  He remains a Muslim.

For most of her life, Jen Fulwiler was a committed atheist.  She grew up in an atheist household and, even though she was surrounded by Christian friends who presented their best arguments, as a modern, scientifically-minded person, she considered belief in God ludicrous.  Going to college and working in the “high-tech” industry only reinforced this position. 

But around the time she gave birth to her first child, she began to consider questions and evidence she hadn’t before.  As a result, she felt compelled to become Catholic.  Presently, she hosts her own radio show and has written several books that present the truths of the faith which she finds so self-evident. 

A few days ago on her show, she asked a question I often find myself wrestling with: why doesn’t everyone else see how clearly true the Christian faith is?

If Christianity is the Truth, sincere seekers should eventually see it this way—why don’t they?

Actually, they do—at least on the large scale.

As technology shrinks our world, we find ourselves in a new, pluralistic world order.  For the first time in history, the world’s major religions, along with its great philosophical traditions, are entering the marketplace of ideas for all to consider.  And as they do so, people across the world are consistently choosing Christianity over every other worldview. 

Not only has Christianity become the fastest growing religion, it is the only truly world-wide religion, the only religion with a global reach and global appeal.  While both Islam and Buddhism have had similar aspirations, they’ve never been realized.  They grow mainly through reproduction and only have significant numbers of adherents in limited regions of the world.  (Given present birthrates, by mid-century Islam will become the fastest growing and largest religion.  But this won’t happen through conversion.  Rather, it will happen through reproduction.)

Christianity grows both through natural increase and rapid conversion

It transcends the limitations of culture to reach almost every corner of the world. 

In a world where people increasingly have access to all the major religions, sincere seekers are drawn to Christianity more frequently and broadly than all others.  It makes inroads where other religions don’t, across multiple cultures, winning over significant numbers of adherents from just about every major region of the world.  The only exception is the Mid-East where Islam has been dominant and the freedom to convert is severely restricted—there are some indications of a substantial number of conversions to Christianity in Mid-Eastern countries, but it’s hard to get solid estimates because, it’s speculated, many converts won’t publicly acknowledge their faith—going public could get you killed!  (See Tim Keller, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical, New York, NY: Viking, 2016, p. 148 and Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008, pp. 9-10.)

When put into the marketplace of ideas, Christianity is the one worldview that has universal appeal. 

It is clearly the most compelling worldview. 

And the only thing that can account for it being this universally compelling is that it provides the most profound and satisfying answers to life’s ultimate questions. 

In the big picture, Christian faith is, overwhelmingly, the worldview of choice for sincere seekers.  Which shows that God has made the Truth self-evident for those who seek it—generally speaking, sincere seekers will see it this way. 

But what about the small picture?  What about those sincere seekers, like my friend, who don’t see it?  Doesn’t God care about them?  If Jesus really is God, why would He allow them to be misled?  

It’s doesn’t seem fair.  Or loving.

John 3:16 is the best-known verse in the Bible.  Most of us have heard it.  Many have even memorized it: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so popular, or, while watching your favorite football team, wondered why some fan sitting behind the goalpost is fanatically waving a sign with it during the extra point, it’s because this is the one verse that captures the essence of Christian faith more than any other: God loves us so much that He died to save anyone who would believe in Him. 

But there is something about this verse that is usually overlooked. 

It says that God so loved the world that He died for it.  He gave His life for the entire world.  In John’s gospel, “the world” represents all that is antagonistic or opposed to God.  Christians often sum it up this way: we are to be in the world but not of the world. 

The world includes those who don’t believe in Him. 

In other words, His death on the cross is for them too!  He loves Buddhists and Hindus and atheists and agnostics and everyone else this much too.

How could a God who loves the world this much be indifferent to any sincere seeker?

So, this verse affirms two truths that are in tension with one another. 

It says that Jesus’ death is what saves the world.  That faith in Him is the only way to God, because He is God.  You can’t have a relationship with God without Him.

But it also says that Jesus’ death is for every single human being.  That He loves each and every person, believer and unbeliever, enough to die for them.  More than anything else, He desires a relationship with us, which implies that He would never deny anyone who sincerely seeks Him.

How He does this with people like my friend, it does not say.

I’m extremely skeptical about visions, especially visions that happen in dreams.  But there’s an intriguing phenomenon happening in the Muslim world that is difficult to dismiss.  And IF genuine, it might provide a clue of one way Christ is making Himself known to sincere seekers. 

In recent years, many Muslims—by some counts, upwards of ten thousand (and this figure may be grossly underestimated because many more might exist who never report having such a vision for fear of persecution)—have been seeing visions of Jesus who reveals himself as God.  These are faithful Muslims who are horrified at first because this is outright blasphemy—there is only one god, and Allah is His Name.  Moreover, to accept these visions as true and become Christian could easily get them killed. 

But they are so powerful, so real to those who receive them, that they are compelled to convert and publicly confess Jesus as Lord.  The frequency of and the consistency in these visions—it happens almost exclusively to scrupulously faithful Muslims; those receiving them are terribly reluctant to accept them as true; the nature of the encounter is very much the same—combined with the radical and dangerous conversion that results is hard to explain as anything other than genuine. 

Still, these visions only reach a small segment of sincere seekers.  How He reaches every sincere seeker we do not know.  But what we do know, what He has revealed in John 3:16, is that no one who really wants to know Him, who wants to have a relationship with Him, will ever be denied. 

In fact, in a billion different, subtle ways, He is seeking each and every one of us, to show us His love poured out on the cross. 

Of course, all this raises more questions than it answers:

--Why is God so subtle?  In other words, why does God make it so hard to know Him? 

--Can non-Christians be saved? (Jesus does provide a good answer to this question)

--How can there be a God—ONE God—when there so many different religions?  (The so-called “Problem of Different Religions”)

Stay tuned for blogs addressing each of these.

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

Read More

0
Shares