From the library, I am reading I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek. I'm not sure what prompted me to pick it up, because I don't need to have God Almighty/the Lord Jesus Christ/the Creator/the Saviour/the one true God proven to me. He just is. The evidence is all around me. Besides that, I am not familiar with either Geisler or Turek. I'm not sure what I expected of this book, but it's not what I expected. I am actually enjoying it.
One major point that the authors make right up front is that people want the TRUTH about all sorts of things and in all sorts of situations and relationships (marriage, medical, legal, business), but when it comes to religion/faith, most everyone is content to believe that there is no real absolute truth, which is why we who claim to be Christians can often agree to disagree on religious matters. I haven't gotten far enough in the book to find out why the authors think this is true, this thing about most of us not demanding truth in religion, and it's possible that they don't even address this question. They do draw the conclusion that whether or not a person believes there is a God has a lot more to do with an act of the WILL than of the intellect. That is true. Some people will choose NOT to believe in God even when all of their intellectual arguments are satisfied.
Anyway, I have my own answer to that problem, the one about "truth" being relative even among Christians. In the past 100 years we have had nearly 200 different versions of the Bible published. Each one differs just enough from the others to have its own copyright, which translates into marketing and profits. If you've ever looked at the inside cover of a book that quotes scripture, you will see it says something like this: "Verses from the New International Version used by permission of Zondervan Corp." It will never say the King James Bible verses are used by permission of any publisher, because in the USA there is no copyright on the KJB.
But I digress. While it is true that the early churches had some minor doctrinal differences between them, we now have hundreds, maybe even thousands of brands of Christianity, some of which are truly the Lord's churches, and some which are not; even within denominations there are dozens of divisions. Back then they had mostly the preached words of God by which to believe and live (Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10); now we have the printed "words of God" (that's in quotes because it's not all God's words) in nearly 200 different "translations" from which to form our doctrinal beliefs and pattern our behavior -- that is, if you even read the Bible, which many Christians do not. With so many bibles, it's no wonder we have so many flavors of Christians. And no wonder people don't believe in absolute truth where God is concerned. The scholarship that produces all these different takes on God's word has convinced us that we can not know God's absolute truth. But we can. I think there's a buck involved.
If you value TRUTH, here are some questions to which you will want to know the answers:
- Was Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus, a virgin or not? That depends which Bible you believe. No, wait, let me rephrase that. The truth is the truth, no matter what you believe. Mary was a virgin. But some Bibles change that.
- Is water baptism a "means of grace" through which the soul is saved? What you believe depends on which Bible you believe, because they differ. But the truth is the truth.
- Who is the Morning Star -- Jesus Christ, or Satan? Some Bibles say it is Jesus. Some say it is Satan. But the truth is the truth.
- Was Jesus God from eternity, or was he a created or begotten God? Some Bibles tell us Jesus Christ is a begotten God. Some say he was eternal. What do you believe? The truth is the truth.
- Do lost souls go to a real, eternal, fiery place called hell, or do they just go to the grave? Bibles differ. But the truth is the truth.
- What is the requirement for baptism? The truth is the truth, but what you believe about that will depend on which Bible you believe. Some give a requirement. Some give no requirement. The truth is the truth.
- Is God really a trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all equally God? Not according to some of the translations. But the truth is the truth.
Do the answers to these questions matter? They do if there is truth in religion. Do we just believe what we want to because it suits us, same as the atheist? Believing the truth is a matter of the will. The Bible says of some that they would not believe, and of others, that they "willingly are ignorant" of the truth. We can KNOW the truth. Thanks be to God for revealing his Truth to me and for giving me the grace to believe it.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him,
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.