Question: I grew up in a Christian household. My step dad was atheist but my mom and I believed in God. Lately I’ve been having doubts about God and Jesus. I definitely believe that there is some form of high power. But I just don’t know what makes Christianity the right religion and not Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Judaism. I question if Jehovah is the right God. And this really scares me because I do not want to go to hell and I love feeling secure in my faith. Also there are some things about Christianity that just sound weird to me. Are there any scriptures or advice you can give to help me?
Answer: First I would say, it is proper to deal with doubts the way you are. We all have them. I think it is the nature of our fallen world and our fallen natures that we find it hard to trust in anything and of course, there is no 100% fullproof way of knowing all the evidence for or against something. Fortunately, there have been many who have asked the questions we ask and done some great work in thinking through the issues. So let me give you some thoughts to work with and some reading to pursue.
When I compare the world’s great religions, Christianity (2.1 billion adherents), Islam (1.6 billion), Hinduism (1 billion), Buddhism (376 million), Sikhism (23 million), and Judaism (14 million) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations], I am struck by these facts:
- Every religion on earth teaches that the way to have a right relationship with God (this does not apply to Buddhism because it is not technically a religion that worships God) is to live according to His moral law to a sufficient degree that He accepts you. Every religion except Christianity. Christianity teaches that you are not good enough to live anywhere near a sufficient degree of law-keeping but must be given a right relationship with God as a gift in response to faith. This means that only Christianity is really available as an answer for anyone, regardless of their ability to be moral or law-keepers.
- Every religion on earth teaches that God will forgive people for their failures, if they aren’t too wicked, out of the goodness of His heart. Every religion except Christianity. Christianity teaches that God cannot forgive us justly unless someone takes the just and fair punishment for our wickedness, which is what Jesus did, of course. In other words, only Christianity requires a sacrifice for sins, something Judaism used to require but hasn’t since their temple was destroyed. The sacrifices had to be offered in the temple.
- Only Christianity views God as one God yet three persons. This means only Christianity has a God who from all eternity has been in personal relationship, has therefore experienced perfect love (it requires at least three individuals to demonstrate perfect love with no jealousy and equal sharing), and who provides an explanation for why humans need and seek both oneness with a community and yet at the same time an individuality and personal uniqueness that sets them apart as special from the community. The Trinity is the only sufficient model for this.
All this is to say that these differences between Christianity and all other religions are mutually exclusive. You cannot hold to Christianity and agree on these points with the other world religions. They contradict one another. This doesn’t immediately prove that Christianity is the truth. Perhaps all the other religions got it right and Christianity stands out alone as missing the boat on these big issues, though it seems to me just the opposite would be the case. But here is where the work of many defenders of the faith will help us see just how reasonable the Christian faith is. So let me recommend some very helpful books:
God is okay with your having doubts. He loves you and He made you with a mind to analyze and question. Ask Him to make Himself known to you as you consider the arguments and to show you the truth. He wants us to love Him with all our hearts, all our soul and all our mind (Matthew 22:37). Don’t neglect your mind or put it down for doubting. Follow it to the truth and I believe you will end up loving God more than you did before as you see just how great He is and how clear His answers are to our questions.
For further reading:
Category Archives: Defense of the Faith (a series of articles I have written touching on defending the faith in my Thimble Full of Theology blog)
Category Archives: Apologetics (Defense of the Faith) from my Ask the Pastors blog
Check out Apologetics 3:15