If you’re a parent, then you want your kids to live well. You want them to flourish. You want them to follow Jesus all the days of their lives. This is a prayer I regularly pray for my kids. But how does this happen? What does this look like? What’s at stake? It starts with building a biblical worldview.
Is the God of the Old Testament violent and bloodthirsty? Did God really command genocide? Why did Israel attack the Canaanites? These are just a few of the tough questions I tackle in this episode of the think Christianly podcast. Learn how to respond to one of the most challenging and emotional objections to Christianity in under 10 minutes.
Do you want more confidence in defending the reliability and authority of the Bible? – CLICK HERE
Is the Bible Sexist, Racist, Homophobic, and Genocidal? (Get on Kindle for only .99 cents)
Faith Crashers: Why Does God Kill People in the Old Testament? (Read the Christian Post article I was interviewed for)CLICK HERE TO GET MY FREE GUIDE: "TOP 10 BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW RESOURCES FOR TEENAGERS"
When it comes to having conversations about controversial spiritual and moral matters you can usually count on one thing for sure, namely, that someone will inevitably raise the “that’s just your interpretation” objection. This is especially true if the Bible is involved.
You’ve seen this happen before right? Once someone throws out the “that’s just your interpretation” line, the conversation comes to a screeching halt. Again, this usually happens when a moral or religious topic is brought up like “abortion is wrong” or “Jesus is the only way of salvation.” Perhaps you have found yourself in a conversation like that and thought you were making progress only to be dismissed with a slogan. What do you do?
Two Options For Engaging This Objection
There are a few options on how you can engage here.
The first option is you can get into a passionate (but pointless) yelling match where you go back and forth screaming “no it doesn’t” / “yes it does” for 30 minutes or so (note: I didn’t say this first one was a good option).
Or you can chose option number two where you can try to move the conversation forward by asking a well placed question. This will be much more effective because typically people throw down the “that’s just your interpretation” slogan to dismiss you and your point of view without an argument.
At this point, you can clarify what they mean by asking, “Are you saying you don’t like my interpretation or that you think it’s false?” If they think it’s false, great. You can then ask them the reasons they have for thinking that it’s false and have a productive spiritual conversation. If you need some help in learning how to know “which interpretation of the Bible is correct” then start here.
“I Don’t Like Your Point of View”
However, more often than not it will become obvious that this person simply doesn’t like the implications of your view. Maybe if your view is correct, they might have to alter a behavior they enjoy or change their mind about a controversial social issue.
Philosopher Paul Copan suggests a reasonable response in situations like these: “There are many truths that I myself don’t like or find difficult to accept, but not liking them doesn’t give me the freedom to reject them. I have to accept that they are true.”
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do in a spiritual or moral conversation is help someone discover that reality is indifferent to our preferences. The truth about God and the way we flourish as human begins is too important to discover to allow it to be dismissed by an uncritically examined slogan.
So the next time you feel like yelling when a spiritual and moral disagreement shows up, just take a deep breath and ask a question.
If you found this post helpful, you would enjoy “How to have a conversation about Bible contradictions.”
It would be hard to find a more timely article showing why I wrote my new book Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority than the one recently published by Newsweek. It is filled with claims–that unless explored and cross examine–will seem persuasive to many readers. It also is written with a good deal of emotion and anger it seems. Here is just a taste to get a feel for the tone of the article:
“They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words….”
So am I mad this was written? No, it’s a free country. Let the best ideas win.
Am I surprised? No. This happens every Christmas and Easter now.
How Should We Respond?
This is yet another opportunity presented by our culture to calmly, gently, and rationally explain why we believe and expose some of the slogans and misunderstandings that get applied to Christians and Christianity (1 Peter 3:15).
Find Answers to Your Tough Questions About the Bible
*Watch a 57 minute talk I gave equipping you how to question the Bible and keep your faith (Watch Video)
Want a quick read? For only .99 cents each you can get: Are the Gospels Full of Contradictions? , Is the Bible Sexist, Racist, Homophobic, and Genocidal? , and Has the Biblical Text Been Corrupted Over the Centuries?
*Read the whole Newsweek article here – The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.
We can’t just sit back and assume that just because a student goes to church or attends youth group that they are ready to follow Christ in today’s culture. Attendance isn’t cutting it; training is needed. And with it, a compelling vision of true education. 59% of Christian students losing their faith is unacceptable.
I am convinced that the prevailing approach to education in our society is doing a great disservice to students. As a culture we can do better but as Christians we must do better. Unfortunately, much of contemporary education has come to be identified with data acquisition.
[Tweet “”True education cannot sever the purpose for which we exist from who we are.””]
However, simply regurgitating facts does not mean that one is educated. The ability to look something up on Google or Wikipedia is useful to be sure and I am certainly thankful for the unprecedented access to information available today, but this ability is not to be confused or conflated with education.
In order to understand what it means to be educated, we need to answer a fundamental question—what is a human being for? If a human being is understood to be the result of a blind, random process that did not have him in mind, then strictly speaking there is no objective purpose (this is the contemporary Darwinian narrative).
But if a human being is specially created in the image of an essentially relational God, then education is about flourishing according to God’s design and for his glory. True education cannot sever the purpose for which we exist from who we are.
As Christians, we must resist the reductionism so common in our culture today. For as one of my professors put it one time, “education is not about testing well…but living well.” I’ve written a post about how to build a Christian worldview and I’ve also have attempted to make a start at recovering true integration for students in my book Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide For the Journey. Here’s what some leading Christian thinkers are saying about it:
“Wow! What a book! Quite frankly, this is the book I’ve been waiting for the last forty years to give to college students. It is the single best volume I have ever read for preparing students for how to follow Jesus and flourish as his disciple in college.” – J.P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
“Jonathan has both the intellectual resources as well as the practical experience to provide an effective students’ survival guide to university life. I’m impressed with the wide array of issues he discusses, from intellectual challenges to financial problems to sexual snares to getting enough sleep! All this is done in easily digestible bits for the student on the run.” – William Lane Craig, Philosopher, Theologian and Author, Reasonable Faith
“Unpacking biblical truths, Welcome to College is a treasure book of wisdom that will literally save lives and help build a culture of life.” – Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Author, Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas (Founder of the Veritas Forum)
Thousands of parents and churches have already used Welcome to College as a gift for their high school graduates and it’s exciting to hear the stories of how God is using this book. It is gratifying to me as an author and my prayer is that many more students are encouraged and equipped by it in this year’s class.
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