It’s right to think through these matters carefully. Here are a few questions Christians are commonly asked.
1) If God is loving and all-powerful, why is there suffering in the world?
We tend to look at the life we live now as the most important one. But the Bible teaches that this life is short and the next one (either in paradise or hell) lasts for eternity. So the most important thing for all of us is that we turn to God and stay close to God. Now when everything is going well, most people don’t see their need for God, so unless God allows pain and problems, we don’t focus on the next life. That might seem unkind but actually it is incredibly loving. God so wants you to be in paradise after you die, that He will do anything it takes to make you dissatisfied with this life. So pain and suffering are there as a reminder that this life is temporary and we need to prepare for the next life. The only chance you get to have your sins forgiven is before you die – after that it’s too late and you will be barred from paradise forever. (Even as Christians we need to be reminded that this life is temporary).
2) Isn’t religion responsible for most of the wars?
Actually, many of the major wars, such as the First and Second World Wars had nothing to do with religion. And as we have seen, there are other religions and then there is Christianity. True Christians seek peace and to do good to all mankind, and they spread their beliefs not by war but by spreading the message alongside providing humanitarian help. Some people in history sought to impose Christianity with the sword such as the Crusaders but these people had no resemblance to true Christians even though they marched under the banner of a cross.
3) I hear about Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists etc. Why are there so many different types of churches and Christians around?
All real Christians believe that we get a new life with God through faith in Jesus and His death on the cross. We all have that in common and it’s the most important thing. But Christians have slightly different ways of worshipping God, and believe slightly different things about minor issues within Christianity, so Christians gather into groups according to their exact beliefs, even though we all believe the same fundamentals.
4) What about other forms of Christianity?
Authentic Christians (known as evangelicals) believe the Christianity that is outlined in Answer 1 in this booklet, and include many different traditions such as Baptists, Pentecostals, Evangelical Churches, Community Churches, some Church of England churches, Free Presbyterians and a number of others. But what of other forms of Christianity?
The Roman Catholic Church purports to follow the Bible and to be the only authentic form of Christianity. However, if examined properly, it quickly becomes clear that its whole character has deviated from historical Christianity as well as the teachings of Jesus and the Bible:
• Jesus said that in a religious setting we should ‘Call no man father’ (Matthew 23:9) but the Roman Church calls its leaders ‘Father.’
• Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts.’ (Luke 20:46) The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church wear long robes and are revered in society. Jesus and his followers had no special robes.
• Paul the Apostle said that in the last days ‘some shall depart from the faith... forbidding people to marry.’ 1 Timothy 4:1-3. Catholics forbid their priests to marry.
• Catholics venerate Mary, but on two occasions when Jesus was invited to say that Mary was more important than other humans, He declined and emphasised that she was not to be venerated: ‘Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”’ (Matthew 12:47-50. See also Luke 11:27-28.)
If you look at the way Jesus and his followers lived and behaved, how does the Catholic Church measure up? The first Christians had no special priests, had no special robes, had informal meetings in which everyone could take part and met very often in people’s houses. Evangelical Christians have no special clothes, no special priests and practise their beliefs in simplicity like the very first Christians.
The Roman Catholic Church cannot be said to be historical because it does not bear very close resemblance to the Christianity lived by Jesus and his first followers.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons etc.
There are various modern religions that claim to be the true form of Christianity. Jehovah’s Witnesses are well known and they began their organisation in the late 1870s. The Mormons (Latter Day Saints) began in the 1820s. What all these groups have in common is that they don’t accept that Jesus is God, in spite of it being what Jesus himself taught.
Evangelical Christians believe that Jesus was God who came to live on earth as a human. (You may remember that one of the prophecies about Jesus being born described him as ‘the mighty God’.)
We can prove that Jesus claimed to be God. Whilst we usually refer to God just as ‘God’, once when God was asked by Moses what His name was, He said ‘My name is I AM.’32 By that He meant that He is eternal – He doesn’t have a beginning or an end, He doesn’t change, He is isn’t constrained by time, He doesn’t have a past or a future – He just IS!
Around 1500 years later when some Jews were challenging Jesus’s authority, Jesus takes the very name of God for himself. He says,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham existed, I AM.” 33
The Jews then attempted to kill him for claiming to be God, because they understood exactly what He was saying. Jesus similarly used the name ‘I AM’ for himself on other occasions (see Is Jesus God?)
These various modern versions of Christianity cannot be said to be historical, not only because they are very newly established but because they deny the historical claim of Jesus that He was God.
Is there a conflict between science and Christianity?
Is evolution fact?
How is Christianity different from other religions?
Why don't people believe?
Can you really believe in miracles?
If you have other questions, you are welcome to contact us and we will do our best to help. You might alternatively ask someone who introduced you to The Challenge.