How to Choose Your Faith Wisely
- Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Understand the Authoritarian approach. This approach says, “You’d better believe it!” It claims that truth consists of the ideas espoused by religious leaders to whom you’re in submission. But the problem is, you won’t know for sure if those ideas are correct unless you critically examine them yourself. Ask God to give you the courage and clarity you need to reconsider what you’ve accepted until now and test the credentials of the religious authorities in your life. A trustworthy spiritual leader should have at least these characteristics: integrity, consistency, accuracy, and openness.
Understand the Intuitive approach. This approach says, “I just feel that it’s true.” It claims that truth is found in feelings and instinct. But ignoring information from your senses and refusing to think logically can be dangerous. Many people’s lives have been shattered by following their hearts alone. To discover the real truth, you need to test your feelings and intuitive hunches against other, proven methods of finding and affirming truth. It’s wise to carefully scrutinize and corroborate your instincts by testing what you sense to be true against evidence and logic.
Understand the Mystical approach. This approach says, “God told me it’s true!” It claims that truth is discovered through an encounter with a supernatural entity (such as the Holy Spirit or an angel). But keep in mind that, while such experiences can indeed be genuine, they should be tested and confirmed against other evidence because they can also be imaginary or deceptions from evil sources. What you feel doesn’t necessarily equate with something that’s real, and even if it does, it doesn’t necessary equate with something that’s good. One way to test the validity of a mystical encounter is to consider whether or not it’s: true to the world, true to the messenger’s own words, and true to God’s words. Carefully test the mystical experiences you have, remembering that the ones that come from God are those that communicate His love, truth, encouragement, or guidance to you in ways that don’t contradict what you know to be true about the world and God’s revelation so far.
Understand the Evidential approach. This approach says, “I’ve got to see it to believe it.” It claims that truth can only come from information you gain through your five senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting). It stresses the importance of logic and experience, which can prove very valuable in discovering truth. However, it ignores the fact that you can gain knowledge about truth through supernatural means as well as natural ones. By limiting the ways in which this approach seeks truth, it severely limits the amount of truth toward which it leads. Instead of viewing science as an end in itself, see it as a means to help you discover more about truth – wherever that quest may lead you. Realize that there is much more truth to be discovered than what science alone can show you. Be open to all the possible answers to your questions.
Pray for wisdom. If you believe in God already, ask Him to guide you to spiritual truth. If you don’t believe in God, but are open to the possibility that He exists, try praying a skeptic’s prayer: “God, if You’re there and You can hear me, show me the way to truth.”
Consider the reasons for faith in Christ. There are many reasons that point you toward biblical truth and away from opposing viewpoints. Among them are: Design in the universe points toward an Intelligent Designer; Fine tuning in the universe points to an intentional Fine Tuner; Information encoded into DNA points to a Divine Encoder; The Beginning of the universe points to a Divine Originator; the sense of morality throughout the human race points to a Moral Lawgiver; The Bible shows itself to be a uniquely consistent religious book; The Bible is a uniquely historical religious book; The Bible is a uniquely preserved work of antiquity; Archaeology shows the Bible to be a powerfully verified book; The Bible shows itself to be a uniquely honest religious book; Miracles, performed in the presence of believers and critics alike, point to the prophets, apostles, and Jesus as messengers of God; Fulfilled prophecies point to the Bible as a divinely inspired book and to Jesus as the unique Messiah of God; Jesus’ sinless life backed up in His claim to be the Son of God; Jesus’ resurrection powerfully established His credentials as the Son of God; The emergence of the church points to the authenticity of its message; The changed lives of early skeptics affirmed the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and the teachings of the church; The willingness of the disciples to die for claims they knew to be true affirms the trustworthiness of their claims; The changed minds of many modern skeptics further support the Christian truth claims; The testimonies of countless believers throughout history attest to the reality of God and the value of following Jesus; and It’s true because Jesus said so, and He has the credentials to speak with authority.
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