This was the form of the objection I got from the student the night I was on the panel. There are three approaches that civic and cultural leaders around the world are using to address the divisiveness of religion. Because of the vitality of religious faith in the world, efforts to suppress or control it often serve only to make it stronger. After they wrestle with doubts and objections to Christianity many come out on the other side with an orthodox faith that doesn’t fit the current categories of liberal Democrat or conservative Republican. That achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing. Atheist author Sam Harris and Religious Right leader Pat Robertson should each admit the fact that his particular tribe is strong and increasing in influence. When I found that “band of brothers”—and sisters ( just as important! I think these younger Christians are the vanguard of some major new religious, social, and political arrangements that could make the older form of culture wars obsolete. Our problems are not going away soon. The problem with this position is its inconsistency. Many of my early contacts said that the few congregations that had maintained a following had done so by adapting traditional Christian teaching to the more pluralistic ethos of the city. Question: "What was the purpose of the flood in the time of Noah? Everyone should determine moral truth for him-or herself.” Is that a statement they can prove to someone who doesn’t share it? But I kept asking the question, “If morality is relative, why isn’t social justice as well?” This seemed to be a blatant inconsistency in my professors and their followers. How could a loving God judge and punish? Among the summaries and analysis available for The Reason for God Belief in an Age of Skepticism , there are 1 Full Study Guide and 1 Book Review. Surely all the religions are equally good and valid for meeting the needs of their particular followers.”, “Religious exclusivity is not just narrow—it’s dangerous,” added Geoff, a twentysomething British man also living in New York City. When fundamental understandings of reality conflict, it is hard to find anything to which to appeal. Why not be self-destructive? ONE. If there were a god, it should be held to the same standards. There are three approaches that civic and cultural leaders around the world are using to address the divisiveness of religion. Church meant families; New York City was filled with young singles and “nontraditional” households. This was the form of the objection I got from the student the night I was on the panel. June was a graduate of an Ivy League university, living and working in Manhattan. “Religion has led to untold strife, division, and conflict. In fairness you must doubt your doubts. Our problems are not going away soon. Even in much of Europe, there is some growth in church attendance.4 And despite the secularism of most universities and colleges, religious faith is growing in some corners of academia. 2. Congregations in the city were dwindling, most struggling to even maintain their buildings. Even in much of Europe, there is some growth in church attendance.4 And despite the secularism of most universities and colleges, religious faith is growing in some corners of academia. In another incident, Jesus meets a man who confesses that he is filled with doubts (Mark 9:24), who says to Jesus, “Help thou my unbelief”—help me with my doubts! There Jesus modeled a view of doubt more nuanced than those of either modern skeptics or modern believers. FOUR. Jeffrey was a New York City musician, raised in a conservative Jewish home. And we believe that we as Christians are often not as good as our beliefs. The speaker is betting his or her life that no God exists who would hold you accountable for your beliefs and behavior if you didn’t feel the need for him. Such an admission is not only reassuring, but also humbling. In the second year, we heard of a spirit of love in the universe, who mainly required that we work for human rights and the liberation of the oppressed. THREE. Instead, this move only served to make the leadership of the Chinese church more indigenous and therefore to strengthen it. What troubles you the most about its beliefs or how it is practiced?” One of the most frequent answers I have heard over the years can be summed up in one word: exclusivity. Question from Marvin: What are the top most powerful arguments for the existence of God, and if there’s a logical order in which we should present them. But can’t we—via education and argument—find ways to socially discourage religions that claim to have “the truth” and that try to convert others to their beliefs? The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice. Once we recognize how religion erodes peace on earth, what can we do about it? This would eliminate the self-talk that is rampant in each camp, namely that it will soon be extinct, overrun by the opposition. DURING my nearly two decades in New York City, I’ve had numerous opportunities to ask people, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity? Religion is not just a temporary thing that helped us adapt to our environment. Surely that should lead to self-examination. Are you the one that don't have such hobby? We once needed religion to help us cope with a very frightening, incomprehensible world. Each side demands that you not only disagree with but disdain the other as (at best) crazy or (at worst) evil. And Christianity, in particular, was growing rapidly among them. In the first half of this volume we will review the seven biggest objections and doubts about Christianity I’ve heard from people over the years. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. Genesis 6:5 states, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only … How could I turn back to the kind of orthodox Christianity that supported segregation in the South and apartheid in South Africa? Its aim was to bring young people into a fuller understanding of the faith, so they could publicly commit to it. Those who don’t believe are “enemies of truth” and “purveyors of relativism and permissiveness.” We don’t reason with the other side; we only denounce. That meant the ministry, so I entered it just a few years after college. He is the author of The Songs of Jesus, Prayer, Encounters with Jesus, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Every Good Endeavor, and The Meaning of Marriage, among others, including the perennial bestsellers The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. The conversation was courteous, intelligent, and respectful in tone. Understanding the deity of Jesus is fundamental in defending the truth of the Christian faith. In the fall of 2006 The Economist ran a story with the subtitle “Christianity is collapsing everywhere but London.” The crux of the article was that despite the fact that church attendance and profession of the Christian faith was plummeting across Britain and Europe, many young professionals (and new immigrants) in London were flocking to evangelical churches.8 That is exactly what I’ve seen here. During the research phase I was told by almost everyone that it was a fool’s errand. During my college years, these three barriers eroded and my faith became vital and life-affecting. She came to see that she was heading for self-destruction, but she also realized that she had no particular reason to stop being reckless with her life. I found questions that I had long pondered answered and my faith in God deepened. Introduction. The time for making elegant dismissive gestures toward the other side is past. The title of Alasdair MacIntyre’s book, Whose Justice? But my experience as a pastor in New York has given me another incentive to write this volume. Kelly’s account recalls how, as a struggler with doubt and faith, the passage about Thomas in the New Testament was a comfort to her. There is a great gulf today between what is popularly known as liberalism and conservatism. That achieves civility in a pluralistic society, which is no small thing. Everyone wants to think that they are in the mainstream, that they are not extremists. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery and exclusive access to music, movies, TV shows, original audio series, and Kindle books. He liked the sermons “until that Jesus business came around at the end” at which point he’d stop listening. Each speaker affirmed that there were significant, irreconcilable differences between the major faiths. But among the increasingly multiethnic younger professionals and the working-class immigrants there was a lush, category-defying variety of strong religious beliefs. The result will exceed anything you can imagine. Liberals’ individualism comes out in their views of abortion, sex, and marriage. During the research phase I was told by almost everyone that it was a fool’s errand. We have come to a cultural moment in which both skeptics and believers feel their existence is threatened because both secular skepticism and religious faith are on the rise in significant, powerful ways. But the author had to set you up for the rest of the book. New York isn’t alone. Because I was always looking for that third camp, I became interested in shaping and initiating new Christian communities. One of the things that kept them on the trail, however, was the large number of believing Christians they met that were every bit as sophisticated and smart as anyone else they’d met in the city. Every doubt, therefore, is based on a leap of faith. Liberate the oppressed and sleep with who you wanted! But the theory that technological advancement brings inevitable secularization is now being scrapped or radically rethought.7 Even Europe may not face a secular future, with Christianity growing modestly and Islam growing exponentially. Arguments depend on having commonly held reference points that both sides can hold each other to. But when I asked him who that God was, he described him as an all-loving Spirit in the universe. Finally, to his surprise, during his times of meditation he discovered his “moments of normally pure quiet and stillness were constantly interrupted by visions of Jesus on the cross.” He began to pray to the Christian God, and soon he realized that his dominant life narrative had been the escape and total avoidance of suffering. Rather they were intertwined and dependent on one another. I recommend that each side look at doubt in a radically new way. How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? I accepted God’s forgiveness and invited him into my life.” Kevin wrote, “While sitting in a coffee shop reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I put down the book and wrote in my notebook ‘the evidence surrounding the claims of Christianity is simply overwhelming.’ I realized that my achievements were ultimately unsatisfying, the approval of man is fleeting, that a carpe diem life lived solely for adventure is just a form of narcissism and idolatry. DURING my nearly two decades in New York City, I’ve had numerous opportunities to ask people, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity? I urge skeptics to wrestle with the unexamined “blind faith” on which skepticism is based, and to see how hard it is to justify those beliefs to those who do not share them. The author takes on each criticism and provides the relevant Christian response. What troubles you the most about its beliefs or how it is practiced?” One of the most frequent answers I have heard over the years can be summed up in one word: exclusivity. But my experience as a pastor in New York has given me another incentive to write this volume. There is a great gulf today between what is popularly known as liberalism and conservatism. The church is quite multiethnic and young (average age about thirty) and is more than two-thirds single. Three generations ago, most people inherited rather than chose their religious faith. A good God could not allow suffering. 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