"I've been a Christian for a long time, but I'm not sure about some of the questions you posed." "I've never really thought about that." "When I became a Christian, nobody really taught me anything. I just started coming to church and picked up things along the way."
These are some of the comments that were shared as we went around the room in our little group of women who had gathered to look at these questions:
- Is the Bible true?
- Who is God?
- What is salvation and baptism?
- How do I grow as a Christian?
These are the questions that form our Christianity 101 class. It was a class that I developed for some teens that I mentioned in the devotion today, but we've done it with some women at church, too.
These seem like very basic questions, right? Have you tried to explain the answers to anyone lately? It was harder than I thought when I started thinking and studying to answer these questions. They're especially hard to answer without using "Christian-eze".
When we started the groups, we established a ground rule. No one in the group could use a "religious word" without explaining it. Don't get me wrong. There are some words used in scripture that are rich in meaning. The only problem is that many people in our world today don't know the meaning. We had to explain these words in every day vocabulary if we used them. It was challenging for all us churchy girls!
There were no other rules. No stupid questions...no penalty for questions and struggle.
Here's why I chose these questions and believe that that answers are critical for every Christian--new and old.
Is the Bible true? This question really has to be answered before any of the others. If we don't begin with a knowledge that the Bible is inerrant and true, then every other belief is subjective. God has designed His Word to be our absolute plumb line. I know that there are differences in interpretation, but we have to start with an foundational belief that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself to humankind.
We live in a culture that is largely biblically illiterate. Unfortunately, that form of illiteracy is too often found inside the church. If we truly believe that the Bible is God's Word, we must study it, believe it and live it. A love and reverence for scripture is the foundation that must be laid for every new Christian.
I put together information for this session from several terrific websites. My favorite is Clarifying Christianity. These are some suggested readings:
- Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
- Know Why You Believe by Paul Little
- Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
- The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
I'll address the other questions in the coming posts. In the meantime, I encourage you to study and struggle with these questions yourself. It's not only critical for our own faith, it's essential to nurturing new Christians.