A small church in a sparse icy wilderness

A Guide for Agnostics

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In this article, I would like to offer a six point thought process that it is logical to go through when trying to discern whether or not embracing Christianity is a wise idea. I hope the guide will help someone who is currently agnostic but is exploring (or considering exploring) the Christian faith.

Before we begin, I would like to note my own perspective, which is that I find excellent arguments for embracing Christianity, and also excellent arguments as to why Christianity doesn’t make sense. Some of the arguments for and against will come out in this article, but for agnostics who want to go deeper, I have provided a link to an essay I have written at the bottom of the article.

Without further ado, I will state the six aforementioned considerations, with some personal reflections on each consideration under each heading.

Should I Become a Christian?

Six key considerations

1) In order to have a gospel, you have to have some bad news.

If salvation means anything, we must need to be saved from something. So there must be bad news from which human beings might need to be saved. The bad news creates the problem which the good news (the gospel) remedies.

2) Is there really bad news, or is this a Christian fabrication?

Christians locate the bad news in the fall of man, and sin — ideas found in the Bible. But these are concepts (as I have argued elsewhere) which are questionable in light of a sovereign and omnipresent God, for I believe that God’s boundlessness leaves no room for freedom from God, or free will.

The Christian doctrines of the fall of man and sin depend on free will. If sin is a part of God’s will, then surely it is not something that angers God, because He has chosen to manifest it. If sin angers God, then logically, He could simply choose not to create sin. So punishment for sin wouldn’t really make sense if there is a God who is in control of all things.

An alternative but related viewpoint (if we acknowledge the idea of sin), is that God creates sin with the specific purpose of punishing sinners, as part of some grand plan for humankind. This view paints a picture of an unspeakably and arbitrarily cruel God, which I for one find hard to accept. Christians who believe in ‘double predestination’ hold this kind of view.

There are other, non-biblical reasons why God might be angry and feel He must punish human beings, which I have discussed in this post. These are not Christian ideas, but they are worth considering.

The only remaining possibility is that we do in fact have free will, and so we are guilty of original sin and also our own sins. This is the perspective from which the Christian worldview makes the most sense. However, it is my firm belief that an omnipresent God and human free will are logically contradictory and incompatible ideas, so readers are advised to think this problem through deeply for themselves.

3) If Jesus is God, then we must listen to Jesus on the subject.

God is omnipotent and has all authority, so we don’t need to listen to Jesus unless He is either God in human form, as Christian orthodoxy argues He is, or he is instead a chosen prophet, or teacher, whose teachings are important.

4) So, is Jesus God?

Orthodox Christians argue that the Bible indisputably portrays Jesus as God. Muslims, on the other hand, argue that the text of the Bible has been corrupted in order to depict Jesus in a way that has distorted the reality of his prophethood, and made him into God. This, to Muslims, is deeply idolatrous. Messianic Jews believe Jesus is God, while many orthodox Jews disagree. And, of course, there are other religions with their own perspectives concerning who Jesus is.

5) God knows the Truth, so ask Him.

Some Christians insist that questions of theology can only be answered in the pages of the Bible. But is God greater than the Bible?

Because God is sovereign over all events, whenever a book is being written, there is a sense in which God is writing the book, even though He is doing so through one or more human beings under His control. Therefore, I believe it would be correct to say God has written every book that has ever existed, including the Bible but also the holy books of all non-Christian religions.

To me, therefore, it seems logical that God has authority over the Bible and all other books. This is important because it means that we can turn to God for understanding in relation to the doctrines and ideas presented in the Bible.

Asking God in prayer to reveal the Truth about Biblical teaching seems like the wisest thing to do when trying to discern matters of faith. We might pray for God to reveal which religion is true, and which teachings we should obey, as well as whether we should consider Jesus to be a prophet, or God in human form.

Surely, seeking answers directly from God in this way is an act of humility. My own view is that it is not a prideful rejection of the Bible to ask for God’s help with discerning theological matters, but a logical way of discerning Truth. If God were to condemn people for asking Him for direction, that would seem to make God very cruel, and I have found no reason to believe He is.

6) Be obedient to God’s response.

If you pray to God, perhaps He will tell you to follow Jesus, in which case that’s what you must do. Perhaps God won’t answer you at all, in which case I suggest you keep searching and asking. Or perhaps God will direct you to understand Jesus as a prophet, but not God, or will direct you along some other spiritual path.

It’s obvious to me that God has created every religion, and even every non-religious perspective. He has created every human being in exactly the way He wanted, with all their myriad different beliefs. It seems to me that prayer, therefore, is the most logical way of attempting to discern Truth, and is the best method we have for coming to an understanding of which spiritual path we should follow.

Even readers who are unsure about whether or not a God even exists should consider saying a prayer to ask for help. It is too important a matter not to at least employ a little humility and see whether a prayer might work. There is really nothing to lose, other than a little pride perhaps, and pride is not virtuous for anyone, so I would definitely advise taking the risk and humbly asking God for guidance.

I hope that this blog post has been helpful to someone. For a more in depth look at the key issues of Christian theology, check out my essay entitled ‘An Almighty Predicament: A Discourse on the Arguments For and Against Christianity’, which is available from these retailers. Thank you for reading!

(Image by Ludovic Charlet from Pixabay)

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