Apologies to René Descartes (ri-nay’ day’-kahrt), the famous French philosopher who wisely realized, “I think; therefore I am.”
Very little in this life is certain. How long has the earth (or universe) been in existence? Did life originate from accidental cosmic forces zapping a primordial goo or did an Intelligence far beyond human understanding create life? When is a conceived baby alive? How much longer before the coastlines are all underwater or the earth fries? If CO2 is what feeds plants, why is it bad for the environment? Does Joe Biden really believe that the best word to describe America is ‘Asufutimaehaehfutbw’? 😁
As young people go to college this fall, more than half of those who attended churches as teens will leave church out of their schedules when they sign up for classes. According to a Lifeway study, 66% stopped going to church during their college years.
While this may not reflect specifically the number who lose faith in God, it is concerning, because most of those never return to church. How does a young person maintain faith without a supportive community? For that matter, how does anyone of any age do that!?
How do they address the doubts raised by sharp and intelligent professors who unabashedly disavow faith and suspect anyone who believes in God to be an idiot? When confronted with “science” that refutes the Bible or raises questions about some of its record, how can they respond? What can strengthen them to continue to trust in Jesus when most of their peers are more interested in “hook-up culture” or “hookah” parties?
There are many stories in the Bible that are quite unbelievable . . . from a humanist perspective. Moses’ command to the Israelites to move forward when the Red Sea was blocking their way presents just one of many stories modernists dismiss as “myths” to tell moral lessons. Floating axe-heads . . . really? Three men go into a furnace and come out unscathed without even the smell of smoke on their clothes!?
The New Testament is no different at presenting miracles that defy human understanding. From turning water into wine to making the lame walk to raising dead people, Jesus and His disciples did the impossible . . . if you believe the records.
But other spiritual leaders also had claims of miraculous events from Guatama Buddha’s instant walking after birth and leaving lotus flowers where ever he stepped to Joseph Smith’s revelation from the angel, Moroni, in a cave to give us the Book of Mormon. And along the way, Zoroaster planted the massive Cypress of Kashmir he had brought from Paradise to honor a king who believed in his words. And then Mohammad split the moon in two and could speak with animals before his alleged ascension after an overnight hike of 914 miles (1471 km) from Mecca to Jerusalem.
So what is a “believer” to believe?
Let me encourage the young person heading to college (or anyone, for that matter) to examine the historicity of any of the claims of miraculous phenomena and how the world was affected by them. A clear and thorough investigation will raise significant questions on the “miracles” of other religions. Either the historical record is very spotty and very ancient, or the miracles were attested long after their claimants assert they occurred. And be sure to consider the effect on the world’s societies as you examine these claims.
When you begin to research the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, like tuning a crystal glass, there is a distinctive “ring of truth” to the narratives that myths lack. Add that Jesus’ immediate followers would not deny His resurrection to the point of death, even though most of them died at the hands of persecutors determined to snuff out this nascent faith. More so, calculate that the effect of Christianity on the world has produced the most and best advances in every area of society from science to philosophy to social structures to democracy.
Doubts are a natural part of faith. Even some of Jesus’ own followers, at His ascension recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, had doubts. Realize doubts are not the same as disbelief! Doubts come in any intelligent mind searching for truth before all the facts are disclosed. Disbelief is the choice to refuse the evidence.
When you have doubts about your faith in Jesus or the Bible, come back to the Cross and the Empty Tomb! There is no fact of history more validated and demonstrated than the truth that Jesus arose from the dead. And if this is true (and it IS!) we can rest assured that what He taught about His Second Coming is true as well.
So when you are off to college (or at any age or stage of your life), when you doubt, return to the Cross and the Resurrection. There you will find assurance that you have not followed “cleverly devised myths” when you put your faith in Jesus, “and we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”