B. Nathaniel Sullivan
Many years ago, I was able to attend the funeral of a well-known Christian leader. During the service, the man’s son praised his father for being an effective Christian statesman and serving as president of one of his denomination’s large institutions. He also praised his father for emphasizing, “Son, remember this about the Scriptures: The Bible is not a book of history, science, philosophy, or psychology, but a book of faith.”
I cringed when I heard this, even though it held an element of truth. Because God has declared we must approach Him in faith (see Heb. 11:6), we are to come to His Word in faith and expect the Scriptures to inform and strengthen it. Even so, calling God’s Word a “book of faith” implies it has nothing to say about topics we typically consider non-religious or not specifically spiritual.
Compartmentalization is rife among Christians today. If we think of every believer’s life as a house, the Christian often will designate one room for spiritual and religious things while assigning additional pursuits and interests to other rooms. One’s family life, career, friendships, recreational interests, entertainment choices, money management, community and civic life, friendships, and parenting all have rooms—and between these rooms, there may be interaction and merging of ideas and interests. Yet, except for Sunday morning worship services and a scant few other “religious” activities, the door to the room where spiritual things reside remains locked; the believer won’t allow his or her faith to affect the other areas of life.
This differs from biblical Christianity, where God owns the entire “house,” and no arena of a believer’s life is unaffected by his or her commitment to Christ and the truths of God’s Word! Jesus doesn’t merely forgive repentant sinners and give them eternal life; He also gives them a new perspective on everything! See 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.
Christian author and apologist Greg Koukl explains that Christianity is far more than what most Christians understand it to be. When he asks believers what Christianity is, the answers he typically gets include “a religious system people follow,” “a guide to living a fulfilling life,” “a way of finding peace with God,” and “a system of ethical principles to live by.” Additional answers include “a relationship with God or a relationship with Jesus.”
Koukl explains, “These answers all have some truth to them as far as they go . . . [but] I do not think they go far enough. . . . [Actually,] Christianity is a picture of reality.1 It is an account or a description or a depiction of the way things actually are. It is not just a view from the inside (a Christian’s personal feelings or religious beliefs or spiritual affections or ethical views or ‘relationship’ with God). It is also a view of the outside. It is a view of the world out there, of how the world really is in itself. Put another way, Christianity is a worldview.”2
In Part 1 of this series, we explored the ideology of relativism, which has become the consensus view in America for making ethical and moral choices. Despite relativism’s claim that all perspectives are equally valid, relativists won’t acknowledge the validity of the view that right and wrong are fixed and exist apart from human opinions and preferences. Christianity, of course, does this.
What is the correct way of determining right from wrong? Is it relativism, with its emphasis on love, human opinion, and preferences, or Christianity, with its emphasis on God’s revealed law?3 Here, we are not looking for an approach that makes us feel good or merely appears to accomplish good, but one that is consistent within itself and that aligns with reality—the world in which we live.
The Internal Consistency of Christianity: Seven Pillars
There is one primary reason to believe the teachings of Christianity and to reject all other competing truth claims—including relativism. Christianity is true because it fits reality! Just as no building can stand without adequate support, Christianity cannot stand without core teachings. The Christian faith rests on seven authentic pillars that mutually support biblical teachings and make sense of the world in which we live.
Pillar One (GOD): Who is God? The first words in the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” highlight and allude to many of His divine qualities.4 God is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and the sustainer of all that is. He is our Creator who is both holy and loving and to whom we each will give an account (see Ps. 62:11-12).
Pillar Two (HISTORY): Throughout all of history, God has acted to accomplish His purposes. The Bible provides an accurate record of historical events through which God has revealed truth about Himself and what He desires for humanity.
Pillar Three (THE BIBLE): In the Bible, God has revealed truth about Himself and about life, death, sin, eternity, and His purpose for humanity. The Bible is a trustworthy and reliable written revelation of God to humanity.
Pillar Four (JESUS CHRIST): God also has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in human flesh and the central figure of the Christian faith. He came to earth as a human being without ceasing to be God, lived a perfect life, and died on a Roman cross to pay the penalty for human sin. Three days later,5 He rose from the dead and appeared to His followers multiple times before ascending to God the Father, even as angels assured His disciples that He would return one day.6 We can meet Jesus and become the beneficiaries of His death and subsequent resurrection by accepting Godʼs invitation to salvation.
Pillar Five (GOD’S LAWS): God has revealed truth about Himself and humanity through His ethical and moral laws—most significantly the Ten Commandments, which point to Godʼs holiness and how completely we have failed to live up to His perfect standard. God’s laws are absolute and are reliable standards by which we can and should make ethical and moral choices. His laws mirror His character and contrast to our own sinful nature to follow our way rather than Godʼs. All people have defied God by violating His commands. Being holy, He cannot fellowship with us in our natural condition, for we are sinners by nature and by choice.
Pillar Six (SALVATION): Salvation is possible only through Jesus Christ and is extended to humanity by invitation from God. Jesus Christ makes it possible for sinners to avoid God’s righteous wrath, experience His mercy and grace, and become acquainted with Him personally and intimately. When we accept Godʼs invitation to be saved, God the Holy Spirit regenerates us, giving each one of us a new, spiritual life. Relying on Jesus, we can be forgiven, receive eternal life, and find and fulfill the purposes for which God created us.
Pillar Seven (ANSWERS): Like no other belief system, Christianity offers substantive and adequate answers to help us make sense of our world. The Christian faith tells us how we got here, how we got into the mess we are in, the ultimate solution to our problems, how God will resolve things in the end, and how we fit into His master plan.
We intuitively know things in the world are not as they ought to be. Reasonable, clear answers to lifeʼs fundamental questions are found in the teachings of Christianity. We discover these in the context of walking with Christ in close fellowship, and we learn about Godʼs plans and purposes for us and His entire creation from studying His Word. Despite having been written over a period of 1,500 years by 40 diﬀerent writers, the Bible has amazing unity that attests to the reality of one author—God—and the reality of one way to know God—Jesus Christ.7 I encourage you to learn more about the validity of the Christian faith and the biblical worldview.8
Next time, in Part Three, we will explore how showing respect for the absolutes of the Christian faith leads to authentic liberty. Stay tuned!
This article is based on several in a series of articles about the legitimacy of absolute truth, available at wordfoundations.com/contending-for-the-recognition-of-absolutes.
B. Nathaniel Sullivan is a blogger and a writer, posting at wordfoundations.com and discoverbedrocktruth.org.
1. In a footnote, Koukl credits Chuck Colson with the insight that Christianity is a worldview. It was an insight Colson shared on a Focus on the Family broadcast on August 13, 2009. Koukl writes that Colson’s “exact words were, ‘Christianity is not just a relationship with Jesus. It is a way of seeing all of life and reality.’”
2. Greg Koukl, The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 22-23.
3. While Christ ushered in an “age of grace” in which the Jewish ceremonial law was superseded by His perfect sacrifice for human sin on the cross, His coming, death, and resurrection still did not replace the moral and ethical law of God as a standard by which believers—and all people, for that matter—are to live. We cannot be saved by keeping God’s law—ethical, moral, or ceremonial. We are saved by relying fully on Christ for salvation. Nevertheless, God’s moral law is still in force, reflecting His expectations and standards for human attitudes and behavior.
4. “In the Beginning God,” SundaySchoolZone.com, https://sundayschoolzone.com/in-the-beginning-god.
5. Paul F. Taylor, “Three Days and Three Nights,” Answers in Genesis, June 29, 2009, https://answersingenesis.org/jesus/resurrection/three-days-and-nights.
6. See Acts 1:4-11; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15.
7. JB Cachila, “Who Wrote The Bible? Word of God Written by 40 Different Authors,” The Christian Post, April 6, 2017, https://christianpost.com/news/who-wrote-the-bible.html.
8. Resources from RenewaNation will help you become acquainted with Christianity as a comprehensive and reliable worldview.
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