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Christianity on Trial
The hall is packed. A feeling of anticipation, even suspense, is in the air. It would seem that the stakes are high. A number of attendees, to date on record as skeptics, have voiced an openness about actually changing their position on matters of faith if the evidence tonight is sufficiently persuasive.
And now the hour has arrived. The moderator clears his throat and begins his introduction. This symposium has been billed as “An Inquiry Into the Intellectual Credibility of the Christian Faith”. It is scheduled to run for at least four nights. This evening’s opening round of questions will involve only those of the most basic variety. Highlights and excerpts from the proceedings follow:
The first respondent for Christianity is Dr. Robert Morey, who begins by asking the individual leveling the charge whether he has ever been to Argentina. The answer is “no”. Whereupon Morey asks the man how he can then be so categorically certain that “God” doesn’t exist there (in Argentina, if no where else). In other words, if the experience, knowledge, and awareness of any one man (and, by extension, mankind as a whole) is finite and limited, how can anyone logically conclude that “God” does not (at the very least) exist beyond the limits of man’s knowledge and experience? [This response is adapted from an actual event recorded in the article Debate With an Atheist, appearing in Volume 1, Number 3, of The Researcher, © 1992 Research & Education Foundation. Used by permission].
The prosecutor here proceeds to charge Christianity as being totally arrogant and downright presumptuous for claiming to hold “the corner” on truth. “Jesus is only one of many great religious teachers,” he says. “Just as in the story of The Ten Blindfolded Men & the Elephant, religious seekers today often tend to discover only one limited aspect of truth.” At this point Josh McDowell and Don Stewart take the floor, moving quickly to point out that “all religions cannot be true at the same time, because they teach many things completely opposite from one another. They all may be wrong, ” McDowell says, “but certainly they cannot all be right, for the claims of one will exclude the other.” The two concede that at first appearance many religions may seem to be similar. But they are adamant on the point that upon closer inspection, mutually exclusive assertions by Christian and non-Christian faiths become very apparent. They conclude their testimony by pointing out what they refer to as the unique claim of Christianity–that Jesus, of all the world’s religious leaders, actually rose from the dead and is alive today. [Adapted from the text, Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith, © 1980 by Here’s Life Publishers.]
Christian apologist and author R.C. Sproul now steps to the microphone with what seems to be a fairly simple response. There are no poor innocent natives in Africa, or anywhere else in the world, or even anywhere throughout history for that matter, Sproul asserts. “Christianity emphatically denies the assumption of innocence.” On the other hand, he says that all men do know something of God (Romans 1:19). Yet without exception all men by nature tend to distort or reject or suppress the true knowledge of Him. Sproul states that God always “judges according to the knowledge that people do have.” That, he says, is precisely why “the gospel is God’s gift of redemption for the lost”, and why “the pagan needs Christ to reconcile him to God the Father.” [This apologetic is developed further in the video cassette series Objections Answered by R.C. Sproul, © Ligonier Ministries.]
“On the contrary, there are ‘many infallible proofs’ of this historical event.” The speaker now is D. James Kennedy. Kennedy proceeds to cite the work of Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, once declared by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to be “the greatest authority on legal evidence that ever lived”. According to Kennedy, Greenleaf once minutely examined every feasible thread of evidence concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His conclusion? “That in any unbiased courtroom in the world, if (such) evidence were presented, it would be adjudged to be an absolute historical fact.” [This material is included in the reference manual Evangelism Explosion (Revised Edition), © 1977].
The scenario described above is fictional, though possible; actual responses are drawn directly from the references cited.