Overcoming Intellectual Obstacles to Faith
One of our favorite things about working in the church is helping people share their faith. Lori is one of those people. Recently she said to us, "I'm really excited about my neighbor's interest in Jesus," she started, "but now she's asking all these questions!" Lori's experience is a common one. We start off energized to share our faith, but we are easily discouraged by questions we can't answer or doubts that we ourselves face. And that uncomfortable territory can cause us to shy away from trying to help people come to know Jesus.
Questions of faith and obstacles in the journey are a normal part of people's experiences. So how do we equip ourselves with helpful words that can point people in the right direction? We've found that there are some common intellectual obstacles that often present themselves in a journey to faith. Here's how we try to address them:
Obstacle #1: "If God is good, why is there evil in the world?"
As people seek help with big questions, like why is there evil, superficial answers won't do. A person's life experience is full of their own brushes with darkness—from the tragedy of 9/11 to abuse and trials in their personal lives. So we address this question with gentleness and sensitivity. The question of evil in the world is also, surprisingly, a question of freedom. The Bible teaches that humans are given freedom to make choices about their lives (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). With the freedom to choose how we want to live, we have to reckon with the truth that people make selfish choices, and they make choices that show a contempt for the dignity and respect of humans, in small ways and in world-altering ways. In the context of that freedom, Christianity is the religion that directly addresses the truth of sin.
Christianity teaches about a world fallen away from God, not operating as he intended—and then that God himself takes the price of evil upon himself in his own son's death. No other religion comes close to explaining the problem and providing a solution—with a personal, "in the flesh" God who suffered himself to take suffering from us (Hebrews 2:9). Yes, evil exists and that is a hard reality, but God's love and eternity are comforting truths that remind us that there will come a day with "no more death or sorrow or crying or pain" (Revelation 21:4).