“Jesus said to Peter, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’
Why do we doubt? Why do we doubt the Lord? I personally find it odd the tremendous amount of faith people place in commercial products, their education, physician, psychiatrist, banker, lawyer, even their spouse or family members. And of course, they can all fail us at one moment or another. And when they do, the results can be devastating. Yet, we keep on “buying” it over and over again when it becomes new and improved!
Not too long ago, I received an e-mail from someone I have never met. They describe in detail why they have become suspicious of Christianity. This person writes, “How do we know that the Bible was really written by the Apostles and not by some later writers? How do we know what Jesus really said? How do we know that Jesus really existed or that he is God?
I must admit that I didn’t know how to answer her questions in a concise and clear manner. As a response to her questions, I must have written three or four drafts. In each one, I wanted to be as brief as possible but clear in my arguments. My first draft tried to answer the questions raised with regards to the existence of Christ. We have thousands of documents that record the name of Jesus from Roman, Jewish and of course Christian circles. There should be no doubts that Jesus lived, preached, performed miracles and was crucified.
My second draft defended the authenticity of Scripture and its writers, especially the New Testament. There are in existence numerous ancient manuscripts of the Gospels and hundreds of ancient letters acknowledging authorship. If there is anything that should be doubted, then it should be the works that are routinely attributed to Aristotle, Plato and even Homer. Very little physical evidence exists to support their claim to fame. And yet, most of us have never doubted the authenticity of these authors or of their work. We should if we doubt Scripture.
My last draft was my most humble approach. In other words, I did not hide the fact that if Christianity was some great conspiracy, then we really blew it from the beginning. For example, the Gospels according to Luke and Mark are from men that were not even Apostles. If we really wanted to fake it, we would have attributed their works to others rather than to them. If we wanted the masses to believe in Christ’s resurrection, then we would never have had a couple of women be the first to tell all mankind. That was not a good idea, especially in ancient times in which women had no credibility. Finally, if we really wanted to write a fairy-tale story, then we should have prepped the Evangelists to at least write the exact same fairy-tale! Instead, we have four accounts that vary in some important details.
No. The Gospels are not some made up story. They are the Greatest Story. They are the eye-witness accounts and personal reflections and meditations according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, James, Jude and even the mystery writer of Hebrews.
What truly amazes me is how people can put more faith in people rather in God, and can continue to believe in things that continue to be labeled as new and improved. Our story has not changed in over two thousand years, and it never will because it is the truth. The life of Christ is the greatest love story ever, written by the greatest Lover ever and handed down to those who learned how to love. The Saints keep the story alive!
What did I write in my final draft letter? Here it is. I took a completely different approach. I made myself the skeptic.
Dear X in Christ,
Let me play the role of a coherent skeptic.
Can you please prove to me that you are who you claim to be? How do I know that this is really you? That is, that this e-mail was really typed by you and no one else. Of course you can come into my office and then you could say, “It’s me.” But then again, I don’t know who you are. I never met you before in my life. I guess you could show me your passport, your driver’s license and birth certificate. But we all know how easily these documents can be forged or manipulated. For all I know, you could be working for the U.S. Government. Correct?
So, as a real life skeptic, could you please prove to me that I am wrong? And don’t bring any of your friends. After all, I would expect nothing less than collaboration with your story.
I know this all sounds farfetched. But we all know that it is possible.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “A lunatic is not someone who has lost his reason. A lunatic is someone who has lost everything except his reason.” A skeptic has a similar mind frame. He is trapped in his doubts. He has lost everything except his doubts, for if he were a sincere skeptic, then he would be forced to doubt everything. And if we doubt everything, then we are at a standstill, frozen in time, unable to make a decision, trapped by the threads of our thoughts and fears.
We know we are not always whom we appear to be. Only when I have discovered the truth about myself will I be able to accept the truth about Jesus Christ.