By: John Piper
Why do you think Christianity is true?
What compelling evidence do you see for it?
You can come at the truth of Christianity through several angles of apologetics and reasoning. Let me mention a few and tell you the one that is most existentially real for me.
1) One would be historical. I think arguments can be mounted that are solid and compelling—first for the existence of Jesus, and then for the death and the resurrection of Jesus—to give an account for why the apostles were the way they were after his death.
The arguments that Pannenberg and Evangelicals have developed for the resurrection of the dead—Who Moved the Stone?-type arguments—are strong and have helped many people get over the barrier. Because if Jesus has been raised from the dead, never to die again, and ascended into heaven, then we should take very seriously and credit what he said about himself. So that's one line of evidence.
2) A second line of evidence is called presuppositional. It says that without God and the Bible as an assumption all of our reasoning processes and all of our perceiving processes are not possible.
In other words, every time we start thinking and every time we start perceiving, something is happening in our heads which assumes something. And if you're going to have any kind of credible conversation about what you're thinking or about what you're seeing, then you are assuming certain laws of logic, causality, and existence which can't have any absolute significance unless they're rooted in God.
So everybody is talking nonsense, but hardly anybody will say, "We're all just animals talking nonsense." Even those who are total secular, naturalistic evolutionists don't like to be treated like animals.
When a dog barks, I don't assume he's writing poetry. But when a man puts poetry down, I assume he wants me to take him seriously as a human being who has serious meaning there. He doesn't like it if I say, "O that's just chicken scratch!" So he's assuming something unbelievably profound about the significance and the basis of what he's doing, which he couldn't do unless he had a Christian construction of God.
So that's the presuppositional angle. Here's the third one, and the last one that is most significant to me.
3) How do you, when you want to decide if someone's testimony or witness is true? You weren't there. There were no videos. There was no recording. And you have to decide whether what he's saying happened actually happened.
When I read the Bible, that's the way I feel I am. I'm reading Paul, say, the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul. And he's telling me he saw the Lord Jesus, that he was knocked off of his donkey on the Damascus road, saw the Lord Jesus, was commisioned by the Lord Jesus, and now is inspired by the Lord Jesus. And then he interprets all of that in terms of the gospel.
I've got to reckon, "Paul, are you a lunatic? Are you a liar? Or are you telling the truth?" (Those questions are usually used with Jesus: "Are you a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord?") I think it's a good argument, and I use it for the writers of the New Testament, not just for Jesus. I know that I've got Paul right here in my hand, and I want to know, "Are you crazy?"
So when I'm reading the Bible, whether it's the Gospel of John or Romans, I'm asking the question, "How can I credit what's here, both the testimony of the man and the portrait of Jesus?" And I think there is a light that stands forth from the text of the truthfulness of Jesus that is self-authenticating. And there is a kind of character for the writers that stands forth that is authenticating of their solidity and truthfulness, confirming that they're not lunatics or liars.
If somebody said to me today, "Just tell me in 30 seconds why you're a Christian," I would say, "The portrait that I see of Jesus Christ in the Gospels is self-authenticating to me. I cannot meet this man and have him speak like nobody else spoke and not believe him. He wins my trust."
And then if they say, "Ah, but how do you know that that person is not being created by somebody else?" Then I would say, "Then the person creating him is just as phenomenal, and they win my trust. And if they win my trust then they're not lying to me." The Apostle Paul is not a lunatic. I cannot read the 13 letters of Paul and think he's crazy or a liar.
So those two things:
-the self-authenticating portrait of Jesus Christ that I find in Scripture, and
-the character-endorsing way that the apostles write their books and reveal their own trustworthiness.
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