No one imagines that an all-powerful God would be incapable of using processes or unable to control vast numbers of intricate, seemingly insignificant events. Early Christians deprived of modern science were as aware as todayís generation that a babyís conception gives every appearance of resulting from chance and human whim. This has never embarrassed Christians, as if the development of a fetus from the joining of two cells demolished the fact that the resulting life is a work of God, or that God is unable to bring good even out of anti-God behavior such as rape.
With an act of God there are two levels of explanation, one of which science can contribute to. Consider, for instance, when Jesus told a man to stretch out his withered hand and it immediately healed. (Luke 6:6,10) Scientists might describe what took place within that manís hand in terms of multiplication of cells, suddenly improved blood flow, etc. Such an explanation, though accurate, would miss an entire dimension to this event: the hand was restored at Jesusí word.
It is as if science lets us examine a masterpiece with an electron microscope (and such a view can be of value), whereas the Bible empowers us to see the big picture, enabling us to grasp the divine meaning and purpose of that masterpiece we call life.
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One has only to consider weapons of mass destruction, brainwashing techniques, and electronic invasion of privacy to realize that scientific advance has only heightened our age-old dilemma: human nature. For our most fundamental problem, Jesus is the only answer.
And technology has not changed the fact of death. Not only did Jesus make the brazen claim to have brought to humanity the secret of eternal life, the proof that he actually conquered death in his own body is so compelling that it has floored modern doubters. After his horrific death, Jesus appeared alive; eating, cooking, being handled, displaying mortal wounds to skeptics, conversing with friends while hiking kilometers. Hundreds saw him. (1 Corinthians 15:3-7; Acts 1:3-4; Luke 24:13-43; John 20:24-21:14) More recently, highly skilled opponents of Christianity who sifted the evidence for the sole purpose of exposing Jesusí resurrection as a hoax or hallucination or misunderstanding have been so confounded by what they uncovered as to publicly declare that Jesus rose from the dead. As one would not expect the evidence to be this powerful, I recommend you investigate it yourself. A good place to start is The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, edited by Josh McDowell, published by Nelson Thomas, Nashville, 1999.
Most reports of pleasant near-death experiences mention an encounter with a being who radiates love. No impersonal God could love. That God is a person who loves even his enemies is a uniquely Christian concept.
These reports also seem to contradict such non-Christian beliefs as karma, reincarnation, and that the ultimate destination of humans is to lose their individuality in nirvana.
The Bible does not exclude the possibility that on the other side of the grave non-Christians might have a few moments in pleasant surrounds before being ushered into a strikingly different abode. It says that before being hurled into the lake of fire, non-Christians will be brought before Godís throne. Presumably, this is located in a beautiful, heavenly place. (Revelation 20:11-12)
The Bible says that because non-Christians do not enjoy the spiritual transformation and protection that only Jesus can provide, they are particularly vulnerable to spiritual deception. They are subject to the interference of the Evil One, who masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14-15; John 8:44) This renders their near-death experiences highly suspect.
You canít fool all the people: Dr. Maurice Rawlings was desperately trying to save a postmanís life. The patient, in between times of clinical death, kept screaming that he had been in hell and pleading with the reluctant doctor to lead him in prayer. The postmanís encounter with hell was so convincing that even the doctorís skepticism vanished. The man survived the ordeal and became a Christian. He could recall the prayer and viewing his body from a distance, and yet he could remember nothing of his hellish experience. Apparently, it was so horrific that his mind had suppressed it.
Researchers find that about 80% of resuscitated patients report nothing. (Who would boast about being sent to a place of shame and torment?) Researchers are therefore forced to examine a highly unrepresentative sample, and, human nature being what it is, an unknown proportion of even these would be lying. Prior to Dr. Rawlings, researchers had not personally resuscitated patients. They were content to interview people who had more time to repress unpleasant experiences. Rawlings found that interviewing people immediately after resuscitation produced as many reports of bad experiences as good ones. In the case of suicide attempts, 85% of those resuscitated reported being glad to be alive. Every account Rawlings has collected from such people has been Ďhellishí.
The doctor records another manís experience after his heart stopped beating. It ended up being so horrendous that the patient was certain he had been to hell. It brought about his conversion to Christianity. Yet the first part of his experience was blissful - floating above his body, feeling happy, at peace and free from pain. Had he been resuscitated at that point, his impression of life after death would have been vastly different. A number of people have reported the initially non-threatening light at the tunnelís end turning into hellfire.
Many people are so biased against the existence of hellish experiences that Dr. Rawlings himself has been misquoted in a way that suggested his research indicates all after-death experiences are pleasant. He is often instructed before appearing on TV talk shows not to mention hell.
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ĎLife is a great surprise,í observed Vladimir Nobokov, ĎI do not see why death should not be an even greater one.í
Hell is God reluctantly granting non-Christians their wish.
Ultimately, life and every desirable thing comes from the God who created every molecule that we see, feel, enjoy and misuse. Even sinís fickle pleasure, that elusive shadow of the real thing seized while defying him, is possible only because the Son of God lovingly created his haters with the ability to experience pleasure.
Non-Christians push Jesus aside, yet in his extravagant love Jesus keeps giving and giving. They donít want him meddling in their lives, but he keeps forcing himself upon them, showering them with gifts of life and pleasure. In hell they finally get their way. To be granted separation from the Source of every good and beautiful thing, however, is a terrifying prospect.
A different view: In the western world the concept of a God of love pops up so often that we forget the source of this notion. The only way of truly knowing that God is love is through the revelation of Jesus and the Bible, both of which lovingly and emphatically warn of hellís grim reality.
11. I donít need God
12. Christianity is a crutch
13. The church is full of hypocrites
14. Christian superstars are after moneyMore Objections