Why Christianity?

Why should you consider Christianity first and foremost?

Well, if you dialogue with Dr. Craig Hazen from Biola University, he will enthusiastically provide you with 4 or 5 reasons why someone on a “religious quest” should consider Christianity at the start. And in a moment, I will share 4 of those factors in the paragraphs below. But before we thoughtfully examine the 4 reasons put forth by Dr. Hazen, allow me to introduce him to you.

Dr. Craig J. Hazen

Per the Biola website, Dr. Craig J. Hazen is the founder and director of the master’s program with a concentration in Christian apologetics and director of the master’s program with a concentration in science and religion at Biola University. What impacts me about Hazen’s educational background, was the fact that Dr. Hazen received both his M.A. and PhD (in Religious Studies) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Why is attending USCB significant? From what it appears to me, Dr. Hazen was positioned in an academic atmosphere that enabled him to grow immensely. Learning about the major world religions at a secular university would not only foster an in-depth study of differing worldviews, but also provide ample possibilities and scenarios for defending Christianity with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Dr. Hazen’s proficiency in this area of Apologetics (Religious Studies), as well as his commitment to helping others share the reasons why Christianity is true, has blessed a myriad of lives…Which is why this lecture is highlighted here.

Ok, let’s get to it! Per Dr. Craig Hazen, here are the 4 reasons why Christianity is the worldview you should pursue first: 1) Christianity is testable, 2) salvation is a free gift, 3) it has a terrific worldview fit, and 4) Jesus has always been at the center.

43 minutes with Dr. Craig Hazen.
“Five Sacred Crossings: A Novel”

1. Christianity is testable.

Dr. Hazen points to Christianity as unique from other religions as it is not a “blind leap of faith,” nor dependent upon a subjective, emotional experience. Sisters, Christianity is actually testable! God, in His wisdom and mercy, has provided historical evidence regarding the Truth claims of Christianity. And believe it or not, it all hinges upon Jesus’s Resurrection! Paul (formerly Saul) to the Church in Corinth, highlights the fact that “if Christ has not been raised” then we are still in our sins and the most to be pitied.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

1 Corinthians 3-8

Now look at verses 12-15…

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Cor 12-19

Paul wrote this from the perspective of someone who had persecuted the followers of Christ before his conversion (only 2-3 years after Jesus’s crucifixion). If the resurrection wasn’t true then their preaching about Jesus’s preeminent deity (Lordship), death, and resurrection was not only “futile” but “misrepresenting God.” Christianity is verifiable, as it rests upon the empty tomb, eyewitness testimony, as well as the transformed lives of it’s followers. If you or someone you know is wanting to investigate Christianity, you can do so! Pray and look into the historical evidence for the Resurrection…God will help you!

Resources pertaining to #1:

2. Salvation is a free gift.

Another fact that sets Christianity apart from other religious worldviews is God’s Grace. Biblically speaking, Grace (“Charis”), is God’s unmeritted favor. A favor that cannot be earned, but is freely given. As explained by Dr. Hazen, “(With Christianity) there’s no crawling over jagged rocks for miles to lay some offering in some temple. There’s no sitting in lotus positions for hours-on-end hoping to move inwardly toward enlightenment, and there’s no ladder to climb unendingly towards the stratosphere of God. Salvation (in relation to Christianity) is just given to you!” Dr. Hazen explains that many of us succumb to the false dogma of working toward salvation; hence, perceiving Christianity as just another religion that requires folks to “do a bunch of stuff.” When we fall into the snare of “building our own ladders” to Heaven, we miss the point of Grace entirely…leaning instead into the trappings of self-reliance! Jonathan Edwards articulated this reality powerfully when stating, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” Friends, God made a way back to Himself that only He could make. God sent His one and only Son down from Heaven, in human flesh, (John 1:14; 3:16) to pay a debt that only He could pay. A rescue that only He could make. “Amazing Grace…Who saved a wrtetch like me.”

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  

Ephesians 2:4-9
Resources pertaining to #2:

3. Christianity is a tremendous worldview fit.

What is a “Worldview?” As defined by Ligonier Ministries, “a worldview is an overall view of the world. It’s not a physical view of the world, but rather a philosophical view, an all-encompassing perspective on everything that exists and matters to us. A person’s worldview represents his most fundamental beliefs and assumptions about the universe he inhabits. It reflects how he would answer all the “big questions” of human existence: fundamental questions about who and what we are, where we came from, why we’re here, where (if anywhere) we’re headed, the meaning and purpose of life, the nature of the afterlife, and what counts as a good life here and now.” 

For point #3, Dr. Craig Hazen exclaims that, “Christianity has a tremendous worldview fit, as it paints a picture of the world that matches the way the world really is.” For example, Christianity doesn’t look at the existence of evil and suffering in the world and call it, Maya (an illusion). Biblical and Historical Christianity deals with the reality of our brokenness “head-on!” In Hinduism, someone’s suffering is viewed as a part of their karma…to interfere would be harmful to them. In contrast, God’s Word (Scripture) and Grace encourages Christians to get into the “trenches” with those who are hurting. We are comforted by knowing that Jesus Himself suffered on our behalf. Christianity doesn’t ignore evil and suffering but instead provides the history behind it, calls it by name (sin), and delivers a rescue plan that only God could accomplish for us.

Resources pertaining to #3:

4. Jesus is at the center of Christianity.

This final point is essential. When you speak with friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors,…how do they describe Jesus? Do they refer to Jesus as a “good teacher,” “a wise prophet,” or “a highly evolved man?” Or do they call Him, “Lord,” as Jesus claimed to be? Investigating Jesus’s self-made proclamations is the most important research any person could undertake. And Christianity focuses upon these assertions. (We will dig-into this more in the paragraphs below)

Hazen explains in his talks that “everybody wants a piece of Jesus” in their religious worldview.  He goes on to share that “in Hinduism, Jesus emerges in some Hindus’ minds as either the greatest, or one of the greatest, teachers ever to walk the earth. In Buddhism, Jesus was thought to be an actual incarnation of the Buddha, himself! If not, then he (Jesus) certainly is a great Bodhisattva in the Mahayana tradition…who leads people up to the precipice of enlightenment. “In Islam,” Hazen continues, “Jesus is figured as greater than Mohammad, was considered born of a virgin, and remembered as a miracle worker.” But Christianity has Jesus at the center. Now, for anyone doubting Jesus’s existence, why would most major world religions acknowledge him? (More information on the historical Jesus below)

Christianity acknowledges the claims made by Jesus, as both historically verifiable and true. You see, Jesus did not mince words when he boldly described himself as both the “Son of Man” and “Son of God.” These two titles pointed to Jesus’s preeminent, divine nature. Jesus was stating that he was/is Lord! Something the other major world religions do not ascribe. This proclamation (as shared by both C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell) lends itself to 3 possibilities for those researching Jesus’s claims: 1) Jesus was telling the truth, 2) lying, or 3) talking as a Lunatic. Sisters, a “good person,” “prophet,” or “wise teacher” would not be a liar or a lunatic. He is either who He professed to be or not!  Let’s think about this further…Should a liar be esteemed as highly as Jesus is in most world religions?

Another argument utilized by skeptics as to counter Jesus’s assertions of Lordship is to accuse his followers of writing-in these claims later in history. This could be termed the, “Legend argument.” However, as Dr. Gary Habermas explains, the claims of Jesus’s deity go back to the empty tomb and resurrection. Too soon for legends to be forumulated. Those who saw Jesus resurrected (500+ eyewitnesses) were both teaching and singing creeds that prolifically pointed to 3 distinct components: Jesus’s place in the Godhead, his death, as well as his resurrection. These teachings (homologia) fueled the persecutions of Jesus’s followers by those who were zealous for God’s old covenant. Numerous Christians were martyred for sharing these passionate convictiond, one of whom was Stephen. Saul was present when Stephen was stoned (Acts 7), which happened before Saul’s Damascus Road experience… which historians place just 2 to 3 years (A.D. 32-33) after Jesus’s crucifixion (A.D. 30). The implications of the early teachings and creeds is not only foundational in debunking the Legend Argument but further testifies to the personal convictions of the early Christians regarding the Lordship of Jesus. This evidence regarding Jesus’s life, death, and empty tomb is unchallenged by most non-Christian scholars. Notable mentions would be Bart Ehrman, Gerd Ludemann, and John Dominic Crossan.

“Jesus’ death by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate is as sure as anything historical can ever be. For if no follower of Jesus had written anything for one hundred years after his crucifixion, we would still know about him from two authors not among his supporters. Their names are Flavius Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus.” – Crossan

Friends, it’s my hope and prayer that this post encourages you incredibly. In His mercy, God has provided all of us with abundant evidence for defending the reasons for the hope that we have in the Gospel of Jesus. You might not need these facts, and yet someone you might know…might. But don’t put someone’s salvation upon yourself, as that is something only the Holy Spirit can do. Dr. Gary Habermas, during one of his lectures at Biola, reminded his listeners that not everyone walked away from Jesus believing. “And if some folks walked away from Jesus not believing, why would we think that most will walk away from us believing?!” Habermas continued to exhort that (with God’s help) we can put a ‘rock in someone’s shoe…Praying that the information we share with others would foster further investigation.

Resources pertaining to #4:
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