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Podcast: How Ought to We Reply to Our Doubt? (Randy Newman)


This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast sequence.

Dealing with Our Questions

On this episode, Randy Newman discusses how all Christians wrestle with numerous questions on their religion, and he explains that reasonably than viewing these questions as roadblocks to religion, we should always see them because the pure twists and turns that accompany our lives as Christians—twists and turns that may lead us to a deeper belief and confidence in our heavenly Father.

Questioning Faith

Randy Newman


In these sincere tales about religious looking, doubt, and perception, apologetics instructor Randy Newman offers honest inquirers the chance to research religion and encounter God’s love.

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Matters Addressed in This Interview:

Matt Tully
Randy, thanks a lot for becoming a member of me at this time on The Crossway Podcast.

Randy Newman
It’s nice to be with you. Thanks a lot.

Matt Tully
As Christians, I feel everyone knows what it’s to wrestle with doubt at totally different factors in our lives—numerous totally different sorts of doubts that could be associated to every kind of issues. And but generally it may be onerous to know the right way to discuss that or what to do with that doubt as believers. I’m wondering in the event you might begin us off at this time by answering the query, For those who had been to take a seat down with a Christian proper now—type of like we’re sitting down proper now, perhaps at a espresso store with some espresso in hand—and that individual had been to return to you and say, Randy, I’m scuffling with doubt, and that scares me, what’s the very first thing that you’d say to them?

Randy Newman
I feel the very first thing I’d say is that I additionally wrestle with doubts as a result of I would like them to know that they’re not alone—and I do, so I’m not simply utilizing that as a line—and that I feel doubt could also be extra widespread than most individuals suppose. So I need to type of soften the stress there. I feel additionally I need to attempt to specific that even actually sturdy, strong, mature believers have instances of doubt. And I feel that there’s a picture of the mature Christian—whoever she or he is—that they by no means have doubts. I don’t suppose that that’s sensible for most individuals. I can’t cross judgment on the individuals who say I by no means have doubts. I do know the place my thoughts goes. I doubt that they’re telling the reality, or I doubt that they’re in contact with all of their struggles. However that’s not the purpose. I feel the instructing of the New Testomony has locations in it that suggest there shall be instances of doubt and wrestle and frustration. And so it’s not a query of, How do I eliminate this? I’ve doubt. I need to eliminate it. No, it’s, How do I dig into it and work by way of it and dwell with it reasonably than I’ve simply acquired to eliminate it? In order that’s the place to begin I consider coping with doubt.

Matt Tully
One of many issues I actually appreciated about your e book is the ways in which you strategy these broader problems with our religious journeys with a really nuanced lens the place even issues like doubt can have very multifaceted dimensions to them. It’s not all the time a easy reply that we’re searching for that actually goes to resolve that. You say within the e book, “I’ve come to see that religious journeys resemble a sequence of twists and turns greater than a direct ascent from one perception to a different. My very own story actually suits that description.” So I’m wondering in the event you might simply give us a short abstract of how your personal life story has been marked by these twists and turns and even struggles with doubt at instances.

Randy Newman
First, I’ve heard numerous tales of individuals’s lives about how they’ve come to religion, and for some time numerous them slot in a really brief, linear style. Once I was this outdated, I believed this. Then, I realized this. Then, I discovered this. Then, I turned a Christian. Straight line.

Matt Tully
Yeah. Quite simple.

Randy Newman
Sure, quite simple. I come from a Jewish background, and being raised in a Jewish background, we don’t need something to do with Jesus. I imply, after I was rising up the one time Jesus was talked about was connected to “these individuals” who’re our enemies. They’re the anti-Semites. They’re the individuals who persecuted us. Germany was a Christian nation, and look what they did through the Holocaust. And so we don’t need something to do with them. So for a very long time after I had Christian associates who would say issues like, You should learn the New Testomony, No, no, no! I don’t need something to do with that! And but on the identical time there was this attraction of, Why is it that these individuals appear to know God in a private method? They speak to him about every part. They pray about every part. They pray in English. And so there was type of this, No, I’m repulsed by this and I’m drawn to it. It’s this backwards and forwards type of factor. I start the e book telling about how I went on this mountaineering expertise with my son, and I realized what switchbacks had been. And switchbacks make it potential for individuals to rise up mountains. They commute and backwards and forwards. I do know that is audio so you may’t see my palms, however I hope what a switchback is. It’s this backwards and forwards type of factor that simply strikes progressively as a result of the choice is you must climb straight up. I didn’t convey a helicopter that day. That’s the one method I might have gotten up.

Matt Tully
Or climbing ropes.

Randy Newman
Climbing ropes. You’ve acquired to have hammers and nails, however a switchback permits you. And I feel that’s extra the picture about how individuals come to religion. I make some stage of ascent, after which I flip again the opposite method. Then, perhaps I cease and relaxation. I do know in my very own story there was a time in highschool I knew a bunch of Christian associates. They shared a complete lot with me. That acquired me pondering. Then, I went off to school and for the primary 12 months and a half I didn’t take into consideration God or Jesus or something. I considered beer and music and ladies. Each Friday night time I went to a celebration and acquired drunk. Each Saturday night time I went to the Philadelphia Academy of Music and listened to among the best music on the earth. I used to be searching for one thing. On Friday nights I used to be searching for escape. On Saturday I used to be searching for some type of transcendence. And each of them had been tremendously disappointing. That was my freshman 12 months in school and most of my sophomore 12 months till a good friend of mine died on this actually tragic accident, after which I needed to say, Wait a minute. Wait a second. Music isn’t going to assist me with this, beer isn’t going to assist. I’ve acquired to seek out one thing deeper. And that’s after I began studying C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I learn the Gospel of Matthew, I learn numerous the New Testomony. However once more, it was this backwards and forwards, oblique switchback type of factor. Once I acquired to a degree of religion and perception and circled and checked out the place I had been, it’s like, *Oh, this was type of a meandering that took three and a half or 4 years.

Matt Tully
Do you suppose that these switchbacks, the looking for one thing and never all the time understanding what’s subsequent and what the fitting reply is, did that proceed after your conversion? Does that additionally characterize our lives as Christians generally?

Randy Newman
Oh, certain. I positively suppose so. There are particular truths of the Christian life that the primary time you hear it, for lots of us it’s precisely the other of what you had been indoctrinated with. And I feel there’s in all probability 100 totally different examples, however for me it was all about Jesus. I used to be steeped within the view that Jesus was a great instructor—an excellent instructor—that’s it. And so when associates mentioned, Effectively, no, he’s God, are you kidding? No. Effectively, he claimed to be God. Effectively, then he’s a nut! The entire concept that God might tackle flesh, that’s loopy! And so there are a complete bunch of concepts that you must first say, Wait a minute. Maintain it. Okay. Lots of people actually consider this, s perhaps I shouldn’t be so dismissive. And for some individuals, that simply takes some time. For some individuals, it’s that God truly selected to disclose himself in a e book for a complete lot of individuals. That’s simply loopy! Actually? God wrote a e book? Effectively, no, he didn’t write a e book. He revealed himself, and folks wrote a e book. Effectively, how did that occur? And once more, individuals must type of sit with that. I feel we as Christians suppose we simply state the thought. There. It’s on the market. It’s true. It’s a two-edged sword; it’ll minimize by way of. Sure, it’s true and it’s a two-edged sword. However for a complete lot of individuals, they want time to type of sit with it. As a result of the essence of changing into a Christian is admitting that you just’ve been incorrect about a complete lot of stuff—a complete lot of actually massive stuff. I used to be incorrect about who God was, I used to be incorrect about who I’m, I used to be incorrect about this factor referred to as sin, I used to be incorrect about who Jesus is, I used to be incorrect concerning the Bible. So realizing, Oh, there’s one other method to have a look at this. I’d must re study this. After which, as you say, even after we develop into believers, there’s only a complete lot extra of, Oh, I’ve all the time thought this, however what? It’s totally different. And it’s higher. It’s 1,000,000 instances higher. However that takes a while. It’s not simply, Let’s switch the knowledge from the e book into my mind. There. That’s achieved. Wouldn’t or not it’s pretty if that might be that simple? Let me simply plug myself into this info supply, and now it’s in me.

Matt Tully
It’s not the Matrix.

Randy Newman
No, it’s not the Matrix. And it’s not remedy. I imply, remedy works that method generally. We predict, I simply want a shot of theology.

Matt Tully
It doesn’t all the time work like that.

Randy Newman
No.

Matt Tully
One of many issues that’s notable about your e book is what number of tales you embrace in it. And it type of acquired me enthusiastic about the function of tales as we take into consideration each our journey coming to religion and even our journey as Christians and maturing in our religion and addressing among the doubts and the struggles that we now have associated to the religion. How would you summarize the significance of tales for the way we take into consideration this stuff?

Randy Newman
I’m tempted to need to reply your query by telling a narrative, however I can’t consider one proper now, in order that’s not going to work. Let me simply again up somewhat bit. I’ve written a number of books about evangelism, and so they’re written for Christians about the way you do evangelism. And in all of them I speak concerning the significance of pre-evangelism. There are conversations we have to have earlier than we now have the dialog concerning the gospel. And there’s 1,000,000 conversations we are able to have. We are able to discuss music, we are able to discuss artwork, we are able to discuss household, we are able to discuss so many issues. After which I say how these issues are pointers, pre-evangelism. And in some unspecified time in the future I believed, I ought to apply what I preach. I ought to write a pre-evangelistic e book. And I attempted out these concepts as a chat, and I satisfied associates to set me up in locations the place I might speak to each believers and non-believers on school campuses and totally different locations. I gave this speak that I referred to as “Contemplating Religion within the Twenty-First Century.” And all I used to be making an attempt to say to individuals is, I’m making an attempt to ask you simply to think about or, in some circumstances, rethink. And it was very pre-pre-pre-pre-evangelistic. I wasn’t presenting the gospel. I used to be saying, I would like you to think about some concepts like, for instance, all of us strategy this subject of religion with a complete mixture of motivations, not simply curiosity. It’s not simply mental curiosity. It’s a complete lot of issues enjoying. After which I might say issues like, I’d such as you to think about that perhaps religion is inevitable, not non-obligatory. Possibly all people has religion. And what I did was I might state the purpose first, after which I might inform some tales that illustrate it. So, I met with somebody who is aware of concerning the world of books and publishing, and I mentioned, I acquired this concept, I acquired this speak. And I advised him about it and he goes, Effectively, that’s a very good speak however a very awful e book. Thanks very a lot! He mentioned books work the other. In books, you inform the tales first, and then you definitely draw the purpose. So a e book begins with, Let me let you know about this story. Let me let you know this story. Let me let you know this story. Let me let you know how these tales are related, which leads me to the purpose that all of us convey totally different motivations to the subject of religion. In order that’s how I wrote the e book, telling these tales. And it does work higher as a e book that method than as a chat. There was additionally this sense, as I heard individuals’s tales and I learn well-known individuals’s tales, I believed individuals want to listen to these tales. They’re simply superb. And no one is aware of this a part of that well-known individual’s life. For instance, can I provide you with an instance? A lot of individuals know who Christopher Hitchens was—an atheist, he wrote the e book God Is Not Nice, younger atheists simply love him. He tells a narrative in a memoir he wrote, after which I heard him on an NPR interview the place he talked about his mom’s suicide. His mom had taken up with one other man after she acquired divorced from Christopher Hitchens’ father, and the connection didn’t work out. And they also each took their lives. They dedicated suicide collectively. He tells this on NPR radio. You could possibly look it up on-line. He says, My mom tried to name me proper earlier than she killed herself. My mom tried to name me, and I didn’t get to the decision in time. I simply missed it by a couple of minutes, however I really feel like if I might have gotten the decision, I don’t suppose she would have achieved it. I might have stopped her from doing that. After which he says, So I’ve been making an attempt to write down myself out of that ever since. I keep in mind I used to be driving in a automobile. I needed to pull over to the aspect of the street. It was so upsetting. Attempting to write down myself out of that ever since—he looks like he might have stopped his mom from committing suicide. And swiftly, every part I had heard and skim by Christopher Hitchens, as a result of he’s a superb author and I had learn numerous his stuff, swiftly had a complete totally different really feel to it. Oh my goodness, this man is simply racked with guilt and ache and horror each single day. And he’s making an attempt to write down himself out of this mess, and it ain’t working. He was well-known for the way a lot alcohol he consumed. It wasn’t simply alcohol. He was actually making an attempt to self-medicate and canopy over a ache so deep. I feel individuals must know that about him. And so I discovered these type of issues about well-known individuals. After which I additionally talked to unusual individuals and I heard their tales about how they turned Christians, and so they’re simply unusual individuals and so they’re by no means going to be well-known and so they’re not going to write down books and so they’re not going to go on TV exhibits, however man, their tales are unbelievable. I would like individuals to listen to these tales. You probably did what? So I attempt to weave these type of tales collectively within the e book and say, Doesn’t this make us suppose that maybe . . . ?

Matt Tully
Tales can add a lot shade and an understanding to the issues that we are saying, the issues that we really feel as we discuss this. In relation to speaking with individuals, you’ve spent numerous hours speaking with unbelievers and believers alike, listening to their tales of journeys to religion, listening to them articulate their doubts and their struggles with the Christian religion. I’m wondering in the event you can, enthusiastic about all that have you may have, are you able to full the next sentence in as some ways as is smart to you: If somebody involves you with their doubts, don’t . . . ?

Randy Newman
So I’m giving recommendation to the one who’s listening to somebody share their doubts to them?

Matt Tully
Proper. Whether or not they’re a believer or unbeliever, you’re giving some recommendation.

Randy Newman
You’re the Christian, and a Christian good friend of yours involves you and says, I’m having doubts.

Matt Tully
Or a non-Christian good friend. I feel both of these.

Randy Newman
Alright, properly I’d love to do each. So the Christian comes and says, I’m having doubts. I might counsel the counselor to inform them they’re not loopy. They’re not dropping their salvation. This in all probability is extra widespread than they notice. The Christian life does have a bunch of instances that We now have doubts. C. S. Lewis talked about it as “undulations” in The Screwtape Letters. I feel that’s simply the fact of being human, dwelling in a fallen world, dwelling in a time between the instances. We now have the revelation of the cross, however we’re nonetheless ready for the second coming, so I feel doubt might be going to occur so much. I’d inform hat person who if all of their Christian associates say, Oh, I by no means have doubts, I might say it’s best to attempt to discover some totally different associates. Did I simply say that? Is that going to get edited out? I do suppose that there are pockets throughout the Christian world the place they are saying, I by no means have doubts. I do know that I do know that I do know. And I don’t suppose they’re studying their Bible as totally or as precisely as they need to. So, wow, I’m wondering in the event you’re going to get some mail about that. If it’s a non-Christian who says, Effectively, I simply can’t consider as a result of I’ve too many doubts. I might attempt to say you may consider and nonetheless have doubts. You don’t need to be 100% sure. After which I might attempt to say there are all types of issues in life that we dwell with out 100% absolute certainty. For instance, I just lately needed to go to the attention physician, and he prescribed some eye drops. After which I needed to go to the pharmacy and get the attention drops. After which I got here house and I put the attention drops in. Now, I by no means examined these drops to be sure that they weren’t going to drive me blind, or that they had been sulfuric acid and that my eyes had been going to dissipate. I had religion that the attention physician knew what he was speaking about when he checked out my eyes and mentioned, Oh, you want this, and that the pharmacy was in a position to learn his handwriting (perhaps that was a step of religion) and that they prescribed the fitting factor. So I had a really excessive stage of assured religion within the eye physician and the prescription and our medical course of. However did I’ve absolute certainty? No. And there’s simply all types of issues that we have to dwell in life with a excessive stage of confidence. I consider God has revealed such great truths to us. However in that reality, within the Bible itself, He tells us there are some issues he’s not going to inform us. Deuteronomy 29:29 has acquired to be considered one of my favourite verses: “The key issues belong to the LORD our God, however the issues revealed belong to us.” There are issues he hasn’t revealed but. Or Paul speaking about “now we see by way of a mirror dimly (darkly).” Or Paul saying in 2nd Corinthians 4 “we’re troubled however not crushed, perplexed however not despairing.” There may be perplexity. There are puzzles. And there are occasions we have to say, I don’t know why God did that.

Matt Tully
Do you suppose generally Christians are responsible of, whether or not it’s speaking to unbelievers or speaking to different Christians, we’re responsible of presenting the Christian religion as the last word reply to all of life’s questions, and in the event you type of simply settle for this, all these perplexities will disappear?

Randy Newman
I feel that has occurred so much. I feel numerous very considerate questioners have been advised to cease asking so many questions. I feel that’s a horrible factor to say to individuals. Let me simply again up. I went for a doctorate, and I needed to get a doctorate in evangelism or intercultural research, and I went earlier than the committee and mentioned, What sort of analysis do we have to do?They usually mentioned, Effectively, we should always interview a complete lot of people that turned Christians and listen to their tales. I believed, Oh, that’ll be nice! And I knew that the usual in that type of analysis was to interview about thirty individuals. So I believed I’d go low and say I’d wish to interview twenty-five individuals, and so they mentioned, No, you must interview forty. And I believed, okay, now it’s my flip to return again with thirty. And I mentioned thirty, and so they mentioned forty. And I mentioned thirty, and so they mentioned forty. So I interviewed forty. Really, interviewed extra. I ended up doing extra. And since then, I simply cherished the method a lot I’ve been interviewing and I simply hear numerous these tales. However in a proper, sit-down setting, recording each phrase, transcribing each phrase, I interviewed forty school college students who had develop into Christians throughout the final two years. That was the limitation we placed on it. And there was this one man who that’s precisely what he was advised. He was advised within the church the place his dad and mom introduced him rising up, You ask too many questions. You simply must consider in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and he’ll take away all of your questions. And he thought, Effectively, that have to be a faith for silly individuals. And he was a very sensible man. He knew he was sensible. He was getting good grades. He acquired a full journey scholarship to a very good college. And he thought, I don’t want Christianity as a result of I’m sensible, and Christianity is for silly individuals. However then he went to an occasion as a result of individuals invited him and there was free pizza (that’s actually why he went), and it was considered one of these query and reply type of issues about God, and he solely went to make enjoyable of the Christians. And he would ask clever man questions, however they had been very nice to him. So he began going to a Bible examine. The Gospel of Mark. And he met a gaggle of people that revered his questions. At one level within the interview I mentioned to him, Was there one main impediment that you just needed to get previous? And I’m pondering evolution, how we acquired the Bible, philosophical arguments for the existence of God. He mentioned to me, Keep in mind that story the place Jesus solid the demons into the pigs? What’s up with that? And I believed, That’s your greatest objection? That’s actually what’s holding you again? I mentioned, Did you ask this within the Bible? The very first thing the Bible examine chief mentioned to him is, Gee, I don’t know. I mentioned, Oh, that’s a foul begin. He goes, No, that’s an amazing begin. It was nice. It was nice when someone admitted they didn’t know one thing as a result of I believed Christians are all a bunch of know-it-alls. However then the following factor the man mentioned was, Effectively, I assume what this story tells us is we actually shouldn’t fiddle with demons and that there have to be one thing actually totally different between being an individual and being a pig. And I believed that sounds fairly good. It’s not probably the most thorough reply. I mentioned, So did that fulfill you? He goes, Yeah. And the following factor he mentioned was crucial. He mentioned, It’s important to perceive I used to be raised in a spot the place they saved saying cease asking questions; you don’t want solutions to your questions. When this man revered my query and gave me a reasonably first rate reply, I believed, ’Oh, Christianity isn’t for silly individuals. There are solutions’. After which I mentioned, So did you ask 1,000,000 questions He goes, No, I didn’t must. I figured if there’s an honest reply to that query, there’s in all probability first rate solutions to my questions. I turned a Christian quickly after that.

Matt Tully
That’s such a profound story as a result of it does converse to the posture that we now have generally as Christians chatting with unbelievers, chatting with weak believers who’re scuffling with totally different doubts, that may make all of the distinction. It’s not all the time, as you type of mentioned earlier than, mental obtain of the fitting reply.

Randy Newman
There’s a posture that I’ve seen, and I see it far much less at this time, however there was a time round thirty years in the past the place the posture within the apologetics world was we now have the solutions, we are able to reply all their questions. And the implication was their questions are silly, however we’ve acquired the solutions. And generally it’s, Their questions aren’t actual questions. They’re simply smoke screens. Effectively, generally they’re simply smoke screens. Sure, however not all the time. I keep in mind listening to one apologist say when individuals ask this query, they’re probably not asking this query; they’ve an ethical drawback of their life. There’s some type of immorality happening of their life. And I keep in mind pondering that that could be true in some circumstances, however how will you make such a blanket assertion? That’s not being respectful to individuals. Keep in mind, Peter tells us to do all of this apologetics with gentleness and respect. And there was a time when it wasn’t very mild and it wasn’t respectful. I feel we’ve come a great distance. I feel there’s great gentleness and respect now within the apologetics world and within the evangelism world. I’m very inspired concerning the tendencies.

Matt Tully
I need to run rapidly by way of quite a lot of totally different causes for doubt that each unbelievers and even some Christians would possibly wrestle with of their lives. I’m wondering in the event you can, for instance and as a mannequin to these Christians who’re listening who need to be a assist to their associates, however perhaps even for somebody who’s listening proper now who himself could be scuffling with a few of these causes to doubt Christianity. I’m wondering in the event you can provide us an preliminary stab at how you’d reply to someone who expressed this to you. The primary one: I’m scuffling with doubt due to all of the ache and struggling that I see on the earth round me. Daily we hear of recent tragedies all over the world and generally in our personal properties that I simply can’t reconcile with the God of the Bible.

Randy Newman
Yeah, and I feel that is very, quite common, and no matter assist I could be or no matter assist you discover, don’t be stunned in the event you’re going to wish extra assist with this once more sooner or later as a result of there shall be different issues that come alongside. I’ll be very sincere. I’m struggling at this very second due to the horrors which are happening in Israel and Gaza. I’m having to return to classes I’ve realized and repeat them and rethink them and re-wrestle with them and get on my knees and wrestle with God just like the Lament Psalms mannequin for me. How lengthy, O Lord, will you let this sort of horror proceed? So I feel that there’s a lamenting mode of being a believer on the earth at this level in God’s plan or stage of historical past. I need to inform individuals don’t be stunned by these doubts, and I need to say to doubt your doubts. However I would like us to dig into them and, both for the primary time examine or remind yourselves whenever you final studied, what are among the finest solutions which have been given about this drawback? So if it’s about the issue of ache and evil and struggling, I might learn C. S. Lewis’s e book The Drawback of Ache, or Peter Kreeft’s e book Making Sense Out of Struggling, or Tim Keller’s e book Strolling with God by way of Ache and Struggling. And these are tough books to learn. We don’t need to learn them and we don’t need to watch the YouTube movies of individuals giving good solutions to those as a result of it’s painful to dig into it. However I additionally need to say that there’s a temptation to stroll away from God in these instances. Effectively, then what? That’s strolling right into a worse place. The dwelling aside from God’s solutions leaves you with one other set of solutions which are horrible, which are pathetic, which are weak, which are no assist in any respect. There are lots of people who’re atheists, and so they turned atheists as a result of they noticed struggling, so that they walked away from Christianity. The atheist clarification for struggling has no hope in it in anyway. No assets to be a great good friend when someone else is struggling. You’ve walked away from the useful resource of prayer that can provide you a way of hope within the midst of not having mental solutions. So with all of its incompleteness, the Christian incomplete reply is 1,000,000 instances higher than the skeptic atheist reply. And we have to take a look at the ugliness of that in its uncooked ugliness and say I’m going to cling to the Christian one as a result of, yeah, I nonetheless have questions. If I drew a pie chart of how I deal with this, there’s a giant chunk of the pie chart that claims “I don’t know.” However there are a complete bunch of the slivers of the pie chart that assist me tremendously get by way of ache and struggling.

Matt Tully
That’s such a useful reply as a result of, once more, it looks as if it does two issues on the identical time. On the one hand, it doesn’t over promise what Christianity will do and may repair within the midst of the struggling of this world. We don’t have a straightforward reply for why all this stuff occur. We don’t have a definitive strategy to put an finish to all of it as a result of we consider we dwell in a damaged world. And but your reply additionally reminds us that the grass isn’t all the time greener. I feel generally as Christians we perhaps are probably the most tempted, once we’re scuffling with doubt on this space, we’re probably the most tempted to suppose that perhaps there’s another mind-set that makes this simpler. However you’re type of saying that’s a idiot’s errand.

Randy Newman
You don’t need to dig too far to seek out some tales of skeptics and atheists and what they mentioned about dying and the way they face their very own dying. And it’s fairly empty. And a few of them attempt to joke about it and crack jokes. And also you go, that’s probably not that humorous. After which it’s additionally good to have a look at some individuals who have actually, actually suffered who’re sturdy Christians and so they say, Right here’s why I cling to it. Joni Eareckson Tada’s many writings. We have to take a look at that and ask why would a girl who’s in a wheelchair and a quadriplegic for 50 years nonetheless say, I sing praises to Jesus as a result of I really like him? And there are tons and many individuals like that. I discussed this simply virtually as somewhat apart within the chapter I wrote on struggling on this new e book Questioning Religion. Why is it that so many African Individuals have develop into Christians and have become Christians at a time once they had been enslaved by white individuals who declare to be Christians? Why on the earth would they latch onto the faith of their slave house owners? There have to be one thing about that religion that’s sturdy and strong and good aside from individuals who declare to be Christians who actually aren’t or people who find themselves among the worst hypocrites. Frederick Douglass mentioned some actually, actually stunning issues concerning the Christian religion. As finest as I can inform, I feel he turned a Christian. However he had a slave grasp who beat him daily besides on Sunday as a result of that’s the sabbath. That’s the type of nonsense hypocrisy he was immersed in. And but, when he heard the gospel preached, he discovered it irresistible. These sorts of tales must seize us and say wait a minute. Okay, I acquired doubts. I’ve seen evil and struggling. No one’s ever crushed me six days every week, claiming that they’re doing it as a result of they’re a Christian. So I can be taught some issues from Frederick Douglass and different individuals and evaluate the very, very disparate tales of perception and non-belief.

Matt Tully
That’s a great segue into another excuse that we generally wrestle with doubt. How would you reply to someone who says, I’m scuffling with doubt due to the hypocrisy of Christians? We regularly hear tales of Christians—those that supposedly have a relationship with the true and the dwelling God—of them being simply as egocentric, simply as merciless, simply as misleading as anybody else. So how can I actually consider that Christianity is true when that is how Christians behave?

Randy Newman
It’s very disturbing. I wouldn’t attempt to reduce it if individuals convey this up. I don’t need to say, Effectively, , that’s a reasonably small minority. I don’t understand how small of a minority it’s. I do suppose it’s a minority, and I might attempt to at the least discuss that like, Do you suppose that that’s the norm? Do you suppose that’s what most Christians are like? However we are able to’t reduce that an excessive amount of. We by some means need to make a distinction between these very dangerous shows of the gospel and Jesus. We need to look to him. I hope I get to ship this line someday. I haven’t just lately, however I hope somebody asks this query, and what I need to say is, Yeah, that’s actually horrible. You’re proper. I nonetheless suppose Jesus is price following. Once I wrote my first e book Questioning Evangelism, I made a decision to go after this subject and I titled that chapter “If Jesus Is So Nice, Why Are A few of His Followers Such Jerks?” And I needed to type of promote that somewhat bit to the writer, however they favored it. In order that’s the jerks chapter.

Matt Tully
You hear this so much from particularly ex-Christians, individuals who have walked away from the religion of their youthful years and the religion of their household and their dad and mom, is they will say, I grew up within the church, and I’ve simply seen the hypocrisy and it made me query whether or not or not this was all even actual.

Randy Newman
And there have been some horrible, horrible issues. Possibly the place to begin is yeah, I perceive that. I feel if I might have seen a few of that stuff then I might need additionally walked away. I might need, I don’t know. However after I step again, I take a look at Jesus. There are individuals who have adopted him who are usually not hypocrites. They’re actually stunning individuals. They’re damaged, they’re sinful, they admit it. However there are some Christian individuals who do some actually superb issues. So I simply need to get the panorama as full as potential. I feel what some Christians need to do is that they need to take all these hypocrites and simply get them off the desk. Get them out of the image. No, no, they’re within the image. They’re. However so is Jesus. And so is his resurrection. And so are some actually godly individuals who do superb issues. And I don’t know the place, however in some unspecified time in the future I additionally need to level out, and I don’t know the easiest way to phrase this. So listeners to the podcast, please don’t quote me on this, however in some unspecified time in the future we need to say there are a complete lot of non-Christian jerks too. I imply, there actually are. There are a complete lot of non-Christians who’re hypocrites. There’s numerous hypocrisy on the earth. They’re in every single place. They usually’re not simply Christians. Christians don’t have a nook in the marketplace of hypocrisy.

Matt Tully
Okay, one other space of doubt.

Randy Newman
See? He simply desires to maneuver on from that. We’re going to speak to the editors about that.

Matt Tully
No, that’s so true, and it’s a good reminder. I feel generally to Christians that may come throughout as, You guys are those who declare to know God. You’re those who declare to have this ethical code from God that ought to make you higher than the remainder of us.

Randy Newman
It ought to. There may be an outrage in that that’s acceptable. There may be an outrage, and we need to be a part of them in that outrage. You’re proper. and we need to level to the truth that this bothers us is a pointer to the truth that there may be such a factor as proper and incorrect. And incorrect and sin ought to disturb us terribly. So we don’t need to reduce any of that. Anyway, you needed to maneuver on. I finished you.

Matt Tully
One other supply of doubt for us will be the one who says, *Have a look at all of the totally different religions that exist on the earth. If the God of the Bible is actual, then why isn’t he 1) at the least extra universally accepted and acknowledged, and a pair of) how can I be completely certain that Christianity, out of all of the religions, is the precise proper one?

Randy Newman
When individuals say, Have a look at all of the religions of the world, I need to say, Yeah, let’s take a look at them.

Matt Tully
So that you’re not afraid of that problem?

Randy Newman
Effectively, I’m afraid of people that solely look on the floor. And on the floor you’re probably not seeing what’s actually on the coronary heart of issues. So I do suppose it’s good to review and be taught and to see how they’re totally different. And there’s a level the place we need to say God has revealed himself, and it’s potential for individuals to overlook that or look elsewhere or attempt to discover solutions elsewhere. However this has all the time been an issue. This isn’t only a drawback for our day and age once we’re so very properly related due to globalization. It’s extra apparent, but it surely was an issue in historic Israel for Jewish individuals to solely worship the true God. And also you learn the Prophets, and so they have some actually, actually sturdy condemnations of worshiping different gods. And that’s what different religions are—the worshiping of different gods. So this has all the time been a slender drawback for believers. God’s individuals have all the time been surrounded by individuals who consider different gods. I feel it’s a really latest, fashionable factor, solely within the final 100 years or so when individuals say, Oh, what although? No, they’re actually worshiping the identical God. They simply worship him in numerous methods. Effectively, in the event you actually dig in, or if in case you have a great dialog with a honest adherent of one other faith, you’ll discover out no, they don’t suppose they’re worshiping the identical God. A religious Muslim doesn’t consider that Allah is similar God because the God within the Bible. They suppose the Bible acquired it incorrect. The Bible distorted it. You speak to a Buddhist who actually is aware of his Buddhism, they know Jewish individuals worship one God and say that perception in different gods is fake. Buddhism says there actually isn’t a private god that you’d speak to that might have a reputation. And so it’s type of these people who find themselves on the surface who look on a really surfacy type of method who say, I feel they consider the identical issues. Andy Bannister has written a complete e book on do Christians and Muslims worship the identical God. And he actually digs into the Qur’an. He has a doctorate in Islamic research. He’s a Christian who has a doctorate in Islamic research, so he is aware of the Qur’an and he is aware of Islamic teachings. They don’t suppose they’re worshiping the God of the Bible. That’s some type of a secular factor that secular professors of spiritual research lessons have give you. Nevertheless it doesn’t have a lot substance to it.

Matt Tully
One other space of doubt that folks would possibly wrestle with is simply the concept that biblical Christianity forces individuals into a really small field. The Bible defines us, it defines who we’re, who we needs to be, how we’re presupposed to dwell, who we’re supposed to like. All of this stuff are very limiting on our identities as individuals. And this looks like that is type of a difficulty that has numerous resonance at this time maybe. Points round like, Who am I? Who do I get to be and make myself to be? Christianity is simply so limiting. How would you reply to that?

Randy Newman
Effectively, let me again up and say I feel the duty for us as Christians in getting ready the right way to reply questions has a 3 stage means of answering. The primary stage is I need to be certain I’m actually understanding the query. I hear the query and I ask extra inquiries to make clear. I need to be sure that I’m actually answering the query the individual’s asking. Secondly, I need to suppose, Okay, so what’s the reply? What does the Bible say? However then there’s the third, and it’s the one which I feel individuals ignore probably the most, and it’s, What do I say? I don’t simply begin with,Effectively, right here’s what the Bible says. There. God mentioned it, I consider it, that settles it. I imply, which may be theologically proper and philosophically watertight, but it surely didn’t actually assist the person who we’re speaking to know or transfer from error to reality. And so there’s numerous knowledge. We have to do our homework and know what the Bible teaches about that. However then there’s,Okay, the place do I begin?*I’m not ignoring your query.

Matt Tully
It’s the query of how do I persuade or how do I assist somebody to know one thing that, once more, generally it’s extra than simply mental understanding that must be addressed in a few of these doubts.

Randy Newman
So we have to examine the methodology of Jesus’s answering of questions. As a result of he didn’t all the time reply, or at the least he didn’t give a solution instantly. The traditional case. The man comes as much as Jesus, Good instructor, what should I do to inherit everlasting life? All proper. That’s a reasonably easy query. What’s the reply? What a few of us would have mentioned in that state of affairs was, Consider within the Lord Jesus Christ and obtain him as your savior and Lord, and also you’ll be saved. Or we’d say, Effectively, your query implies that you just’re making an attempt to work your method into heaven, however , works don’t work. By the works of the legislation nobody is saved. That’s the theology we’d talk. And that’s proper. And that’s true. And ultimately that’s what that man wanted to listen to. However what did Jesus say? Jesus mentioned, “Why do you name me good?” Wait a minute. I all the time image the disciples within the background going, He gave the incorrect reply. Go inform Jesus the right way to reply this query. This was a straightforward one. “Why do you name me good? Nobody is nice besides God alone.” What’s he doing? He desires to get the man on the root of his query. His query is, If I simply know what to do, I’ve in all probability already achieved it. As a result of then when Jesus does quote commandments, what does the man say? “All this stuff I’ve saved since I used to be a youth.” And Jesus is pondering, You continue to haven’t gotten to the purpose of realizing how not possible it’s so that you can save your self, so I’m going to need to make you very uncomfortable by saying one thing that can present you, ‘Oh, I don’t need to try this’. So he quotes about giving freely every part and the man goes away unhappy. So what’s the query that’s being requested? What’s the reply? After which, what do I say? So along with your query—Isn’t Christianity slender and confining? And by the best way, I feel when somebody asks that query, I feel in numerous circumstances it’s about intercourse. It’s telling me I can’t sleep with whoever I need to sleep with. So what’s the biblical reply? Effectively, the biblical reply is not any, you may’t sleep with whoever you need to sleep with. God could be very slender. It’s one man, one lady, inside marriage. Okay, sure, that’s the reply. However in the event you simply quote that at bumper sticker stage—Effectively, no, God says it’s one man, one lady for all times—you didn’t actually assist the individual. You didn’t meet them the place they’re at. You didn’t join with them in gentleness and respect. So what we have to do is a bunch of brainstorming of, Now, what do I say to individuals? And so what I need to say to individuals is, Don’t we want some limits? Shouldn’t there be some limitation? I’m a married man. I’ve dedicated myself to be devoted to 1 lady. If I mentioned to my spouse, Hey, I feel that is too slender. I need to go do issues with different individuals, I’m doing horrible hurt to her. I’m hurting her deeply. I’m violating issues that I made commitments earlier than God. I mentioned I might be devoted until dying do us half. I’m setting an instance for my youngsters and my grandchildren about the right way to dwell in methods which are harmful for them. So I need to say, Shouldn’t there be some limits? And I would like the individual to go, Yeah, there needs to be some limits. Okay. How will we work out what these limits are? And what I need to get to is God does set limits as a result of he’s a loving God. He is aware of what’s finest for us. And we predict limitless is finest. Effectively, that’s a really fashionable, secular view that simply got here alongside pretty just lately. Folks have dedicated immorality for a very long time, however they knew that it was immorality.

Matt Tully
Yeah, they hid it.

Randy Newman
They knew they in all probability shouldn’t be doing it, however now it’s celebrated. Effectively, shouldn’t there be some limits about what we are saying? And what I’m making an attempt to say is, on this third class of what we are saying, we have to make individuals uncomfortable earlier than we convey them the consolation of the excellent news of the gospel. Many individuals are very comfy. Effectively, I simply suppose that’s too limiting, and I really feel very comfy. And I need to get them to be uncomfortable about limitless. For those who actually dwell that method, would that actually be good for you? In some unspecified time in the future, wouldn’t you say, Oh, wait a minute? I really like Sam Allberry’s e book Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With? And he simply turns it on its head. The very first chapter is “Why Do We Care Who We Sleep With?” And his level is we do as a result of it’s a really massive deal. It makes a really massive distinction. And if it makes a giant distinction to us, properly then it could make sense that it makes a giant distinction to God. You simply flip the query round lengthy sufficient to assist individuals suppose. I need to assist you consider this, as a result of I feel for our tradition that likes slogans, tweets, issues not more than 140 characters, some matters are simply much more complicated than that.

Matt Tully
Possibly as a last query, Randy, on the finish of your e book—a e book the place, once more, you take a look at numerous tales of individuals wrestling with the religion, wrestling with what it means to be a Christian and what they consider God, wrestling with a few of these doubts that we’ve even talked about at this time—you flip to the subject of magnificence. You embrace this actually great quote from C. S. Lewis that we’ve talked about just a few instances already at this time. I’m wondering in the event you might learn that quote for us first, after which unpack somewhat bit what do you suppose Lewis was getting at, and why does that perhaps function a becoming conclusion to our dialog at this time?

Randy Newman
I do love that quote. And this has such an necessary function in my very own coming to religion as a result of I used to go to these concert events on the Philadelphia Academy of Music each Saturday night time and suppose, Sometime I’m going to listen to a bit of music that does it for me. I’m going to seek out my piece of music that connects me to the transcendent God. And it by no means fairly got here. A few of the items got here nearer than others, however then the piece of music was over and it was gone. So Lewis mentioned that every one these issues are pointers. They’re not the top itself. They’re simply pointing us within the route that we needs to be trying. This was in his sermon “The Weight of Glory.” He mentioned, “The books or the music through which we thought the wonder was situated will betray us if we belief to [sic] them; it was not in them, it solely got here by way of them, and what got here by way of them was longing. This stuff—the wonder, the reminiscence of our personal previous—are good pictures of what we actually want; but when they’re mistaken for the factor itself, they flip into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they don’t seem to be the factor itself; they’re solely the scent of a flower we now have not discovered, the echo of a tune we now have not heard, information from a rustic we now have by no means but visited.” I simply love that quote and that perception that in the event you belief in it, if that’s the place you place your belief, it breaks the hearts of its worshipers. For those who discover an individual that you just suppose, Ah! That is my excellent soulmate, give it every week. They’re going to disappoint you. You discovered the piece of music that simply does it for you; the piece of music goes to return to an finish. And the following time you hearken to it, it’s simply not going to be fairly nearly as good because the final time. Otherwise you go to a spot and say, Oh, I met God on this place! After which I went again and, I don’t know, they minimize the garden otherwise. However in the event you keep in mind that these issues are simply tips that could the God who created them, it’s what Jesus mentioned to the lady on the properly. It turns into a spring of water from inside that simply retains overflowing and overflowing and by no means leaves you thirsty.

Matt Tully
Randy, thanks a lot for taking the time at this time to assist us to handle among the doubts that we are able to, whilst Christians, wrestle with and level us to that spring of water that lives perpetually.

Randy Newman
It’s my pleasure. Thanks.


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