In my latest book, Reflections on the Existence of God, I have attempted to demonstrate how atheism is one massive contradiction, and how theism is logical and fits the real world we live in. The evidence is compelling.
However, if the evidence points to the existence of a transcendent infinite spiritual force in the universe, this force will remain unknown to us unless it appears and reveals its identity. The human search for God will always be an effort in futility, unless God chooses to reveal Himself in a convincing manner.
As we survey the host of world religions, I am convinced there is only one place to start and that is with the historical figure Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the only credible figure in history who made the claim to be God. In his book The Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton pointed out that no great moral teacher ever claimed to be God—not Mohammed, not Micah, not Malachi, or Confucius or Plato or Moses or Buddha:
“Not one of them ever made that claim…and the greater the man is, the less likely he is to make the very greatest claim.”
C.S. Lewis made this insightful observation:
“If you had gone to Buddha and asked him, ‘Are you the son of Brahman?’ he would have said, ‘My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.’ If you had gone to Socrates and asked, ‘Are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, ‘Are you Allah?’ he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off…The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question.”
For many years, the brilliant British scholar Malcolm Muggeridge was an outspoken atheist. One of the reasons he eventually changed his mind was because of the man Jesus. He said that plenty of great teachers, mystics, martyrs, and saints have made their appearance at different times in the world, having lived lives and spoken words full of grace and truth for which we have reason to be grateful. Nevertheless, Muggeridge continues, man needs God’s special revelation on which he can build a religious belief and from which he can find wisdom and understanding. Muggeridge goes on to say that the only solution is for God to become man, which He did through the Incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. God thereby:
“set a window in the dark dungeons of our soul,” that He might “let in a light which would provide a view, and offer a way to be released from the misery of our self-centeredness and pride.” In Jesus, “eternity steps into time, and time loses itself in eternity.”
So, Jesus must be the place to start in a search for God, because of His incredible claim to be God. It seems only logical to seek to determine if His claims were true.
However, I need to mention a second reason that Jesus and Christianity is where a person should start in his search for spiritual truth. Christianity is the only falsifiable religion in the world. In other words there is a way to prove that it is false. The reason I say this is because Christianity depends on certain historical facts to be true. (This, of course, would include Christ’s Resurrection.) Prove they never happened and Christianity is fraudulent.
Probably one of the most respected books on man’s diverse spiritual longings is The World’s Religions by Huston Smith. Written in 1958, it is still used regularly in many college curriculums. Commentator Bill Moyers suggests it is one of the best books on comparative religion because of its objectivity and its sensitivity to all religious beliefs and practices. Smith, who was very well educated, didn’t have any particular religious leaning. He was unbiased. And in the book, in the section on Christianity, he begins with these words:
“Christianity is basically a historical religion. That is to say, it is founded not on abstract principles but in concrete events, actual historical happenings.”
Out of all the religions that Smith covers, he doesn’t say this about any of the other world religions. The Bible, he suggests, unlike most of the world’s great religious literature and traditions, is not centered on a series of moral, spiritual, and liturgical teachings but rather on what God did in history and what He revealed in history.
It seems over the years that many scholars have recognized that if you debunk the historical accuracy of the Bible and prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity would fall. Even the Apostle Paul acknowledged this. He said if Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is worthless, and we should be pitied as fools. (I Corinthians 15:12-19)
The prominent philosopher Dallas Willard said that the historical evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is quite powerful. However, most modern people are totally ignorant of the facts. He noticed over the years however, that many a skeptic has set out to disprove the claims of the Christian faith, only to change their minds and eventually become Christians; Josh McDowell, J.N.D. Anderson, Lee Strobel, Frank Morison, Sir William Ramsay to mention but a few.
Willard points out that in their quest they are forced to examine the historical record and historical facts. They are forced to think clearly and to look reality in the eye. Willard goes on to say that modern people are irresponsible in their beliefs because they form their ideas about Jesus and the resurrection without examining the evidence.
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.