Maybe you’ve been in a similar type of situation like the one I’m about to describe. I can still remember sitting in my New Testament class at the University of Alabama & our professor asked us if there were any questions we had from our required reading assignment for the day. I’ll never forget one girl, standing up, with tears in her eyes and asking the professor: “You mean to tell me that it’s all false?” She was, of course, based upon the content of the reading for the class, speaking about whether Christianity was true or not (which she seemed to believe based on the distraught way that she asked her question). The professor responded, “That question is for your pastor or a counselor. Are there any other questions from others in the class based on your required readings?” The professor basically dismissed her question by not responding to it. Maybe her question was going to take up too much time, which I can understand. Maybe he could have said, “Let’s talk after class, ok?” She was asking, however, whether the claims by the textbook were true or not, so it would have been legitimate for him to address her concerns rather than leaving it for her pastor or counselor. Anyhow, I have often wondered what became of that girl and her Christian faith. You may ask, “Billy, why didn’t you help her?” I couldn’t help her because I was struggling with these types of objections and questions myself, so I was in no place to find her later & really assist her with the specific objections she had. I struggled with doubts regarding Christianity in this class and in many of my other college classes as well.
It was this New Testament class, particularly, that took me on a very long, but satisfying road of discovering Christian apologetics. In that New Testament class at UA we used as our New Testament text one written by a former-Christian, but now-turned-critic named Bart Ehrman. I have since learned that, while Bart Ehrman is known as being a well-trained biblical textual criticism scholar (trained by one of the best, the now-deceased Bruce Metzger), he tends to overstate some of his claims without being completely fair regarding the data. It’s easy to see, after looking at some of Ehrman’s material, where one would begin to question Christianity altogether. Nonetheless, you can see a fair response to some of what Bart Ehrman says here. Apologetics was what that girl needed in class that day, and it was apologetics, by God’s grace, that I discovered while going through many doubts and questions in college. God used my study of apologetics to help support and “rebuild” my Christian faith, in a sense, since I discovered that there were many good reasons to believe that Christianity was true. I discovered satisfying answers to the objections to Christianity that I encountered in my classes at UA.
While those times at UA were difficult for my faith at the time, they were, in hindsight, indispensable to who I am today. I thank God that I went through those doubts because I’ve been able to better sympathize with those who have doubts as well. Apologetics, I’ve discovered, is a ministry of compassion bringing relief to those caught in the despair of doubting; may we see it as such.
YOUR TURN! -Use the questions below as a guide for reflection and feedback in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
- When have you, in your own life, encountered doubts and questions regarding Christianity? (college/school, work, hard circumstances, etc.)
- What do you think of the story I’ve told of the girl that had doubts about Christianity in that New Testament class? Have you seen that happen before to others? Has that type of situation happened to you in a classroom setting, or otherwise?
- Have you discovered any satisfying answers to your questions about Christianity? If so, what were the satisfying answers that you’ve discovered and where did you find them?
- Which questions about Christianity still remain a mystery to you?