atheism

What Books Can Help me Talk to My Friend about Their Questions for God?

What Books Can Help me Talk to My Friend about Their Questions for God?

In the coming months at New Life we are looking forward to stepping into a series called Questions for God. In the series, we hope to openly and honestly engage the most difficult questions people have about Christianity. For some those questions keep them on the outside looking in. For others, it causes them to wrestle with their faith.

We hope that Questions for God invites everyone into the conversation no matter where you are spiritually. It is our aim to address these questions with respect and honesty. And it is our hope that some might lean in to engage their questions in a safe environment. It is hope as well that it might serve as an opportunity for Christians to open the doors for conversations with friends and family members.

As we prepare for this series, I would commend the following books. Maybe one of these piques your interest. I would encourage you to pick it up and start reading it in the next few weeks.

 

Two Books That Engage the Broader Questions

Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin

Deep thinkers have pointed questions for Christianity. “Aren’t we better off without religion?” “How can you say there’s only one true faith?” “Doesn’t religion cause violence?” “Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?” “Isn’t Christianity homophobic?” “How could a loving God send people to hell?”

In Confronting Christianity, Rebecca McLaughlin takes those questions seriously. As a former skeptic, McLaughlin brings both empathy and clear reasoning. She does three things particularly well:

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Pew recently released a survey[i] on why Americans do and do not go to church. While 73% of Americans identify as being Christian[ii], surveys say Americans who report going to church weekly is only around 35%.[iii] Our best estimates for our own city (Tucson) are that less than 3% of the population is in church on Sunday.[iv]

I write this as an appeal to the 65% nationally and 90%+[v] in Tucson who don’t attend church regularly.

First, I want to understand you and your reasons for not attending. In a recent survey, those reasons were expressed this way[vi]:

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      The Massive Self-Storage Industry: If you were going to invest in one industry over the past few decades, it would be hard to beat self-storage, which is now a $32 billion a year industry. Patrick Sisson digs deeper into the industry where "One in 11 Americans pays an average of $91.14 per month to use self-storage, finding a place for the material overflow of the American dream."

2.      Study: Atheists Find Meaning in Life by Inventing Fairy TalesRichard Weikart reflects on a recent report, "The survey admitted the meaning that atheists and non-religious people found in their lives is entirely self-invented. According to the survey, they embraced the position: 'Life is only meaningful if you provide the meaning yourself.'”

3.      Ten Things You Should Know About the CrossPatrick Schreiner concludes, "The cross is not only where our sin is paid for, where the devil is conquered, but the shape of Christianity. As Rutledge has said, 'the crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else. . . is given true significance.'”

4.      Can Social Media Be Saved? Kevin Roose examines whether there might be alternatives to the current quagmire, "I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong with social media. You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Maybe it’s the way you feel while scrolling through your Twitter feed — anxious, twitchy, a little world weary... Or maybe it was this month’s Facebook privacy scandal, which reminded you that you’ve entrusted the most intimate parts of your digital life to a profit-maximizing surveillance machine."

5.      The Owner of the Paper Airplane World Record Shows You How It's Done: You also get to check out John Collins's loop-de-loop plane and his bat plane. Pretty cool.

The Lure of Sensuality

The Lure of Sensuality

Perhaps the most uncomfortable thing about Christianity is not that God exists, and not that God sent his Son to the earth. It’s not the miracles: did God really make the universe out of nothing? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? It’s not even that its ethical stance on sexuality feels behind the times.

The most uncomfortable thing about Christianity is unequivocally our call to not just believe in, but to grant God authority in our lives and live faithfully and righteously.

In 2 Peter 2, Peter admonishes the church to beware of those who are false teachers and prophets. He says, “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” It’s interesting that he uses the word sensuality here. He doesn’t say, “And many will follow their false beliefs,” he says, “And many will follow their sensuality.”[i]

The result, not the cause, of our sensual desires is believing in false teaching.

The hook of false beliefs is rarely the beliefs themselves. Atheism, frankly, isn’t a very attractive belief system on its own merits. By its very definition, life contains no meaning: the brutal and blind hand of the natural world is all that is. It raises more questions than it solve: from the question of creation to the problem of evil to ethics. The hook of atheism is sensuality. If there is no God, there is no one you have to cede authority of your life to.

It’s why agnosticism is much more popular than atheism[ii] You get the same freedom and don’t have to swallow nearly as bitter a pill.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     How the World's Most Recognized Atheist Got Booted Out of the World's Most Liberal College: The reasons for Dawkins's "deplatforming" reveal cracks in secular liberalism: "Ultimately Dawkins was deluded about the fact that you cannot remove the framework of the Christian gospel from the culture without removing the freedoms it afforded him. And now all he can do is splutter ineffectually on the sidelines. And Berkeley?  Their need to protect Islam is merely the self-righteous self-preening of elite liberals who are confident they stand above all religions and therefore are the arbiters of which ones should be afforded their favour and protection at any one time."

2.     The Key Pursuit of a Young Life: Tim Challies on the importance of our early life and how differently God planned his Son's life than we would have: "But it fell to God—not you or me—to set the course for his life, and God planned it very differently. Jesus lived for around 33 years, but his entire public ministry fit into just the final three. He spent 90 percent of his life in obscurity and only 10 percent in the public eye. For every one year that was recorded, there were 10 that were not. God arranged the itinerary, and he chose to have Jesus spend 30 years in quiet preparation for his three years of public activity."

3.     US Not Increasing Refugee Resettlement In Step With Worldwide Demand: Sarah Eekhoff Lystra reports, " Since 1980, more than 3 million of the world’s refugees have settled in America, according to a new study released today by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than any other country in the world, in terms of resettlement....  President Donald Trump cut the 2017 intake from Obama’s planned 100,000 to 50,000...  The Trump administration has capped refugees for fiscal year 2018 at 45,000—the lowest since presidents were given the power to set limits back in 1980..."

4.      You Were Created for More Than Motherhood: Melissa Edgington is one of my favorite bloggers and this is my favorite post she's ever written. Fathers, you may think this one isn't for you, but grab a box of Kleenex, click, and read: " It doesn’t mean that our hearts won’t still creak and crack and melt just a little when we remember what we once had. It doesn’t mean that what we’re doing here, in the wilds of motherhood, doesn’t have eternal significance. But, God’s purposes are big. Much bigger than we can imagine. The purpose of our lives is to glorify Him in all that we do, whether we are mothers or not. Whether we are in the thick of chasing toddlers everywhere or simply remembering those days, a little misty-eyed. God’s purposes don’t have dates of expiration. They don’t apply to only one section of our lives. And they certainly aren’t wrapped up solely in the too-short phases of mothering children."

5.     George W. Bush’s Timely Speech: Our former President delivered a powerful speech recently. The entire speech is worth reading (or watching). Among its powerful moments was this: “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other. We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”

6.     30 Days at Sea Timelapse Video: From New York to Hong Kong, with incredible views of thunderstorms and ports in between.