Could all roads lead to God? Answer
Is it enough to just be sincere? Answer
How is Christianity different from other religions? Answer
What good has Christianity done the world? Answer
Why does God allow suffering? Answer
How can God be good, all-powerful and all-knowing and also allow suffering? Answer
Is being a good person good enough? Answer
Is believing you are right intolerant? Answer
Could the Bible accounts be just myths? Answer
What about the small differences between the Gospels? Answer
Could parts of the story of Jesus have been made up by the disciples before writing the Gospels? Answer
Can the Bible be trusted? Answer
Do ancient Biblical prophecies prove Jesus is the Messiah? Answer
What about the Gnostic Gospels? Answer
What non-Christian sources point toward the reliability of the Gospels? Answer
Who wrote the Bible – God or people? Answer
Why will some people never trust the Bible, irrespective of evidence? Answer
Why do so many people believe in a God? Answer
Is Christianity for people who don't believe in science? Answer
Is there such a thing as right and wrong? Answer
Did Jesus really live - or is it a legend? Answer
Did Jesus claim to be Divine? Answer
The resurrection – fact or fable? Answer
How could a loving God send people to hell? Answer
Is there really such a thing as 'truth'? Answer
Isn't religion responsible for wars and the Crusades? Answer
What about abuses of authority in some churches? Answer
Why are there so many different denominations in our country? Answer
No credible historian has ever suggested Jesus didn’t exist. Regarding the Bible’s accounts prior to Jesus, archaeologists, ‘textual critics’ and others have likewise evidenced the historical realities of the accounts.
Regarding Jesus, the four Gospel accounts were written by eye witnesses of Jesus or their associates, and are widely accepted as historically trustworthy by experts from a wide variety of fields. Beyond these, there are also historians from that time who did not believe in Jesus – yet who wrote to confirm the same historical details. The key difference in their accounts is, of course, that these other historians did not believe Jesus rose from death. For example, Josephus or Tacitus, or the writings of the Jewish leaders who didn’t like Jesus (like in the Babylonian Talmud). You can find more of the scholarship on this topics summarised very concisely in the videos on this page.
However, some will suggest the Bible’s accounts ‘are a hoax’ not because of the historical evidences, but instead because of their own foundational belief that no God of any kind exists. Where this is the case, the conversation is back to the big questions of origins, meaning, morality, and hope. How did we get here? Why are we here? Does an actual morality (right and wrong) exist – or do we just make it up? And, is there any real hope beyond what we see and experience in this life?
Because a design needs a designer, a book (or software code) an intelligent author, a creative painting a painter and any moral law a moral-law-giver, the majority on our planet happily conclude there is a creator of some kind. Meanwhile, if someone really does see reason to believe information, design, complexity and beauty can come about as the result of accidents, and that no greater meaning or hope exists for humans in the way so-radically suggested by Christianity, that is their free choice.
While it is important is that we all try to seek out what is true, its necessary that we concurrently show respect to others. These questions are very important, but people will conclude differently!
In our culture, Christmas and Easter were both made public holidays because of a desire to remember and celebrate the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. Whether this faith is believed or not, that was the intent.
The reason this faith is celebrated is because it is foundational to our values. It sits, for example, behind our wider cultural values on things like equality of races, end of slavery, equality of genders, concepts of charity, education for all, healthcare for all, our ideas on human rights and personal freedoms, democratic forms of Government (limitation of powers) – and much more. While public knowledge of our own cultural history is rather limited these days, our various cultural festivals were each established for a reason.
Regarding the dates for the Christmas and Easter traditions, most are aware that our festivals are not the actual dates of Jesus’ birth or of the crucifixion / resurrection weekend.
To summarise where our dates came from:
It’s known Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover Festival on the Hebrew calendar. As this confused the early Greek Church, who used the Greek calendar, they set their celebration date for 25 March. Somewhere along the way for our culture, the name ‘Easter’ (amongst other things) became associated with this. However, the intent of the celebration was clear.
For the dating of Christmas, it’s a different story. No one knows the date Jesus was born – and yet there was a desire to celebrate his birth / incarnation. There was a Hebrew tradition that said a great prophet would die on the date they were conceived. So, if Jesus died on 25 March, then he was also conceived on that date – which means he was born on 25 December. Again, this is not a claim that these dates are true. This is simply where the idea came from. (For more see https://hopeproject.co.nz/why-christmas/).
Regarding whether or not Christians should avoid association with our culture’s Christmas and Easter traditions because various things associated with them came from various pagan religions - this could be viewed similar to the way ‘meat offered to idols’ is discussed in 1 Corinthians 8 in the Bible. In summary: ‘An idol is nothing really, so there is nothing to fear in eating meat offered to an idol. However, if your conscience says different – follow your conscience.’
While there has certainly been abuse through church structures in history, it’s also true that the Christian Church has been and still is the most charitable group on the planet, and has brought greater good to this planet than any other thing. The above question is already answered – which highlights a greater question related to how we balance these two factors, and why.
Firstly, the idea of corruption is actually connected to human beings – not any one group. Wherever humans are found, corruption is found! If this is true, while people have certainly corrupted church structures at times, this isn’t actually a ‘Church’ issue. It’s a human issue!
Secondly, our perspective is altered when we consider the great irony that this Christian faith we are criticising has also given humanity its highest moral ideas and definitions for ‘good’ – this being a reality that many people from all walks of life and various religions openly recognise this (even if they don’t believe or follow those teachings).
The irony this strange desire within our culture to criticise the Christian faith goes further when we consider the benefits we enjoy because of it – as alluded to in the first paragraph. The lives of those who have followed Jesus’ teachings have produced an extent of good on our planet that no other group has ever come even remotely close to. A study of history shows that this includes our own culture’s ideas on charity, equality of races, equality of genders, education and health care for all, scientific method, values associated with our economic freedoms and systems of law and justice, personal human rights and freedoms, the limitation of powers (which is fundamental to our ideas on democracy), and much more. How did we actually come to live in one of the most free, prosperous and equality-based nations on our planet today, and in all of human history?
The abuses of power that have taken place in Christian history are a huge embarrassment to the Christian community worldwide.
However, for every negative story there are thousands of untold positive stories – and the negative stories didn’t come about because of the Christian faith, but because the people involved weren’t actually following the teachings of Jesus. (They were hypocrites!)