Dear Friends,

My dear mother-in-law said to me once “remember you serve the Lord from victory not for victory”. This is a profound truth that we are not trying to arrange a victory for Jesus Christ (with our lives) but living in light of His arranged victory. The victory will not be won if we do well but has been won – so we do well to serve Him.

In a day of many defeated Christians it is always good to absorb something that changes our perspectives to joyful confidence. Two books that will help this are:

“Confronting Christianity” by Rebecca McLaughlin

“A.S.K.” by David Robertson.

The second of these is partly dedicated to the St Thomas’ North Sydney Youth group who provided some of the 52 questions that David answers – sent in by young people from around the world on a whole range of questions. I have ordered fifteen copies of these two books to arrive on the bookstall soon and if you want David’s book it costs $20 and if you want Rebecca’s book it is $30 – and you can put your name on the sign-up sheet at the bookstall.

My aim now is to concentrate on the “Confronting Christianity” book – a book for adults while “A.S.K.” is more for youth.

“Confronting Christianity” seeks to answer twelve questions that are widely levelled at believers. The author is a young British woman with uncommon honesty and a remarkable ability to turn unbelief upside down – and she writes well.

The blurbs rightly say

To give you a flavour of the book (which is a bit like finding a line from a sermon…!)

  1. ren’t we better off without religion?
    This chapter shows the spread of faith that is more than matching the spread of unbelief…”to say that religion is bad for you is like saying ‘drugs are bad for you’ without distinguishing cocaine from life-saving medication.”
  2. Doesn’t Christianity crush diversity?
    “if you care about diversity, don’t dismiss Christianity; it is the most diverse, multiethnic and multicultural movement in all of history”
  3. How can you say there is only one true faith?
    “attempting to persuade others to change their belief is a sign of respect. You are treating them as thinking agents…not just products of their cultural environment”.
  4. Doesn’t religion hinder morality?
    “To be clear, this does not mean that atheists cannot construct and live by moral frameworks grounded on human equality. Many do. But this is not the logical outworking of atheism…”
  5. Doesn’t religion cause violence?
    “It certainly can. But…Christianity in particular has served as a fertilizer for democracy, a motivation for justice and a mandate for healing”.
  6. How can you take the bible literally?
    “Our lives can depend on distinguishing literal truth from metaphor. If a friend told you she was going to murder her husband you would probably infer she was annoyed…”
  7. Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?
    (This chapter gathers an amazing collection of top scientists around the world who are evangelical Christians.)
  8. Doesn’t Christianity denigrate women?
    “The ultimate man laid down his life for the billions of women who have trusted him with theirs…Christianity…lifts us into fellowship with God.”
  9. Isn’t Christianity homophobic?
    “People sometimes say that the Bible condemns same sex relationships. It does not. The bible commands same sex relationships at a level that even Christians seldom reach”. (think about it!)
  10. Doesn’t the bible condone slavery?
    “the bible invites us to see the world through the eyes of slaves and to embrace slave status ourselves”.
  11. How could a loving God cause so much suffering?
    “Suffering is not an embarrassment to the Christian faith. It is the thread with which Christ’s name is stitched into our lives”.
  12. How could a loving God send people to hell?
    “We twenty-first century Westerners hate judgement…and yet…part of us still yearns for justice.”

Here is a fresh look at some hard questions to remind you that you serve the Lord from victory.

Simon Manchester

PS. David Robertson will feature in CEC’s podcast this week and Rebecca McLaughlin will feature next week.