By Danny Tyree
In the nearly 43 years since my baptism, I have never really experienced a crisis of faith. But I’ll admit that aggravating little questions have lurked in the corners of my mind.
For instance, I accept that God could create a great fish to swallow Jonah and release him alive three days later; but – realizing how difficult it is to get everyone to agree to anything – I always wondered how this lone Israelite prophet could then convince the entire Assyrian city of Nineveh to repent and stave off God’s judgment.
Then I read the book “The Authenticity of the Book of Jonah,” by Bill Cooper. Information gleaned from history and archaeology made the reason for Jonah’s phenomenal success blindingly obvious. Cooper’s books about Judges and Daniel have also made it easier for me to defend those accounts as history, not myths.
Ah, but those are all Old Testament books. At this time of year, people are more focused (positively, negatively or fence-straddlingly) on the central event of the New Testament: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
I realize that even people with some grudging acceptance of a Supreme Being may have a hard time believing that (a) God sent his Son to be born of a virgin, (b) God would allow that Son to die on the cross for our sins, (c) God would have the power to restore that Son to life and (d) the teachings and miracles of Jesus could be accurately preserved for a 21st century audience.
But the Gospel message doesn’t have to be something that is hard to understand or embarrassing to share.
You can be armed with well-researched, logically argued books that answer alleged contradictions, counter bald-faced skeptic lies and reassure you about God’s plan for mankind.
Among the most helpful books I’ve found are “The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ In the Gospels” (by David Limbaugh), “The Wrong Jesus” (by Greg Monette) and “Conspiracies and the Cross: How To Intelligently Counter the Ten Most Popular Theories That Attack the Gospel of Jesus” (by Timothy Paul Jones); but the available resources go far beyond those examples.
I love books, always have. But page-turners about collectible hatpins or shortcuts in underwater basket weaving or the sex life of James Dean are mere vanity in the Big Picture. Books like the ones I’m recommending can affect the eternal fate of you and those you have an influence over.
I write with urgency because, while Jesus enlisted his disciples to be “fishers of men,” too many Christians and potential Christians have instead fallen hook, line and sinker for all the “lost gospels” and conspiracy theories that invariably enrich dishonest “scholars” every Christmas and Easter.
Exchanges of “He is risen” and “He is risen, indeed” used to be mainstream greetings, but their continued existence cannot be taken for granted.
Even though religion continues to exist 136 years after Friedrich Nietzsche declared “God is dead,” the enemies of the church are playing the long game. They patiently trivialize and stigmatize Christianity, slowly but surely making the call to repentance seem irrelevant or non-urgent.
Yes, wear your spring finery and hide some Easter eggs. But more importantly, buy yourself and your church library stacks of Christian apologetics books, before the arrogant opponents of Christ can chortle, “He is silenced; he is silenced, indeed.”
Danny Tyree’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.