Michelangelo - The Creation of Adam - Forming Part of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1511-1512)

When beginning this journey, I have struggled with finding a cause (outside of the common health issues within the U.S.) that would benefit as a result of our journey. At first I thought about UNICEF, a company that has, as far as I am aware, helped many people in desperate situations around the world. This is fantastic and I hope that this past year of traveling has, from our webpage, brought some attention to UNICEF and the people that are suffering in war torn areas of our world.

 

I feel the need, or a call, to touch our reader’s a little deeper, and while attempting to do this, I may offend some and detour others. This is not my intention.

Apologetics (Greek: Apologia) is not an apology, rather it is a defense of something, and what I feel is defensible (in the arena of all contending beliefs) is that of the Christian faith, and who it points to, that person is Jesus Christ.

Before coming to Christ, I held the view that was allegedly ‘all-encompassing’, I wanted to unite people rather than exclude them, not realizing that I was actually excluding the exclusivists! Because I never read the Bible, nor any other religious text, I didn’t realize that these different world views contended with each other regarding their most fundamental beliefs!

“You hear it a thousand times and more growing up in the East “We all come through different routes and end up in the same place.” But I say to you, God is not a place or an experience or a feeling. Pluralistic cultures are beguiled by the cosmetically courteous idea that sincerity or privilege of birth is all that counts and that truth is subject to the beholder.

In no other discipline of life can one be so naive as to claim inherited belief or insistent belief as the sole determiner of truth. Why, then, do we make the catastrophic error of thinking that all religions are right and that it does not matter whether the claims they make are objectively true?

All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life’s purpose.

Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known ones. Every religion at its core is exclusive.”

~ Ravi Zacharias ~
Jesus Among Other Gods
Page: 12

 

An excerpt from Ravi Zacharias’ book “Can Man Live Without God?” Steve Turner says “No!”…But we try all the time….

“We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes
UFO’s and bent spoons.

Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.

If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn.

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
bloodshed.

Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear
State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.”

Steve Turner, (English journalist), “Creed,” his satirical poem on the modern mind. Taken from Ravi Zacharias’ book Can Man live Without God? Pages 42-44 (Link)

 

When I found out, and granted, that there were fundamental differences at the core of each world view, I thought to myself, “So what now, which one is correct, if any at all!” This is one question I did not want to address at first because now I would be, in my mind at the time, dividing people rather than uniting them. In regards to religious affiliation, I just placed myself in MMA’s championship cage fight with many contenders! Now I believed I was at two converging roads, belief in one world view or no belief at all, known to me as: “The corner of confusion!”

“I am the Bread of Life,” said Jesus. “He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) Notice the power implicit in the claim.

At the heart of every major religion is a leading exponent. As the exposition is studied, something very significant emerges. There comes a bifurcation, or a distinction, between the person and the teaching. Mohammed, to the Koran. Buddha, to the Noble Path. Krishna, to his philosophizing. Zoroaster, to his ethics.

Whatever we may make of their claims, one reality is inescapable. They are teachers who point to their teaching or show some particular way. In all of these, there emerges an instruction, a way of living. It is not Zoroaster to whom you turn. It is Zoroaster to whom you listen. It is not Buddha who delivers you; it is his Noble Truths that instruct you. It is not Mohammed who transforms you; it is the beauty of the Koran that woos you.

By contrast, Jesus did not only teach or expound His message. He was identical with His message. “In Him,” say the Scriptures, “dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He did not just proclaim the truth. He said, “I am the truth.” He did not just show a way. He said, “I am the Way.” He did not just open up vistas. He said, “I am the door.” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the I AM.”

In Him is not just an offer of life’s bread. He is the bread. That is why being a Christian is not just a way of feeding and living. Following Christ begins with a way of relating and being.

Let us use Buddhism as a specific example. It is a system that is gaining a following among many in Hollywood. It is often very simplistically defined as a religion of compassion and ethics. The truth is that there is probably no system of belief more complex than Buddhism. While it starts off with the four noble truths on suffering and its cessation, it then moves to the eightfold path on how to end suffering. But as one enters the eightfold path, there emerge hundreds upon hundreds of other rules to deal with contingencies.

From a simple base of four offenses that result in a loss of one’s discipleship status is built an incredible edifice of ways to restoration. Those who follow Buddha’s teachings are given thirty rules on how to ward off those pitfalls. But before one even deals with those, there are ninety-two rules that apply to just one of the offenses. There are seventy-five rules for those entering the order. There are rules of discipline to be applied-two hundred and twenty-seven for men, three hundred and eleven for women. (Readers of Buddhism know that Buddha had to be persuaded before women were even permitted into a disciple’s status. After much pleading and cajoling by one of his disciples, he finally acceded to the request but laid down extra rules for them.)

Whatever one may make of all of this, we must be clear that in a nontheistic system, which Buddhism is, ethics become central and rules are added ad infinitum.

~ Ravi Zacharias ~
Jesus Among Other Gods
Pages: 62 & 63

My decision to believe in Jesus Christ as my savior developed over time. The more I learned, the more I was amazed! By far, in comparison to other belief systems, Jesus, is much more appealing. There is a personal relationship that we can have with him. He came to us as Almighty God in the flesh, yet he was born in a poor stable rather than a palace, his silence before his accusers left them spell-bound and helpless as they tripped over each other’s accusations against him, his sinless life was shown to his followers, not only by his example, but his questioning of the multitude as he asked anyone to accuse him of sin, he loved the innocent and poor but never rejected sinners and outcasts that had an open heart. He calls all of us, no one is better than another.

25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus is hinting at Isaiah 53:10-12 here in reference to the king being a servant and giving his life as a ‘ransom for many’. His call for his followers is similar, and it is a wonderful message, to be serving those in need if we have the means to do so. Here again, is a message shown through his example!

“A ‘ransom’, in that world, is what someone might pay to give freedom to a slave. Jesus saw his approaching fate as the payment that would set free those who were enslaved in sin and wickedness, not least those who were in the grips of the lust for power and position.”

N.T. Wright
For Everyone Series
Matthew – Part 2
Pages: 58-61

 

I gave an ear to some of Christianity’s greatest antagonists (Shabir Ally, the late Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Peter Singer, Shelly Kagan, Daniel Dennett, and many more) to see what they would have to say, but that was far from being a deterrent for me.

Here are some difficult questions that I have wrestled with:

  • Why is Jesus/Christianity unique in comparison to other historical figures and world views? Why not Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, Shamanism, Bahá’í, Scientology, or even more confusing: Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons, which dangerously mimic the vocabulary of the Bible? What about Atheism, Agnosticism and many more views?
  • What about the problem of evil and suffering? If there is a God, why does he allow this?
  • Does science contend with belief in the Bible?
  • Is there enough evidence that the Bible is accurate? What about the scriptures, weren’t they written long after the events themselves?
  • What about miracles?
  • What about the injustices done in the name of Christianity, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, just to name a few?
  • Aren’t there conflicts within the Gospels themselves?
  • Why bother with religion anyhow?
  • Any many, many, many more!

 

I found answers to these questions (as every world view must answer also, for many of the above questions) in a way that was satisfactory for my belief in Jesus Christ. Who is this figure that has reigned in the hearts of so many?:

“He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with him, and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine.

No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break, his whole life was love, yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all of our stark realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes.

He saved others, yet at the last Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.”

James Stewart, Scottish theologian ~

His interactions with those he communicated with continually leave me spellbound? He could never be pigeon-holed, even by the intellectual elite of his day. His crucifixion and his the subsequent resurrection three days later, is now the basis of my life. Jesus, risen, has given my life meaning.

When it comes to the defense of Christianity, the below is a list of some reputable sources (this is by no means an exhaustive list!) that I have gathered over the years. I like them because they attempt to be very accurate and also very sympathetic to those they are speaking to. They have spent their lives giving well thought out answers to pressing issues that plague even the deepest thinkers that have agreed/contended with Christianity on the platforms of our leading universities here in America and Europe, as well as areas that are hostel to beliefs outside their own worldview.

 

The goal of this page is simply to point to the direction I have felt most helpful to those that have questions, but do not know where to turn or who to ask. It is my firm belief that those mentioned above, will assist you in this area.

Although I feel called by the Lord to this specific area of Christianity (apologetics), I also feel the least qualified than those mentioned above! I certainly believe that the Lord has a sense of humor when he chooses the runt of the litter to do even the smallest of his tasks, like writing up this page!

“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

Psalm 84:10 KJV

Video Section:
 

Journal Snippets
& Quotes
Noam Rubenstein – 22 Year Old Israeli died of Hypothermia in Villa de Castillo, Chile
Noam Rubenstein – 22 Year Old Israeli died of Hypothermia in Villa de Castillo, Chile
Villa Cerro Castillo, Chile
Villa Cerro Castillo, Chile
Yelcho Hanging Glacier (Carretera Austral)
Yelcho Hanging Glacier (Carretera Austral)