Five major questions for SDAs in the aftermath of Paris last night

On October 19th 2015, a SDA church member from the SEC asked the following question on Facebook:

Can anyone explain how Christ dying on a cross or how his blood makes things right for mankind?

Can I challenge you to try explain in a short paragraph.

This post sparked a flurry of replies, a significant number of which aroused serious levels of wrath within me. I am simply not aware of another religious tradition which actually possesses as much truth as this church, but whose members are so painfully unable to explicate this truth to those outside their community. It is entirely reasonable for other communities to default to platitudes and soundbytes – in some cases, were it not for those, the religion would more or less cease to exist. In other cases, there is a corpus of more developed arguments which suffice for those who have set a limit on how much critical thinking they are prepared to undertake. Seventh-Day Adventists have become rather good at pointing out the holes in some of these traditions.

But the fundamental question asked by this church member is as old as the Old Testament itself. Were it not for the answer to this question, the New Testament would not exist. And if that did not happen, we would not be here, because Jesus would have failed the test.

This is an example of something that is literally inconceivable for us as human beings, because every aspect of our existence is intrinsically grounded on the reality that Jesus Christ passed the test. Perhaps that’s just it – ‘grace’ is all that we’ve known, and so, in the famous words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we self-indulgently bask in ‘cheap grace.’

Why DID Jesus have to die? And in such a cruel way? How DOES His blood make anything better? Please, do NOT tell me that the Bible tells you so! I’m not addressing secular people here, I’m addressing Seventh-Day Adventists. Why should anyone trust the Bible? Are we not the first people to say that if a statement is 99% true but 1% error, the whole thing is error? What if a person decided to believe something because they knew that 99% of it was true and decided to trust the 1% and found trouble that they could never have anticipated as a result? Sure, we can prove lots of things in the Bible. But we can’t prove lots of other things. And if you knew that what you could not prove might be more dangerous than what you know you know, why would you trust anything or anyone on that basis? Cheap, trivial answers are not the one, my brothers and sisters! What kind of madness is this?! Have we forgotten than back in April, 147 people died in a terrorist initiative that specifically targeted Christians? How can we comfort those who suffered in that tragedy with such simplistic answers?

Today is Sabbath November 14th, 2015. In response to the terrible atrocities in Paris last night, I wrote the following blog post:

https://alexanderdouglas.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/paris-13-11-15-more-questions-less-answers/

In response to that blog post, an SDA church member from the NEC posed the following questions, expressed below.

Interesting read. Some questions that came up in my mind as I was reading, not for you necessarily but on the back of what you have written they have arisen.

  • Is it at all possible to give answers that will make sense to those who are experiencingsuch tragedy if they do not subscribe to the belief in an All Powerful and Loving God?

  • Will any of the perplexities of life make sense without the framework of faith?

  • Will any answer we give make sense without said framework?

  • Is the point of the answers we give to promote belief or make sense out of nonsense?

Now, I am trying to write a book, but I will endeavour to answer all five of the above questions next week, one day at a time starting on Monday. I’ll begin with the bottom four and conclude with the first question at the top, because the answer to that first question will be more easily understood when we have built a more rigorous framework.

I will greatly appreciate your prayers and support as I embark on this task of apologetics for our community and beyond. I am truly sorry if anyone feels upset at the seeming harshness of what I have said, but you do need to understand that a religion which promotes only the ‘feelgood’ is a religion of the selfish and spineless, and this is not why Jesus Christ died. I know this is not for all of us; so please read and be edified, or find some other material that offers what you seek. God bless you all.

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