Staying Connected 2006 March
* Due to copyrights, original graphics and tables do not appear in these articles
Contributed by Chris, in Georgia
I have been a believer since childhood. My father was a minister, and I grew up trusting Jesus. Although curious by nature, I never questioned my faith. But soon after launching my career in information technology, I found myself in an unexpected and unwanted crisis of faith. Questions began to arise from all sides. And as much as I wanted to, I could not outrun the tide of doubt. If I turned on the television, I would see a program affirming a naturalistic explanation for the cosmos or for life. If I opened the newspaper, I would find an article on the latest finding of ancient human remains. Secular views of human origins and the origin of the universe were constantly before me. I especially remember watching a National Geographic special on human evolution that left me uncertain about the validity of the Bible. A fear I could not ignore was growing inside me.
I felt guilty for even having any uncertainty. To question my faith in Christ seemed blasphemous. Doubt and guilt weighed so heavily on my heart that I began to slip into depression. One morning I shut my office door, turned off the lights, and knelt to pray. I prayed with desperation that the Lord would show me a sign, anything that would answer my gnawing doubts. My prayer seemed to hit the floor, and I continued in my grief. It held me in its grip for another three months, and I wondered if it would ever end.
One Sunday while driving to church I heard a minister on the radio say, "Sometimes the very questions that we have were given to us by God in order that we will pursue Him." Immediately my depression lifted, and I began to worship the Lord. Soon a friend of mine from California handed me a book by an astrophysicist, Hugh Ross, entitled The Creator And The Cosmos. I quickly consumed the book and moved on to The Genesis Debate and then on to many other resources Reasons To Believe had to offer. Bit by bit I began to see the big picture of creation. Both my mind and my heart were convinced that the heavens truly do declare the glory of the Lord. God allowed me to taste what it might feel like without him, and then He strengthened my faith in a greater way than I could ever have imagined. I thank God for using Dr. Ross and Reasons To Believe to help build my faith in Him.
Contributed by Krista Bontrager
The best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code, is coming to the big screen in May. And it has some big-name talent behind it. Ron Howard directs the film, and Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks plays the lead. Weaving together an unbelievably complex series of puzzles, the characters race against time to solve a mysterious murder that occurred in the historic Paris museum, the Louvre.
Dan Brown's novel is not your garden-variety mystery, however. The DaVinci Code puts forth some bold claims as if they're historical facts. The book has spawned an entire cottage publishing industry as scholars debate the veracity of its claims. The more blasphemous among them include these: 1) Jesus never claimed to be God; 2) the Bible is not the word of God; and 3) Christianity is the construction of fourth-century white males who sought to censor all dissent.
While it casts aspersion on the Christian faith, the story exalts pagan goddess worship, propelling it toward the center stage in mainstream culture.
Some Christians are asking, "Should we or should we not see the movie?" Each side of the question offers its reasons. On the one hand, Christians recognize the importance of knowing how our culture views Jesus and Christianity so we can respond intelligently. On the other hand, perhaps the best weapon Christians have to combat the movie's message is to let our money (or refusal to spend it) do the talking. Then the question arises, would our staying home make a big enough financial impact for Hollywood to notice.
What concerns me most is that Christians be adequately informed-not only of what The DaVinci Code claims but also of the facts to counter those claims. For those who choose to read the book but would prefer not to purchase it, copies are available at most public libraries. Already a number of critiques exist both in print and on DVD.
The following resources available from RTB may also be of assistance:
Reflections on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (audio tape). (A talk given by Krista Bontragercomparing and contrasting the Jesus of The Passion of the Christ and the Jesus of The DaVinci Code.)
Without A Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions, by Kenneth Samples
Jesus Under Fire, edited by J. P. Moreland and Michael Wilkins
The Historical Jesus, by Gary Habbermas
"Thank you for A Matter of Days. I've been scattering copies around, and pray (almost) daily that the Lord will use it to establish love, cooperation, and mutual respect in His body, particularly in this country, where the division seems especially severe. Thanks for all that you do in your ministry." Don, San Jacinto, CA
"Hugh Ross' lecture [at Willow Creek Community Church, near Chicago, last year] was one of those rare events for me that made everything about Christianity right to me. His speech was so good that I purchased CDs of his lecture for everyone in my small group. I also purchased the Journey Toward Creation DVD. When I ask someone if they'd like to see it, they are somewhat skeptical and I think only agree to watch it out of politeness. But each time someone watches it with me, it piques their interest, and by the end of the video they are in awe. Hugh Ross is very credible because of his vast knowledge and his casual delivery. These days most people feel that if you are a believer, you are either naive or of below average intelligence. After watching this DVD, I don't think anyone could think that way again. Thank you, Hugh Ross!" Neiman, via e-mail
During his high school years, Hugh Ross took the same aptitude test most of us have taken to help narrow down our career choices. As you might guess, the test indicated a research career would be perfect for Hugh. It also indicated he should NOT consider a job that required much communication and interaction with people. Doesn't God have a sense of humor?
The ministry of Reasons To Believe is all about people and connecting them with facts to support faith in Christ (whom Hugh did not even know at the time he took the test). Hugh meets and speaks with many thousands of people each year, in addition to writing books and articles, handling scores of interviews, and interacting with fellow scholars and staff. God has a way of taking BOTH our strengths AND our weaknesses and using them for His glory. The past 20 years of Reasons To Believe's ministry testify to that fact.
Those on staff who were not here in the beginning love to hear stories of "the early days." Hugh and Kathy remember packing a few boxes of RTB booklets (no books till 1989) and newsletters into an old yellow Honda station wagon and driving to outreach events near and far. Once there, they would personally set up the book table. If they had child care, Kathy could help with book sales. If not, books were purchased on the honor system. (In either case they never quite came out even.) Hugh would speak and respond to questions, and Kathy would seek out those too shy to ask. Then they would pack up any remaining materials and head back home.
"People's hunger for Hugh's message, their eagerness to interact with a scientist, and their lavish expressions of appreciation always encouraged us to keep going," Kathy says. "Most importantly, it became clear that God was changing lives, drawing many to faith and many more to enthusiastic personal outreach."
"We always knew it would be important to build a team of Bible scholars and scientists," adds Hugh. "So from the very beginning we asked God to keep us alert to His choice of teammates. You can't imagine how glad we were when Ken Samples agreed to join us. We were thrilled again when Fuz Rana came aboard. And now we have Jeff Zweerink, as well as some of Dave Rogstad's time and expertise. It's really starting to build!"
"What we're seeing," Hugh says, "is that the more scholars we add to our staff, the more volunteer scholars join in our outreach efforts. The RTB chapters are a phenomenon we never fully anticipated, and they continue to grow by leaps and bounds." No wonder we're eager to see what God will do in and through RTB in its next 20 years!
The December 2005 issue of Guideposts, "America's #1 inspirational magazine", included a brief account of Lee Strobel's journey to faith in Christ and a brief condensation of his book The Case for Christmas. We were delighted to discover that this article, under the same title as the book, quotes rather extensively from Hugh's material on the Christmas star. Perhaps some of Guideposts' nearly eight million readers will be motivated to look up "astronomer Hugh Ross" on the Internet or in their local bookstore.
We are delighted to announce that Kenneth Samples' latest book, Without A Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions, has been selected as a bronze medallion winner (in the religion category) in ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year Awards. ForeWord is an independently published periodical featuring "Reviews of Good Books." If you have not yet had a chance to read Ken's book, we highly recommend it-not just for personal enrichment but also for group Bible studies. Each chapter includes thought-provoking discussion questions to assist group leaders. To order your copy, call (800) 482-7836.
Apologetics Hotline (626) 335-5282
Discuss your science-faith questions with a trained apologist. Available daily from 5:00 - 7:00 P.M. (PT).
To find an RTB chapter in your area or to get information about starting one, contact Ken Hultgren at firstname.lastname@example.org. .
Creation Update Web cast
Listen live via our Web site each Tuesday, 11 A.M. - 1 P.M. (PT). Listeners can e-mail questions to email@example.com or call directly at (866) RTB-RADIO (782-7234) during the show. "Special Edition" Web interviews are offered on occasion. Look for announcements, as well as archives of the weekly Webcast, on the RTB site: www.reasons.org.
Prayer on behalf of Reasons To Believe is a precious gift. A hearty thank you to all who pray for us! If you'd like to join the RTB prayer team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Science and Evangelism Training
Anyone looking for in-depth study of science-and-faith issues will want to register for our new online courses. Reasons Institute classes may be taken for college credit or for the sheer joy of learning. For more information, please visit our Web site, www.reasons.org, or call Bob Stuart at (800) 482-7836.