by Jonathon Waterbury
We as a church body have spent the last nine weeks diving into the issue of “Why God Allows Evil.” To be honest, we could have spent another nine weeks going into a more philosophical sound response but frankly after nine weeks of hearing how evil the human race is, we simply need a break. What do we do though when we do not have nine weeks to discuss this important topic? Is there a short answer I can give to someone who asks me this question? Dr Clay Jones gives this page and a half synopsis on why God allows evil. “ Because free will is valuable (in fact, it’s hard to conceive of humans not having free will), God created beings that had free will and gave them paradise. God gave these beings- Adam and Eve_ only one prohibition: ‘ you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.’It’s important to note that it is impossible to give beings free will and not allow them to use it wrongly- thats as logical as it gets. So Adam and Eve had everything going for them, but they distrusted God and rebelled against Him. So God cursed the Ground, thus enabling all kinds of disease and pestilence- this was the origin of natural evil- and then God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, thus removing them from the rejuvenating power of the tree of life. And webbed attending funerals ever since. Once removed from the garden, Adam and Eve had children who were physical and spiritual reproductions of themselves. Adam and Eve couldn’t have chosen to reproduce children that were in some way better than them-selves; they could only reproduce them-selves. Therefore all humans are born like their first parents- desperately inclined to sin, alienated from relationship with God, and destined to always suffer and die,
God could not simply excuse Adam and Eve’s sin because the lesson to free beings would then be ‘ sin is okay, God will overlook it”. But to demonstrate His love for us and to atone for the grave seriousness of sin, God sent His only Son Jesus, to die for rebellious humans. Now we as humans who trust God and accept Jesus death on the cross for our sins learn the horror of rebellion’s devastating results. We are also learning to overcome evil with good. This knowledge prepares us to be fit inheritors of God’s Kingdom, where- we will be able to use our free will rightly as we reign with Jesus forever and ever.
By Ty Woznek
Evening services have a different feel to them. Dress casual. We will have beverages for you and an inviting atmosphere. The doors will be open at 6:00pm, so if you are grabbing a quick bite to eat, you're welcome to eat here after working, or before your heading off to work after service.
Cross-Examining God is a gathering, so we the Lord's Table, giving, connect cards, and other aspects of how we do worship will take place. If you have any questions, you are free to ask them. Tables will be set up in the Worship Center so there is a place for you to place drinks, write notes, and engage with us. If you are a guest with us, you are under no obligation to give. We will explain why we do what we do.
The core focus of Wednesday night services will be making a positive case for Christianity. We'll state what we believe, why we believe it, and discuss objections to it. Many people have been talked out of Christianity because they've never been truly talked into it. If you're skeptical, feel free to ask questions. We are here to help you understand Christianity to the best of our ability.
The core focus will also deal with why some of us have walked away from church, or have been tempted to walk away from church. While God is loving, sometimes God's people are not. Difficult issues that Christianity faces will be discussed. We are not saying we are the perfect church that has all the answers. Nor are we here to say why we are better than everyone else. Our goal is to humbly offer the reason for the hope that is within us.
At the end of every service there will be a Q&A time to ask questions about what we are discussing on a particular night. On the 5th Wednesday night of a month we will have a potluck and an open ended Q&A. Sometimes we will answer "I don't know, we'll get back to you." This is not a dodge, but a reality that we don't know or remember everything at once. We will take your questions seriously. A mentor of mine once said "Without questions, learning doesn't take place."
We look forward to seeing you tonight and on Wednesday nights in the future.
by Ty Woznek
The following I wrote about 8 years ago. Over the past few years I'd still hold to this as my answer of why I didn't leave church. It's also the answer I'd give as to why give church a 2nd (3rd, 4th...) chance.
I’ve constantly dealt with the question of why 20’s and early 30’s were leaving the church. I never asked why I didn’t leave. Here is a first attempt at answering the question. It revolves around one key thing: God.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 1:6
Religion is a crutch
True. We do not need a crutch, we need a savior. We don’t need help or an aid, we need something that will radically change us. The biggest thing to me about the church is the Gospel. The central message of the Gospel is death to life; sin to righteousness. This isn’t found by a right of passage or a self-help crutch. It is founded on Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Christians are just hypocrites
True. We’re also liars, thieves, fornicators, cheats, gossips, gluttons, drunkards, murderers, slanders, etc. Funny thing is, as I look across the human experience, I see the same thing. The church isn’t made of perfect people, and if it were, we’d at least be liars according to 1 John. Church is family. We’re not perfect, but being perfect is not the point. Again, it comes down to the central message of the Gospel. Church is filled with redeemed people not perfect people.
Church doesn’t meet my needs
True. Here is the paradox of church: If everyone comes to church focused on meeting everyone’s needs, everyone’s needs gets met. Church is not about what you can get, it is about what you can give to others. Why would someone join something that is not about them is a bit crazy. This goes back to the central message of the Gospel: Jesus gave Himself on our behalf. His focus was on our needs and the Father’s will, not Himself.
I did not quit because I believe Jesus died and rose again. Believing this means being a part of a community of people who also hold that belief and seek to proclaim the message of death to life. The Gospel is central. Church is not about what I get, but as Jesus modeled, church is about what I give. The hardest principle to get is realizing the church is not about me, it’s about Him.
I embrace the church because it is Jesus’ most prized possession. In pursuing Christ and helping others, ultimately our own needs get met. In getting the focus off ourselves we gain depth and a spirituality that can only come from the grace of the Cross. In church we realize the greatest need of all mankind and the only solution. We’re messed up, and knowing that fully, Jesus still reached out to us.
The bottom line:
I did not quit church because Jesus did not quit on me, those in the church, or those who still have not heard the Gospel. The church isn’t perfect and neither am I, and that’s ok. Christ is the one who makes us complete and perfect. The problems of church become less and when I pursue God and help others more.
"We have all heard the objections to Christianity, but what if there are good arguments for its truthfulness?" Check out my blog Apolojaytics!
Jonathan moved back to the area after completing Seminary in California. He has a heart for people and to explain how Christianity is reasonable and true.
Connect is a place to answer questions and give information about the gathering we are starting for Wednesday gatherings. As the gathering takes off, this will be the go to place for announcements, digging deeper, or other resources. Here are a couple questions we've received:
Why a Wednesday night service? Is it a prayer service?
The Wednesday gathering is it's own service. If you want to check the box that you went to church, you can. It won't be like a Sunday gathering. There are a couple of reasons: First, many work schedules do not allow people to attend on a Sunday morning. Different time and day allows for people who work on the weekends to attend church. Second, some people need a pick-me-up during the week. That is how Wednesdays started back in the early church. Another big reasons is we wanted a time and place where we tackle the hard questions. Sundays will focus on working through a book in the Bible.
Why deal with the hard questions?
Jesus often met with people at night to discuss what He was all about. John 3, for example, is a skeptical religious leader trying to figure things out. From a church perspective there is a battle between preaching through a book of the Bible vs topics. From an outsiders perspective both are really needed. As Jonathan says, people are talked out of it because they haven't been talked into it. Others, such as myself, were so hurt or wounded by church that giving up is very tempting.
The majority who call Life home were hurt deeply by church. "God I love, church is another matter." But, we didn't give up and gave church a second (or more) chance. For our Wednesday gathering we choose to wrestle with the hard questions we've asked and dealt with. Wednesday is where we deal with why we didn't give up on church or Jesus. Given our story, we want Cross Examining God to be a safe place for skeptics and de-churched alike to be able to hear what church is really about.
Will it be a debate or attacking other positions?
We'll look at hard questions and giving the positive case for Christianity. We'll also be looking at where the christianity dropped the ball and why stick with it when bad things happen. Here is what we won't be doing. We won't be making fun of skeptics and people of different opinions. We won't have the attitude we are superior and others are not when discussing why Christianity is right compared with other systems of belief. We may even fail at this sometimes. Why? Because we struggle too and had to wrestle with the hard questions of life. I believe, for example, that scientists who hold to evolution truly care about and pursue truth. We won't be calling them liars, even if and when we disagree. We know we are imperfect and make mistakes. Churches have hurt people, we're not going to be so arrogant to say we'd never do that. Humility goes a long way.
The idea is that someone who is curious about Christianity, wants to wrestle with the hard questions, or wants to give church a 2nd (or more) chance can hear what Christianity is about, and why we didn't walk away. PLEASE, ask your questions. We may say "I don't know, we'll look into it." We won't criticize you for asking it. We are not perfect, and we don't presume to have all the answers. We do think that being a Christian is reasonable and that it is best for human flourishing.