Personally, I think there are two things all Christians should be able to prove — especially Protestants. Our separated brethren claim strict adherence to the Bible as the end-all and be-all of divine revelation, believing it to be the inspired word of God, yet none of them know how to prove the Bible is inspired. Well, I think they should have to prove that (Catholics too, for that matter). That's something we will cover in a future article.
There is yet another thing all Christians should be able to prove — especially Catholics.
Perhaps one of the most puzzling things for me about most modern Christians is that we worship Someone that most of us can't prove exists. Obviously, we all believe in God, but we can't prove His existence. What kind of sense does that make? Why worship a being you can't prove exists? It's like a child believing in the existence of Santa Claus.
Can God's existence be proven? Well, not with natural scientific evidence — yet. However, His existence most certainly can be proven through the use of logic and right reason.
Frankly, there are several solid proofs for God's existence, but I'm going to limit this article to one that I've successfully used with everyday people. It's an argument that I thought was of my own creation, so I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I learned later that a relatively obscure saint in the Patristic era came up with it. So much for arrogantly thinking I could come up with something new in a 2,000-year-old Church. Anyway, this argument is more elementary than others, and due to our lack of space, we'll simply concede that certain things as true.
The first thing we'll stipulate is that the books of the Old Testament are ancient Hebrew literature. We're not saying, for the sake of argument, they're inspired or even true. We're merely stating they are ancient Hebrew literature.
The second stipulation is that Jesus of Nazareth is a real, historical person. We're not saying anything about Him at this point except that He truly existed in Israel 2,000 years ago. Some scoffers would say the only proof we have of his existence are the four Gospels, but that simply isn't true. There are four secular witnesses of the time who attest to Jesus' existence: Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius and Flavius Josephus. Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius were pagans and certainly no friends of Christianity, so their written account is considered to be reliable. Flavius Josephus was a Jew and Roman citizen, and he was also no friend of Jesus. So we actually have eight sources to prove Jesus was truly a historical person: Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, Flavius Josephus, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Now for the argument.
The Old Testament is filled with prophecies about the coming of a Messiah, with the earliest reference coming in Genesis and additional ones coming in, inter alia, Jeremiah, Isaiah and the Psalms. If we were to take all those prophecies and list them on paper, we could then go to the historical sources mentioned above to find that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled each prognostication. Does that prove Jesus is the Messiah? No, not at all. It only proves that He fulfilled the prophecies. But only three types of people could have done that: a bad man, a madman or the Messiah.
Could Jesus have been a bad man? Could He have awoken one day to decide that if He convinced the people He was truly the Messiah, He could gain wealth and power? Yes, but that argument won't float. Why? Because the prophecies also tell us the Messiah had to die. What bad man (criminal) is willing to die just to prove a point, especially after gathering a following? None, of course. Therefore, Jesus could not have been a bad man.
Could He have been a madman, a crazy person? Could a crazy guy wake up one day thinking he was hearing the voice of God telling him he is the Messiah and he should begin fulfilling the prophecies? Certainly, he could, and a madman may even be willing to die, but that argument won't pan out either. A madman simply isn't capable of remaining consistent long enough to pull off such a thing as Jesus did, as Hitler proved in World War II. Psychologists have studied Jesus since the beginning of their science in the 19th century and found He was certainly consistent. They may not like what He taught, but they most certainly agree He was consistent, if nothing else. Therefore, Jesus couldn't have been a madman.
That only leaves us with the third kind of man, the man who is what he says he is. Jesus claims not only to be the Messiah, but He actually claims to be God! And He makes this claim repeatedly (cf. John 10:24–31). My personal favorite of His claims to be divine is found in John 8:58 when Christ revealed, "Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am."
This is the same phrase God used to describe Himself in Exodus 3:14, and I urge you to read these two passages and their respective contexts. So if Jesus couldn't have been a bad man and if He couldn't have been a madman, then He must be who He says He is, and He claims to be God. Therefore, God must exist!
There is much more to this argument, but space won't allow for it here. At least what you have here will set you toward a defense of God's existence with anyone you talk to.
Most people say they don't discuss controversial subjects. I agree; neither do I. So I never discuss organized sports and reality shows. Religion and politics, however, deal with matters of truth, and truth can never be controversial. It can be emotional, but never controversial.
Got a question? Address them to Joe@CantankerousCatholic.com.