It was over a year ago when Nathan Eley proposed the idea of co-leading a class aimed at skeptics and seekers where we would consider the challenging questions of our faith. I remember thinking that I would be interested in teaching a class like that, but I had one serious question: Who would come? In my younger adult years when I was at my most cynical I was not open-minded enough to participate in a class like this. I did not want to slow down to think about the big picture questions of my life. Also, I knew enough about Christianity to understand that following Jesus would result in claims upon my life and behavior, and I was not ready to respond to those claims.
That is why it surprised me to sit in a room with eight other people last week at our first skeptics / seekers class. We were a mixed group, four women and five men, ranging in age from teenager to middle age and older. All of us had some experience in church, and several reported negative memories from our earliest churches. Some identified themselves as more skeptics than seekers, and others identified themselves as neither, just curious about how to participate in these conversations with more understanding.
In the next five weeks, we hope to wrestle with some of the frequently raised objections to Christianity:
· How can there be just one true religion?
· How can a God who is good and all-powerful allow suffering?
· Is Christianity a straight-jacket? (This is what I believed for years.)
· Why is the church responsible for so much injustice?
· How can a loving God send people to hell?
· Has science disproved Christianity?
· Can the Bible be accepted literally?
Last week was a kind of soft opening because we took time for introductions. My take-away question from last Thursday was this: If you do not believe the claims of Christianity, what are the guiding principles of your life? In the coming weeks, Nathan and I will teach on the above questions and others, but the class will be interactive in that we will allow the participants to set the agenda based upon questions they submit in advance. We already have our first question for this week, and we will start with this one: What evidence is there for Jesus in history outside of the Bible?