Home from college, my son Josh perched on a stool at the kitchen counter while I fixed dinner. The glint in his steel-blue eyes indicated an internal struggle. "Mom, how do you know the Bible is true?"
I groped for words and responded, "Because God says so." Dissatisfied with my lack of reasoning, Josh left the room. Concern replaced my tension as I began to realize the damage of my thoughtless answer.
Questions like that made me gulp. How was I supposed to know? Did answers even exist? If they did, I didn't know where to look for them or have the time to do the research. Cleaning house, soccer games and grocery shopping constantly competed for my attention.
A parent's dilemma
In the days to come, Josh's difficult questions became more frequent and significant. "How could a good God send my friend to hell?" "If He's powerful enough to overcome evil, why do children die?" "Don't all religions lead to the same God?" The tough questions increased until my son turned away from the Christian faith. For me, separating sound reasoning from emotional feelings had been too difficult.
Genuine intellectual difficulties do exist, and these can draw our children away from faith unless they are taught a rational and biblical foundation for their beliefs. By the time they reach college, young people have been bombarded by conflicting intellectual messages: science — evolution as opposed to creation; philosophy — a relative truth; history — revisionist accounts. Paraphrasing philosopher C. Stephen Evans, it's no wonder that young people, when separated from an environment in which religious faith functions as a kind of social necessity, find faith no longer a viable option.
During my son's years of questioning, my faith no longer felt comfortable. My pat answers failed to satisfy Josh's quandaries, and his uncertainty built hunger in me for mind-satisfying truth.
Once I began to study and base my faith on facts, Josh and I found common ground. Attending a one-day seminar at a local Christian university convinced me of many historical and scientific reasons why the Bible is true. Archaeology, eyewitness accounts and comparison of early manuscripts all gave me sound reasons for believing that the Bible is the reliable Word of God. This knowledge began to strengthen my understanding of the Lord.
As I studied and learned all I could, I discovered factual reasons to justify why I believe in Jesus Christ. Being able to discuss these concepts with my son gave him some of the answers he hungered for. It's been many years since then, and I still search for more answers. No longer afraid of difficult topics that challenge faith, I've discovered a bigger faith, a bigger truth and a bigger God.
I have also realized that I will never know all the answers. Some issues are beyond my understanding. No easy or comprehensive answers exist for such topics as the problem of evil. God is simply bigger than my mind can grasp. It is important for me to learn all I can, and yet I need to understand that my lack of complete understanding is OK.
The bottom line remains: Answers to difficult questions won't solve every problem. Intellectual reasoning alone doesn't instill faith. But acknowledging good questions and investigating difficult topics can lead to fruitful conversations. Knowing all I can gives me faith to love beyond differences. And that kind of love keeps me close to my son.