Sarah Malcangi http://www.sarahmalcangi.com Christian Apologist Wed, 31 May 2017 04:51:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Can Christianity Answer…Why Does God Allow Suffering? http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/can-christianity-answer-why-does-god-allow-suffering/ Wed, 31 May 2017 04:51:10 +0000 http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/?p=1752

I recently heard a Christian friend say that they don’t have an explanation for why God allows suffering. I am sure many Christians feel the same way because when your hope is secure in your faith this issue doesn’t shake your faith. I have spent the better part of a year in the trenches of experience and study in this area and I can confidently say that everyone asks, why does God allow suffering? As Christians we must do as 1 Peter 3:15 says, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (NIV). 

We cannot change the views of unbelievers if we have not earnestly thought through life’s difficult questions ourselves. Afterall, this question is one of the top objections to Christianity that an unbeliever has and if you don’t have a response besides, “Jesus is the solution”, then the unbeliever will just assume your faith is shallow. As Christians we have to remember we aren’t always talking to believers as this topic comes up. So we must explain our response in a way that the unbeliever can understand. A good question to ask is if they are really wondering why God allows evil and suffering or are they wondering if God really exists. Below are 3 defenses as to why God allows evil and suffering. 

“The problem of evil is the most powerful objection to traditional theism.”   -Richard Swinburne, Oxford Companion to Philosophy

Free Will

When God created us he gave us the gift of free will. C.S. Lewis says it best, “If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible”. It’s easy to complain that there is evil in the world but then we love the freedom to choose what we think is best for ourselves. We are free to choose God or reject him and it doesn’t make much sense for a person to reject God but then complain that he is allowing evil to co-exist with us. People are quick to blame God for all the evil and suffering in the world but they don’t always give God credit for the goodness in people or situations.  

We have the opportunity to be very good or very bad. Looking at evil and suffering in the world it’s imperative we ascertain how it was caused. I recently read a news story about 19 Coptic Christian children who were brutally murdered because they would not renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. This evil was carried out by man–not God. So, as with these types of evil we must remember our free will gives us all the choice to hurt others or to help them. Further, even after these horrible events happen we have the opportunity to help others. 

Free will could only exist in a world that God created, otherwise we would not have the need to know the difference between good and evil. 

Objective Good and Evil

God allows evil and suffering, that is a fact that both Christians and unbelievers have to account for. The Christian does not have the burden to prove God’s existence in the midst of the presence of evil and suffering, although they can. The problem of suffering is a dilemma for every human being. Further, it does not create a snafu for the Christian in how they explain their faith in God. In fact, the presence of evil and suffering provides more evidence for God’s existence and goodness. If someone is questioning why God allows suffering or if they question his existence because of the presence of suffering it’s important to point out the most obvious fact. When asking this question we are assuming that there is the presence of objective evil such as what we see on the news. 

There is no question that we can agree that there are some atrocities that all make us wonder why violence is taking place. So if we are assuming that there is objective evil then we must also assume there is objective good in the world. C.S. Lewis says it this way, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust.”

“So evil can’t exist unless good exists. But good can’t exist unless God exists. In other words, there can’t be no objective evil unless there is objective good, and there can be no objective good unless God exists. If evil is real–and we all know it is–then God exists.”  -Frank Turek, Stealing From God

Meaning and Purpose

Great Philosophers have written on the topic of the meaning of life for centuries. We live our lives, following our passions as if they mean something, because they do. Evil is only possible in a world that God created, otherwise we are just puppets without purpose. But we know that there is meaning and purpose in our world, science is just one example of many, where there is evidence of intelligent design. And if there is evidence of intelligent design then there has to be an intelligent designer. If everything that begins to exist has a cause then we can conclude that we too also have a cause and reason for existing. Even our suffering has great meaning. 

“The point is this: If God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless; but man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that life is meaningless; so in order to be happy he pretends life has meaning. But this is, of course, entirely inconsistent—for without God, man and the universe are without any real significance.” -William Lane Craig, Philosopher 

We all will face suffering at some point in our lives. It is not something we can escape from so how can we justify God allowing evil to co-exist with us? Experiencing suffering does not diminish the goodness of God or his plans for us. However, Atheists rest on the idea that if they can create enough doubt in your mind that for God to really exist that he must create only goodness in your life, then you will question his existence and goodness. This idea necessitates the fact that you would be playing God in order to determine this idea of what goodness is. The real problem here is the condition of our hearts and where it leads us. 

In short, Christianity does answer why God allows suffering and these are only 3 defenses as to why. We must not soften the real pain of suffering and evil in the world. Suffering is not easy to endure and if we are careful we will not fall prey into being desensitized to seeing its severity. It is clear that evil and suffering is all around us and it is pertinent for everyone, regardless of  faith, to continue to ask life’s difficult questions. Are we objectively looking at good and evil as we discern how they both can co-exist in a world that God created?! As Christians we must answer this question especially when unbelievers ask us to explain our position. Christianity is the only religion that can give a reasonable explanation to the problem of evil and suffering. 

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Do All Paths Really Lead to God? http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/do-all-paths-really-lead-to-god/ Mon, 25 Apr 2016 06:17:44 +0000 http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/?p=1712

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“My premise is that the popular aphorism that ‘all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different’ simply is not true. It is more correct to say that all religions are, at best, superficially similar but fundamentally different.”
-Ravi Zacharias

It’s no secret that many people believe that all paths lead to God. We live in a world that lives in fear of offending people. But the dilemma with this idea is that these people aren’t taking the time to figure out if the statement is true. People who think this way also think that if they believe in God or some sort of higher power, then that is all that is needed and that it doesn’t matter which path you take because you end up in the same place as everyone else. There is a lot of conflicting information among religions that needs to be addressed so we need to look at the facts. We have to look at what these religions believe and how they view God.

Further, is it reasonable to think that all religions lead us to the same God and to the same heaven? After all, if we are calling the creator, God, then we can’t assume there are different Gods or multiple heavens. At times I have had conversations with people who think they can choose their own personal heaven. It is easy for me as a Christian to believe that it is false to claim that all paths or religions lead to God but let’s look at why this is so. Below is a brief list of religions and their beliefs about God and the afterlife.

Christian Beliefs

  1. There is only one God.
  2. God has revealed himself as one God in three persons to his creation through the Trinity: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son (Jesus Christ).
  3. He is the creator of all things.
  4. He is righteous, holy, and without sin.
  5. He is just and will carry out any punishment of wrongdoing.
  6. God is all powerful, uncaused, unlimited, timeless, spaceless, and immaterial.
  7. God is love and because he loves us he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to be crucified in order for our sins to be forgiven.
  8. By accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you become a born-again Christian. Only Christians are guaranteed to go to heaven.
  9. Christians will live with God in heaven and people who choose not to believe in him go to hell.

Now when we look at the Bible we see a loving and personal God. God hates sin but he still loves people. Something entirely different can be said of the Muslim God, Allah. In fact, Allah’s love is for Muslims only and it’s a conditional love based on works.

Muslim Beliefs

  1. There is only one God, Allah. He has no equal or partner. He is the sole creator.
  2. Muslims believe he is a transcendent, all powerful creator who created everything with perfect order.
  3. Muhammad was the messenger of Allah.
  4. The Quran is clear to reject any ideas of polytheism and Christian doctrine, especially the Trinity.
  5. Jesus was just a prophet and they believe that he delivered messages from God.
  6. Muslims don’t believe Jesus died on the cross or was resurrected on the third day as historical records show.
  7. Muhammad taught that Jews and Christians will be punished for the sins committed by Muslims (Sahih Muslim 6665).
  8. Muslims believe that if they are good enough (doing more good deeds than bad) then they have a better chance to get into heaven but it’s not a guarantee. The only guarantee that they will enter heaven is if they die in Jihad. If they fail to do these things then they are sent to hell.

The Quran states that you must submit to Allah before he will love you (Surah 3:31). Theistic religions state that there is one God and lately there has been a lot of talk on whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  This is due to a Professor at Wheaton College who claimed that both Christians and Muslims worship the same God because they are both “of the book”. This assertion was quickly refuted due to what the Christian Bible and the Holy Quran have to say about God. As you look at the passages from these books it is clear that they are not talking about the same God. In fact, it is clear they are describing two different Gods.

Mormon Beliefs

  1. God came from another planet.
  2. God is a man with a body of flesh and bones.
  3. There is a mother goddess.
  4. God and his goddess wife are married.
  5. You can become gods.
  6. The Mormon belief on heaven is quite extensive. According to their religion there are three heavens.
  7. They don’t believe in an actual physical hell.

Additionally, Mormons demand to be called Christians even though they reject much of the major Christian doctrine. They do not use the word grace in their practice.

(Source: CARM)

New Age Beliefs

  1. There are no moral absolutes.
  2. God will never condemn others.
  3. God is an impersonal God, in other words he will never reveal himself to others on a personal level.
  4. A new age believer seeks to elevate him or herself to being a god so they don’t agree with any theistic views of who God is.
  5. New Age beliefs like to use other religions ideas that focus on self.
  6. They believe that they were created with divine characteristics so it is possible to spiritually ascend and posses the same power as God. These beliefs also focus on their hope of world wide unity and harmony. They believe and talk about a second coming happening but they believe it is a euphoria that will sweep across the world resulting in peace and harmony.
  7. They believe Jesus was a good teacher but that everyone has more power than he does. This power comes from your higher self because you are God.
  8. They believe in an afterlife but it centers around reincarnation.
  9. Hell is not a real place but a state of mind.

People of the New Age belief include the word God in their vocabulary but it is not in the same sense as theists believe. When we hear others using the name God we must seek to understand in what context they are using the word. With that said we still need to critically look at a few items as we talk about which truth is the right path to follow. They don’t compliment one another as some claim instead they are in conflict with one another and it is easy to see how you can only choose one of them as the truth.

Ravi Zacharias states that a worldview must answer the following:

  • Origins
  • Meaning
  • Morality
  • Destiny

A majority of religions do attempt to answer these issues because they know it establishes a fundamental groundwork for what they believe and why they believe. When a religion does not talk about all of these basic issues about life then it makes little sense why they are following a religion that can’t answer these questions.

Further, religions are obviously fundamentally different. They all claim to be exclusive so you cannot pick just any religion and believe that you will go to heaven. There is a reason why people are so persuasive in how they talk about their religion. For me as a Christian I attempt to persuade others to know about Jesus and I pray that God appears to them because he is a personal God. Also, I have some family members that are New Agers and they also try to convince me as to why Christianity is wrong and the New Age beliefs are right. If all paths lead to God they would not feel the need to persuade anyone.

It is clear we know that multiple ways to God is not possible. If there were multiple paths to God then we wouldn’t have the laws of logic, reasoning, or the need for persuasion. Again, all of these religions are mutually exclusive so it becomes impossible for all paths to lead to God. We can’t all be right but we can encourage one another in our quest for the truth. We need to keep asking questions while exposing our fear and doubts. The fact is that we can’t all be right but that doesn’t mean we need to reject others who don’t agree with us.

Not every religion can be right and since they all conflict with one another only one can be true. Seek to know the truth because there can only be one path to God.

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Book Review: Answering Jihad http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/book-review-answering-jihad/ Tue, 08 Mar 2016 06:50:27 +0000 http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/?p=1648

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If you read any book this year, let it be Answering Jihad. It is written by Nabeel Qureshi who also wrote Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

Even if you don’t have a passion to know about Islam it’s a book everyone needs to read in order to prepare to answer others who may talk with us about Muslims and radical Islam. The book is separated into 18 different questions as it explores the meaning and origins of jihad, jihad today, and jihad in a Judeo-Christian context. Also, Nabeel answers some hot topic questions like is Islam a religion of peace, do Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and what does Jesus have to do with jihad?

Reading through this book I immediately thought about the September 11th attacks on the United States. If you are anything like me you remember where you were that day. I was in downtown Chicago and everyone was filled with fear. And I think that is what a lot of people are feeling today as we watch the news and see radical Muslims attacking the innocent. It does not make a lot of sense to American’s who before 9/11 did not know much, if anything, about the religion of Islam. But we must not look away or assume that all Muslims condone the actions of these radical muslims.

One of the problems in our world today is that we do not understand what Muslims believe or how they view the world and even God. Nabeel writes about what it is like to live as a Muslim as well clearly stating  what jihad is and how Muslims interpret it.

Answering Jihad is a book that is relevant to everybody. It is clear that radical Muslims are here to stay as we look at the San Bernadino shooting, the assault on Paris, and various other attacks around the world being orchestrated by ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Qaida.

We are looking for a better way forward, even our current republican presidential candidates have been asked about what actions they would take against ISIS. However, there is a better answer in Answering Jihad because it provides the answers we so desperately need.

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Why Christians Must Stop Being Afraid of Muslims http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/why-christians-must-stop-being-afraid-of-muslims/ Tue, 23 Feb 2016 06:20:48 +0000 http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/?p=1652

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He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”.
Mark 16:15

A study conducted in 2010 states that there are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world and 2.75 million of them (adults and children) live in America.

That means that we live in the perfect place to evangelize Muslims. However, when I hear most people talk about Muslims they are always referring to radical Muslims associated with ISIS or al-Qaida. Unfortunately most Christians aren’t educating themselves about Islam and when we aren’t educated about something we tend to make irrational assumptions that may not be true. And we forget there are millions of other Muslims who may have never had a Christian take an interest in why they are a Muslim or who they are.

Sadly most of us do not understand why Muslims believe the way they do because we are not seeking to understand what non-believers believe. We see the news reports of ISIS soldiers blowing up the innocent and think that this is what every Muslim believes is right according to their religion. But the fact is that a large majority of Muslims just want to live a peaceful life and do not agree with what ISIS, Boko Haram, or al-Qaida is doing in the name of Islam. In fact, I recently met a Muslim at Barnes & Noble who was in awe of the beauty of the religion and that is what she loves about it. Granted, she may not have dug deep enough into her religion to know everything about it. She is viewing it at a distance and we must not make the same mistake.

Islam is not a religion of peace but there ARE peaceful Muslims. And if we are to tell Muslims why we have a real hope in Jesus Christ we cannot let fear lead us away from them. For too long we have allowed the liberal media to educate us about Islam without digging deeper ourselves to see if the information we are hearing is accurate or not. And just in case you’re wondering, this information is rarely correct. So that is why we must research it ourselves or go to people who did the work such as Acts 17 Apologetics, David Wood, and David Cook, just to name a few.

Here are a few facts about Islam that all Christians should know:

1.) Muslims have a religious book called the Quran that is divided into chapters called surahs and they also have a text that accompanies the Quran called hadith. The hadith is the recording of Muhammad’s actions and speech in tradition. You don’t have to be a scholar to learn what the Quran or hadith says but it will help you understand what Muslims think about creation, Jesus, and Muhammad.

2.) There are 5 pillars of Islam, they are practices expected of every Muslim:
-There is one God (Allah) and Muhammad is his messenger (shahada)
-Pray 5 times a day (salaat)
-Pay the religious tax (zakat)
-Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)
-Fasting during Ramadan (sawm)

3.) Muslims believe that Jesus was a great prophet but they don’t think that he died by crucifixion.  They also affirm that the Bible is the word of God. Yet they think that Christians believe in many gods because of how we explain the trinity.

We can share our hope in Jesus Christ in a very real way through connecting with Muslims and building relationships with them. We literally have millions of opportunities to tell them about the gospel and love them right where they are. If Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners surely we can take time to share the truth with Muslims.

To learn a few important verses from the Quran, please check out this video from Acts 17 Apologetics.

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Learning To Embrace My Single Life http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/learning-to-embrace-my-single-life/ http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/learning-to-embrace-my-single-life/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2015 05:29:36 +0000 http://www.sarahmalcangi.com/?p=1433

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I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. -Philippians 4:12

Being single is hard! Like anyone else I wish for things I do not have but would do anything in order to get them. The Lord has placed me in a time of singleness and although I do not know how long that will last I do know that God has a purpose.

It takes true courage to be single–especially when you are seeking Jesus. The world doesn’t exactly embrace us as children of God. But there are things we can reflect on to understand this season. There will be times in your life that God will allow circumstances to unfold just so he can have quality time with you. He loves you as his dearly beloved child. And sometimes he has to get us in a place to where we don’t have any outside distractions so that we can focus on him, and only him.

There are three things that have helped me to learn about life in my singleness.

Brokenness

There is always a reason why we are single. Sometimes we know the reason and other times not. Use this time to ask God for the answer. He can reveal a great amount of beauty and discernment within you when all you see is brokenness in yourself. Whether you have never been married, divorced, or widowed we all face degrees of brokenness. After my divorce I was so broken I didn’t know what to do next so I would just sit with the Lord. Sometimes words came easily but other times all I could do was cry. During this time I experienced night after night of this quality time with the Lord and through it he strengthened and healed me by providing me comfort while I was still fragile. My brokenness did not disappear overnight but instead day by day I learned that God was still God and he is still a loving and awesome Savior. He won’t always take away the struggle or the affliction but he will teach us to focus on him. And when we focus on Jesus all the other things in our life will lose their power. And we will begin to realize God has it under control.

Identity

Identity seems to be a term to describe the discovery of ourselves. But how many of us are seeking the Lord to find out who he created us to be? Our identity is found in Christ but if we don’t have a close personal relationship with him then we will be wandering around trying to find out who we are. And the shocker for many of us is that it has to do with Christ and not us. The most important sentence I read about my identity as I was searching for meaning in my life was, “It’s not all about you”. That sentence did not sit well with me because I thought finding who I was born to be was about discovering who I was. We first have to discover who Jesus is before we get a glimpse of who we really are.

Temptation

Sexual temptation entices everyone and abstinence takes discipline. Making the choice to not have sex before marriage while living in a sex-infused world takes strength. And to be honest I don’t have that strength or willpower on my own–our strength only comes from the Lord. In our world that tries to validate our flesh desires we have to be careful of the trap that is set for us to walk into. It’s not an easy thing to walk away from but it is worth it because God is better than what temptations offer us.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  -1 Corinthians 10:13

If you find yourself in this time of being single take the time to discover the joy that comes with it. It may not last forever but there is a sweetness that happens in this moment. Take your time to allow God to work in each area of your life in order to heal and learn what he wants you to know.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
-2 Peter 3:8-9

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