2 Peter 1:16-18
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.
There are times when we have doubts. Doubting is not ceasing to believe, for doubting is not the opposite of having faith. There may times when we are tempted to doubt the teaching of the Bible because of it exclusiveness, its supernaturalism, and its age.
Exclusiveness. One way we might respond is by cutting Christianity from its historical context saying, as many have done, that spiritual experience is the key. Peter disagreed: ‘Christianity is historically grounded’, he points out. And in 1:16-21 he tells us why:
‘Gnosticism’ which promoted special knowledge and mysteries of God, was on the rise when Peter wrote. His response was to say, ‘What I passed on to you is not cunningly invented myth. Jesus really was God in the flesh and he really did rise from the dead. I know this because I saw him’. In saying this Peter invites us to assess his eyewitness testimony. He couldn’t prove he saw Jesus transfigured on that mountain, but like any good witness, he tells us what he saw. Furthermore, he implies that others supported his testimony (James and John). If Peter’s testimony is true, how can Christianity be anything but exclusive? Either God spoke from heaven and said, ‘This is my beloved Son,’ or he didn’t.
Supernaturalism: – the virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles, and his resurrection. How can Christianity be anything but supernatural, if at a certain time in a certain place divinity walked among men and women? Either Jesus did rise from the dead before many witnesses or he didn’t. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul tells us that Jesus appeared to at least five hundred people.
Age. We may have problems with the age of Christianity – after all it began two thousand years ago. Certainly we cannot prove that Christianity is true in the same way that we might prove that two plus two equals four. But that doesn’t mean that by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, means we are taking an irrational leap into the dark. That is not what Peter is asking us to do: We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…’ he says.
What we often forget is that these men and others with them overturned the Roman world, not by armed revolution, but by the example of their lives and the testimony of their lips. And they died for their faith. Can you imagine Jesus’ disciples constructed a monstrous lie? Christianity is not based on myth, but memory.
You may want to consider:
- circumstances that might have caused you to have doubts about the faith;
- the importance of Peter’s eyewitness testimony;
- how you might explain to others that God’s gospel is grounded in truth.
Let me encourage you to pray
© John G. Mason, Reason for Hope – 40 Days of Bible Readings and Reflections – 2016. All Rights Reserved.