Q+A – 28th April 2017

Q+A – 28th April 2017

A new tab has been added to the menu titled ‘Submit a Question’. I will attempt to answer questions related to Christianity or Philosophy in posts every now and then. To give you an idea of the projected length and scope of questions, here are some that I have answered in another medium just two weeks ago. These answers won’t be comprehensive, but I pray that they will be encouraging and beneficial. I may address some questions by writing a specific post or by writing an article series.

Question: How do I respond to a student who says they are not a Christian anymore?

Answer: We grieve. What a tragedy, that someone would walk away from Jesus. We should seek to continue to love them and share the Gospel with them. When someone says that they aren’t a Christian anymore there are three possible categories that they are in:

  1. They aren’t a Christian, and they never will be.
  2. They aren’t a Christian, but they will be one day.
  3. They are a Christian, but they are currently in a state of sin and denial. (This is the most uncommon one)

I don’t give you these three categories in order to judge or assign someone, but to say that the most charitable assumption to make is that they are the 2nd category because if so, we can continue to show grace and point them to the truth. Pray for them, and pray that they would turn back to Jesus.

Question: What is depression in terms of Christianity? Is it considered a mental illness or a punishment because of our sin?

Answer: Clinical Depression is a medical reality that must be taken seriously and is the result of a combination of factors – some chemical and some psychological/spiritual. A Christian understands that depression is a result of the presence of sin in our world (Romans 8:18-21) and not the fault of any one particular person who sinned (consider the example of Job in the Old Testament who suffered greatly but was a righteous man). Depression should be considered a mental illness that is not shameful at all (do we find it embarrassing to have the flu?) but should seek medical help and spiritual support. It’s important as friends of those who have depression to avoid being the counsellor of a friend who has depression because you are not trained in how to help that friend. Don’t be their doctor. Be their support, their friend, their source of encouragement and prayer. And encourage them to find a professional counsellor.

Question: In a discussion, the concept of how there are “chosen people”, so that there means there are people that are not chosen as well. So how do we know we are and does that mean God has favouritisim for some people? At the same time but God loves everyone?!?!?

Answer: The Bible consistently speaks of Israel as God’s chosen people (e.g. Deuteronomy 14:1-2) and Christians as God’s chosen people (e.g. 1 Peter 2:9). This concept isn’t new or foreign to the Bible – out of the totality of fallen humans God chooses to show His grace to some. Grace is undeserved and should not be expected. At a basic level, this means that even though God does love all people and the Gospel message is offered to all people (John 3:16) only those who trust in Jesus and are found in Him will be saved forever. In other words, God does love all people but He does not love all people the same way. It is those who are in Christ Jesus who are loved eternally, unchangingly, and like His own Son.

The way you know if you are one of God’s chosen people is simply this: are you a Christian? If so, the only way you could have any faith is if God gave it to you in the first place. So if you are a Christian, you are chosen. But what about those who aren’t Christians? Well, God is calling His chosen people to faith in Christ as we go out and share the Gospel, and they will assuredly be saved. If God never chose anyone then evangelism would be a waste of time because no one would be saved. But since we know that God does choose people, evangelism is never a waste of time because we are following Jesus’ command and we know that God will save His people. For more information about predestination, feel free to check out this resource: http://www.thelas.info/2012/04/predestination-resource-by-james-chen/.

Question: How do you help a non-Christian understand that Christianity is not just a ‘religion’?

Answer: It depends on what you mean by ‘religion’. After all, James 1:26-27 calls Christianity a religion. This is referring to how we have beliefs and practices. But in a more modern sense of the word, ‘religion’ is about a system of beliefs and practices where we have to do something in order to achieve happiness, eternal life, and/or peace. Christianity is different. We are those who believe that because of what Jesus has done we already have happiness, eternal life, and peace. So all these beliefs and practices we have aren’t in order to gain God’s favour – we do it because we already have it! That’s unique among all the ‘religions’ of the world.

James Chen

James is a Philosophy graduate from the University of Sydney and is currently a teaching and learning manager of a senior high school tutoring centre. James is a member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Carlingford and loves reading and teaching the Bible.