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ODJ: Begging the Question?

July 28, 2016 


I have a greater witness than John— my teachings and my miracles (v.36). 

READ: John 5:31-40  

People sometimes say “That begs the question” when referring to something that raises a query. But begging the question actually means to put forth an argument with a premise that assumes the conclusion. In other words, the reasoning is circular and therefore illogical.

For example, as a boy I was taught to beg the question in defence of my faith. Premise: you’re a sinner and you need Jesus. (This is true, but why?) Conclusion: because the Bible says so. That is begging the question.

But why should anyone trust the Bible?

It’s impractical to try to prove the Bible’s reliability in this brief post (although it can be trusted!). But that’s part of the point. Imagine you’re sceptical of Christianity, and a Christian wants you to accept their conclusions in just a few minutes of discussion. It could happen, but it’s not likely.

In John 5, some religious leaders confronted Jesus over His claims of being divine (vv.16-18). Jesus didn’t hesitate to counter His accusers’ words with a logical defence. “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid,” He said. But “in fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true” (vv.31,33). For good measure, Jesus noted that the public had observed His miracles and heard His teaching (v.36). The evidence of Christ being God’s Son was compelling!

Before anyone wants to hear our reasons for faith in Jesus, they want to feel respected and known by us as individuals in their own right. Isn’t that how God treats us? He never demands our faith, but He does make an unmistakable appeal for us to believe.

At the heart of Christianity you won’t find an argument but an irrefutable Person—Jesus.

—Tim Gustafson

365-day plan: John 7:32-53

MORE
Read John 5:1-30 to see some of the challenges Jesus faced from His accusers despite the fact that He was obviously doing good. 
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