Questions about God's existence and God's nature (what is God like?), are of universal interest and we take them seriously. These are questions of ultimate significance.
Some people have doubts, and their doubts must be taken seriously. It is not a sin to have doubts. Questions can even lead to faith or spring from faith. The important thing to do with questions and doubts is to use them to explore and research in a spirit of searching for discovery. That is, to be open to learning answers and making new discoveries, the way a scientist uses his or her questions to guide research in the search for answers. This is asking questions in a positive way. Positive questions can open up new worlds to us. Negative questions close the world to us.
We believe that God does exist. We believe that "God rewards those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). The search for truth about ultimate questions may not be easy or resolved quickly, but that does not mean the truth is impossible to discover. The search is worthy of our time and energy.
Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in our space-time history, we accept his claim to be God's eternal Son. We accept his claim to be the one who reveals God with accuracy and authority. He provides both reconciliation and revelation, and helps us enter into a spiritual fellowship with the invisible God. He is the central answer to our ultimate questions.
Here are some books that can offer help:
Before reading arguments about Jesus from any point of view a basic understanding of the earliest written records about Jesus is needed. One older but still excellent presentation, short and very readable, is James S. Stewart, The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ. Stewart had penetrating insight and could present information very clearly. This is non-technical by a man who taught at the University of Edinburgh as well as preached to overflow crowds.
The next book for a basic overview of what scholars think about Jesus is also very short. See Richard Bauckham's Jesus: A Very Short Introduction, published by Oxford University Press. After Stewart and Bauckham you can expand in other directions and not be thrown by the see-sawing of arguments that move back and forth.
Journalist Lee Strobel in "The Case for Christ" interviews many scholars on questions about Jesus. It is not the end of discussion but questions about Jesus have been fermenting in the minds of the scholars he interviews for many years, and their insights are important.
F.F. Bruce's "The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?" is short and full of information. Get the newest edition with the introduction by N.T. Wright. This is an important foundation for studies about Jesus and early Christianity.
Philosopher William Lane Craig's "Reasonable Faith" discusses the possibility of miracles, the possibility of sound historical knowledge, and the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. This book should be high on your reading list because he addresses interrelated questions of importance.
New Testament historian and theologian N.T. Wright's "Simply Christian" gives a good introduction to Christianity - this one can be helpful to intelligent high school students as well as older readers.
Armand Nicholi, Jr., professor of psychiatry at Harvard School of Medicine, emeritus, in "The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life" gives a readable guide to thinking about ultimate questions.
John C. Lennox, Oxford mathematician and philosopher of science, argues that science does not point toward atheism in his book, "God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?"
A Jewish biblical scholar and scientist, former physics professor at M.I.T., Gerald Schroeder has written readable books, "Genesis and the Big Bang" and "The Science of God." Schroeder argues that modern science and a reading of the Bible are compatable in some areas that may surprise us. Schroeder's books helped the leading philosophical atheist of our day, Antony Flew, to return to theism (the belief that a creator God exists).
Owen Gingerich, emeritus professor of astrophysics at Harvard, wrote a short book with concise presentations and reflections, called "God's Universe." It is another good introduction that helps us understand the reasons why a number of scientists are returning to faith in God.
Philosopher Dallas Willard edited "A Place for Truth" offers contributions by Christian scholars and scientists who explore hard questions. These come from their public lectures at major universities, but are very readable and non-technical.
Also read the ancient books about Jesus containing eyewitness information: try the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John, because they tell a life story that was humanly uninventable in that time and culture, one that still speaks directly to our minds and hearts today. The Gospel of Mark is short and reads fast. One should read the primary literature on Jesus, not just books about what people think of the New Testament. The portrayals of Jesus in the four basic books, "The Gospel according to Matthew . . . Mark, Luke, John," are deep and multifaceted and unrivaled in their ability to present a sound portrayal of Jesus. They were affirmed by the circle of eyewitnesses who knew Jesus during his life and witnessed his public death and resurrection appearances.
Legal scholar, John Warwick Montgomery, a man with high degrees in philosophy, theology and history, wrote a short and helpful book called "History, Law and Christianity." It has a good legal examination of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and is worth reading.
For high school students, J. Budziszewski's "How to Stay Christian in College" is very readable, covering many subjects and exposing the underlying presuppositions as he examines different important ideas. He writes very clearly in non-technical language about beliefs and about lifestyles and important personal choices. This is good for both teenagers and adults. For additional reading, see his new book, "The Meaning of Sex."
Other resources can be recommended, adjusted to your personal questions, your age and level of interest. Feel free to contact Pastor Mark for suggestions. There are also some good websites he can recommend.