by Daryl E. Witmer, AIIA Executive Director What follows are actual excerpts from an e-mail exchange that I shared with Nelson (name changed to assure anonymity) late last Fall. I have known Nelson personally for many years. We have had numerous conversations about matters of faith. I have responded to many, many of his questions. He has also received and read this thoughtletter since 1991. Please note my comments at the conclusion of this exchange, and then -allow me to challenge you- evaluate very carefully the choice that you have made about the vantage point from which you will search for truth. The orientation you choose, i.e. your assumptions, can make an eternity of difference. Nelson writes... Date: Thu, Nov 13, 1997 4:03 PM EST Hello. I have a question that I have thought about many times but have never asked anyone who might be able to give me the answer. As I recall, there was a prophecy that said the Messiah would come from the lineage of King David. Joseph was of this family line but wasn't the father of Jesus because Mary was a virgin. So how could Jesus be the Messiah? Thank you. Nelson My answer... 11/15/97, 3pm EST Hi Nelson. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We were out of town yesterday-caught in that snowstorm in Bangor! The answer to your question is really quite simple. Joseph was not the natural father of Jesus because, as the sinless Son of God, Jesus was born of a virgin. But Joseph was the legal, adoptive, father. Since Jewish genealogies run through the male heads of households (legal fathers), Jesus really was therefore, even in a technical sense, fully an heir to David's throne, thus fulfilling the incredible prophecies (made 1000 years before they were ever realized!) about the Messiah being a son of David. Now, I've got a question for you. How many questions will you need to have answered before you are convinced that the Bible is true and Christ is who He claimed to be? Twenty more? 120 more? 300 more? In other words, what would it take to convince you, Nelson? Daryl Nelson writes again... Date: Sun, Nov 16, 1997 11:48 PM EST Hello. Thank you for the response concerning the question I asked. Sincerely, Nelson My next message... 11/17/97, 5:05pm EST Hi. Nelson, I'm writing again because I didn't want you to think that I never have any doubts or questions about the Christian faith. There are difficulties, to be sure. I've even had some of the same questions that you have had. But I view them from a different angle. I believe that there are solutions. My library is filled with volumes written by learned men who have discovered that what at first appears impossible often has a simple solution. You too have to deal with many things that do seem to provide good evidence for the Christian faith. And where does not believing leave you? I've had a taste of that world once, and it's very lonely, dark, and depressing out there. So we both have questions. The difference, as I see it, is that I'm standing on the ground of faith as I explore the riddles of life, and you're standing in a black void. In friendship, Daryl Nelson responds... Date: Wed, Nov 19, 1997 1:15 AM EST Hello. If you don't mind me quoting you, please let me do so. "We both have questions. The difference, as I see it, is that I'm standing on the ground of faith as I explore the riddles of life, and you're standing in a black void." Thank you for those words. They do make sense, and what seems odd to me is that I agree with you. But I still don't see any changes coming from me. Best wishes, Nelson Nelson also, at that point, asked to be taken off our mailing list. I've not heard from him since. He made a choice. And you also must make a choice about where you will stand in exploring the riddles of life and the mysteries of faith. But take care-the ground on which you choose to stand as you search for truth always involves assumptions that lead to presumptions that will ultimately serve to either establish or extinguish your basis for all hope and meaning in life.
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