Monday, July 26, 2010

Seeing the Unseen God

I am just back from Orlando, Florida, which is one of my favorite trips of the year as I participate in Student Leadership University. I did a series on worldview issues as well as answered questions for students, and one of the questions asked was “If you can’t see God, how can you really know that God exists?”

It is not uncommon for skeptics to suppose that we as Christians are irrational for believing in a God that we simply cannot see. In reality, it’s irrational for skeptics to presuppose that what cannot be seen doesn’t exist! The fact that something that cannot be seen does not presuppose that something doesn’t exist. We know black holes, electrons, the laws of logic, and the law of gravity all exist despite the fact we can’t see them! Indeed even a full blown empiricist holds fast to the law of gravity if he is standing on top of the Eiffel Tower.

Not only that, but as King David exudes, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). Or in the words of the apostle Paul, “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). If you want to put it another way, the order and complexity of the visible, physical, universe eloquently testify to the existence of an uncaused first cause.

One final point, God can be seen through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul explains that “in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). Indeed, it is the incarnation of Jesus Christ that is the supreme act of God’s self-revelation. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we experience the power and the presence of God in a way that is more fundamentally real than even our perceptions of the physical world in which we dwell. Now we see but a poor reflection, just like in a mirror; but then one day in heaven we’re going to see face to face. Now we know in part, then we’ll know fully just as we too are fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Redefining Tolerance

From a recent front page article in USA Today, we learn that evangelical Christians are leaving evangelical Christianity en masse, particularly children—70% of them leaving the Christian faith, no longer believing that the Bible is the infallible repository of redemptive revelation or that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.

Today, tolerance is being redefined to mean that all views are equally valid and all lifestyles equally appropriate. As such, the notion that Jesus is the only way is vilified as the epitome of intolerance.

Rather than capitulating to the culture, however, Christians must be equipped to expose the flaws of today’s tolerance, while simultaneously exemplifying true tolerance. To say all views are equally valid sounds tolerant but in reality is a contradiction in terms. If indeed all views are equally valid, then the Christian view must be valid. The Christian view, however, holds that not all views are equally valid. Thus, the redefinition of tolerance is a self-refuting proposition.

We do not tolerate people with whom we agree. We tolerate people with whom we disagree. If all views were equally valid, there would be no need for tolerance.

Today’s redefinition of tolerance leaves no room for objective moral judgments. A modern terrorist could be deemed as virtuous as a “Mother Teresa.” With no enduring reference point, societal norms reduce to mere matters of preference; and, as such, the moral basis for resolving international disputes and for condemning such intuitively evil practices as genocide, oppression of women, and child prostitution is seriously compromised.

In light of its philosophically fatal features, Christians must reject today’s tolerance, and revive true tolerance. True tolerance entails that, despite our differences, we treat every person we meet with dignity and respect due them as those created in the image of God. True tolerance does not preclude proclaiming truth, but it does mandate that we do so with gentleness and respect.

In a world that is increasingly intolerant of Christianity, Christians must exemplify tolerance without sacrificing truth. Indeed, tolerance when it comes to personal relationships is a virtue, but tolerance when it comes to truth is a travesty. As Jude puts it, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (vv. 22–23).

We should not be microcosms of the world—but change-agents within the world…because Truth matters.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Questioning the Question

In Proverbs 26 Solomon tells us that we are not to answer a fool according to his folly, or we’ll make fools of ourselves. On the other hand, Solomon continues, answer a fool according to his folly, or the fool will think he is wise in his own eyes (vv.4–5)—he’ll think he has uncovered some wisdom. We often find this sort of thing with questions that are raised in order to denigrate the notion of an eternal Being, an Intelligent Designer, or an uncaused first Cause.

One of those questions is “Can God create a rock so heavy that he can’t move it?” That question is a classic straw man that has most Christians looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights. At best, the question challenges God’s omnipotence; at worst, it undermines His existence.

At the very outset, however, we should recognize a problem with the premise of the question. While it is true that God can do anything that is consistent with His nature, it’s absurd to suggest that He can do just anything. God can’t lie (Hebrews 6:18). God can’t be tempted (James 1:13). God can’t cease to exist (Psalm 102:25–27).

Furthermore, just as it is impossible to make a one-sided triangle, so it is impossible to make rocks too heavy to be moved. What an all powerful God can create, He can obviously move. Put another way, not even an omnipotent God can do the logically impossible.

A wide variety of similar questions are raised to undermine the Christian view of God. Therefore, it’s crucial that we learn to question the question, rather than simply assume that a question is valid