December 16, 2009

Not blind faith – reasonable faith

I have recently had the opportunity to discuss the existence (or non-existence) of God with people who are thinkers. I call them “thinkers” as against those who seem to be moved more by emotion than by rational thought. In today’s postmodern society there is no lack of those who live life riding the waves of their emotions. But there are precious few who put their brains in gear and approach a topic from a rational, reasoning perspective. I truly appreciate those who do this—even when their rationale brings them to a position that does not recognize the existence of God.

So when I found this excerpt below from R.C. Sproul’s Now That’s a Good Question, I thought I should share it here for those of you who have followed one of those recent conversations.

We’re living in a day during which reason itself is suspect among Christians, and somehow it is more admirable simply to affirm our faith and ask people to take what we tell them strictly on blind faith. Yet the Bible tells us, “Come now, let us reason together”s (Isa. 1:18), and the Scriptures enjoin us to be prepared to give a reason for the hope within us (1 Pet. 3:15).

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

I remember that in grade school sometimes we could have open-book tests in math class. The advantage of it was that we could flip to the back of the book, where they had the answers to the problems. If we didn’t know how to get the right answer, at least we knew what the right answer was. There’s sort of a “back of the book” way that we can approach our friends on the existence of God.

The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1 that God has revealed himself to every human being and that every person knows that there is a God. The judgment of God is not that people fail to come to a knowledge of God, but rather that they refuse to acknowledge what they know to be true. If that’s true, then we come into the discussion armed with the information—means by which the person already knows that there is a God, although he or she is not yet acknowledging that. Now, what can we do? Can we just say, “You’re a dirty liar. Why don’t you tell the truth and tell us that you really know there is a God?” That’s not the approach I suggest. Sometimes this knowledge of God is so repressed or stifled that people have only a vague comprehension about the character or existence of God. And many of the questions they ask are honest questions.

It’s important that we respect people’s questions. The late Francis Schaeffer had a ministry at L’Abri in Switzerland, where he specialized in outreach to intellectuals who were professed atheists. He felt that it was his obligation to give honest answers to honest questions. When we discuss questions like the existence of God, we need to be prepared to explain why we are persuaded that God exists.

1 Peter 3:15,16

In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

I don’t have time right now to go over the cosmological argument for the existence of God, but I think it’s valid. Briefly, if something exists now, something has always existed from all eternity or there would be nothing. Somehow, somewhere, someone or something must have the power of being within himself, and that one who has the power of being within himself we call God. That’s how I would start the discussion: “How has this world come into being? How has this cup come into being? How has anything come into being?” and then focus attention there.

R.C. Sproul, Now That’s a Good Question, Question 7.12, 1996 Tyndale House Publishers


1 comment:

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