Asking Tough Questions
Last night I had the opportunity to attend a seminar at the Ohio University campus that was presented by a Christian apologetic named Frank Turek. He wrote a book entitled, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” Last night’s seminar was focused on two questions, “are miracles possible?” and “Is the New Testament true?”
Overall I found that he did a great job with his presentation. His primary premise was that there must be a God if we know intelligence was required for creation, If we can prove that what we see all around us was created from nothing then God must have been the one who did the creating. He presented the Big Bang Theory as evidence of creation from nothing. Personally, I would not make that argument because I believe in the literal 7 days of creation that is the plainest reading of Genesis 1-3, and I don’t believe that you can fit a literal 6 days into the big bang.
He also asked the question about absolute truth and did a good job laying a foundation of belief based on the precept that absolute truth is a fact, and that the Bible is the authority for our moral code.
I thought that his perspective on the question, “are miracles possible?” was an interesting one! He said that the greatest miracle of all was creation, so any other miracle done within the confines of that original creation paled in comparison to the original creation. Of course God can raise people from the dead - He created them from nothing in the first place. Of course He can still the storms and the waves with His voice - He spoke them into existence.
This discussion merged nicely with one of the sessions we had last week at our Pastors and Wives retreat that talked about how the miracles of the NT were performed to put an exclamation mark on the message that the apostles were preaching. The miracles of the NT did not do a good job of developing disciples if they were only used to grab people’s attention so the message of the Gospel could be preached. That was actually counterproductive: people were looking for more ahhhhh than they were willing to become committed to the purpose of the church. True disciples were made when they were told the message and demonstrated that Christ truly had power of creation, death, and the grave. Then people were willing to make a more permanent decision to follow Him when they understood who He was and what He was doing for us.
It made me think of the times that I’ve asked the Lord to demonstrate His power so that others would believe. I’ve been thinking about that the wrong way. IN fact, I’ve taught that this is not the right way to come to know God. Someone who says, “If God exists then He’ll strike that tree with lightning” will not be impressed with God when He demolishes the tree. “It was coincidence,” the skeptic would say, “if there really was a God he would do it again on that tree [pointing to another one].” But the person who is responding to the message of the Gospel and hears the calling of the Holy Spirit in his heart will be energized in his faith when he sees the demonstration of God’s power in a supernatural way.
The speaker last night then did a great job of presenting the evidence that proves that we can trust that what we have in the New Testament is as reliable as possible. The NT is regarded as a historical document by a large number of scholars. Let’s not be fools and allow those who have little knowledge of books of antiquity or little knowledge of how to best exegete Scripture be the ones who are forming our opinion on the things of God.
After his presentation he opened the floor for a time of questions and answers. Two people who presented questions stood out to me. One was an older woman and the other was a young man who was obviously a college student. Both of them were not willing to hear the answers to the questions presented, but were just there to share what they thought. Both of them were antagonistic to the message presented but were not willing to engage in rational discussions with the presenter.
One presented themselves as an atheist but then complained that the speaker presented Christianity as the only way to come to God, supporting the Jewish position on God. Last I knew, an atheist was someone who didn’t believe in God – the God of the NT or the OT, or the gods of other religions. So that means you can’t be an atheist and believe that the God of the OT is the one true God. That would make you a theist who doesn’t want to bow down to that God.
There was a silent protest from a campus LGBT group who criticize the speaker for admitting the Bible takes a stand on homosexuality. While I was glad that many of the protesters stayed the whole time to hear the Gospel presentation, their comments at the end made me think that they weren’t listening too well. I have two points to make on their arguments:
1. Don’t disagree with me because I point out what the Bible says and happen to believe the Bible. Disagree with the Bible.
2. Just about every other mainline organized religion in the world takes the same stand – are you protesting their gatherings too?
A friend of mine sends out a Bible verse of the day. Here is the one he sent today. I think it was quite appropriate! 2 Timothy 4: 1-4:
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
Let us be people who hear the voice of God and respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives!
James E. Bogoniewski, Jr.