Would-be and Wouldn’t-be Apologists

What do one million dollars look like? Well, that depends.

If you want to see a million dollars in $100 bills, I am afraid it is not all that impressive, fitting into an oversized briefcase. If you wanted to see a million in $20 bills, it is a bit less underwhelming. At least it would be something that could qualify as an actual pile of money.

However, if you wanted to see a million dollars in $1 bills, now that actually looks like a lot of money. At Chicago’s Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum, a rotating “cube of cash” is on display. One million $1 bills fill a 64 cubit foot case and weights over a ton. As a single stack, it would reach nearly four hundred feet in height.

What does Christian apologetics look like? Well, that depends. Continue reading “Would-be and Wouldn’t-be Apologists”

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How Could Someone Who Does Not Believe in God Judge Him?

Nonbelievers give many reasons for believing that God does not exist. Some say they cannot reconcile modern scientific thinking with belief in God. Some say that there is not enough historical evidence.

Then there is an entire category of questions about God with a different common theme: judging God’s character and actions. In this category, questions like the following are asked:

These are certainly legitimate questions, which Christian thinkers over the centuries have treated with care. But, notice the common denominator. The real alternatives assumed in these questions are not whether God exists, but whether he is justified in what he does, assuming he exists.

Here’s the thing…

Discussing God’s existence and judging God’s character are two very different endeavors. Yet, people act as though how God exists determines if God exists. It is as if they are saying only when God’s character and actions are acceptable to us will his existence be plausible to us. Continue reading “How Could Someone Who Does Not Believe in God Judge Him?”

How Could a Righteous God Allow Bad People into Heaven?

I had honestly never thought about it before. So the first time I was confronted with this question, I was dumbfounded. I had thought through why God would send people to Hell, but this is the other side of the coin.

This question resonates with me. I get it. According to the Bible God offers forgiveness—and therefore salvation, and therefore Heaven—to the worst people. Terrible people. I get a lump in my throat to think of it. How could God forgive them? Pick the worst sin you would dare imagine. For one moment, try to entertain the thought of the very possibility of that person finding forgiveness from God and getting to spend eternity in Heaven. Outrageous!

I believe that the longing behind this question is justified. We want to see justice come to the serial killer, the child molester, and the rapist. We want them to get what is coming to them, to feel the pain they caused. We want no loopholes, no way out. Yet, isn’t that what God offers?

We deal in terms of what people deserve, and there are monsters in this world who deserve no mercy, no forgiveness, and certainly no Heaven.

However, the topic of what people deserve is a much broader topic than we like to admit. We point the question to extreme wrongdoing, as if to differentiate between our “not so bad” wrongdoing. We focus on God dealing with extreme evil in the world, and ignore the “nobody’s perfect” evil in our lives.

But, here’s the thing…

If nobody is perfect, then everybody is guilty.

So, the question really seems to be that if God is righteous, how can he forgive anyone? Continue reading “How Could a Righteous God Allow Bad People into Heaven?”

How Could a Loving God Send Good People to Hell?

The problem of Hell is one of the most frequently asked questions about God, and one of the hardest to answer.

As with most questions about God, there is a lot behind this question. How do we reconcile the Biblical descriptions of Hell with a God who does not just show love, but as the Bible says is love? How could Jesus show so much compassion for people, and yet talk so explicitly about eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth?

What is behind this question differs from person to person. Some people would word their question better by asking, “Why would God send a person who sinned for a few years to hell for all eternity?” Some would ask, “Why would God not just forgive everyone so no one would have to be punished?”

Whatever emphasis resonates, the basic question remains the same. Why would a loving God send good people to Hell?”

Here’s the thing…

When we take our time to clarify what we mean in what we are asking, the answer reveals itself.

When we clarify certain things about God, we see that God’s love and judgment are complementary, not contradictory. When we clarify certain things about ourselves, we see that God’s justice is exactly that, justice. When we clarify certain things about Hell, we see that the solution for it is not the eradication of it; it is salvation from it. Continue reading “How Could a Loving God Send Good People to Hell?”

The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting

…and What We Should Do about It

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

I have never been much of Star Wars fan (please don’t unsubscribe), so when my student hit me this quote in the middle of a conversation about morality, my reaction was little more than an eye-roll. Fortunately, I was able to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi may have been strong with the force, but he was weak with philosophy, especially considering that his statement was absolute.

Consequently, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about the nature of morality.

It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Now, Batman? I can appreciate Batman. So, when a student threw that one at me, I was a bit more receptive. As it turns out, much of the stress this student felt due to his underperformance in school was prompted more by fiction than fact.

As a result, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about identity and accountability.

In both situations, fictional characters had given these young people more answers to life’s big questions than any of the adults in their lives had. I was not surprised. If you are, you should know, this is typical.

Here’s the thing…

Our young people’s lives are more often than we would like to admit guided by the culture that surrounds them more than the adults that raise them.

So, what can we do about it?

We first need to recognize two facts: young people are asking questions, and they are getting answers. The question is, from whom are they getting those answers?

We then need to develop a strategy to answer their questions properly, meaningfully, and—most importantly—Biblically.    Continue reading “The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting”

Both Sides of Every Story

open book apologetics worldviews

As quotable as C.S. Lewis is, my favorite quote of his has to be the following:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

As was his style, in this one statement he says so much. The Christian worldview is not without its evidence. However, multitudes of skeptics over the centuries, to include Lewis, have been convinced, not only by the truth they see in Christianity but also by the truth that it enables them to see.

Ultimately Ultimate

We can categorize worldviews at the most general level by their concept of ultimate reality. They may be defined by how they answer questions about the nature of being, namely “What is there?”—what philosophers call ontology—and “Where did it come from?”—what philosophers call cosmology. Based on their answers to answers to these questions, every worldview essentially falls under one of three categories: naturalism, pantheism, or theism.

There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately physical. That is to say, “there is nothing more to the mental, biological and social realms than arrangements of physical entities.”[1] These worldviews are often grouped in the category of naturalism.

There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately spiritual. That is to say, there is only “a single spiritual entity, of which the physical world must be understood as a partial manifestation.”[2] These worldviews are often grouped in the category of pantheism.

Finally, there are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately “owed to one supreme Being, who is distinct from Creation.”[3] That is to say, there is “a dualistic relation between God and the world,”[4] typically asserting that God is both transcendent, existing outside of and being sovereign over the physical universe, as well as immanent, existing inside of and being involved with the physical universe.

These descriptions are massively oversimplified by necessity. Each category includes a long list of specific philosophies and religions, many of which have precious little in common with others in the same category. Some seem to be more viable options than others. Some have many more adherents than others. However, the one thing that unites them is their view of reality, what is ultimately ultimate.

The question we have now is, which one is ultimately right? Continue reading “Both Sides of Every Story”

The Other Side of the Problem of Evil

Auschwitz problem of evil

The problem that the atheist has in the problem of evil is that in atheism there shouldn’t be a problem.


The problem of evil is a problem for everyone. It is a problem from the stage at a philosophical debate to the table at a corner coffeehouse. People struggle with the problem of evil because people struggle with evil.

Christians struggle with thinking and feeling our way through the problem of evil as much as anyone, and often more so. We are forced by reality to ask ourselves how we can believe in an all-good, all-powerful God that allows all this pain and suffering. Nevertheless, we understand a few things.

  • Logically, there is no reason to believe that the existence of evil and the existence of God are contradictory.
  • Emotionally, as terrible as pain and suffering are, Christianity offers the resources to find a peace that passes all understanding.
  • Existentially, there is hope in the fact that Jesus Christ took on himself the consequences of evil and demonstrated his power to ultimately deliver us from it.

In Christianity, we have both definition for and deliverance from evil.

But, what about the nonbeliever? The problem of evil is typically offered as evidence that God does not exist. It is usually the atheist who leaves the problem at the feet of the Christian and demands an answer. However, “Criticism without alternative is empty.”[1]

So, what answer does atheism offer for the problem of evil?

Here’s the thing…

It doesn’t, because it can’t. Continue reading “The Other Side of the Problem of Evil”