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 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?”

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”

Driven by the Problem of Evil

concentration camp problem of evil

It is a riddle that philosophers have pondered, skeptics have flaunted, and theologians have debated for centuries. If God is all-powerful and all-good, then why is evil so rampant?

If God is all-powerful, then he would be more than able to rid the world of evil.

If God is all-good, then he would be more than willing to rid the world of evil.

But, there is evil in this world. Everywhere, it seems. So, what’s the deal?

Is God able but not willing? Then he is not good. Is God willing but not able? Then he is not powerful. Either way, he is not God.

Popularly attributed to 4th-century philosopher Epicurus, and popularized by 18th-century philosopher David Hume, this form of the problem of evil poses the question: How can we reconcile the existence of evil with the existence of God? In other words, if God exists, why is there so much evil? The philosophical/theological debate rages to this day.

However, the problem of evil is a problem for everyone, not just philosophers and theologians. We see horrific things happening every day. When we are on the receiving end of that evil, we find that no amount of philosophy can soothe, and no amount of argumentation can heal. In those movements, believers are left with their faith shaken, and unbelievers are left with their doubts confirmed. The pain and suffering leave us wanting, not an argument, but an answer.

So, is the evil we see in the world the indictment against God’s existence that so many for so long have said it is?

Here’s the thing…

Everyone is driven by the problem of evil. By which direction does it drive us?

Evil, both moral and natural, with all the pain and suffering it causes, does not drive us away from God. It drives us towards God.

Continue reading “Driven by the Problem of Evil”

Believing in Miracles in an Age of Skepticism

3 Reasons to Believe that Miracles are Possible

In a few weeks, millions of Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For many of them, the resurrection has become more about commemorating a tradition than about affirming a doctrine. Nevertheless, as we saw last week, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is central to the entire Christian faith. Historic Christianity does not just affirm a generic idea of resurrection, nor does it hold to a spiritualization of Jesus’ resurrection. Historic Christianity, that is Biblical Christianity, is founded on the miraculous event of Jesus Christ’s death by crucifixion and physical resurrection.

Yet, believing in such an astonishing miracle has become increasingly difficult in this age of skepticism. For some people, miracles are a deal breaker in terms of religious belief. Many adhere to Christian ideals and admire Christian contributions in the world. But, accepting a miracle as anything more than a symbolic myth seems too backward for the modern mind.

The late Christopher Hitchens, bestselling author and ardent atheist, frequently debated Christians in a formal setting. He often began his cross-examination by simply asking his opponent, “Do you really believe that Jesus rose from the dead?” When the Christian predictably answered yes, Hitches would turn to his audience and declare, “Ladies and gentlemen, my opponent has just demonstrated that science has done nothing for his worldview.”[1]

The accusation is straightforward, but it cuts deeply. Can a person appreciate modern science and at the same time believe Biblical Christianity with its insistence on the reality of miracles?

Here’s the thing…

I believe you can. The following are three reasons why.
Continue reading “Believing in Miracles in an Age of Skepticism”

No Blind Faith Here

A Popular Misconception

For many people, the term “blind faith” is redundant. The assumption about religious faith is that a sort of blindness is inherent, and often intentional.

Nonreligious people cite famous quotes to confirm this concept of faith. Mark Twain once quipped, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Ayn Rand wrote, “Faith is the commitment of one’s consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof.” In his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian identified his two favorite definitions of faith as “belief without evidence” and “pretending to know things you don’t.”

Of course, Richard Dawkins echoes the sentiment: “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”

By definition—at least by popular definition—faith is blind.

Consequently, faith and reason are often seen as incompatible, mutually exclusive terms. They are treated as opposite approaches to finding the truth about the big questions of life. On a popular level, many unbelievers assume that if a person is rational, they have no need for faith. On a personal level, many believers assume that if a person has faith, there is no need for reason.

But why do we assume that there is this great divide between faith and reason?

Here’s the thing…

I don’t know.

The Bible describes a marriage between faith and reason, not a divorce. Besides, everyone accepts some set of foundational ideas by faith, no matter how much reasoning comes first.

A Biblical Definition

The Bible is incredibly clear in its definition of faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Notice the parallel use of the terms substance and evidence in connection to that which is hoped for and that which is not seen. According to the Bible, faith is a substantiated assurance of what we hope is true. It is a justified confidence in what we cannot see.

The modern misconception of faith drops these two key qualifiers. Faith is misrepresented as merely something that we hope for but cannot see in the absence of substantial evidence. But, this is not the Biblical concept. The Bible defines faith as hope substantiated by evidence for that which we cannot see.

Not every element of Christian belief is seen as clearly as a science experiment or understood as plainly as a mathematical proof. Nevertheless, that does not mean Biblical faith is blind. In fact, it is concept with which we are very familiar.

Every day in courts of law, judges and juries observe substantial arguments and examine evidence for events they did not see. Justice may be blind in the sense that it is impartial and objective, but we would certainly hope that our justice system is not blind in coming to a verdict.

Everyone accepts some set of foundational ideas by faith, no matter how much reasoning comes first.

Many Christians grow uncomfortable when there is talk of evidence and rationality in support of faith. They assume the misconception that there is an inverse relationship between faith and reason. They feel that if they depend too much on arguments for their faith, then they must not have much of it. They feel more like the Apostle Thomas and less like the Apostle John.

However, Biblical faith is not weakened by substantial evidence; it is strengthened by it. The more evidence a jury hears, the more assurance they have in their verdict. Similarly, the more we examine the evidence and rationality of the Christian faith, the stronger our assurance becomes.

Christian theologians have always been careful to define not only what we believe but also what we mean when we say we believe. For centuries, theologians have outlined faith using three Latin words:

  • Notitia (as in, to take notice of) refers to the content that one must be aware of in order to believe.
  • Assensus (as in, to assent to) refers to the assent to the truth of that content.
  • Fiducia (as in, to place faith in) refers to the commitment of trust in that belief, what we call faith.

A perfect example of this outline in Scripture is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:13:

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us (i.e., notitia), ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth (i.e., assensus), the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (i.e., fiducia).

It must be said that saving faith is not simply notitia and assensus, knowing of and agreeing with the gospel. James warns us (almost sarcastically, I might add) that it’s great if we believe there is one God, but so do demons (James 2:19). The step that raises belief to to the level of saving faith is the trust in what we have known to be true.

Nevertheless, Paul reminds how important notitia and assensus are:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (fiducia) shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? (assensus) and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? (notitia)

Romans 10:13-14

Presumably, blind faith would be fiducia without notitia and assensus, trust with no content or evident truthfulness. It is certainly possible for a person to claim Christianity in blind faith. However, blind faith is not Biblical faith.

A Universal Application

What is amazing about the Biblical definition of faith is that it has a universal application. Every belief system has its way of seeing the world, the content of its worldview. What’s more, every worldview reaches the point at which they commit to their beliefs in faith, stepping out in hope toward things unseen.

This, of course, applies to religious people. But it also applies to the nonreligious.

In our secular culture, many people reject ideas about God as meaningless, only accepting ideas that have been scientifically proven. At least, that is what they would like to think. But there is a problem. The idea that only empirically verifiable statements can be true is itself not empirically verifiable. It is a belief that must be assumed…wait for it…by faith. This is a major dilemma for those who claim to need no faith.

Even when someone attempts to build a worldview with no need for a step of faith, it is a step of faith to believe they can do so.

As if that were not enough irony, those who assume that faith is merely a belief in the absence of evidence do not have much evidence for that assumption. Sure, there are those “you just need to have more faith” believers, but they are an unfortunate exception and not the Biblical or historical rule. Just consider how Christian thinkers over the centuries have discussed the correlation between faith and reason.

Reason directs those who are truly pious and philosophical to honor and love only what is true. – Justin Martyr

But they are much deceived, who think that we believe in Christ without any proofs concerning Christ. – Augustine of Hippo

The supreme function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason. – Blaise Pascal

He that speaketh against his own reason speaks against his own conscience, and therefore it is certain that no man serves God with a good conscience who serves him against his reason. – Jeremy Taylor

Faith is not a blind thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation. – Charles Spurgeon

Regularly, the Prophets appealed to evidence to justify belief in the biblical God or in the divine authority of their inspired message: Fulfilled prophecy, the biblical fact of miracles, the inadequacy of finite pagan deities to be the cause of such a large, well-ordered universe compared to the God of the Bible, and so forth. They did not say, “God said it, that settles it, and you should believe it!” They gave a rational defense for their claims. – J.P. Moreland

Blind faith? Not here.

A Hopeful Correction

Christian apologist Greg Koukl, explains further why there is no conflict between faith and reason:

Reason assesses, faith trusts. No conflict. The opposite of faith is not reason; the opposite of faith is unbelief, or lack of trust. The opposite of reason is not faith; the opposite of reason is irrationality.

So, what can we do to correct the popular misconception of faith?

Proclaim our notitia.

Several times over the course of his ministry, Charles Spurgeon compared the Bible and the gospel to a caged lion. He noted a pattern that the less people preach and teach God’s Word, the more concerned they seem to be with protecting it. He painted the picture of how silly it would be to put a lion in a cage out of concern for its protection. Spurgeon’s point: you don’t defend a lion; you let it loose. At the end of one of these illustrations, he stated, “The way to meet infidelity is to spread the Bible. The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible.”

If we don’t want people to think we have blind faith, we ought to show them the object of our faith.

Demonstrate our assensus.

William Lane Craig is a world-class philosopher, a renowned apologist, and a Baptist Sunday school teacher (which is awesome!). He commented on the importance of Christians understanding the truthfulness on which their faith rests.

Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith. People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith. They know little of the riches of deep understanding of Christian truth, of the confidence inspired by the discovery that one’s faith is logical and fits the facts of experience, of the stability brought to one’s life by the conviction that one’s faith is objectively true.

Amen, Dr. Craig. Amen.

If we don’t want people to think we have blind faith, we ought to show them the results of our faith.

Embrace our fiducia.

Everyone everywhere ultimately has faith in something. The pantheistic East has faith that everything is spiritual, and that reason is largely useless. The secular West has faith that everything is physical, and that spirituality is largely pointless. Yet both sides only see half of reality.

The gospel of Christ is powerful enough to break through that which blinds both sides and to fulfill that which both sides lack. We ought to embrace our faith and take it to the world.

If we don’t want people to think we have blind faith, we ought to show them the way to our faith.


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